This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pollen Patties and Feeding Syrup

Bees need to touch the pollen patty. Leave the wax paper on both sides of the patty.
It is almost time to put on pollen patties. Anytime starting this weekend should be OK. Always put the patty where the bees are. The bees need to be touching it. They will not travel much of a distance to get it. A strong overwintered colony should get a full patty and may eat it all in ten days. Once pollen patties are put on the hive they need to be replaced before they are all gone. The bees will increase brood production and they will need the pollen.
 If they bees have not moved up, the pollen then needs to go between the boxes where the main cluster is.
 Feeding. Feeding can be done now if the bees need it. Do not overfeed. The bees will plug the hive with syrup if the beekeeper keeps feeding pail after pail of syrup. This will leave no place for the queen to lay. and will impact the hives population.
 Lift up the top box off the hive. If it feels light feed, if it feels heavy don't feed.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Checking Hives

This is a very nice over wintered colony taken in March. Lots of bees.
This weekend will be a perfect time for the alive or dead check on overwintered colonies.
The snow depth is mostly non existent so getting to colonies should be easy. The forecast is for a good snow, maybe on this coming Tuesday. So time to check this weekend.
Check now while there is time to order replacement packages.
When checking colonies, if you don't see bees on top of the top brood box, check down deep. The bees may have not moved up yet. This can happen on colonies that are heavy with honey. Don't assume the bees are dead until you see a dead cluster.
 I have even had in the past, is to tilt back the top box to see if any bees are under there. It is always a pleasant surprise to see a large cluster under the top box.
Check food stores. The queens should be laying now and honey consumption will increase with the new brood coming on.
Still a little early to feed. But if on inspection there are bees, but their food is almost gone, better to feed syrup than to lose the colony.
A good colony has around four frames of bees. A Carniolan hive if it has three frames of bees right now should be ok.
 If the cluster of bees is two frames of bees or less, consider it dead and get a package to replace it. If you have a five frame nuc box you could put the weak hive in there and let it build up and add it to a hive later in the season.
Pollen patties can go on in about two weeks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

5 frame nucs

I did a talk about 5 frame nuc's at the Honeybee Club of Stillwater .
Here is the link to the summery:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bees are going fast

The bee sales are moving along at a fast pace.
This current blast of cold weather will put many colonies over the edge.
This cold spell looks to last thru Thursday. 
Beekeepers should look in their colonies  Friday or Saturday to see if they have survived.
We have sold 75% of the 2 lb packages and 60% of the 3 lb packages so far.
Anyone needing bees should not put off ordering very much longer.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bee Class in west metro

March 7 & April 18 -- Saturdays, 9:30 AM–4:30 PM
Gain all the information you need to keep bees in cold climates. Explore two years of beekeeping with veteran beekeeper and entomologist Dan Palmer, from purchasing and assembling equipment and obtaining bees to producing and selling honey. Geared toward beginning beekeepers. Reservations required by February 26. Register online at www.threeriversparkdistrict.org <http://www.threeriversparkdistrict.org>  or call 763-694-2001. $55/two sessions. Ages: 12+.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

New February Hours

Our February hours are:
Wednesday----  noon - 6pm
Thursday------  noon - 6 pm
Friday---------- 9 am - 4 pm
Saturday ------ 9 am - 2 pm

Sunday, January 25, 2015

What's happening in the hive right now

This latest stretch of warm weather has come at the right time. This is the time of year when bees move from the lower box into the top box. The warm weather makes it easy for the bees to make this transition. I talked to some beekeepers who said their hives were heavy with honey going into the winter. They told me their bees had not moved up yet.
 While some other beekeepers told me their bees had already moved up into the top box and they were not sure if the bees had enough food for late winter.
 There should not be any egg laying going on yet. I hope that the high 30's that we will be experiencing does not get the queen to start laying. If the colony starts making brood, honey consumption will increase. If a colony is light on food starvation may occur.
 The queen will start laying and the bees will eat honey to keep the brood warm. This extra consumption of honey will deplete honey stores around the brood. The bees will then move out to nearby frames to acquire honey to keep the brood warm.
 This all works well as long as there is honey to get and the weather stays warm. If the weather gets very cold, the bee cluster contracts to concentrate their heat cluster. The bees cluster around the brood doing everything they can to keep the brood warm. If the bees have depleted their honey stores around the brood and the cluster contracts off of nearby honey stores, starvation can happen.
A beekeepers can go out on a warm day and quickly open a hive and move or add a frame of honey next to the cluster. Don't disrupt the cluster. A full frame of honey is usually enough honey to feed a colony for about three weeks. A little less if there is brood rearing going on.
 Emergency feeding methods can be taken to try to get a colony to survive. A candy board, winter patties, or granulated sugar can be added to the top bars for emergency feed.
 Checking a hive for food stores in winter

feeding granulated sugar on top of wax paper. A 1-1/2" shim is used to give room to heap up sugar. You don't need the cross bars.

Heap up granulated sugar. The bees will move up on the sugar and chew up the wax paper as the cluster moves and consumes the sugar. Check it after two weeks and add more if needed. It is easy to heap up 10 to 15 lbs of sugar on top of the wax paper. Don't cover the cluster of bees, they need to be able to get up on the wax paper. 
 Candy board one method. Don't add any pollen