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.

Search This Blog

Friday, August 31, 2012

State Fair Pics

Dave Schaff on right did a great job putting this all together. 

Steve Buck answering questions from civilians

High participation this year. Congratulations to all beekeepers who entered. They all helped promote the honey industry.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

State Fair Ice Cream Booth

The state fair ice cream booth has the best honey ice cream sundaes.
Honey ice cream with sunflower seeds topped with honey.
Staff ready for customers at 9 am

            mmmmmm honey ice cream sundae.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fall Feeding

Three feeder pails on a hive. The empty deep surrounding them protects the hive from robbers. The inner and Tele covers are placed on top of this box. Feeding like this is only done in late summer.

Three feeder pails on a hive

Hive Top Feeder, The bees come up from below through the center openings. They travel down to the syrup level and feed. They then transfer it to the hive.

The inner and Tele covers are placed on top of the feeder.
I have a colony that is noticeably light on food stores. I can not depend that a nectar flow will come along and save my bacon. Now is the time to feed a colony that is not up to winter weight and needs quite a bit of food to get there.
 My options are sugar water or ProSweet®. Both will work but my option with ProSweet® is that the bees don't have to convert it to honey. The bees put it in the cells and they are done. Sugar water on the other hand, the bees have to convert it to honey and dehumidify it. Taking time and energy.
ProSweet® doesn't ferment and sugar water may.
 Feeders are another factor. I want to get as much food in the colony as fast as I can. If it cools off the bees won't take the feed as well as if the temperatures are in the 80's.
Putting on multiple feeder pails works. This time of year the pails can be put directly on top of the frames. I can fit 3 feeder pails on top of the hive this way.
 The other feeder I use only in the fall is a hive top feeder. This feeder holds 4 gallons of feed. It is placed on top of the top brood box. The inner cover and Tele cover go on top of the feeder.
 Hives this time of year have large populations and can drain a feeder in three to four days. So as I feed,  checking the feeder every four days helps keep the feeder full. This type of feeding can really put the weight on the colony to help assure proper hive food stores heading into winter.

Stinky bee yard

Dan of Elk River area says his beeyard stinks. He is getting some Goldenrod nectar. I have not had any in Stillwater yet. Adrian of Hudson, WI told me Friday that he is getting a trickle right now.  Maybe the warm weather has kicked in a nectar flow. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

City of Stillwater Bee Ordinance

There is a reading of the proposed bee ordinance Tues Aug 21st, 7 pm Stillwater City Hall. This is the first of two readings before the ordinance can be adopted. Several beekeepers have been moving this ordinance through the process since spring.
Currently beekeeping is pretty much banned in Stillwater. The new ordinance if approved will give residents the opportunity to keep bees in the city.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

pulling honey using honey robber

                               Double click on video for full screen

pulling honey using a brush

                       Double click on the video for full screen

Extracting Workshop

The extracting workshop went very well today. Master Beekeeper Bob Sitko and Beekeeper Mike Wybierala wowed the crowd with their knowledge of pulling honey, treating for mites and wintering bees. I had the novice beekeepers in my honey house using the hot knife, extracting honey, filtering honey and bottling honey. Everyone had a great time and hopefully will be able to put the information learned to help them extract their honey.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Api Guard gel pack

HopGuard cardboard strips are chewed up and disposed of by the bees

Mite Away Qwik Strips
Now that summer is coming to an end Varroa is starting to ramp up. Many beekeepers I have talked to have started seeing mites on the bees. Usually when the mites are visible on the bees there is a high mite load in the colony.
 Now is a good time to check the mite load on colonies. Here is a link to the Univ of MN. Poster 155 checking for Varroa with the powdered sugar method.
If the mite numbers are high and mite treatments are necessary, there are several options and some are considered food additives and very bee friendly.
 HopGuard is from the hops plant. Treatment is 2 strips per deep per week for a three week period. Strips can be put on at any time.
 MiteAway Quick Strips Formic Acid, they are a one week treatment. Strips can be put on at anytime it is 85 degrees or less. Works best in the 75 - 85 degree daytime temperatures.
 Apiguard, thymol gel - supers have to be off, fall treatment only. Two foil gel packs on top of colony. One month treatment, one foil pack, two weeks later add the second one. Daytime temperatures should be in the 70 - 85 degree range.
 All of these mite treatments need to applied according to the label. Always follow manufacturers guidelines when using any mite treatment.
Keeping mites low helps winter survival of the colony.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Commercial Beekeeping

Load of deep honey supers. Each box has about 90 lbs of honey if they are full.

 Supers are pulled and put on pallets in a criss cross pattern to help stabilize the pallet 

Bobcats are used to load and unload trucks. On the top of the pallets are canvas covers that strap down tightly on the supers to prevent robbing of the honey while the truck is being loaded and unloaded.

notice the criss cross pattern of the supers

55 gallon drums of beeswax that will be rendered down in the near future
I visited a commercial beekeeper last week. They are in the middle of extracting. Their truck goes out daily and pulls honey beeyard to beeyard. They use fume boards with honey robber. After a dismal year last year, the current year is a huge honey crop. All of their deep supers are heavy with honey. The honey is a very light in color with a low moisture content. In a good year many commercial beekeepers produce between 500,000 and 1,000,000,000 lbs of honey. Honey prices are up so they should fare well this year.


I have started to see Goldenrod blooming around the metro. The field across the street from my house has yellow color starting to open up. With any luck my hives should be stinking like wet sweat socks shortly. That will tell me the Goldenrod is producing nectar. The Goldenrod seems very abundant this year.
 My hives seem to be congregating at the front door. That tells me there may be not much nectar coming in at the moment.
 I was driving in western Wisconsin yesterday and noticed a farmer cutting his 3rd hay crop of the year. There is still time for the hay to grow and flower one more time. If the farmers don't cut it there may be some late clover for the bees to get the weight up for winter.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Corn and Sugar Commodity Prices

The drought that is gripping a large part of the nation will be seen by beekeepers starting late this year. The corn crop has taken a major hit. Even E-85 fuel will rise or possibly be curtailed in the short term so corn can be used as food. The smaller corn harvest will more than likely lead to higher sugar prices. Feeding bees will become more expensive. As corn prices go up so will the price of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Many beekeepers feed their bees HFCS and will incur higher costs.
The price of sugar will also rise. Even though the sugar beet harvest to my knowledge hasn't been impacted by the drought, the higher HFCS prices will drag the price of sugar with it.
Many bee suppliers of HFCS buy contracts of thousands of lbs of HFCS for a set price. Once the contract is satisfied a new one is negotiated. This new contract will undoubtedly be a higher price.
As a hobby beekeeper buying some extra sugar is not a bad idea. Long term storage of sugar can make the sugar get hard and difficult to liquify. ProSweet does have an advantage that it will not granulate for at least a year and will store nicely.
 The silver lining in this all is that the price of honey will also rise. Hopefully the higher honey prices will more than offset the sugar shock that beekeepers may see down the road.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Extracting Workshop

When: Aug 19th - 2 pm - 4 pm
Where: Nature's Nectar LLC honey house
What: Discussion about methods of pulling honey, mite treatments, wintering bees with Master Beekeeper Bob Sitko and Mike Wybeirla.
Hands on workshop with Jim: you will uncap frames with hot knife and capping scratcher, extract honey with three frame hand crank extractor, and bottle honey.

 The workshop is limited to 50 people. Please call or email me to reserve a spot.
Due to limited space and bees in the honey house small children will be happier at home.