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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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bee Deliveries

The dates for bees are as follows:
First load April 10th.
Second Load April 21st.
The second load date has changed to the 21st. That date may still be a bit fuzzy due to my supplier being able to stick with his schedule. Remember on any load of bees in the spring, weather can play a big role on delivery dates.
Right now, everything is on schedule.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A note from a fellow beekeeper his hive update.

I received this e-mail from a fellow beekeeper. His hive is in perfect shape for April 1st. The pollen collection can change if it cools off. But his colony is right on track for a divide in May, the Maples will give up nectar to help bolster the stores from last year.

Hello Jim
Had a chance to work my hives yesterday and both made it through the winter, I know you like to keep up with the buzz so here’s a recap:
· Winter covers removed.
· Pollen patties placed 2 weeks ago had been consumed.
· Bees bringing in both pollen and nectar. I’m assuming pussy willow and maples with the olive green and bright yellow pollen.
I found the nectar part surprising for this early in the season.
· Eggs and larva in top frames of both hives and about 4 frames of honey. I’ll wait until the temps are in the 70’s to do a major check and bottom board clean up. Didn't want to chill the brood with how windy it was. People do read your blog!
· Put half a pollen patty on each.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

On bee pick up day.

Pallet of Packages

On bee pick up day due to the large amount of beekeepers, there will be very limited sales.
I understand some people are traveling a long distance (over 75 miles) to pick up the bees and may need some supplies.

I will be selling the following available to everyone without pre-ordering:
  • Pollen Patties sold in sets of 2 patties, $6.00 per pack or 10 lb box $29.00
  • 5 gallons of Pro-Sweet syrup $32.00
  • Feeder Pails $4.50 including tax
  • Fumigilan .5 gram $19.00, 2.0 gram $41.00
If you are traveling over 75 miles and would like to pre-order anything else call or e-mail me the order by April 3. No orders will be taken after April 3.
No Credit Cards will be accepted this day. Cash or checks only.

Queen Rearing

Queens stored in a queen bank full of workers to care for them until needed

Mating nuc's set out in the field

The queen cells are put into mating nuc's with about a cup of workers bees.

Rack of queen cells

Loading the rack of queen cups

After the larvae is loaded into the cups in the grafting room, they are put in cell builders for two days. The rack of cells is then put into finishing colonies.
At day fifteen of the queen rearing process the capped cells are removed from the frame and put in mating nuc's that are set in the field. The queen emerges from the cell on day 16. She will be in the nuc box for about one week until she can fly. When she is old enough to fly she leaves the nuc box and fly's out to be mated. In a perfect mating scenario she will be mated 8 - 10 times receiving a lifetime supply of sperm from the drones.
The queen will come back into the nuc box and will begin laying in a week or so. After she is laying for a week the queen breeder will come through and pluck her off the frame of the nuc and put into a mini cage. A new queen cell is put into the mating nuc and the process begins again.
The queen is then put into a queen bank where she is kept until a package of bees is ready for her.
My queen breeder will make over 50,000 queens this year.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What's happening right now with my bees

I have talked to several beekeepers around the metro. The bees have been finding natural pollen. Pussy Willows and Silver Maples seem to be offering up the current pollen. Pollen patties are still being consumed at a fast rate. The warm weather has let the bees expand the brood nest and brood production is increasing.
It is not uncommon this time of year if we get a cold snap, there can be some brood mortality due to chilled brood. Chilled brood occurs basically two ways. One, when the bees expand the brood nest and then it turns cold. The cluster will contract and there are not enough bees to cover and keep warm the very outside frames of new brood. If you notice the outside brood has turned from a pearly white to a discolored yellow this is probably what happened.
The other way to chill brood is when doing a spring hive inspection. When the temps are cool and it is a bit breezy, it is important to not to stand a brood box on end. The wind will blow through the frames and quickly chill the brood and cause significant damage to the brood. In the spring always keep the hives parallel with the ground when doing inspections.
Next week it looks like temps getting into the upper 60's. It is time to remove the winter covers. On a warm day it is ok to break the hive down and clean the bottom board. Reversals will be coming shortly when daytime temps stabilize to the 50's. Usually around April 1st.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Suspending Taking orders on the second load.

I am suspending taking orders on my second load because it is close to being full.
I have to wait for the mail to catch up with people who have already ordered.
If you need bees I suggest you call Mann Lake Ltd 1-800-233-6663 on Monday. I believe they are still taking orders. If you get bees from them, they have to be picked up in Hackensack, MN

The Second Load Date Change

It looks like the second load that was scheduled for April 24th delivery, has been changed to Wed - April 21st. Please keep watching the blog for updates.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Terry McD is cleaning out a dead out and feeding a weak colony.

Terry is cleaning out a dead hive. She is also adding some honey and pollen patties to the overwintered hive. The hive appears a little weak. But it can be deceiving if more bees are down deep in the hive. Right now if a hive has four frames of adhering bees is a good number to be at. Four frames of bees with adequate pollen and food should build up to a dividable colony by mid May.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Making Queens

Loading cell builders and finishing colonies in the queen rearing yard

Loading cell builders and finishing colonies in the queen rearing yard.

The cell building and finishing yard in full swing

My supplier is now making queens for the upcoming package bees. They are grafting larvae into queen cups. The cups are then added to a cell builder to feed the young larvae. After two days in the cell builders they are moved to the finishing colonies where the cells grow and are finished and capped. They are then ready for the mating yards.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The first load is full

The first load of bees is full.
I am still taking orders for the second load. I expect that to be full in one to two weeks.

The Almond Bloom in California

Hives in an Almond Grove

A pallet of four hives

The Almond Bloom is pretty much over in California. Now all efforts are being put into making queens for package bees. The daily temperatures have been adequate for proper queen mating.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I am putting on pollen patties

Pollen Patties are going on now.

I have begun putting pollen patties on. I am using the pre made Bee Pro patties with Pro Len and with Pro Health added to them. The patties go on with the wax paper on both sides keeping them from drying out. The bees will chew through the wax paper to get at the pollen substitute.
I am also checking my hives for food stores. If the top box is light with honey I also feed a pail of light 1:1 syrup. I am careful not to overfeed. To much syrup fills up the brood nest and cuts down on the brood rearing area. All I want to achieve in feeding is to give them ample syrup to keep the colony alive. Once the dandelions come out (around the first week of May) an overwintered colony can add 40 - 60 lbs of nectar. That will take the bees, hopefully, to the main nectar flow. During this spring build up it is important to monitor the nectar in the hive making sure it is sufficient.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Package Bee Update

Grafting one day old larvae from a frame of brood. She is using a Chinese Grafting tool. It looks like a pen. It has a little tongue that can scoop up the larvae and some royal jelly. She then deposits the larvae into the queen cup. Each one of the cups will become a queen cell.

Right now the package bee supplier is raising queens. They start in early March. The Almond trees are blooming and there is lots of pollen available from the good rain they have had. The rain is great news being that they have been in a drought for the last four years. The temperatures have been around 65 degrees and that is adequate for proper mating of queens.
Everything seems to be on schedule.
My first load is almost sold out. My second load is still wide open for any bee orders.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Making a pollen patty

This is how I make pollen patties. Pollen patties are essential for spring build up. Over the years I have been using more pre-made patties but it is fun to make a few for you own colonies. When making patties for 50 - 100 colonies it becomes a bigger production. This usually involves pails of sugar water, 50 lb bags of pollen substitute and a dry wall mud mixer on a big drill. The pre-made patties turn out to be a better deal.