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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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Where we are at in the nectar flow

 The nectar flow has been decreasing in intensity. Many summer flower are going away. New late summer flowers are coming online. Goldenrod, Purple Loosestrife, Joe Pye weed, Sunflower, and Alfalfa will start blooming again. At this stage of the nectar flow I usually look at my supers and I hold off on putting more supers on. Letting the bees fill up partially filled supers before adding more supers. If the supers are 3/4 full, I will add one super at that time.

Joe Pye Weed photo by D. Ulvenes


White Snake Root toxic to cows, goats, sheep, humans. Don't know how the nectar is. The bees love it.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Neonicotinoids in South Dakota

This article talks about research on honeybees in South Dakota and the levels of neonicotinoids. Neonic's are a pesticide applied to seeds of many plants such as corn and soybeans.
Neonic's in South Dakota honeybee study

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hive Scale

Paul from Warner Nature Center shared this hive scale photo. The yellow line is the honey weight. You can see the hive weight increased from about 110 lbs on 6/29 to around 150 lbs on 7/7. Notice the rise and fall of the hive weight everyday. As the bees bring in nectar, the bees fan the hive to evaporate water in the nectar. The weight of the hive changes daily until the supers are filled out. The weight then stays pretty much constant after that. Maybe falling slightly. Paul explains that it was not for a lack of nectar flow. The supers were all full and the bees stopped collecting. He was aware of the supers being full.
Scale hive at Warner Nature Center from 6/29 through 7/14

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hot Weather, Hot in the Hive, Cool at Nature's Nectar LLC

FYI: We have installed air conditioning in our sales room.

This hive was overcrowded earlier in the year. But it is a good pic for a hot hive. The hive is hot and bees are hanging outside

How does the hot weather affect the bees?
When it gets really hot, the bees will hang out on the front of the hive. This is normal.
  Inside the hive it is packed with bees. Bees are hanging on and covering the frames. With the large population of bees it is hard to cool the hive. To compensate for the heat, collection of water increases. Water is placed throughout the hive and the bees will fan their wings to create air currents. The air currents evaporate the water and have a cooling effect similar to a swamp cooler that are used in the drier western states for air conditioning. The weather that is coming has high heat and humidity. The high humidity make evaporating the water in the hive more difficult and the cooling effect from evaporating the water is not as great. So to help cool the hive, bees will move out of the hive to reduce crowding on the frames. The bees can cover the front of the hive, cluster under the front of the bottom board, and/or cluster underneath the front edge of the telescoping cover.
Taking measures like lifting covers can make cooling the hive harder. Bees set up air currents in the hive by fanning. Creating a large opening may make it harder for the bees to cool the hive.
When the temperatures cool of the bees will move back inside.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What's Blooming on the Browns Creek Trail

My wife and I went for a walk down the Browns Creek Trail in Stillwater this morning. We went a few miles, beautiful morning for a walk. Breezy plus no bugs. We were looking at all the flowers blooming. Many summer flowers in full bloom or some coming on strong in early stages of bloom. Take Manning Ave to McKusick Road. head east to Neal Ave. Take Neal Ave South about one block. There is a large parking area there and a Stillwater park with a big kid play structure.  We got on the trail and headed west. It is about a mile to the Manning Ave Bridge. I am being descriptive because they are working on a new subdivision of 55 homes. At that point it is a perfect place if you have any tykes that like trucks and big equipment to safely view the construction from an elevated viewpoint. But I did take some pics of what is blooming that was my true focus, not the loss of pollinator habitat.
Bee Balm at my house. This is a great pollinator plant. Also used by butterflies and Humming birds

At the MN Hobby beekeepers on Tuesday night. An hour before the meeting two U of MN scientists Gary and Mike go thru colonies and explain what is going on. They answered questions and demonstrated mite testing. The over wintered colonies they tested all had high mite counts. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about what is happening in a bee hive.

Queen Ann's Lace (big white flower ) I did not see any bees working it. Yellow  flower is Birds Foot Trefoil, purple flower is Spotted Knapweed

White Sweet Clover and Rudbeckia is the yellow flower

Sumac and Rudbeckia

Goldenrod in bloom already. We just saw one plant. Normally it is widespread in August



There goes the neighborhood

Monday, July 11, 2016

Checked my bees today

I checked my bees today. Just looking for conditions of supers. Several of my hives have four supers on them a couple have five. A few have two with nothing going on in the supers. These hives must have swarmed.
 Most of my hives were packages this year. The best producing colonies are the overwintered colonies.
 Bees have a hoarding instinct. Keep ahead of the bees with empty supers. If there is an empty box on the hive the bees will try to fill it. If the bees fill up the supers and the nectar flow is still going on, they may just stop collecting nectar. Because there in no where to put it. If you pull off partially full supers at the end of the season you can say you got everthing the bees could collect. If all the supers are full when you pull them off a hive, you probably could have gotten more honey.
At this time the nectar flow is still going on.
 Driving around Stillwater, I have seen a new batch of White Sweet Clover starting to bloom.
Spotted Knapweed is also blooming around the Stillwater area as I am sure it is blooming across the metro area. Spotted Knapweed is a noxious weed that should not be propagated. But the weed does produce some nice honey.
Spotted Knapweed can be confused with Thistle, but on close inspection it easy to tell the difference.
Spotted Knapweed Flower

Spotted Knapweed plant

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District

The Metropolitan Mosquito Control District (MMCD) is asking bee keepers to let them know where their hives are located so they can mark them on field maps and avoid them when treating for adult mosquitoes. MMCD is aware that beekeepers sometimes move their hives to more productive locations, so they’re asking beekeepers to keep in touch. MMCD will work to avoid your hives regardless of where you place them.

Also, the folks at MMCD aren’t the only ones who use insecticides that have the potential to affect bees. If you haven’t already done so, you might want to consider voluntarily registering your hive location with Driftwatch, a free service that lets bee keepers communicate with registered pesticide applicators of all stripes. Start here if you want to register your bees with Driftwatch. https://driftwatch.org/

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Latest on the nectar flow

This nectar flow has started off very spotty. It seems a lot of nectar came in early.  There then seemed like a dearth of nectar for about two weeks and now it seems there is nectar coming in again.
Overwintered hives were able to take advantage the early nectar. Many of those beekeepers have three supers full of honey or more. Package bees have about reached their full strength in colony population. Some beekeepers with packages have honey starting to get put up in the supers. So weather permitting, that will continue. Some hot weather would help. It has been dry, my grass is turning brown. Actually the dry weather can be good for the nectar flow. When it is on the dry side, it seems that plants secrete more nectar. We don't want it to get too dry and the plants start getting crispy. There is rain on the horizon so hopefully we won't get to crispy stage.
Basswood tree nectar flow is still going on in rural areas. In any cities around the area I think it has run its course.  The Basswood flow is a very fickle flow. Sometimes they secrete tremendous amounts of nectar, sometimes there is nothing to be had.
 Many plants and flowers are blooming now. Sumac, Thistle, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Clovers. Perennial Wildflowers are now starting to make their appearance. The first cutting of Alfalfa/Clover hay fields was in early June. We are now getting close to when the Alfalfa/Clover will be blooming again. The second cutting of hay produces better nectar yields than when it first bloomed in June.
 The bees will fill their top deep full of honey first. This will be their winter honey. Do not do a reversal and put the heavy top box on the bottom. The heaviest brood box stays on top of the colony.
If you are not getting any honey you could be in a poor nectar area, your bees could have swarmed, a poor laying queen has not produced enough brood, or the nectar flow at the moment is not great.
 I do have beekeepers who in their area, honey comes in early for some of them or late in other cases. That is when their nectar flows happen. It can be soil types or just the general make up of flowers in their area. If your beeyard produces poorly after several years of trying, sometimes moving the yard three to five miles away can lead to better results.
So right now flowers are blooming everywhere, summer is here, the bees are working. Keep ahead of your supers, check them weekly. Supers can fill up very quickly when everything is going right.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

On this day in 1863

If you have never been to the Gettysburg Battlefield I strongly encourage the trip.

On this day in 1863, the 1st Minnesota saved the Battle of Gettysburg to help make a union victory. The Confederates were about to cut the Union line in half. The 1st Minnesota was ordered to take the colors of the attacking Confederates. The Union commanders needed five minutes to bring up reinforcements, the 1st Minnesota gave him 10. Without any hesitation, 257 Minnesotans charged the oncoming 1,300 - 1,500 Alabamans. The 1st MN suffered an 82% casualty rate. It is the highest casualty rate of any U.S. military command in combat. I believe that is still true to this day. of the 257 Minnesotans that took the field that day, 215 were killed or wounded, 42 were still in line at the end of the day.
The following day what was left of the 1st Minnesota was on the front line for Picketts charge. The 1st Minnesota captured a Confederate battle flag that day and that flag is still at the MN Historical Society.  Several groups of Virginians have threatened to sue to get the battle flag back, but the flag still remains in Minnesota.
1st Minnesota monument at Gettysburg National Battlefield
 Please read about the first Minnesota: