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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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I've been searchin

Basswood Trees heavy with blooms
I have been looking for some nectar plants. I have some some positive news.
I had to do a road trip into Wisconsin tonight. The Lift Bridge is closed so I had to go the long way. As I was driving on 94 near Hudson, I did see some White Sweet Clover blooming in the center median.
 Sara in Red Wing emailed me and said she finally has the White Sweet Clover blooming down there.
As I was coming home through Stillwater tonight, I did see some Basswoods blooming near Cub foods.
 So it looks like some things are moving forward, let's hope the nectar is there for our hungry bees.

A weak nectar flow and swarming

Whenever there is a weak nectar flow or on and off nectar flow, swarming can be an issue.
 Unreliable nectar intake this time of year, makes the bees nervous that not enough food is coming in and they may have to leave to find a more steady food supply.
 Stay on the looking for swarm cells program during this time.
If the weather warms up and the nectar flow gets more steady, the swarming issue will lessen.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Cool Weather affecting the Nectar Flow

I have noticed my nectar flow has slackened off around my place. The way I know without even looking at my hives, is bee behavior.
 The bees were coming in my garage smelling the beeswax on the frames with new foundation. The bees are looking for nectar.
 I had a frame feeder sitting by a nuc box. It had a little syrup in the bottom of the feeder. Bees were flying into the feeder getting the syrup. This behavior has been subtle. Just a few bees hitting the syrup. There is a nectar flow going on, but it has diminished and bees are searching for new sources of nectar.
 When the bees discover a nectar source, foragers come back and waggle dance on the combs inside the hive. This dance tells the bees the direction, distance from the hive and intensity of the flow.
 Being that it is a nearly empty feeder, the nectar available was small and not too intense. That is why only a few bees were there. There must not have been much excitement in the hive for the feeder syrup.
 If it was late August I would have 10,000 bees on the feeder in a half an hour.
    Weather change: The warm temperatures that are coming later in the week should get the nectar going again.
White Sweet Clover is still missing in action. Basswoods should be blooming in a week or so. At least that is when they should be blooming.

Bee Venom in Cancer Treatments?


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Deer Pics

I finally got around to checking out a trail camera that is back by my beeyard. These are a couple pics from last winter.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Nectar in the Hive and Queen Excluders

When the bees start filling the hive with nectar, they usually will fill the brood area with honey first. There still is plenty of brood and eggs in the brood box, but the bees pack in the brood area first. As more nectar comes in, and there is no where left to put honey, it is at that point, the bees move into the supers.
 For the bees, it is about survival. They will fill their living area first, so there is honey for the future survival of the colony.
 Beekeepers always blame queen excluders for their problems with honey not being stored in their supers. This really is not the case. I know a commercial beekeepers who runs 9000 colonies. He uses queen excluders on all his hives. He sees value is using excluders. Most beekeepers with more than a couple hives use honey robber with fume boards to remove their supers. Honey Robber is a odor repellent and makes bees leave the supers quickly.
  If any brood gets laid in a super, the bees will not leave the brood no matter what is used. This make supers harder to remove and more labor is required to get the bees out of the supers as the bees have to be brushed off the frames by hand. If the excluders were causing him to get less honey, I am sure he would not use them.
 Colonies with new supers and bare foundation, I usually suggest that queen excluders are left out until there is a little wax and nectar on a frame or two in the supers. At that time I would put in the excluder.
 On my hives with drawn comb, I put the supers on top of the excluder and the bees move up into the supers when they are ready.
 Excluders don't cause swarming. Lack of management by the beekeeper causes swarming. Beekeepers should still be on the seven day checking for swarm cell schedule. If this schedule is not followed, the bees may swarm.
If you are not getting any honey in your supers after a week or two of the start of the nectar flow, your hive may have swarmed or you are in a poor nectar area.
 When a hive swarms the field bees leave. These are the same bees that will bring honey to the hive. If the field bees leave in a swarm, there are not enough field bees to produce excess honey and the hive is unlikely to have any honey in the supers.
 How do you know if this has happened? If you look in the brood box and see no eggs or young larvae, probably some queen cells the hive probably has swarmed. Do not remove the swarm cells at this point, this will be your new queen. The bees may fill the brood area solid with honey as the brood hatches out.
 Honey is coming in, hopefully you should see a a few full supers soon.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Nectar Flow

Birds Foot Trefoil

White Dutch Sweet Clover
I think it is safe to say that everyone in the metro area is experiencing
 a nectar flow.
 I was out in my back bee yard and noticed my Catalpa Trees flowering. Catalpa Trees have very large leaves and produce large bean pods. The flowering usually means the timing is right for the start of the nectar flow. The Catalpa trees don't really secrete nectar, and I have never seen the bees work the Catalpa flowers. But, the timing of their bloom usually coincides with the early part of the main nectar flow.
 I added supers on my hive by the Catalpa's yesterday and noticed the top deep box was solid honey.
 I have White Dutch Clover and Birds Foot Trefoil blooming in large numbers near my bee yard.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Upcoming week perfect for MAQS treatments

The next week will be perfect weather for Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) mite treatment. The temperatures will be in the mid to upper 70's.
 If you have done a mite check or just want to treat to knock down the existing mite levels, this is the time.
 Hives that started with package bees will have mites starting to creep up in numbers from when the package was hived. A single strip of MAQS now will knock down the mite levels until about August, when a full treatment should be applied.
 Overwintered colonies that were not treated for mites in the spring, should consider a full treatment of MAQS now before the mite population starts causing damage to the bees.
 MAQS can be used during a nectar flow when supers are on the hive.
I had this video on a couple weeks ago but a refresher is always a good.

Monday, June 12, 2017

What is happening in the hive and the nectar flow

 Have You Seen This?
White Sweet Clover
 Hives are still building up and should be nearing their peak populations in the next couple weeks for most of us. There are some beekeepers with some lagging hives, like a couple of mine. But they will be looking much better soon.
 Swarming is still happening, keep checking for swarm cells. Once the nectar flow starts coming in heavy, that should give the bees other ideas other than swarming.
 The nectar flow in Stillwater isn't real strong yet, but that should be changing soon.
 I haven't seen any white sweet clover blooming yet around my place yet. Alsike clover is blooming in my lawn and back in my field near my hives. I have seen the bees working it.
 This rain we have just received was a god send. The lawns were just starting to get a little brown. But now with the rain yesterday and today, plants will be green and robust.
  I think bees make more honey when it is a little dry than a little wet. But, brown and crispy is a little too far and puts most nectar flows to a dead stop.
 Most of the first cutting of hay has been harvested. I was getting a little Alfalfa nectar coming in until it was cut. Alfalfa gives more nectar after the first cut. The second cutting of hay, is usually early to mid July.  So I have to be patient.
 My wife's garden is coming in very nice. The bumblebees have been working some of the plants.
Nectar plants to look for: White Sweet Clover, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Basswood/Linden trees (around July 1st), White Dutch Sweet Clover. See some flowers? Are the bees working it? Find out what it is.
 The nectar flow is coming, very soon,  to a hive near you.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Upcoming Heat

The next three days will be very hot. The heat can bring out swarming in a hive. So make sure the entrance reducers are out and the slide is out on screen bottom boards. When it is very warm, it is normal to see bearding in front of the hive. It does not mean it is a sign of swarming. Bearding is just the bees trying to keep cool. The hive is hot so let's sit out on the porch type of thing.
 Mite tests should be done on colonies soon. A beekeeper should know where they are for mite loads. Some beekeepers just treat for mites without testing.       The only mite treatments that can be put on now with supers on is Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS). Some beekeepers put one strip in for a knock down effect on the mites. Then do a full treatment of two strips in mid August. Having low mite levels is the key to bee longevity.
Hive populations should be getting big now, so get the supers on to get a big honey crop.

MN Honey Producers Convention


The MN Honey Producers are having their annual convention July 13 - 15th in Walker, MN, at the Northern Lights Casino. 
There are some great speakers on the agenda this year. Dr. Meghan Milbrath whose post of Why Did My Bees Die explained to many beekeepers what they are doing wrong with their bees.
There will be a customer appreciation day at Mann Lake LTD. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Scott County Beekeepers

A new bee club is starting up in Prior Lake area.
 We are meeting on the third Tuesday of each month 6:45pm.  At the Prior Lake City Hall.  If you would like to post this info on your blog that would be great.  I
could be a contact if someone wanted more information.

Thanks again.  We hope to be a good support to one another and keep our bees healthy and happy.

Deb Hoger
for more info:

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Yellow Sweet Clover

I did see some yellow sweet clover blooming in a ditch yesterday. This usually suggests the main nectar flow is getting ready to start. Yellow Sweet Clover does not give huge nectar flows in eastern Minnesota because it is too humid here, but where it is drier in the western part of the state and the Dakota's it is the major honey crop. In the Dakota's one hive can give you 300 to 500 hundred pounds of honey per hive when they get enough rain to keep it green. This year the Dakota's have been too dry and the Yellow Sweet Clover flow is going to be a bust.
 White Sweet Clover will be blooming soon. White Sweet Clover is the honey crop for most of us. Supers should be on your hives now if they are ready for them.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Black Locust Flow

I talked to a commercial beekeeper who runs 700 colonies. He says he has been having a heavy flow of Black Locust honey. He told me that all his colonies have filled one super of honey. He runs deep boxes for his honey supers. Deeps weigh about 90 lbs when filled and capped with honey.

Supers On

This hive is having a nectar flow. New white comb can be seen on the darker burr comb. The white new wax means nectar is currently coming into the hive. This is a way to identify a nectar flow.

The weather this coming week is perfect bee weather. The warm temperatures will be getting many plants towards their blooming stage of their lifecycle. There is an old saying that the nectar flow starts about 10 days after the first clover is spotted. I had clover blooming in my yard about four days ago. Supers should be put on now on any colony that is ready for them.
The southern part of the state of MN may already be into a nectar flow and it may be coming very soon into the metro area. Black Locust trees are in full bloom right now. I was driving east on Hwy 36 last night. I saw several stands of Black Locust trees blooming between Dale and 35E on the southside of the road.
 Package bees, if the bees are done drawing comb in the deep boxes put your supers on now. If the colonies are on their last box, monitor them closely. Colonies with just have a frame or two to finish, it would be best to put the supers on. All colonies right now are exploding with bees. There may be six frames of brood emerging in a very short time. A deep box of foundation that took a month to draw out a short time ago, now can be finished in ten days. Colonies drawing foundation still should be fed syrup, but that may be ending soon. Weak colonies are the exception and still may need syrup on for a while yet.
 With the higher populations everything will change quickly. As beekeepers, we need to be prepared for the changing condition of the hive. Colonies should be checked on a seven day cycle for swarm cells.
 When putting supers on with new foundation, the supers with foundation need to be put on so they are located right above the brood boxes. Supers with already drawn comb can be stacked on top of each other. As the supers fill up and a new super is needed, supers with foundation are put underneath filled supers. Supers with drawn comb, just keep stacking them on.
 I do use queen excluders on all my colonies. But with new supers with new foundation, I usually leave the queen excluder off until I see wax and nectar on a frame or two in the first super. I do quick check of the supers looking for a queen, if she happens to be there, I encourage her to move down into the top deep with a little smoke. I then slip the excluder underneath the supers.
 Supers go on two at a time. This time of year, if the honey flow starts off with an intense flow. As super can be drawn out, filled and capped in one week. Check your colonies once a week to monitor the progress of the supers.
 The honey flow is almost here. Beekeepers have worked towards this goal all spring. We have nurtured small colonies from three and four frames of bees to a hive that is packed top to bottom with bees. We are now approaching the payoff with boxes of golden nectar.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sold Out Of Queens

We are sold out of queens for 2017 and will not be getting anymore this year.
If you need a queen,
try Olivarez HoneyBees Inc


The nectar flow is coming very soon. This is the time of year reversals cause confusion. Normally on package bees with new foundation, when the bees finish their last box, beekeepers should do a reversal. Bottom box is changed with the top box. Bottom box to top, top box to bottom. The reasoning is this, there is more pollen stored in the bottom box, with the bottom box now on the top, when the nectar flow starts the bees will fill the top box with honey. This honey is the winter stores for the colony.
 During winter the bees will move up into the top box sometime in late January. As the bees uncap honey for winter food, the bees will expose stored pollen. The queen will start laying around mid February. Now that there is brood in the colony, pollen is needed to feed the young larvae. No pollen means no brood. The last reversal has helped to insure that pollen will be available.
 So now the confusion. If a package colony has not finished the top box and the nectar flow starts. The bees will fill the top box with honey. If the top box is very heavy and is filled with honey it is too late to do a reversal. I have had several customers do a late spring reversal and put the top box full of honey on the bottom of the hive. Their bees died over the next winter because all of the winter food stores were on the bottom of the hive. The bees will not move down to get honey. The bees may starve even though there is a large amount of food stores in the bottom of the hive.
 So what to do? If the top box is full and you missed the reversal opportunity, grab a frame of pollen from a lower box and put it into the center of the top box. The bees will fill in honey on top of the pollen. This will give the bees some available pollen in February. If this doesn't work for you, pollen patties can be given to bees a little earlier than normal to fill the pollen gap.

Friday, June 2, 2017

European Foulbrood

There has been some European Foulbrood (EFB) being reported by several of my customers.
 European Foulbrood can come with a cool wet spring. This type of Foulbrood can clear up on its own. It does not leave scale that reinfects colonies. But treating with Terramycin clears up EFB very quickly.
 European Foulbrood responds well to Terramycin , an antibiotic.
Speaking of antibiotics, several beekeepers that have this problem tried to purchase some Terramycin to treat their bees. But there was a federal law change. and beekeepers can no longer purchase antibiotics without a veterinarian visiting the hive, looking at the hive, troubleshooting the disease, then writing a prescription.
The beekeepers with the sick bees called a few veterinarians to help them. Most were uninterested and did not know anything about what the brood diseases looked like anyway. So what traditionally was a problem that beekeepers fixed, now will cost them some major money to fix. A vet visit, a prescription, what is that going to cost. I can't imagine a vet doing a site visit for less then $100.00.
 I think the result of this law, while intended to keep antibiotics out of the food chain, will result in colonies going untreated and may cause widespread colony outbreaks on some infectious diseases such as American Foulbrood, because beekeepers will not pay that vet fee.
 I think a better solution is requiring beekeepers to get a comp card like a pesticide applicator would have to get. There is only a few diseases that beekeepers need antibiotics for.  So, a short course of disease identification is all that would be needed, a test to prove that a beekeeper is competent, and a card is issued. The card would give the beekeeper the license to purchase the antibiotic.
 By getting a vet involved in disease troubleshooting is bad business for beekeepers but good for vets. In my opinion, this sounds like a money grab by the Veterinarian political lobby. What is the next step, prescription for mite treatments and pollen patties? I think it is time to put some heat on our federal Congressmen and Senators .

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Entrance Reducers

The next couple days will be getting quite warm. Any colonies in at least two deep boxes should have their entrance reducers removed off their hive. Leaving entrance reducers in on very warm days can cause a hot hive. The bees may be bearding in front of a hive and can cause swarming issues. Tomorrow, Thursday may be 85 and humid. It would not be surprising that strong colonies will be bearding out the front of the hive even with the entrance reducers out.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Queens and whats up in the hive right now

We do have some queens available right now. Italians and a few Saskatraz.
 On Friday we will be getting our last shipment of queens for the year. They will be marked Italians and marked Carniolans.
 Colonies are building up for the upcoming nectar flow. Most package bee colonies should be having a big populations. The next two weeks, package bee colonies will be having many frames of emerging brood increasing the hives population quite a bit. If you are running three deeps and have just put on or close to putting on your third box, the large population of bees will draw out a new box in about 10 days. Make sure there is syrup on the hive so the bees can finish out any undrawn comb.
All package bee colonies should have at least two deeps on them right now. Don't get hung up on if the bees haven't drawn out the outside frames in the first box. Put on the second box if you haven't done it already.
 If you have good populations in both boxes you can remove the entrance reducers. If your package bees are done drawing comb, do a reversal. Bottom box to the top, top box to bottom. No reversals should be done on any colonies after June 10th. The top box may be getting heavy with honey. That is the winter food for the bees. If the top box is very heavy with honey do not do a reversal. Leave the top box the way it is for the rest of the season.
 Swarming is a concern for all colonies this time of year. All colonies should be checked for swarm cells. Remove swarm cells before they are capped. Check the hive every seven days. Check all the boxes. If you just check the top box for swarm cells you are wasting your time. Swarm cells can be on any frame.
Over wintered colonies are bursting with bees. Swarming is going on around the Midwest.
Black Locust trees are blooming around the Stillwater area. Hay fields will be blooming now or very soon. Farmers are or will be cutting the first crop of hay in the next week to 10 days. There may be a nectar flow if the hay is not cut right away. The main nectar flow should be starting in about two weeks.  Overwintered colonies and any package colonies that are done drawing comb, should have supers on now.
 All hives are now getting large populations. The main nectar flow is on the horizon. Keep the bees from swarming and you may end up with a nice honey crop.

Monday, May 22, 2017

They're Ba-ack - Mites

I was out helping a friend do some dividing and requeening. As we were looking through the colonies a mite was spotted on a bee. Looking at more and more of the bees as we were looking for the queen we saw more and more mites. We did see some mites in the drone brood as well when burr comb was broken open between boxes. The colonies were in good shape with good populations of bees.
  Over wintered colonies are building up in numbers of bees, but so is the mite population. Mite treatments on strong colonies should go on soon. If the are left untreated, viruses may start showing up. Colonies with high mite counts today may not survive until August unless the mites are brought under control.
 With the nectar flow just around the corner, the mite treatment that should work well at this time is Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS), the active ingredient is Formic Acid. It is a seven day mite treatment. So the mite treatment will be done before the nectar flow hits. Mite Away Quick Strips can be on during a nectar flow.
 Package bee colonies new this year can have one MAQS srip on the hive around mid June.
Here is the YouTube video about  MAQS:

Supercedure - Trying To Make A Queen

Queenless hive with supercedure cells. The queen cells were removed and a new mated queen was added to the split.
I purchased a divide from a beekeeper. The beekeeper thought she had moved her queen into the split. I checked it after a couple days and noticed that it was queenless. I was planning on replacing the old queen anyway, but this was a good learning moment. The split had a lot of older larvae and capped brood but no eggs or young brood.
 The bees started making queen cells. Supercedure cells are an emergency situation for the bees. They will try to make a queen off any viable larvae they can use.
 For this reason, supercedure queens are not the best for replacement queens. The queen cells are elongated out of the cells and sometimes the room for the new queen to grow properly is not there. This can result in a poorly developed queen.
 Swarm cell queens on the other hand are produced exclusively to make a queen that will replace the queen that leaves with the swarm. The cell itself is usually a large cell with plenty of room to grow.
 Swarm cells produce very nice queens. For this reason, a beekeeper should have a five frame nuc or two available for use. A frame of bees that has undeveloped swarm cells on the frame can be moved into a nuc box. This swarm cell will develop in the nuc. The queen will emerge and if she is properly mated, you will have an extra queen on hand. A true free bee. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Mite Kits

We do have Mite Test Kits available now

Bee Math: Rainy Weather + Cool Temperatures=Swarming

These are supercedure cells or emergency queen cells. They are usually on the side of a frame. Supercedure happens if the queen dies and the bees will scramble to try to make a new queen. 

Swarm cell. On the bottom of a frame.
The current cool and rainy weather has the bees locked in their hives. While they are locked in, the hive is still moving forward. The queen is laying and new bees are emerging.
 The cool weather will make the overwintered hive feel overcrowded. This will give the hive a reason to make swarm cells. A inspection for swarm cells should be done on a seven to 10 day schedule on strong colonies.
 Normally when swarm cells are capped, the bees will swarm. Most of the field bees will leave with the old queen. If you look in a hive that has swarmed, you will see no eggs and older larvae and capped brood. You can remove the swarm cells and install a new queen.
 If you come across a swarm cell that is open on the bottom with no larvae inside, may mean that a virgin queen has emerged. Or if you see these swarm symptoms and you are not sure if they swarmed or you are queenless. This is when having a second hive helps. Take a frame of eggs from the queenrite colony and put it in the queenless colony. Check it after five days. If the bees are making queen cells off the new brood, you could safely say you are queenless and put in a new queen. If the bees are not making queen cells you may have a queen in the hive and she has not started to lay yet.
 In a hive with a virgin queen, new bees will be getting old enough to forage. The foraging worker bees will bring in nectar and can fill the hive up with honey while the bees are waiting for the queen to start to lay eggs. This can make a hive honey bound, leaving no place for the queen to lay. If this happens, the frames need to be spun out and emptied of the honey and the empty frames given back to the hive. The honey may be too high of a water content to be called Grade A honey, but it can be fed back to the bees.
 Where are swarm cells?
Swarm cells can be anywhere. They are usually on the bottom of the frames. But the bees will put them on burr comb or funky comb. I have seen swarm cells hanging off the top bar. Sometimes the swarm cells are on bridge comb that spans between boxes. When the boxes are broken apart, sometimes the swarm cell is destroyed and the beekeepers never notices that there was a swarm cell there. If one swarm cell is missed it will develop and the bees will swarm.
 Unsure what swarm cells look like? Go to Google Images, search for swarm cells and you will see over a million pics on what they look like.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Open Hours this week - Queens have arrived

We will be open:
Thursday 8 am - noon
Friday noon - 6 pm
Saturday 9 am - 1 pm.
Sunday 2 pm - 4 pm
We have to close early on Saturday.
The weather will be lousy on Saturday so we will also be open for two hours on Sunday.
The queens have arrived. They got here around 11:30.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What is happening in Mid May in the hive

Black Locust trees usually bloom in late May. They are a great nectar source.
Now it is mid May and we have had some nice warm weather over the last week. The warm weather has made it possible for the bees to expand their brood nest. This came at a good time.
 Package Bees: The 2 lb and 3 lb packages are building up quickly. 2 lb packages should have on their second boxes by now. 3 lb packages should be very close to having a second box. Don't get hung up if the bees have not drawn out the very outside frames in the lower box. Bees are reluctant to draw out the outside frames in a hive because of the temperature differences along the outside edges of the hive. If looking at a single deep and you are unsure if you should add another box or not. If you are thinking, "Wow, there sure are a lot of bees in this box" If that statement crosses your mind then add another box. A frame of drawn comb can be moved down at a later date. If the hive is too crowded they will swarm.
 Overwintered Hives: Overwintered hives are packed with bees right now. Many of these colonies have put up a super or two of honey already. The crowded colonies should have or should be divided. Swarming is going on and I have heard of quite a few swarms already.
 This rainy weather will lock the bees in the hive for many days. The bees will feel very crowded and the swarming impulse will be kicking into high gear. This swarming impulse will be in all strong colonies and swarm management should be in place.
 Checking for swarm cells every 7-10 days is in order. Checking all the boxes for swarm cell and cut out any uncapped swarm cells. Usually if you come across a capped swarm cell the hive would have already swarmed. 
 If the hive has swarmed you should notice a decrease in activity at the front door. There should be a noticeable reduction in bee arrival and departures. There still will be a large population of bees in the hive. But the foragers will be the bees that have left. You normally don't see the foragers in the hive in great numbers during the day because they are out gathering. So an inexperienced beekeeper would say their bees must not have swarmed. 
 If there are capped swarm cells in the hive and the hive has swarmed, it is better to pinch the swarm cell and buy a queen then it is for them to make their own queen. It works best to pinch the swarm cell. Sometimes cutting a capped swarm cell, there could be a queen just hours from being released. If the cell gets opened  with out squashing the bee inside, a virgin queen can pop out and jump into the hive. This virgin queen can be very difficult to find. Installing a purchased queen into a hive with a virgin queen, will result in the demise of the queen that was just purchased for $31.00.  
It is best to purchase a queen, at least from May through the month of June. After the month of June. Purchasing a queen isn't going to influence the outcome of the nectar flow. By the time new bees start emerging the nectar flow will be mostly over. Make sure a queen is available to purchase before the swarm cell is pinched.
The fruit bloom: The fruit bloom is coming to an end. Most of the flowering trees and shrubs are done blooming and even the dandelions are on their way out. The bees will now be coming to a time of a dearth in pollen. There may not be large amounts of pollen for about two weeks. Pollen patties should be on hives for the short term. The next nectar flows will be Black  Locust in Late May, and alfalfa and the beginnings of the first clover blooms in early June.
Black Locust can produce a large amount of nectar if there is a large amount of these trees in you locale.
Everything is moving in the right direction. The main nectar flow is about a month away. Keep your bees from swarming and this may be a good honey year for all..

The Great California Bee Heist - Solved


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What is happening in the package hives right now

Package bees should all be increasing in size by now.
 2 lb Packages: The 2 lb packages by now should have their second box on. The 2 lb packages were installed around April 4th. That means new bees started emerging around April 30th. The packages will be increasing in population everyday.
 3 lb packages: The 3 lb packages were installed around April 17th. The 3 lb packages should be having emerging brood starting around now. They should be ready for their second box probably next week sometime.
If you are drawing comb on new foundation there should be syrup on the hive constantly until the comb is finished.
Pollen patties need to be on package bee colonies until early June. Package bee hives do not have the population to forage for the needs of entire colony until around June 10th. Consider this, a package hive colony installed around April 4th, new bees start emerging around April 30th. The new bees can't even start to forage until about 22 days later. Now that puts us around May 21st. It will still be another couple weeks before there is a large amount of foragers that are old enough and in large enough numbers to provide for the hive. The 3 lb packages are two weeks behind these dates. So for them, their initial time for flying foragers is around May 30th. With good populations of foragers starting around mid June.
Cold weather could have impacted some of these dates slightly if the colonies were slowed in their population numbers by not being able to expand their brood nesting area.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Queens - new shipment on Wed May 10th

We are Closed Saturday May 6th through May 9th.

We will be getting a new shipment of queens on Wednesday May 10th.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Swarm cells in strong colony

I went through a strong overwintered colony last night and cut out over 20 swarm cells. This turn in weather will bring out swarming.
After I cut swarm cells I looked for eggs and saw none. There was brood in larvae and capped stages. The queen must have stopped laying and a swarm was going to happen today. I don't think they swarmed because there was a large amount of field bees coming and going. So to totally stop a possible swarm, I switched the location of the hive with a weaker colony. Moved strong hive to weak hive location and weak hive to strong hive location. The field bees fly out and go back to where they think they live. Now the strong hive has lost most of their field bees and the weak hives gets a huge increase in field bees, and I think the swarm has been averted. I will check the strong hive again in five days to see if the queen has started to lay again.
 Look today for swarm cells in strong overwintered colonies or your bees will be up in a tree.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Open Longer Hours This Week and hive update

Nature's Nectar LLC will be closed on Saturday May 6th.
We will be open longer hours to sell queens and supplies for the upcoming weekend.
Wednesday noon - 6 pm
Thursday 8 am - 6 pm
Friday noon - 6 pm

The cold weather has really thrown a wrench into hive expansion. The bees are doing OK, but the cold has the bees unable to spread out like we would like. The warm weather is coming and things will be back on track soon. The 2 lb packages will be hatching new brood starting sometime this week. Their hives will be showing an increase in bees. Beekeepers who had all drawn comb may be adding a second box in a week or so. Beekeepers drawing foundation on the 2 lb packages are still expanding their comb in the hive. A second box is on the horizon for you. When the bees have drawn out eight of the 10 frames it will be time to add another box. Don't wait for them to draw out the very outside frames, the bees almost never do those frames. I usually will move them in one frame from the outside so the bees will work on them.
 Over wintered colonies are still moving forward. There are so many bees in these colonies that the cold does not stop them from getting bigger. While the cold has stopped the bees from foraging and has held back the swarming, the upcoming warming trend may change all that. Swarm prevention protocol should be in force with the rising temperatures. Check the colonies for swarm cells on a seven day cycle. Cut the cells before they are capped. If you find capped swarm cells, your hive has probably swarmed. Divides are happening now and for the next three weeks or so. Put honey supers on overwintered colonies now. This warm weather will definitely get the nectar coming into the hives.
 Mite checks should be done on overwintered colonies to see what the mite load is. Some beekeepers have been treating for mites already this season.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Longer Hours

Now open longer hours on Friday open noon - 6pm
Wed. noon - 6 pm
Thursday 8 am - 11:45
Friday noon - 6 pm
Saturday 9 am - 3 pm

Cold weather and Walk away splits

The cold weather we have had has put the bees into tighter clusters. With the contracting of the cluster of bees, there will probably be some brood mortality in some colonies. The earlier warm weather, let the bees expand their brood areas. Now with the colder weather, the bees may not be able to cover all the brood that the queen had laid. This uncovered brood will more than likely get chilled and die. Don't be surprised if you start seeing dead brood and or bees in front of the hive when the temperatures warm up. This will set the hive back a little but it won't hurt them in the long term.
 Walk away splits should not be done in this cooler weather. The cool weather may chill the brood that the covering bees have been shaken off of. A large number of brood could perish during the time it takes for the bees to reoccupy the split that has no bees covering and protecting the brood. Stick with a traditional split and there will be no problems.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The fruit bloom and dandelions

The fruit bloom and the dandelion bloom has begun across the metro area. Traveling to the south metro I saw many dandelions and flowering shrubs and crabs starting to bloom.
 My Wild Plums are just starting to show some life. But in St Paul Wild Plums were in full bloom.
 This current bloom will last around three weeks with Apple trees coming in around May 10 or so. This bloom is about a week earlier than normal. This is ice cream time for the bees. Wide spread nectar and quality pollen. If the weather is good the bees win, if the weather is cool and rainy the bees may miss some of the ice cream. Pollen patties should still be on colonies during this cool and rainy times. The bees are not able to forage right now and for much of the next week. Pollen is needed now because the hive is still moving forward in spite of the weather and beekeepers need to keep pollen available or the hive population may suffer.
 Strong overwintered colonies should have honey supers on NOW. Honey supers go on two at a time. It is not uncommon for strong colonies to get a super or two of honey during this time if the weather accommodates.
When this weather warms up a little, swarm control should be used on strong overwintered colonies. Many of the strong colonies are bursting with bees. Some warm weather may get swarm cells going in the hives.
 Divides are going on now and into the month of May. If you do not divide a strong colony, the bees will divide themselves, they WILL swarm.
If you don't want to run more colonies, Nature's Nectar LLC does buy divides.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


The queens have arrived. I have a little prep to do. But I should be ready to sell by 12:30.
Limit on queens this week: 3 queens per car.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Closed May 6th - May 9th

Nature's Nectar LLC will be closed Saturday May 6th to May 9th.
Open on Wed May 10th. Plan your queen purchases accordingly.

3 lb packages-Check for Queen Acceptance Now

Sugar water in the top cells, pollen is the yellow in the cells, eggs are in the lower cells.
The beekeepers that purchased 3 lb packages should have a laying queen by Wednesday. Even though the weather is cool, you still need to check the hive for eggs. If you see eggs you know the queen has been accepted. If you don't see eggs and larvae in your hive, you may need a queen. While you are checking, you do not need to see the queen. If you see eggs then you are good. Close up the hive. Failure to check for queen acceptance may jeopardize the survival of the colony.

Monday, April 24, 2017

How to do a divide

A divide is when a strong overwintered colony is split into two hives. If strong overwintered colonies are not split, the hive will more than likely swarm. If the hive swarms, that colony will probably not yield an excess honey crop.
A divide can happen when a colony has eight frames of brood and bees. If you do not have that much brood yet, wait a week and check again. Make sure a queen is available when the divide is ready for a queen.
Steps to make a split:
  1. Divide eight frames of brood between two boxes on the hive. Brood is, frames containing eggs, larvae and capped brood. I like to mix up the brood types in the divide. This assures getting bees of all ages on the split frames.
  2. Put a queen excluder between the two boxes of brood. Wait four full days.
  3. After four full days, go into the hive and inspect the boxes where the brood frames have been placed. You are looking for eggs. Whichever box with the brood has eggs, then that is where your existing queen is. Leave the box with eggs called the Parent, and takeaway the other box. Put honey supers on the parent.
  4. Put the removed box with brood, called the divide, by itself in the bee yard. Put a feeder pail on the divide. There is better queen acceptance during a nectar flow. Approximately 24 hours later install the new queen using the slow release method, using a hard candy plug.
  5. Seven days later, check the divide for eggs. If it has eggs, the queen has been accepted. Now the divide is in a single box. It will remain this way for around a two weeks when another brood box is added. Add honey supers before the nectar flow starts, usually around mid June.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Marked Saskatraz Queen on a frame of QuickDraw foundation. Notice the eggs in the open cells at the top of the pic.

I will be getting queens starting next week and will be getting weekly shipment of queens for the next month.
Please call or email to reserve a queen(s). I will be getting 300 queens to start. There will be a 3 - queen limit the first week of queens.
Carniolan - unmarked $31.00, marked $33.00
Italian - unmarked $31.00, marked $33.00
Saskatraz - unmarked $33.00, marked $35.00
Queens will only be available to my current customers.
If you are not in my customer list or no longer buy your bees from me, try Olivarez Honey Bees or Big Island Queens for queens.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Pollen clings to the hair of a honeybee. The pollen is dry. The bees will regurgitate nectar from their honey stomach, then rake their legs over their body. The nectar will get mixed into the dry pollen. As the bees groom themselves, they rake the now moist pollen into a pellet and it is attached to their pollen baskets on their rear legs.
There is pollen coming in right now. Hives are limited on collecting pollen by cool temperatures and rain. If it is cool in the early part of the day, sometimes pollen collection is limited to just a few hours a day. Rainy days keeps the bees in the hive.
Strong colonies use quite a bit of pollen this time of year. Keeping pollen patties on through the month of May assures proper nutrition for the spring brood build up.
 By not providing the needed nutrition can hurt the overall quality of the bees. When bees don't get the proper pollen during their development, the resulting bee, can have a shorter life spans and their glands may not develop properly.
 I always keep a pollen patty on my hives. As the calendar moves into May, a half a pollen patty sits on the top bars of my hives. I check them weekly and replace as needed. The weather is always hard to predict but I want healthy bees as we move towards the June nectar flow.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Package Bee Cages

We do not want the plastic bee cages or the wooden queen cages back. Please recycle them.
The plastic cages are a recycler number 5. Not all recycler's take number 5.

Friday, April 14, 2017

3 lb Package Bee Pickup Schedule

  • Read this whole Post.  

    Please stick to the pickup schedule below.

The feeder cans are low on feed. You need install the bees right away, or spray the cage with syrup several times a day. Shake the package and listen for the slosh of syrup in the can. If you don't hear liquid sloshing around, then the feeder can is empty.
 Sunday, April 16th and Monday, 17th pick up day:
Sunday and Monday will be the main pick up days and we will follow the schedule below: 

 Please Stick To The Pick Up Schedule Below.

 If everyone came at once there would be several hours wait to get your bees. With the schedule, everyone is spread out through the day, no one is here more than five minutes.
If you live over 100 miles away come when you can.

  Pickup time will go by the first initial of your last name:

N - R  7:30 - 8:30am
S        8:30 - 9:30am
T - Z   9:30 - 10:30am
A - B  10:30 - 11:30am
Crew Lunch 11:30am - 12:30pm
C - D  12:30 - 1:30pm
E - G  1:30 - 2:30pm
H - J   2:30 - 3:30pm
K - M  3:30 - 4:30pm
Open Time (if the schedule time is not possible)  4:30 - 7 pm

The store is closed during bee pick up. We will sell:
Pollen Patties 2 packs ............. $9.00
Pollen Patties 10 patties ......... $37.00
Pollen Patties 40 lbs .............. $80.00
Feeder Pails ............................ $7.00

Sales tax is included in the pricing.
We will not take credit or debit cards because we are working outside and will have no way to process the card. 

If you have never been here before,  here are two videos of what the road looks like one mile from our house.
If you are coming from the south:

If you are coming from the north:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

3 lb Package bee update 4/13 - 7am

I think the bees will be delivered sometime this weekend. I do not know when at this time. It all depends on when the truck leaves California and the weather along the route. The bee supplier is working in between rain storms loading up the package bee cages.
I know this is Easter weekend and many people may be out of town. The pickup days will also go into early next week.
 But if you are around, watch for updates.
I will be publishing a pickup schedule, giving you a time to pickup, going by the first initial of your last name. For this to work, I need you to pickup with the schedule. There are 800 beekeepers on this delivery and pickups needs to be spread out through the day.
There should be solid pickup dates and a pickup schedule published by Friday.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Hive Check one full week after installation

A week after installation the hive needs to be checked for queen acceptance. We are looking to see eggs in the newly drawn comb. If you don't see eggs after 7 days, check again after 10 full days from the time of putting the bees in.
Failure to check for queen acceptance may put your colony in peril. If for some reason your queen was killed or was injured when installing the bees, you may be queenless and the hive will not survive without a queen.
Double Click on the pic for a bigger view. You can see the white eggs in the back of the cells. The eggs are coming out straight at you. The yellow stuff in the cells is pollen. The glistening liquid at the top of the frame is nectar (sugar syrup).
This is the video of the first inspection looking for eggs.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Email list

If you want an email about the 3lb package bee delivery update you need to sign up for my email list. I cannot do it for you.
Sign up for our newsletter list

Friday, April 7, 2017

3 lb Package Update

At this time I still do not have a solid date on the arrival of the 3 lb packages.
Today there is heavy rain in California and that may impact the delivery schedule slightly. We are still looking around the 18th. Although, at the moment there is no official date set. Please check the blog often to look for updates.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


If your overwintered colony is strong, it is time to do a reversal.
Move the bottom box to the top.
The reason we do reversals, is to get the queen to lay eggs throughout the whole hive. This also makes the bees put pollen and nectar in all the hive boxes.
Now when you check your overwintered hive on a weekly schedule, and if there are eggs in the top box, do a reversal. This will expand the brood nest an the hive will get more bees in the hive. This is the goal as we approach dividing time around early to mid May.
Do not do any more reversals after June 10th.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Plastic Bee Cage and Package bee installation

The bees will be in a plastic bee cage. The bees need to be dumped out the end of the cage.

Installing package bees

Monday, March 20, 2017

Last Call for package bees

This is the last call for package bees.
The drop dead date is this Thursday, March 23rd, 12:00 noon.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Cold Weather

There is going to be some unseasonably cold weather the next few days. It could be a colony killer. It may be a good idea to put a pail of syrup on the hive.
 If the colony can take it down, the bees will put the syrup around their brood. Having syrup around the brood will make it easy for the bees to survive this cold snap.
 If bees have to move a frame or two away from the brood to get honey, they may not be able to get enough honey to keep the brood warm and the colony may starve.
 The feeder will be above the colony and more than likely will not freeze. The heat of the colony should keep it liquid.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

WEI Beekeeping Class Rescheduled

A Year in the LIFE of BEES

Reschedule Start Date and REDUCED PRICES


Register by or before March 22 for Year-Long 9-month Beekeeping Class
First Class Sunday, March 26 1:00-4:00 and every 4th Sunday thereafter

Where: WEI Amador Hill Farm and Orchard
When:  First Class March 26, 1:00-4:00
Duration:  one class every 4th Sunday, March through November
Instructor:  Mike Mackiewicz
Registration:  Full Training $200; individual class $35

REGISTER HERE for entire 9-Month Training, first class March 26 and eight more training classes on the 4th Sunday of the month. Tuition:  $200

REGISTER HERE for single class  ($35 per class)

First Class March 26 (1:00-4:00):  Introduction to Beekeeping and Bee Hive Box Building. Hands-on: bring hammers, paintbrushes and your creativity.

We have rescheduled the beginning of WEI's new Bee Keeping Class
New Start Date: March 26.
Registration options:
Full Tuition for 9 classes: $20
Individual classes: $35
For questions about the curriculum, contact Mike 763-202-7235

For questions about registration, contact Jerry 651-583-0705
Check out our Website
Farm & Main Office: 15715 River Road, North Branch, MN 55056
(651) 583-0705

Monday, March 6, 2017

Planting for honey bees

Image result for sainfoin
A field of Sainfoin in bloom

If you are thinking on planting for a honey crop, consider Sainfoin. This is a legume. It grows well on marginal well drained soil. I do not think it would fare well on clay or wet areas. Planning for planting this should be done now. Locate the seed and figure out how you are going to plant it. Being it is a legume I would think that deer would also like it. Sainfoin may fit well in a deer food plot. It may be better than clover being it is tough and can reseed itself.
Here is an article that was in BeeCulture magazine two years ago.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March Hours

March Hours:
Wednesday   Noon - 6 pm
Thursday       8 am - noon
Friday           Noon - 4 pm
Saturday        9 am - 3 pm
or by appointment.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Late winter hive work

Put the pollen patties right where the bees are. They need to be able to touch the patty. Leave the wax paper on both sides of the patty. Replace if the patty starts getting hard or moldy.
We are now turning the corner on winter and transitioning into spring. Right now there should be brood in a live hive. The queen should be laying. The amount of brood can vary widely from hive to hive. Several factors can influence this, available pollen in the hive, hive strength, room for queen to lay.
 Sometime this week, pollen patties can be put on the hive. Once pollen patties go on, they should be checked every ten days or so. If they are being consumed, replacements should be offered as needed. Do not let the colony run out of patties. This can set them back and brood could perish from lack of protein. A steady supply of pollen assures good hive development. Poor protein supply results in poor quality bees that will have shorter lives and improper glandular development.
 Natural pollen collection can be interrupted by an extended cool or wet weather. Keeping pollen patties on the hive assures always having a protein source for the bees. I leave pollen patties on the hive until the dandelions come out. Then the fruit bloom comes with fruit trees and ornamental flowering trees. After the fruit bloom there is usually a dearth of pollen. I normally put pollen patties back on from mid May until early June. Package bees will need pollen on the hive from the time they are installed into a hive, until early June.
 The introduction of pollen into the hive will kick the hive into more brood production. More brood means greater consumption of honey stores. 
 Feeding sugar syrup or ProSweet may be required to keep the colony alive.
A beekeeper needs to judge whether feeding is necessary. Lifting up the top box should give you a clue if feeding is required. If a groan is involved in the lifting process, there is probably enough food for now, in the top box. If the top box seems light, give the colony a pail of syrup.
 The problem that beekeepers run into is, overfeeding. This is a common problem with spring feeding. If a beekeeper feeds pail after pail of syrup on an overwintered colony, the bees will fill their hive with syrup. This will leave no place for the queen to lay and the hives population may suffer.
 When feeding package bees or when drawing out comb on new foundation, feeding needs to be constant until the comb is all drawn out.
 Not much else to do yet. Keep the winter covers on for another couple weeks.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Beekeepers, we need your help now!

Minnesota Honey Producers Assn.
February 23, 2017
Dear Fellow Beekeeper,

 Beekeepers, please contact your state reps and senators from your district.  House bill HF-124 and its sister bill in the senate SF-218 are amendments to the existing law that prohibits roadside mowing and baling on state and trunk highways in MN before the August 1st deadline.  This law was originally enacted in 1985! And passed unanimously.  The current house bill with amendments to allow mowing and baling at anytime of the year without seeking permits or approval has passed the second committee and could be voted on soon.  Landowners that don't wish their ditches to be mowed and baled before Aug 1 must ask for and receive approval from their local road commissioner.

  Please impress upon them the importance of delaying mowing until Aug 1 and it's impact for your bees,  the law was passed in 1985 unanimously, preserving habitat is more important  today than ever.  Tell them the benefit to Minnesota's pollinators far outweighs the value of poor quality ditch hay. Tell them it is backwards thinking to allow a few individuals to profit off the wonderful ditch hay, and that people that don't want their stretch of ditches mowed and baled before aug 1 must ask for and and be granted permission to preserve their ditch habitat. Tell them we've had pheasant summits and pollinator summits in this state the last 2 years to figure out how to improve habitat, and that improving roadside ditch habitat has always been a centerpiece in these possible solutions.  This is a giant step in the other direction.

  It's fairly simple to find your reps and track the bills and read them. Go to www.leg.state.mn.us  Or just type in MN house of reps.  Type in the bill #.  You can search for your reps and senators by town and zip code if you don't know who represents you.  Contact your legislator

Thank you

Dan Whitney
pres MHPA

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Cold coming back next weekend

With the cold weather coming back next weekend. I am out checking hives and putting on winter patties. This hive is Carniolans. They winter a smaller cluster. There was about three frames of bees. For Carniolans three frames of bees this time of year is fine. Carniolans just explode in population and I expect them to do fine. Three frames of bees for an Italian colony this time of year is on the weak side. A weak Italian hive with three frames of bees, should build up ok but they may not be able to divide.
I added two winter patties to this colony. I will be able to feed it and add pollen patties in about two weeks. I placed the patties right where the bees are so they can touch the patties.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fake Pollen

On the first warm days in the spring, bees can be seen in bird feeders or on saw dust. The bees collect dust off of the bird seed and saw dust and pick it up as pollen. It is not pollen.
 Beekeepers need to be careful sawing treated lumber in early spring, the bees can possibly bring back the treated lumber dust back to the hive. Treated lumber offers protection from insects in the treatment. This dust can possibly kill a colony.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The warm weather

This warm weather is energizing beekeepers to go out and put pollen patties on their hives and start feeding syrup. It may be a good idea to hold back for a couple weeks.
 This is Minnesota, the upper midwest, winter has a way of showing up again. Feeding syrup and pollen, early, can get the queen laying brood at a greater amount than normal for this time of year. If the weather stays warm, a hive could get overpopulated too early and the hive may be swarming by mid April, before queens are available. If the brood population increases drastically in a hive, a cold snap could jeopardize the survival of the colony.
It may be bad to stimulate the hive to get the bees rockin and rollin. Maybe a more prudent approach is called for.
What can you do right now. You can check the food in the top box. Lift the box to make sure it is still heavy with honey. A frame or two of honey can be moved  from another hive or from the lower part of the hive to bolster stores in the top box. Put the honey near the main cluster, do not put it in the main cluster. If the hive is low on food and the survival of the colony is in doubt, feeding syrup is the option. Better to feed than risk the bees starving.
Other than that, not much else should be done.
Pollen patties go on around March 1st, feeding can begin then also.
The forecast for next week has possible big snow storm in the forecast.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Added Hours

Now open:
Wednesday------ Noon - 6 pm
 Friday----------- Noon - 4 pm
Saturday--------- 9 am - 3 pm

Monday, February 13, 2017

Why did my bees die

This is a post from last year. It was published by Meghan Milbrath from Michigan State. If your bees died, does it fit one of these scenario's?

Do a mite check once a month May through October and one week after a mite treatment to see if the mite treatment worked.
How to do a mite check

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Tentative Bee Delivery dates

The tentative delivery dates are:
2 lb packages April 3rd
3 lb packages April 17th

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Time to check the bees this weekend

This weekend it will be warm enough to check the hives to see if they are alive or dead. You need to check. You are not letting "the heat out of the hive". We put package bees in a hive when it is in the 30's.
 Bee suppliers start filling up with bee orders and checking now will make sure you can get a bee order in.
 Don’t pull frames. You are looking to make sure there is capped honey near the cluster of bees. If you don’t see bees on top of the top box, look down deep between the frames and see if the bees are there. If you only see a frame or two of bees on top, there is a possibility that the whole cluster has not moved up yet from the lower box. If you are unsure, remove the winter cover and break the top box loose. Teeter the top box back and look between the two boxes. If you see no bees and you only had two frames up on top, I would order a new package of bees because that hive is going nowhere. If there is a big cluster under the top box, try to determine that there is honey near the cluster. The queen should be laying now and the bees can't move away from the brood. Also, if you tip that top box back, you should be able to tell if the box is heavy with honey. Right now you want to see at least three frames full of honey in the top box.
Here is a YouTube video I made about checking a hive in February.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Repost - Beekeeping Class at Century College

 I talked to Bob Sitko who teaches this class. He still has openings.

Introduction to Beekeeping 2017
 This class series will prepare you for beginning your beekeeping hobby in early spring. All basics of beekeeping will be covered.
  • Hives and Equipment
  • Honey bee society and biology
  • Hive products and marketing
  • Diseases and pests
  • Seasonal management
  • Local ordinances
  • Local suppliers
Taught by Certified Master Beekeeper Bob Sitko

Thursdays, Feb 9th - March 30th 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm.
Eight classes, East Campus Room 2313
Course #44698 - $139.00
Call Century College 651-779-3341 to register
Bob Sitko's email: dsrhsitko@msn.com
phone # 651-436-7915

Friday, February 3, 2017

Sub Zero Next Week

Next week according to WCCO weather, we may be having subzero weather for two to three nights. Nights like this are colony killers during the month of February. With the warm weather a week ago, brood may now be present in bee hives. The queen usually starts laying eggs in early to mid February. If the queen started laying over a week ago, a little earlier than normal. There may be a decent size patch of brood in the colony right now.
  When it is warm the bees may be able to move easily in the top box.
Sub-zero temperatures, can pull bees off of an adjacent frame of honey to keep the brood warm. The cold forces the bees into a tight cluster.  If the extreme cold lasts for two to three days, starvation can occur.
Winter patties can help prevent starvation from happening. The cluster can get on the patty and consume the sugar to feed the brood if they pull off a frame of honey.
The bees do eat winter patties. I put the patties where the bee are. In this case the bees were still in their lower box, so I put the patties there.
This colony was light on honey and I put a shim on the hive and loaded up the winter patties.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Keeping Bees in Northern Climates

This class is offered from the University of Minnesota.
Keeping Bees in Northern Climates Year 1.
It is a one day class. You get a booklet on Keeping Bees in Northern Climates, and they lead you through your first year of keeping bees. It includes lunch.
The class fills up quickly so sign up today.
I highly recommend this course for beginners.

There is also year 2. This class demonstrates your second year with bees.

Also, Beekeeping in Northern Climates: Beyond the basics.
This class is exclusively for beekeepers that have had the following three experiences: 1) successfully wintered honey bee colonies in a cold climate; 2) introduced a new queen into an existing colony; 3) kept bees continuously for two years. You should take Years 1 and 2 before taking this class.
If you think you know it all, take this course. You will be humbled.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Saskatraz Queens

The Saskatraz queen breeding project from Saskatchewan Canada has produced queens that are proving to be resistant to Tracheal mites and have good results with Varroa. Here is an article about this line of queens, or you can Google the Saskatraz project for more information.
We will be carrying some of these queens later this spring.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Thinking of a bear fence?

This is a recommended bear fence from the MN DNR. The pricing is all wrong but the design is sound.
You want an energizer that is 12 volt and puts out at least 2 joules of power.
Here are a couple energizers:
I own a fencer from Premier1. They do not make my style anymore. I put the fencer and battery inside a beehive and mounted a solar panel to the telescoping cover.

From Premier1 out of Iowa. They do sell very good quality fencing supplies. With various levels of quality. https://www.premier1supplies.com/c/fencing/
Patriot Fencer 12 volt can put out 3 joules
You will need their wiring harness and a deep cycle battery. One of their solar panels can be added to charge the battery. The folks at premier1 are very helpful. Do not buy the netting. Weeds can grow into the netting and the netting tears easily. With the fencer, solar panel and battery you can have a $400.00 investment.
From Fleet Farm:
$269.00 puts out 3 joules. I own one of these.
This can mount on a t-post. But you need to buy a bracket to mount it on the post.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Basic Beekeeping Information

 This is a beekeeping class for someone wanting basic information about beekeeping.
Beekeeping Basics
Tamarack Nature Center
Sunday, January 29
1:00-4:00 p.m.
$25 per person
For adults and older teens (16 and older)
Pre-registration is required:
This is a beekeeping class for the curious! Come find out why there’s so much buzz about bees and determine if beekeeping at home or at Tamarack might be in your future. While not a comprehensive class for new beekeepers, this class will definitely get new beekeepers headed in the right direction. We’ll discuss basic bee biology and ecology, beekeeping tools and equipment, the costs associated with beekeeping  and bee resources available in the Twin Cities. Plus, honey tasting will be part of our sweet afternoon snack!

Melanie Harding  | Naturalist-Volunteer Coordinator
Ramsey County Parks and Recreation
Tamarack Nature Center
5287 Otter Lake Rd
White Bear Township, MN 55110
(651) 407-5350  x119

Friday, January 20, 2017

Another bee class, River Falls WI

There is a Beginning Beekeeping in River Falls, Wisconsin. Class being offered all day on Jan 28 through the River Falls Community Education program.
Find it at: https://rfsd.cr3.rschooltoday.com/public/costoption/class_id/1667/public/1/sp/.
Presented by longtime beekeeper Jerome Rodewald and Dr. Brad Mogen.
Cost is $75 plus materials.  There are 20 seats available as of today. 

Longer hours on Saturday

We will be open 9-3 on Saturday.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dead Hive-What to do

With the warm weather, beekeepers are out looking at their colonies. So you find a dead colony, what do you do?
 If the colony died of mites or a virus from the mites, the bees are dead and so are the mites. Take the hive apart down to the bottom board. Have a cardboard box with you. Brush any dead bees and debris into the box with a bee brush. Lightly brush off any bees off the frames. Don't dump the bees in the beeyard. The dead bees contain nitrogen and are very good fertilizer. The dead bees will spur grass to grow in the beeyard and you will be mowing the grass more.
This colony has died with brood in the colony. Photo by C. Mladek
If there are dead bees in the cells do not try to remove them. If there is dead brood in the frames, do not try to remove them. Close up the hive, cork all holes and close off all entrances. Make them bee tight.
 The hive will be safe to use for bees again. Re-use all the frames and honey.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Beekeeping Class at Century College

Introduction to Beekeeping 2017
 This class series will prepare you for beginning your beekeeping hobby in early spring. All basics of beekeeping will be covered.
  • Hives and Equipment
  • Honey bee society and biology
  • Hive products and marketing
  • Diseases and pests
  • Seasonal management
  • Local ordinances
  • Local suppliers
Taught by Certified Master Beekeeper Bob Sitko

Thursdays, Feb 9th - March 30th 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm.
Eight classes, East Campus Room 2313
Course #44698 - $139.00
Call Century College 651-779-3341 to register
Bob Sitko's email: dsrhsitko@msn.com
phone # 651-436-7915

Monday, January 16, 2017

Olivarez Honey Bees

Olivarez Honey Bees is our bee supplier. They do a great job at their bees.
 We are proud to sell their quality bees and queens..

What is happening now in the hive

Things are happening in the hive and signs of spring are in the works.
Our days are getting longer. Sunset now is at 5pm. Great Horned Owls are nesting. I heard black capped Chickadees doing their fee-bee sound. This starts usually in late January. Listen for it. Especially with the upcoming warm weather.
Chickadee Fee-Bee call
 Things are changing in the hive right now. The upcoming January thaw will give colonies the opportunity to reorganize in the hive. This is the time of year when bees transition from their lower box moving into the upper box. The warmer weather makes this easier for the bees to accomplish. Some colonies have already moved up if their winter stores are lacking. If a colony is very heavy with honey, the bees may not move up for several weeks yet. But for most of us, the move will be happening from now into early February.
 There should not be any brood in the colony right now. Normally the queen starts laying in early to mid February. The upcoming warm weather should not spur brood production at the moment. If this warm weather stays around for a while, the queen may start laying early. This can be a problem if this happens, Starvation can occur if near zero weather hits for several nights in a row in February. But for now, enjoy the warm weather, the bees will be out on cleansing flights during this time. If you don't have a top entrance (1 inch hole) in your top box, go out and drill one. The bees need a top entrance now.  Check out your bees to make sure they are alive.
The warm weather is a perfect time to add winter sugar patties. This emergency food can possibly prevent starvation during any cold spell. You would hate to lose the bees now.
 Spring is coming, get that equipment painted up. The bee season is starting soon.
Painting my new five frame nuc boxes
I am getting my five frame nuc boxes ready for packages arriving in April. I start the packages in five frame nuc boxes and move the bees into 10 frame equipment in late April.

Monday, January 9, 2017

package bees 2017 update

We have emailed out information about package bees to everyone on our newsletter list this morning. If you did not get it, the email may be in your junk folder. You can also get it off our website.
 If you want, you can call the order to us.
The sales tax I have on the form, is not accurate, under the 2 lb credit card.
Do not email me your credit card number, call the number to me instead. The order form can be mailed to us, we have a secure Post Office box. If the form is emailed to us, leave off the credit card number. You can mail us a check or call us with the credit card number.
 If the order is emailed, I always respond back to the email. If there is no response from me, means I did not get the email. Technology can fail so we want to make sure that the order was received.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Package Bees 2017 Pricing

We have updated our 2017 pricing on our website.
We will be sending out our newsletter Sunday with the 2017 order form attached or you can get it off our website.
website: www.naturesnectarllc.com
or here: http://tiny.cc/2017beeorderform

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016 Season Recap

Happy New Year, I always like to try to sum up the previous year to reflect on how the season progressed. The good and the bad.
 January was pretty much a normal month. Warm to start out then a couple weeks of very cold weather with warmer temps to finish the month. Maybe a little warmer than average.
 February was cold from the 8th to the 15th. This did cause some colony losses to some beekeepers. There was brood in the colonies and starvation occurred when bees could not reach honey due to tight clusters because of the cold. Beekeepers using winter patties did fare better. The winter patties provided emergency food during this cold snap until the weather warmed up. February is also the time when beekeepers find dead colonies of bees usually killed by viruses brought on by mites. I myself lost several very nicely populated colonies to viruses.
 March bought normal to above normal temperatures. Overwintered colonies had great weather to increase their populations. Pollen patties and feed help bolster the overwintered colonies.
 April started cool but warmed rapidly with above normal temperatures. Packages arrived and the weather was good for installing and for the bees to get a good start. Overwintered colonies continued to build with colony strength looking very good. Divides started a little early with the warm weather bringing up populations a little sooner.
 May, the above normal temperature brought the spring bloom in faster than normal. We were about two weeks ahead of schedule. The fruit bloom started in early May. Many areas had a freeze in mid May severely damaging the fruit blossoms around MN and WI. Packages were building nicely and overwintered colonies were starting to swarm in late May. The Black Locust bloom was early. Beekeepers that have a large amount of Black Locust trees were able to get several supers of honey by the early June.
 June the temperatures were at or slightly warmer than normal. The main nectar flow started two weeks early, Overwintered colonies put up honey, package bees and nucs still were not up to good populations yet. When the packages and nucs were ready for honey collection in late June the nectar flow was pretty much over. Swarming occurred from lack of a nectar flow in some areas and that followed us through the summer.
 July and August were pretty much average temperature wise. There was no Basswood honey around the state. This hurt many new beekeepers preventing them from getting any excess honey this year.  Many large commercial beekeepers depend on Basswood honey to get a good crop of honey and they were were hurt with the Basswood flow no show. Some beekeepers did get decent crops off of hay fields and ditchweed flowers. There was never any hot weather this summer. Good nectar flows need heat to produce good honey crops, the heat was lacking this year. Over wintered colonies that were not being monitored for mites, started crashing during this time. Splits that were done off of untreated overwintered colonies were showing stress from high mite counts. These failing colonies contributed to passing mites to other beekeepers colonies. Even package bees that initially had very low mite counts, saw suddenly very high mite counts do to this passing on of Varroa from some unwary beekeepers. Mite treatments were put on in August with good success. Some beekeepers that had a high mite count in August, even though they treated, their bees were so damaged they ended up not making it to late fall.
 September and October, were warm months. Mite treatments were going on. The early mite treatments kept the mite numbers down. As beekeepers treated in late September and early October in many cases the mites had reached too high of a level. So their survival over the winter is not assured. October was very warm making Oxalic Acid treatments difficult. Many colonies had brood late into the season producing more mites and eating stores. Some beekeepers were feeding late into October which made brood and mite population increase in the colony. This also made Oxalic Acid not very effective on these colonies.
 November came warmer than normal with many beekeepers not being able to do Oxalic Acid treatments until mid November. Normally we would like to have this done by the third week of October. Time will tell if this helped colonies treated later than we wanted to. Winter came on like a flip of a switch. Cooler weather and snow finally came in late November and December.
 My summery, while we have no control over the weather, we do have control of our mite population. Monthly testing of colonies will help keep the beekeeper aware of the overall health of a colony. Mite treatments are loosely based on time of year, but sometimes the beekeeper needs to intercede if the mite counts creep to a higher level before the normal treatment times. Mite testing is easy to do and with more experience, it will become a simple task. Keeping mite levels at the proper mite count is the key to being a successful beekeeper.
 New beekeepers that just started, you knew nothing of this beekeeping process at the start of the season. You started with new equipment, fed and managed your colonies. The bees thrived and at the end of the season there was a strong colony to winter. I would call that success. Cheers to the new beekeepers.