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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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Looked at my bees this last weekend

I looked at my bees over the last weekend. Most of them are alive and looking very good. I did add more winter patties as they have been eating them up. Some of the hives are light on food and I hope to get them through the upcoming below zero weather that is on the horizon.

Added more winter patties

This colony looks great. A large number of bees. They have been going after the winter patties.
A mouse made a nest on top of one of my moisture boards. It was under the telescoping cover, not in the hive.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Backyard Beekeeping Class - Century College

Backyard beekeeping class at Century College. Century College is located off of 694 and Century Ave in White Bear Lake.

2/11/2016-4/7/2016Weekly - Thu6:30 PM - 8:30 PMWhite Bear Lake, Century East Campus  Map, Room: 2313 Robert Sitko 
Registration Closes On: February 11, 2016 12:00 AM

Master Beekeeper Bob Sitko has taught this class for 10 years. The nice thing about Bob's class is that it is over eight nights. It gives the students ample time to absorb and discuss beekeeping in detail.

Monday, February 1, 2016

New Office Hours

We will now start having some regular hours in February.
Open Friday 9 am - 4 pm, Saturday 9 am - 4 pm.
If this doesn't work, call and make an appointment for another time.
Our hours will expand again in later February.
You can call us anytime if you have a question.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Emergency Feeding

A beekeeper called me on Thursday with a hive dilemma. She knew one of her hives was seriously light on food. When she checked the hive it only had honey left on one side of a deep frame. Doing nothing means the bees will be dead.
 So desperate times call for desperate measures. I told her to try spraying syrup into two frames and put them where the cluster of bees are. Mix the sugar syrup more sugary than 1:1 syrup for extra calories.  Hopefully this will buy her enough time to get a feeder pail on the hive in a month or so. She also added a couple winter patties. She was generous to share in pictures what she did and how she did it. This is her email:
Hi Jim.
Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful sunny day right when I needed to go out and work with my hives, Mother Nature was kind.  Here are some pics  and thoughts from my day in the bee yard.

I mixed and used about 12 cups of 1.25:1 syrup to fill 2 frames on both sides.

Mixing up the sugar water Photo M. Nussbaum

It was a bit chilly outside so I put the frame into a plastic bin and contained the mess to my laundry room sink.

Spraying syrup into a frame. Fill the cells with syrup.  Photo M. Nussbaum

This hive has a Carniolan queen so I’m sure their genetics have helped them get through the winter but luck with mild winter weather was also on their side.  This hive was a new package last spring but struggled continually with mites and never built up into a strong colony.  In November I gave them a last ditch treatment of oxalic acid using the dribble method, added a few Hop Guard strips for insurance and crossed my fingers.  They didn’t produce any surplus honey last summer and even with heavy feeding in the fall the hive went into winter on the very light side, so I wasn’t holding out hope for successfully overwintering the hive. When I opened the hive this week and saw the cluster of bees I was very pleasantly surprised.  They did not have much honey left, just the outer side of one frame, and I opted for emergency winter feeding to get them through to spring. I’m hoping it works.

The syrup is glistening in the light Photo M. Nussbaum
Small cluster of bees. They look hungry. Photo M. Nussbaum

Frame with syrup ready to put in the hive. Photo M. Nussbaum

My other hive, which started last year as a divide with an Italian queen, built up early, produced a surplus of two supers of honey, and went into winter with a full deep laden with honey.  I did treat for mites in September using Mite Away Quick Strips and then following up with oxalic acid using the dribble method in November. In contrast, when I checked their hive I found a cluster covering 8 frames and they have three full frames of honey remaining in the top box.

Photo M. Nussbaum

Friday, January 29, 2016

What's happening now with the bees

Right now the bees have survived our January subzero temperatures without any problem, if they were on honey frames. If a cluster has food during below zero weather, survival is normally is not a problem.
 The January thaw that MN/WI is currently experiencing, has come at a perfect time. Right now most bee colonies have been transitioning from the lower box and moving into the top box of hive, Depending how much food was in the lower box(s). Some hives the bees have already moved up and hives that are very heavy with honey, may not have moved up yet.
Once bees have moved up, as the calendar moves to February, brood rearing begins. The queen will start laying eggs. She starts out laying slowly and will increase her egg production over the next few weeks.
 This is the danger time for the hive. Once there is brood in the hive, the bees can't move off the brood. If they deplete honey around the brood, the bees have to move out away from the brood to get honey, this feed is used for their food and to keep the brood warm.
 Usually getting this honey is not a problem. But if the weather gets in single digits or below for more than one night, starvation can occur. When it gets very cold, the cluster has to tighten up to keep the brood warm. This can pull the bees off a frame of honey that they were using as a food source. The bees will not leave the brood no matter what. The hive will die trying to keep the brood warm.
A beekeeper can help prevent this from happening by adding sugar, candy boards or winter patties. This gives bees some emergency food that can hopefully get the bees over this short cold blast.
 feeding sugar
feeding winter patties

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

North Metro Bee Class this Saturday

There is still some openings for this course.
The Art of Beekeeping (How to Keep Bees)
Discover everything you need to know to start your own apiary. Learn honeybee biology and behavior, hive management and swarm prevention, what equipment is needed and where to get it, and how to harvest honey and take care of your bees year-round.
North Branch Community Ed, location TBD (probably North Branch Senior High)
Instructor: JoAnne Sabin
Saturday, January 30th; 8:00am – 6:00pm, bring your lunch

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A good day to check the bees

Tomorrow, Sunday or late next week. Would be a good day to check and see if your bees are alive.
Look to see if the bees are doing cleansing flights. There will be dead bees in the snow outside the hive. This is normal.
No bees flying? Are they at the top hole entrance? Nothing yet? Rap on the side of the hive any buzzing? Nothing yet?
 Sometimes if the hive was very heavy with honey the bees could still be down deep in the hive. Put a veil on and open the top covers and look down deep between the frames. Do you see the bees moving down deep in the hive?
If the colony is dead close it up and order some packages. If it is alive, great news.
This is a video I did a couple years ago. Checking for hive, alive or dead and checking on food stores.