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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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Swarm Cells

Swarm cells can happen anywhere on the frame. Usually they are on the bottom of the frame, sometimes they are on the top bars, sometimes in the corner of the frames.

Swarm Cells

Swarm Cells on Top Bar of Frame

Swarm Cells On Bottom Bar

Moved some hives today

I moved two hives this morning and put my queen bank hives in another beeyard.
Woke up at 4 am to move the hives before the bees started to fly. I took advantage of the cool morning and all the bees were clustered and not flying. I tried a new product, a moving screen. This screen fit perfect on the bottom board and is easily pulled tight with a ratchet strap. I had the bottom board attached to the deep box with hive staples. So the move went fast and easy with no disasters.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Put the supers on

I was in Chaska at my day job and stopped for gas at the Kwiktrip on 212. They have some small Basswood trees and I noticed the flowers were just starting to open. On the drive home I saw yellow sweet clover blooming everywhere. The nectar flow is coming to hive near you so get ready.
 We need some warm days and warm nights with no rain.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sold out of queens

We are sold out of queen for 2013.
If you still need a queen, try ohbees.com
This is their webpage.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Last reversal

I was out in my beeyard and most of my colonies that I had drawing comb have finished their job. I now have done a full reversal. Top box to the bottom, bottom box to the top. What this does is it puts the darkest comb on top and the bottom box more than likely has pollen stored in the frames.
 When the main nectar flow starts the bees will fill the new top box of the hive with honey. That will be their winter food stores. The top box now has pollen in the comb. The bees will cover the pollen with honey. The bees move up into the top box usually in January. When the queen begins laying in the top box the bees would have uncapped and exposed the pollen under the honey. The bees will now have natural pollen to feed the brood in February. Also the bees move up on to dark comb much better than new white comb.
 One last note, if a beekeeper goes out to do the last reversal and the top box is very heavy with honey it is too late to do the reversal and the hive should remain as it is.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Catching a swarm

Bob Sitko put a bait hive up under his deer stand. The hive is about 8 feet off the ground. He had frames in the bait hive and used lemon grass oil as an attractant.
Lemon grass oil is also in ProHealth with also very attractive to the bees.
The bait hive was up for around a week. The pictures show it was a big swarm. He took the box down and had to put the bees in a two deep hive right away because there were so many bees.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bloomimg Flowers

I have been working in Chaska lately. The drive to and fro has given me time to scan the ditch for flowers in bloom.
 Yesterday I saw some Bird's FootTrefoil blooming. Today there was a very small amount of yellow sweet clover starting up.
These plants will spread across the metro.
An old adage that the main nectar flow starts 10 days after the first clover blooms
 spotted. That put the nectar flow at least in Chaska at around July 1st.
yellow sweet clover
Supers should be on now or in the very near future.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bear Fence

 12 volt fencer mounted in a deep hive body.
 The fencer, 12 volt deep cycle battery, solar charging regulator
 Closed up fencer with the solar panel on top. There is a black switch on the front to turn the fence off.
This fencer pegs all the lights on the tester. 7000 volts

Wendy and I spent a morning cleaning the bee yard and restringing some fence wires. I also had to upgrade the gate. So the whole fence got an upgrade. Wendy was working the shovel and rake smoothing the edges of the yard so the fence wires were not touching the ground. We both found where all the wood ticks were hiding.
Wendy and I put in a new bear fencer. It is 12 volt and as I can attest from personal experience, if you touch the fence when it is hot, it WILL HURT.
I swear it felt like 10,000 volts.
This 12 volt fencer puts out 2 joules of power. Most 6 volt solar fencers put out .15 joules or less. More joules means a better shocking experience. This fencer uses less power when it is not weedy. If it gets weedy and the weeds are touching the wires it will still deliver the hefty jolt but battery consumption increases. The 30 watt solar panel keeps the battery charged. A solar power controller stops the battery from overcharging.
I hope this will keep Yogi at bay. I am sure on his next visit, he will be shocked to see the changes in my bee yard. 

Ramblings of whats happening in the bee world

Swarm Cell On Bottom Of Frame
The warmer weather has kicked up swarming into high gear. Swarm control is now on the front burner with hive inspections at no more than 10 day intervals.
Miss taking out a swarm cell and it is Sayonara to the field bees.
Bees have been building up nicely with everyone should have their second box on by now and many beekeepers in three deep hives have put on their third box.
The temperatures are quite warm most everyone should be able to remove the entrance reducers at this time. Leaving them in can help start swarming.
When the boxes that were drawing foundation are done being drawn or close to being drawn out, honey supers should be put on the hive. First year beekeepers who have been told they won't get honey their first year may be in for a surprise this year. Honey supers are put on two at a time. When a nectar flow starts, a hive can fill and cap a super in a little less than a week, if the flow is intense.
Overwintered colonies should have supers on now.
 I talked to a beekeeper who was surprised to have a super of honey already. I commented that he probably lives near a good stand of Black Locust trees and the bees are really bringing it home.
The main nectar flow looks like it is still out two weeks yet.  The farmers in the Stillwater area have just started cutting their first crop of hay. Two weeks later than normal. So Alfalfa should be blooming now. I have not seen any clover blooming yet. My Basswood trees have opened the seed pods and the flower heads are unopened at this time. I think around first week of July for the Basswoods to bloom.
With the delay of the nectar flow the bees have been able to build up stronger than a normal honey year. If the nectar is a decent one, there should be a bounty of honey for all.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Black Locust and Alfalfa

Black Locust trees are blooming across the metro area. Black Locust trees produce very nice honey and the bees can pack it in.
Alfalfa should be blooming now. Farmers should have cut hay around the first week of June. The wet weather has prevented them from cutting the hay. Beekeepers benefit from the farmers misfortune.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


I am temporarily out of queens until Tuesday the 18th.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


over crowded hive
Over wintered colonies had been on a slow build up with many beekeepers not dividing the colonies. Now many of the same colonies that three weeks ago were just ok,  now the populations have crept up and the bees are starting to hang out the front of the hive. This coming week the temperatures will be in the 80's and swarming will kick into high gear.
 There are a few choices for swarm control:
  1.  Divide the colony, make a new colony with a new queen. This will lower the population but a beekeeper still has to look for swarm cells on a 10 day schedule.
  2. Divide the colony, leave the divide queenless for 24 hours. Add the divide on top of a package uniting them with a sheet of newspaper between the boxes. A 1/4" slit is cut into the newspaper. The bees will chew through the newspaper and as the hole gets bigger the bees will start going into each others boxes slowly getting used to each other.This will make the package much stronger and it will probably be a good honey producer.
  3. Switch the strong colony with a weak colony. Move strong hive A to the location of weak hive B. Weak hive B is moved to the location of strong hive A. When switching hives the whole hive is moved. The field bees fly out to forage and come back to where they think they live. The result is the weak hive gets stronger and the strong hive gets weaker.
Swarm control is a must on overwintered colonies. Checking for swarm cells on a no more than 10 day schedule. Entrance reducers should be removed. If a beekeeper is using a Varroa screened bottom board, the slide bottom should be removed. Any colony with a queen over one year old is much more likely to swarm than a colony with a new queen. All hives can swarm, overcrowding, hot weather, no pollen or nectar coming into a colony, poor air flow in a bee yard can contribute to swarming. Now is the time to be diligent on swarm control. The nectar flow is on the horizon probably about three weeks out. This statement sums up swarming. Swarming leads to no excess honey in a hive. Swarm controlled leads to a bumper honey crop.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


The rainy weather has made pollen collecting a challenge for bees. The bees need the pollen to keep feeding their brood. No pollen and the brood can die and the colony moves backwards in colony strength.
This time of year right after the fruit bloom there can be a dearth of pollen available for around two to three weeks. Pollen patty's are needed now to keep the brood well fed and the colony strength up before the main nectar flow hits.
When checking the bees this time of year a beekeeper has to make sure there are enough food stores to get to the honey flow. Usually I pick up a brood box and judge by weight if they have enough honey. A heavy box means they are good for a week, if it is light weight I feed.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I know someone that has some nuc's for sale. Anyone interested call or email me and I will pass on the contact info.


I have heard of 6 beekeepers hit by bears this week. I myself was one of them. I have a yard at a non profit in Marine. They have a seven foot high fence around about fifteen acres. They grow vegetables in this site. My bees have been there for many years. Bears have always been in the area and I have never had a problem. Somehow a bear must have tunneled under the fence and found a tasty snack at my expense. The bear destroyed four of eight hives.
Another beekeeper in south Maplewood also was hit. Bears are out there and if you don't have a bear fence they will happily share your bees with you.
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