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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 24, 2018

Nectar Flow Update


Comb being built and nectar being stored in the new frame and foundation. Bees draw out the frame and fill from the top of the frame to the bottom of the frame. Photo by Paul J.
Paul has a good amount filled in one super and the bees are moving into the second super.
I have been polling beekeepers coming in to our bee supply store. There is a consensus that there is a nectar flow going on. Most beekeepers in southern half of MN and WI should be experiencing a nectar flow. It may be a little slow but as the temperatures heat up later this week, 90's in the forecast, the nectar should be increasing.
 It can be a little confusing to some beekeepers. No honey in the supers yet. I think you need to consider that the bees should fill up the top deep box first before the honey super. This honey in the top brood box will be the hives winter honey.
 At this stage of the season I think we are no longer doing reversals. If you have your supers on, and you should right now, if they are new foundation, I would leave the queen excluder off. Check the supers every five days, when the bees start making comb and storing a little nectar in the new comb, then put the excluder on.
 Supers go on two at a time. If the supers have drawn comb, they can just be stacked on top of one another. If the supers are new foundation, new supers should be placed directly above the brood boxes. Example, say you have two supers of drawn comb, the bees fill them up. Now you need to add two more, but they are new foundation. The full supers should be taken off the hive, the two new supers go on, then the full supers replaced on top of the new supers. The reason for this is that if the new supers with foundation were put on top of the drawn comb supers, the bees may not do anything with them.
 Check your supers weekly. Bees can draw out, fill with honey and cap with wax a super of honey in one week. Stay ahead of the bees with weekly super checks. Add supers as needed.
Here is Paul's latest hive scale update:
You can clearly see an upward trend of honey weight. Starting on the 21st.
Click on the pic for full screen.

Local beekeepers saves the day at MPR

Local beekeeper and MN Hobby Beekeeper member saved the day by picking up a swarm near MPR in St Paul.
https://www.mprnews.org/story/2018/06/22/bee-swarm-downtown-st-paul

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

July Queens For Nucs


Five Frame Nucs in April Picture by Adrian Quiney
I have been getting a lot of interest for queens in July for making up nucs for overwintering.. I am exploring a possibility of queens delivered here July 11th.  The queen prices will be less than the spring queens were. I don't have the numbers yet. I just wanted to throw this out there to see if there is any interest.
If you are interested in any queens delivered here on July 11th. Get a hold of me please.
 The queens available will be Carniolans, Italians and Saskatraz. Marked or unmarked.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Milkweed

Milkweed

I have Milkweed blooming next to my house. It a little ahead of the Milkweed in Wendy's Pollinator garden. The flowers have a nice fragrance. Milkweed is a great pollinator plant.

White Sweet Clover - It is Game On

White Sweet Clover

White Sweet Clover
I saw my first white sweet clover blooming plant today on Hwy 36. This is the premier honey plant for most of us. It will be becoming widespread over the next two weeks. If it is producing nectar and our weather is accommodating, we should be in for a good honey crop.
 Colonies are building up to good populations, swarming this year has been less than normal. Probably due to the cool spring. Although, I have heard of some swarming in the last couple days. Keep doing swarm control management. Once the nectar flow hits at a good rate, the swarming impulse should lessen considerably.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Scale Hive

This is the scale hive graph from Paul's scale hive. http://www.paulsapiary.com
This is an overwintered Saskatraz queen hive. The hive added about 80 lbs of honey from May 17 until June 16th. The bulk of the honey from about May 20th until around June 6th. After June 6th the hive has put on about 6 lbs. of honey. Which at the moment, there is no indication that a major honey flow has started yet. The scale is on an upward trend, so we will see if it starts rising in the very near future.
  The bulk of the honey corresponded with the blooming of Black Locust trees. Paul said he has never got so much honey in the spring before. The Saskatraz queen built up very well coming out of winter and he was able to reap the reward.


Bear sighting


Bear sighting in Afton area. 42nd and Odell Ave S.
Why do I need a bear fence? There are no bears in Afton. Pic by D.Viramontes

Friday, June 15, 2018

Remove entrance reducers now

The hot weather has made the bees in this nuc beard out on to the front of the hive.

Entrance reducers should be removed now from the entrance of colonies because of the heat. The bees will be able to more effectively cool the hive with the reducers out.The warm weather may get swarming going in strong colonies. Beekeepers should still be doing doing swarm prevention in their management practices.
 Seeing bees bearding or covering the front of the hive during hot weather is normal behavior. The bees may even be outside overnight when it is weather like we are experiencing right now. By Monday it will be cooler and the bees will be back inside the hive again.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Pollen Patties online sale only

Ultra Bee Pollen Patties are on closeout.
5 patties for $10.00. That is 50% off the normal price.
Online sales only. Limited quantity.
https://www.naturesnectaronline.com/

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

AFB - American Foulbrood Disease

I have heard of three cases of American Foulbrood (AFB) today.
Two cases in Minneapolis and one in Lake Elmo.
The incident in Lake Elmo was a hive with all equipment purchased new. The beekeeper was an experienced beekeeper and the bees more than likely robbed out an infected colony.
The Mpls AFB, I believe was on used equipment.
 Purchasing used equipment while sometimes you can save money, there is the pitfall of equipment with AFB scale. Early on in my beekeeping career I purchased used equipment. The beekeeper said hive equipment was good and he never had any problems with disease.  Well, his equipment was full of AFB scale and I quickly had a major AFB problem in my beekeeping outfit. I will say that experience is the best teacher. My experience in this AFB fiasco did educate me about buying used equipment and I quickly learned of what AFB scale looks like in the frame. Since that incident, I have discovered many AFB infected frames that beekeepers have brought to me to check out.
  AFB infected larvae will start to discolor, turning a yellowish color, then will darken to a milk chocolate color. The larvae will turn gelatinous and sink to the bottom of the cell it is in. You will see the larvae laying flat on the bottom of the cell. The tongue of the bee may be sticking up in the cell. As the larvae desiccates (dries out) the larvae forms a hard scale on the bottom of the cell. This scale is highly infectious and contains over 2 billion of infectious AFB spores. That is just one cell. Imagine a frame of a couple hundred cells of AFB scale. The cappings of the larvae cells will have a shrunken appearance and the cappings may be perforated will small holes. Beekeepers always think they will smell the foulbrood. The odor only gets pronounced when there is a large infection in the colony.
 As more larvae die, the colony will get weaker. While the colony still will try to carry out its normal function of foraging for honey and pollen. As the colony weakens it is more susceptible to being overcome and robbed of its honey stores. Normally, colonies will get robbed out in the spring or late summer, when there is not a nectar flow. Some honey in the AFB hive may have been stored in cells with AFB scale. Now the infected honey is brought back to a healthy colony.  The healthy colony now has a good chance of getting AFB.
 The trick with AFB, is knowing that you have it before it gets out of hand. Looking at your larvae and making sure it is pearly white. If the larvae is any color other than pearly white, you have a brood issue. There could be many reasons for discolored brood, chilled brood in the early Spring, AFB, European Foulbrood (EFB), Parasitic Mite Syndrome (PMS), The Crud, these are the most common. The only thing that makes AFB different, is that when the larvae is in the milk chocolate color stage, the larvae will rope out with a toothpick or small stick. To do this, a small stick, toothpick , or matchstick is punctured into the milk chocolate colored diseased larvae. The wooden instrument is slowly drawn away from the larvae. The goo attached to the wood will start to string out. If it is AFB, the string of goo will be an inch or more before it detaches from the stick. If it does not rope an inch or more, it is not AFB.
The treatment for AFB is shaking all the bees on new foundation. Feeding the bees syrup for them to draw out the comb will flush out the AFB spores out of their bodies. When the bees start feeding the new brood in the hive on the new foundation, the AFB spores should be gone. A treatment also with Terramycin will get the bees off to a good start. Terramycin can only be purchased with a prescription from a Veterinarian. Getting rid of the infected frames is imperative. That is where the problem lies. Infected comb.
 AFB spores are long lasting. They have an active infectious life of well over 50 years. The Univ of MN took some AFB spores from some frames they had that I think were over seventy years old. They purposely infected some colonies trying to see if the AFB was still infectious. All of the colonies came down with AFB.     The infected old frames have to be burned. The boxes can be reused but the inside of the boxes should be blackened with a torch. The only thing that kills AFB spores is a direct flame over 1000 degrees or irradiating the scale with radiation at an irradiation facility. I think there is an irradiation facility in the Chicago, IL. area.
Here is a link that accurately talks about all aspects of AFB:
http://beeaware.org.au/archive-pest/american-foulbrood/#ad-image-0

Sunday, June 10, 2018

I have a nectar flow

I checked all my hives today. My package bees that I put in on my May 7th delivery, 6 were on drawn comb and needed a second box. They were very crowded and probably needed a box a week ago. I have three packages that I started on foundation. They are probably a week behind the hives with drawn comb.
 My overwintered colonies are packed with bees. I had no swarm cells. All of my overwintered colonies got two supers put on top of them. They did need them as they have been bringing in nectar.
How do you know there is a nectar flow?
My deep boxes have drawn comb and the comb is on the dark side. Notice the white comb attached to the darker burr comb.

The dark burr comb has new white comb. Whenever the bees add comb to anywhere in the hive, it will be white in color during a nectar flow. So I knew at a glance that this hive was bringing in nectar recently.

Nectar Flow

In my travels I am always looking for what is blooming. Driving down hwy 36 and 694, east of St Paul, I am seeing widespread yellow sweet clover and birdsfoot trefoil in bloom. My yard is full of blooming white dutch clover. Red Clover is blooming in the ditches of a new roundabout north of 36.
 The conclusion is, that most of us are experiencing or will soon be experiencing a nectar flow. Supers should be on colonies now.
  If the deep hive boxes are finished or close to being finished drawing comb, supers should be on new colonies. Supers should always be put on a colony when the colonies are ready for them. Failure to put on supers will possibly make the bees fill the whole hive with honey. This honey bound hive will leave no place for the queen to lay. With no place to lay eggs, the population will suffer and the hive may not survive the upcoming winter because of not enough bees.
 The nectar flow can start with a huge intensity. A medium super that is just foundation can be drawn out, filled with nectar and capped in one week. That is why we always put supers on two at a time.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Sold Out Of Queens For 2018

We are sold out of queens for 2018.
If you are in need of a queen(s).
Contact: Olivarez Honey Bees
877-865-0298
Carniolan, Italian and Saskatraz marked or unmarked

Thursday, June 7, 2018

What I am doing now with my hives

The nectar flow will be starting soon. I have some final prep work to do in the next few days.
 My over wintered colonies: I will be going through the hives looking for swarm cells and removing any uncapped swarm cells. If the top box is not real heavy with honey, I will do a reversal. If the top box is quite heavy, I will leave it on top and not do a reversal. My honey supers are on.
 My package bee colonies: I have a few package bee colonies from my April delivery of bees. All my deep boxes have drawn comb and I am not drawing out foundation. The bees have built up very well and there is several frames of capped brood ready to emerge. This will be perfect timing for the hive to have large amounts of house bees to deal with the new nectar coming in. If the top box is not heavy with honey, I will do a final reversal. If the top box is heavy with honey, I will leave it on top. Uncapped Swarm cells will be removed. I will be putting on my honey supers.
 I do have late packages from my May 7th delivery, so they are a little behind. They have just had their second box put on top. ProSweet is still on the hive and feeding will continue until all my foundation is drawn out.  I am using Quick Draw foundation in the frames. Quick Draw foundation is yellow RiteCell foundation. The foundation has three times the beeswax on the foundation than the Black RiteCell foundation. The bees draw this foundation out faster and better than the black foundation. Quick Draw foundation costs more because of the added beeswax, but I feel it gives me an edge for quicker frame comb building.
 In both of my beeyards I have a couple of undivided overwintered colonies. The overwintered colonies are getting huge so I need to cut them back a little bit to prevent them from swarming. I did not divide them because I knew I was going to remove brood from them.  I will take a few frames of brood from these strong colonies and add a frame of capped brood to a few of my late packages. This should give them a little jump start to increase my late package population before the nectar flow.
 The nectar flow is coming soon.
If you are drawing out new foundation, keep feeding.
If you are done drawing out foundation or very close to finishing the comb, do a reversal. Do not do a reversal if your top deep box is heavy with honey. Put two honey supers on. If the supers are new foundation, leave the queen excluder off. Check the supers weekly. When you see comb being built and some nectar on a frame or two, then put your excluder underneath the supers.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Yellow sweet clover and White Dutch Clover blooming

yellow sweet clover


White Dutch Sweet Clover
I have White Dutch Sweet Clover starting to bloom in my yard. I saw Yellow Sweet Clover blooming on Hwy. 494.
The nectar flow is coming soon.
The old wives tale is that the main nectar flow starts ten days after the first clover bloom. That puts it around mid June for the Stillwater area. A little sooner in the Rochester area, a little later St Cloud and points north.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Queens

I have about 60 queens left.
I will not be getting anymore for 2018.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Birds Foot Trefoil

Birds Foot Trefoil is blooming across the metro area. Birds Foot Trefoil is a legume. It is a short plant. Bees do like it.
You can usually see it next to roadways. It does get planted on roadsides on both state and county roads.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Monday, May 28, 2018

A great laying Queen

Nice frame of capped brood

Great frame of capped brood. The queens has laid in a tight pattern hitting most of the cells. A line of Drones on the bottom of the frame. Some capped honey at the top of the frame and a narrow band of pollen separating the two.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Black Locust Trees Are Blooming


Black Locust trees are blooming right now across the metro area. This can be very good nectar flow if you have some Black Locust trees near your colonies. Black Locust honey is a light colored honey with a great flavor.
  Strong overwintered colonies should have two honey supers on right now. The supers should be checked every five days during this nectar flow. If the hive fills one super and has nectar in the second super, two more supers should be added. Stay ahead of the bees or they will pack the brood nest with honey.
 Unfortunately, package bees and nucs are still too low in population to get a crop of honey from Black Locust. But the package bee populations are getting larger. Everyone that has put in package bees should have their second boxes on by now. Package bees still need to be fed if they are still making comb. With the increasing population of bees, the making of comb will be speeding along at a faster rate.
 Colonies are changing everyday. Populations are on the rise. The main nectar  is on the horizon.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Hot Weather and Late May Happenings

The hot weather is upon us.
 Strong overwintered colonies should have their entrance reducers out. The hot weather may drive some bee out of the hive and they may be covering the front of the hive. The bees are hot and they try to cool themselves by hanging outside. This is normal behavior. After this hot spell, all beekeepers should go through their colonies and look for swarm cells. The heat may spur development of swarm cells. A quick check may keep the bees at home. If the top box has eggs in the box, do a reversal. Moving the queen down on overwintered colonies will give the queen more spaces to lay. Put your supers on if they are not on already.
 April Package bee colonies should all have their second box on by now. Package bee populations should be increasing and the frames will look more crowded. If drawing foundation, keep feeding syrup. When the bees have finished 80% of the second box and you are not going to add a third deep, remove one the frames and run nine frames, Do a reversal. Top box to bottom, bottom box to top. Put your supers on.
 If you are going to run three deep boxes, when the bees have finished 80% of second box, remove a honey and pollen frame that the bees are working on. Space out the nine frames evenly in the second box. Add the third deep, put the honey and pollen frame in the center of the third deep box. Keep the feed on, if you don't have a deep box to cover the feeder pail, use two supers. The populations are getting bigger, so there are more bees to to work faster. The bees may be able to draw out the third box in about ten days. When the bees have finished 80% of the top box, do a reversal. Top box to bottom, bottom box to top.
If the bees are delayed in finishing the top box in either a two or three deep box, if it gets past June 20th, do not do a reversal. If the top box is very heavy with nectar, that is the winter honey for the bees. It will be too late for a reversal. Put your supers on.
 Late May is a time of pollen dearth. The fruit bloom is almost over, if not over in your locale. I think in Duluth and northern MN it is underway right now. But for the metro area,  pollen availability will start to be much more sporadic. Pollen patties should be offered to the bees. They don't need full patties, a third to a half of a patty will give the bees a pollen option if they need it. Checking the pollen patty weekly and replace as needed.
 This pollen dearth may last until around mid June. By then we should start seeing more early summer flowers coming out.
 There will not be much nectar coming in for now either. Colonies should be checked weekly for honey stores. It can be as simple as lifting the hive boxes up. If one hive boxes feels heavy, there should be enough honey stores. If the boxes feel light, feeding should be done right away. It would be a sad day if the colonies starved at this stage of the season.
 Hives a building up, The nectar flow is about a month away. Keep the bees at home and there may be a big crop of honey in your future.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Hot weather coming, I mean swarming weather coming

Swarming on strong overwintered colonies is about to rear its ugly head. If you have a strong overwintered colony, swarm control measures should be in full practice. It is supposed to be in the 90's this weekend, and overcrowding and a hot hive is a fast we to get your bees up in a tree. The fruit bloom is winding down, so the nectar flow is going away. If you have a swarm trap or a single deep hive, now is the time to get it out and to an elevated position to hopefully catch a swarm. I would say by late next week, swarms will be reported in large numbers.
 Need bees? Contact Bob the swarm coordinator from the MN Hobby beekeepers association.
https://www.mnbeekeepers.com/help/honey-bee-swarms/
If you have a swarm on an easy to get at, low hanging branch. Don't cut the branch off. The bees for some reason liked this location and future swarms may go to this same branch. If you remove the branch, maybe swarms in the future will like the branch that is 20 feet in the air.

Why do bees swarm

Beekeepers are always wondering why their bees swarm. If we look at the causes it becomes easier to minimize the swarming behavior.
Reasons:
  • Old queen. A queen that has been through one winter is looked as an old queen to a colony of bees. Swarming is nature's way of replacing the old queen with a new queen. The odds of a colony making it through the next winter is greatly enhanced if there is a new young queen in the hive. The odds of a swarm making it through the winter is usually not very good in MN. Requeening an overwintered colony lessens this swarming impulse.
  • Heat/Overcrowding. An over wintered colony is always subject to overcrowding. Dividing a colony helps keep the numbers of bees more manageable. A strong colony is the ticket to a big honey crop. So swarm control management practices need to be employed. Keeping grass down in front of hives so the bees can cool their hives easier. Removing entrance reducers for better air flow. Giving bees more room. Boxes with foundation is not considered room. Bees usually will not occupy foundation boxes in large numbers unless they are being fed or a nectar flow is on. Drawn comb is considered room. Overcrowding can happen in any colony of bees if it is not being managed properly.
  • No nectar flow. Large colonies with no nectar flow can swarm at anytime. A bad nectar year kicks up swarming to a higher level. It is like the bees think they will not survive and leave for possible a better chance of survival.
  • Mites/Absconding. High level of Varroa causes absconding of a colony. This usually happens in late fall but can happen on an overwintered colony with a high mite count. Example, A colony inspected in early October may look great but a return inspection in mid October may reveal an empty hive with not a single bee in the hive. Treating for Varroa in mid August and again in late October, will usually prevent this from happening.
 Management practices of looking for swarm cell in colonies once a week starting in late May and through the month of June will help prevent swarming. Cutting out swarm cells before they are capped is proper management. Once a swarm cell is capped the colony usually swarms. Removing capped swarm cells will eliminate any queens from coming back into the hive. A new queen would need to be purchased to get a queen into the hive. Buying a new queen is usually a better fix than letting a hive make their own queen. A purchased queen will give a colony eggs in 10 to 14 days, and emerging brood in another 21 days, foraging bees in another 22 days. For a total of about 53 days before nectar can be collected from the purchased queen. During this time, there should have been brood in the colony when the bees swarmed, and the bees from this brood, would be emerging and foraging in both the purchased and swarm queen scenarios.
 The swarm cell queen emerges from the swarm cell 6 days after the hive has swarmed, 7 days until the queen can fly, 7 days to get mated, another 7 days before she starts laying.  So that puts new eggs in the hive around 30 days after the colony has swarmed. Another 21 days before new bees start to emerge. Another 22 days before the bees from the swarm cell queen can fly and start to forage. That is a total of about 70 days before nectar collection will start up again. If that happened today that would put starting to collect nectar at late July. The nectar flow will be starting to wane by then. The beekeeper would have to feed this colony a large part of its winter stores. Another negative. So the fix is to stop swarming.
  Colonies that have swarm cells can easily be fixed by cutting out all the uncapped swarm cells, then switch the colony's location with a weaker colony. This removes the large field force from the strong hive and gives them to a weaker colony. This removes the swarming impulse from the strong hive.
Example: Hive A is very strong and is making swarm cells. Hive B is a weaker hive or a new package of bees. Move the entire colony, put Hive A where Hive B is and put Hive B where hive A is. The field bees fly out and then return to the hive where the were before. Hive A gets weaker now with a smaller field force and loses the desire to swarm. Hive B gets stronger with the larger amount of field bees. Hive B now may make more honey than Hive A and it may have an increased risk of swarming.
 Swarming is always a challenging time of year but employing good management practices will keep the bees at home instead of in a tree somewhere.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Bear

This bear took out three colonies up in the North Branch area.
The beekeeper put up an electric fence that should solve the problem

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Doing a Spring Divide

This is a Link to Gary's homepage. It is a great description on how to do a divide.
How to do a divide on an overwintered colony

Sunday, May 13, 2018

What is happening now in the hive

Wild Plums

Package Bees:
 Package bees are starting to build up. New bees should be emerging and the hive populations should be growing. Beekeepers who started their packages a month ago, should have their second box on now. When adding the second box, the entrance reducer should be increased to the bigger opening. If the hive is on foundation, feeding of syrup must continue so the bees can continue to make wax on the new foundation. Failure to feed, will delay the expansion of the hive and wax will not be constructed and the hive population will suffer. Pollen patties should still be on package bee colonies until around mid June.
 Package bees on drawn comb should be fed as needed. If there are several frames of honey from last season in the hive, say two to three full frames of honey in each box, no syrup is needed. Pollen patties should be offered for the next month.
Overwintered Colonies:
Overwintered colonies may be in several different situations. Some colonies are getting ready to swarm and should be divided. Some colonies are not quite ready to divide today, but will be ready to divide within the next week or so. Some colonies are too weak to divide and will not be able to divide this year but should still be able to build up for the nectar flow. The weak colonies should have at least four frames of bees and brood right now. Any thing less than this really needs a frame of brood added to the colony, to increase the hives population. Pollen patties should be offered to the bees. I usually put 1/2 a patty on the hives until about early June. This guarantees that the hive has pollen for the brood no matter what the weather is.
The bloom in May:
The spring flowers and fruit bloom is about 10 to 14 days behind schedule.
Right now dandelions are blooming everywhere. They are just getting going and should be more numbers blooming this week with the warm sunny weather. Strong Overwintered colonies should have supers on the hives right now. There is an opportunity of one or two supers of Dandelion honey. The fruit bloom is just starting to happen. Wild plums are blooming and the bees love the pollen offered. If you have some Wild Plums, they are usually form into a thicket. Take some time and stand in the flowering Plum trees, experience the sweet smell of the blossoms and watch the pollinators work the flowers.
 Right now is ice cream time for the bees. Especially in the urban and suburb areas. Dandelions, flowering crab trees, all variety of fruit trees, flowering shrubs are or will be blooming soon. There will be pollen available everywhere, some nectar from many sources. The huge variety of pollen should be able to give the bees a wide variety of protein and a balanced diet, to aid in the hives buildup of brood and bees.
This pollen and nectar flow should last about three weeks. After that there may be two weeks of very little pollen coming in until early to mid June. Pollen patties should be on during this pollen dearth.
 The weather is getting better, pollen is getting better, hives are getting better, the season if finally moving forward and everything is creeping towards the main nectar flow that will probably will start in late June or early July. It may be sooner if we get a period of unseasonal warm temperatures.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Wed, May 9th - Queens

We have received our shipment of queens.
Open today Wednesday, noon - 6pm

Adding a second box

Some beekeepers may be ready to add a second box to their packages.
 Don't get hung up on the thought that the bees have not finished the outside frames. The bees never finish the outside frames unless you move it.  Switch out the outside frame with a frame that does not have brood on it, just nectar and / or pollen.
 When you add a second box, take a frame the bees are working on, that has pollen and nectar on both sides. Move that frame into the middle of the second box. This will bait the bees to move to the upper box. You will now have nine frames in the bottom box. Space the frames out evenly and run nine frames in the bottom box. If you are drawing out new foundation move the feeder pail to above the second box. If you don't have a deep box to cover the feeder pail, use two empty supers. Continue to feed until the bees have finished drawing comb.
If you look at the bees and and think to yourself, wow there is a lot of bees in here. Then add your second box.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Pick up schedule for May 7th - The bees have arrived


The bees have arrived.

Here is a pick up schedule. There are 150 beekeepers coming and I have to spread them out in an orderly fashion. Remember, to put your bees in after 6 pm and don't forget to seal off the entrance. With the warm temperatures, if the bees can get out too early, they may abscond. Keep the bees cool, like in your basement until you are ready to install them. Feed them a couple times by spraying the screen with sugar water.

Pickup schedule:
We will go by the first letter of your last name.

9:00 am    Z - S
10:00 am  R - N
11:00 am  M - J
noon - lunch
1:00 PM   I - D
2:00 PM   C - A
3:00 PM open time to 6 PM

Friday, May 4, 2018

Package bee install with wooden cages

This is my older video of installing package bees that come in wooden cages.
I think Monday's package bees will come in wooden cages.

Package Bee Delivery May 7th update

I talked to my package bee delivery guy today. He told me he will not be loaded until tomorrow, Saturday. With that timing, it looks like Sunday will not be a pickup day and we are looking at Monday, May 7th for the bee pick up day.
 I will publish a post tomorrow after he is on the road and I should have a more accurate arrival time. 

Queens today Friday May 4th

I have about 20 queens left to sell for this week. I have a few promised out to beekeepers. I do not think I will have any left for Saturday. I will be getting a big shipment of queens again on this coming Wednesday, May 9th, with weekly shipments of new queens through the month of May.
We are open today noon - 6 pm

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Queens


We will be getting a shipment of queens sometime today between 10:30 and 4:30. I do not know when. When the queens arrive I will post on this blog.
These are the queen prices for this year.
Carniolan and Italian queens.
$32.00 unmarked
$34.00 marked

Saskatraz queens
$34.00 unmarked
$36.00 marked

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Hive checks and queen availability

Check for queen laying eggs:
 By now everyone should have checked their bees. The check should have been for a laying queens. This is for packages and overwintered colonies. The queen has to be laying for the hive to move forward.
 Don't assume the queen is good. Beekeepers who do this will find a hive so depleted of bees that it will not continue to function. Beekeepers need to look.
Divides:
 To do a divide you need eight frames of brood and bees to do a divide. If you don't have this, you need to wait until you do.
  Some colonies coming out of winter with maybe four frames of bees right now, probably will never be able to split. Doing a split late say after the second week of  June, is not advisable. The late splits will weaken the parent colony and it will not produce much honey. the split at that point will not produce any honey and will have to be fed most of its winter stores.
 Walk away splits should not be done this year in the month of May. The late spring and the delay of natural pollen will have many hives with low drone populations. Natural pollen started coming in a week ago for the first time. It is the inflow of natural pollen that spurs a colony to raise large drone populations. Even if the bees started raising drones in large numbers, say by today. It will be near the end of May before we get any emerging drones. Then it will take a while before they can fly and are sexually mature. This may put us into the first two weeks of June. Getting a queen properly mated will be difficult at best. Doing a walk away split or thinking that the bees will just make a queen, may prove to be a waste of good brood or the hive will get so depleted of bees that it may turn to laying workers or perish.
Queens:
 We will be getting our first shipment of queens this week. This first shipment will be not be a large number of queens, about 150 queens. They will go fast. Then for the next month we will be getting weekly shipments of queens. The queen shipments should arrive sometime on Wednesdays.
The cool spring:
 With this cool spring, everything is behind. The dandelions should be blooming about right now for most if us. It may be we won't see dandelions in large numbers for 10 days yet. The fruit bloom that normally hits by mid May will probably show up in the later part of May. This all can change if we get warmer than average days. Splits that usually happen in early May will now be more likely after May 10th.
 All of the delays because of the weather should also affect the nectar flow. If we have normal temperature from now on, the nectar flow may not start until early July. This will give package bees, nucs and weak colonies time to develop. Swarm control will have to be in place for strong colonies. The delay in the nectar flow may put many strong colonies up into a tree.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Queens

We are out of queens other than the few that I promised to beekeepers today.
Our next shipment of queens will be on this coming Wednesday, May 2nd.

Queen Piping by B. Chaplinski


Monday, April 23, 2018

Queens

I do have a few queens available for emergencies and for package bee purchasers who are having queen acceptance issues.
The first shipment of queens will be starting next week. I will be getting weekly shipments of queens through the month of May.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Overwintered colonies

Overwintered colonies should be looked at now. Remove the winter cover and stow away until fall. The hive can be broke down to clean off the debris that is on the bottom board. This can be quite a bit, bring a box with you and put the debris in the box. Discard properly later.
 Give the hive a reversal as I described in a previous post. Check the egg laying pattern of the queen. Sometimes it is not uncommon to find that you are queenless and a new queen should be installed as soon as possible.
 If the queen looks good make sure there is a pollen patty on the top bars of every box. This makes sure that pollen is available to the bees on any level of the hive. It does not have to be a full patty, a 1/3 to 1/2 patty works. Replace as needed. There is natural pollen just starting to come in right now. But the bees have more than likely ransacked their stored up pollen, so pollen patties should be in place for a few weeks.

Looking at your package bees

By now all the package beekeepers should have their bees outside. The bees should be flying today and possibly bringing in some new found pollen.
 All package beekeepers should be looking at their bees 7 to 10 days after hiving the bees and looking for eggs. Seeing eggs in the hive is an indication that the queen has been accepted. Not seeing eggs in the cells is an indication that the queen has not been accepted for some reason and a new queen should be installed into the hive.
This pic shows all stages of egg, larvae and large larvae that is close to start capping. All the whitish liquid is royal jelly.
upper left is the egg, then incremental larvae growing, finally capped brood

Friday, April 20, 2018

Package bees

I will be getting 300 - 3 lb packages. Any of my customers that lost their bees during this unprecedented cold weather will be given the opportunity to purchase first. I am sorry you lost your bees but this is farming. Any farmer can lose their crop due to frost, too much rain, too little rain, hail, locusts and mites. We all roll the dice when we do farming activities. You need to call or email me today if possible so I can have a number to reserve.
 If anyone is thinking about ordering, do not mail me an order form. I may be sold out of these by tomorrow and the mail won't be here until Tuesday. Call or email me. I will answer the phone the best I can. Leave a message if I don't pick up, say your phone number twice. If my voicemail box gets full, email me what you want.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Put your bees out

The weather is gorgeous. Put your bees out. Best to carry them to their spot. Set them down. Open them up about two hours later. The bees will be pouring out of the open entrance right away. Best to open them up in the afternoon when it is warmer and they can fly and return.
 When package bees come to me, there is always loose bees on the outside of many of the cages. We collect them when it is cool and put them in a nuc box. If it is warm out when the bees come, we cannot collect them because they fly away.
 I took one of the nuc boxes outside last night, because it needed a queen. I couldn't open it up in my garage as the bees would have poured out in the garage. When I opened them up outside, fifteen minutes later, the bees poured out of the nuc. They settled down a short time later and I put the queen in. It was cooler out last night and I know some of the bees did not return. So releasing them when it is in the upper 50's should be warm enough for them to return.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Overwintered Hive update plus first check for 2 lb packages

Sorry my posting has been pretty lean during these two bee deliveries. The weather for bees has been terrible. The cold weather has made package bees installation more challenging. But, it looks like the weather is going the right direction and beekeepers that had to install their bees in warmer locations should be able to move them outside by Sunday. Long term weather outlook looks like no more deep freeze.
 Overwintered colonies are slowly moving forward. Strong colonies should be on schedule for a reversal, finally, this weekend. Weak colonies may not be able to reverse quite yet.
 To do a reversal on an overwintered colony, three deep hive. Bottom box to top and the top and middle box move straight down.
Like this: Box number
1
2
3
ends up
3
1
2
On a two deep hive, self explanatory, switch the two boxes.
 We should see pollen coming into the hives this week. Pollen patties should still be in place on over wintered colonies. Pollen this time of year can be a little unreliable due to cool weather. 
 Beekeepers that installed two pound packages will be able to check their hives this weekend for queen acceptance. The first check is for eggs. If you see eggs in a nice concentric pattern, with the queen hitting most of the open cells, then the queen should be good. Failure to do a check for queen acceptance can lead to problems. If the bees did not accept the queen, a new queen needs to be installed right away. Failure to put a queen in right away can lead to laying workers and possibly a failed hive.
Here is a video:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Getting more packages - Update

I am getting more 3 lb packages. Italian or Carniolan. You may not have a choice. It will be one or the other. Delivery date of May 7th.
 I start taking orders on Friday of this week.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Monday pick up schedule - Please Read The Entire Post

 Many people have picked up their bees. There are about 250 people left to pick up. The bees need to be picked up tomorrow, Monday. The feeder cans are getting light so it is your responsibility to pick them up on Monday. I have a few exceptions that I am working with. The Monday pickup schedule has been modified to fit the whole alphabet. Please stick to the pick up schedule. We have to spread this out over the whole day to be able to help everyone in a speedy manor.

Monday, April 16th pickup schedule
M - O  7:30 - 8:30am
P - R       8:30 - 9:30am
S   9:30 - 10:30am
T - V  10:30 - 11:30am
Crew Lunch 11:30am - 12:30pm
W - Z  12:30 - 1:30pm
A - B   1:30 - 2:30pm
C - D   2:30 - 3:30pm
E - G  3:30 - 4:30pm
H - L and Open Time (if the above time is not possible)  4:30 - 7 pm

Sunday pick up

We are all plowed out and ready for customers starting at 7:30 am to 7 pm.
I think with the snow and everyone's situation is different on being able to get down their street. Today's pickup will be wide open, no schedule. First come first served. The bees need to be picked up soon,
We will be here today, Sunday or tomorrow, Monday.
There will be a crew lunch from 11:30 - 12:30. Please no customers then.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

If you want to pick up bees today

If anyone wants to pick up bees today. Please call for an appointment. 651-439-8793. We will be scheduling appointments on the quarter hour slots. e.g. 9 am -  9:15 - 9:30 etc.
I need appointments so I don't have 100 people here at once.
We will schedule from 9 am to 2 pm. Then snow is supposed to pick up again.
Plan your route with the existing road conditions to best meet your time.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

3 lb delivery update - Read this whole post

The delivery date has changed for the beekeepers who were on the Saturday schedule. Saturday pickup is now moved to Monday. 
Please stick to the delivery schedule.
The bees will be arriving sometime on Friday. We will be open for the distribution of bees after the truck is unloaded.
This is how the weekend will go:

Saturday: Closed because of snow, No Handing Out Of Bees We will keep our eye on the forecast. Sometimes a spring winter storm can fizzle out, we will keep looking for changes in the storm.
The beekeepers scheduled for Saturday will be moved to Monday


Sunday:  We will update this post Sunday morning.

Tentative Bee Day Pick-up Schedule
We will go by the first initial of your last name (those further than 100 miles away may come at any time):

Sunday, April 15th (tentative)
D- E  7:30 - 8:30am
F   8:30 - 9:30am
G   9:30 - 10:30am
H - I  10:30 - 11:30am
Crew Lunch 11:30am - 12:30pm
J 12:30 - 1:30pm
K 1:30 - 2:30pm
L  2:30 - 3:30pm
M  3:30 - 4:30pm
Open Time (if the above time is not possible)  4:30 - 7 pm


Tentative Bee Day Pick-up Schedule
We will go by the first initial of your last name (those further than 100 miles away may come at any time):

Monday, April 16th (tentative)
N - O  7:30 - 8:30am
P        8:30 - 9:30am
Q-R   9:30 - 10:30am
S  10:30 - 11:30am
Crew Lunch 11:30am - 12:30pm
T-V  12:30 - 1:30pm
W-Z 1:30 - 2:30pm
A   2:30 - 3:30pm
B   3:30 - 4:30pm
C and Open Time (if the above time is not possible)  4:30 - 7 pm

Sunday, April 8, 2018

3 lb delivery, are scheduled for this coming weekend


Off Loading a Pallet Of Package Bees
The 3 lb delivery of bees are scheduled for this weekend. I do not have a pickup schedule yet. The weather for this coming weekend looks rainy, windy and cold. If it comes in a little cooler it could possibly be a snow event.
 The delivery truck should be leaving California on Wednesday. Not sure of weather impact on the delivery route yet.
 I am not sure how to approach the bee pickup yet. I want to wait a day to make a decision on the pickup schedule.
 Many factors not clear at the moment, please check this blog everyday for possible scheduling updates and possible delivery date changes.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Driving to Nature's Nectar LLC

The 2 lb package bee pick up schedule is a couple posts down. Scroll down to see the bee delivery schedule. Please look at and follow the pick up schedule. We need to spread people throughout the day to be able to help everyone in a speedy fashion. To familiarize everyone what it looks like at our location these are two videos of what the road looks like one mile from Nature's Nectar LLC. Just pretend it is all white instead of green.

Coming from the south driving north on Manning :


Coming from the north driving south on Manning:

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Transporting and care of bees


I anchored the bottom board to the bottom deep box with a short 1 x 4, I put gorilla tape over the entrance reducer. Also I took 3 ft long 1 x 4 for carrying handles and screwed them to the side of the bottom brood box. This can be a good setup for garage installing.

I removed the top box and feeder pail. Put the tele cover back on. Now I can carry this out of my garage and to my beeyard easier at a later date.
The 2 lb package bee pick up day will be this Saturday. Scroll down this page for pick up schedule. Please follow the pickup schedule it is the best way to quickly pass out bees. If everyone came at the same time it would take several hours to help you. When the pickup schedule is followed, the wait time is usually five minutes.
It will be cold when the bees come in. I don't like it either.
When you pick up your bees:
  • Please no trailers
  • Make sure your car is cleaned out
  • Transport the bees inside the vehicle if possible
  • Do not put them inside a small box or cover them, they can overheat and die
  • They bees can ride in your backseat. Put down cardboard on the seat. The cages may be sticky.
  • We do our best to brush the bees off the cages. 
Care at home
If you are not going to put the bees in right away, put the bees on a large piece of cardboard in your basement. Your garage may bee too cold. 60 degrees is perfect.
  • Feeding bees in the cage can be done by spraying the cage with sugar syrup and a spray bottle. Spray the cage where the bees are clustered, you can see them clustered in the cage. Get the cage wet, don't drown them, top of cage and sides and walk away. Come back after 1/2 hour and wet the cage again, wait 1/2 hour and do it again. If the bees are not going in the hive right away, feed them twice a day.
  • Feed the bees like this about two hours before they are installed in the hive. This will help the bees produce heat if their gut is full of syrup.
  • You can keep the bees like this for about three days. After that you will start seeing dead bees in the bottom of the cage.
Installing bees in the garage. You can put your bees in a hive in your garage.
  • Prep the hive by anchoring the bottom board to the deep box.This will make it easier to move later. Screw a 1 x 4 to the bottom board and the brood box. use about three screws in the bottom board and three screws in the brood box. Do both sides of the hive. Or, search my blog for moving hives and look at the picks on how I anchored the box and bottom board together.
  • Have your entrance reducer in. Duct tape across the entrance, totally covering the entrance reducer. Do a Red Green tape job. You want to make sure the bees stay in the hive.
  • Install the bees. No spray if it is cold in the garage. 
  • Move the bees outside in a few days when it warms up to the forties. 
  • Take the feeder pail off and remove the top box, put the cover back on, when moving the bees to their outside location. It is easier to move them in the one deep box.
  • I screw 2 - 1 x 4's about 4 feet long to both sides of the deep box. This creates two lifting handles and two people can easily move the box together.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

First Delivery - 2 lb Packages


First delivery is only 2lb packages. Keep checking this blog for updates as the date can still possibly change. PLEASE READ THIS ENTIRE POST IF YOU ORDERED BEES FOR THE FIRST DELIVERY.  The second delivery is April 14th and is all 3 lb packages. 

April 6th 
The bees are scheduled to arrive sometime on April 6th. The arrival time is not known so please watch the blog for an announcement that we are ready to distribute packages. No bees will be distributed prior to announcement on blog. This pick up will be first come, first served. Do not come here before it is announced that the bees are ready to pickup. You will be asked to leave. You cannot park out on the road.

April 7th 
Bee Day! Schedule is below.
Saturday, April 7th will be the main pick up day and we will follow the schedule below. If everyone came at once there would be several hours wait to get your bees. With the schedule, everyone is spread out over the course of the day and wait times are very short. The store will be closed on Bee Day. Limited supplies will be available and are listed at the end of this email.

Bee Day Pick-up Schedule
We will go by the first initial of your last name (those further than 100 miles away may come at any time):
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 above time is not possible)  4:30 - 7 pm
Bees will also be available for pick up on Sunday, April 8th. Check the blog the morning of the 8th for any changes in the pickup schedule.
Our bee supply store will be open on Monday April 9th.
Supplies available for purchase on Bee Day (sales tax is included in pricing):
Pollen Patties (2 patties) -- $9.00
Pollen Patties (10 patties) -- $37.00
Pollen Patties (40 lbs) -- $80.00
Feeder Pails -- $7.00
ProSweet Syrup -- $45.00
We will not take credit or debit cards on bee pick up days.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Frame setup for package bees

This is a pic of an existing hive setup for package bees. The frames in this case,  are already drawn out comb, six mostly empty frames and three frames full of honey. I know the pic has only eight frames drawn on the box, put in nine. The ninth frame should be empty and go with the three empty frames in the middle of the hive. I would still feed one pail of syrup. The bees will put the sugar syrup where they want it, around their new brood. After that one pail of syrup, I would not feed. There is ample honey in the hive for a month. A pollen patty needs to be put on the top bars. Move the frames of honey indoors a few days before the bees come, so the honey frames are warm.
 Giving the bees cold frames of honey, may not be  good idea.


Another cold weather installation video.

This is another cold weather package bee install. I did not use sugar spray on the bees. Also, I used a marshmallow for releasing the queen.
 First I remove four or five frames out of the hive. The bees are then dumped into the hive from a plastic bee cage (which is the style of cage that is coming with the bees).  The bees are spread out across the bottom board with a hive tool. Then I take the queen, remove the cork and stick a mini marshmallow in the cork hole. I hold the queen cage down into the mass of bees to get several bees on her cage. The cage is then put under a rubber band that has been put around the frame. The queen cage is slipped under the rubber band, screen down. The rest of the frames are put back into the hive. This works on a five frame nuc box or a 10 frame box. In all cases the bees are put into a single box. I think the video explains the process. You may lose a few bees in the process but that will not impact the end result.
Feed syrup with a feeder pail. Do not use an entrance feeder or a hive top feeder.


Friday, March 30, 2018

Cold weather bee installation

I made this video a couple years ago but never published it. I felt it was appropriate for the cold weather that we will be having with the bees coming in a week. It looks like the weather will be in the 30's when the bees arrive.
 I used a 5 frame nuc box, but a 10 frame box can be used. The bees can keep a five frame nuc box warmer easier. With a 10 frame box it is important for the sun not to warm the side of the hive. When the sun warms the side of the hive, the bees may move to that warm side. This may cause them to be off the feeder pail and starvation can occur. This is one reason that bees are put in after 6 pm when the sun is not shining on the side of the hive. 
 Beekeepers need to install their bees with no sugar spray. Getting the bees wet with sugar water may harm them. The bees may be chilled and will not get off the bottom board.
 It would be great to start the colony with one frame of drawn comb with sugar water sprayed into the cells. If you are feeding bees frames of honey, from a dead hive. Bring the honey frames inside your house several days before the bees are to be installed so the honey can warm up. It can take a couple days for the dense honey frames to warm up. Do not use cold honey frames in your hive. The dense honey will radiate cold for a couple days after the bees are put in the hive and may chill the bees and harm them.
 I had a wooden cage at the time of this video. All the package bees now are plastic.
Double click on video for full screen

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Bee Delivery Update

The bee delivery dates that I posted
April 7th - 8th - 2 lb packages and
April 14th and 15th - 3 lb packages
I did talk to our bee supplier this afternoon to firm up the delivery dates. He told me everything looks good as scheduled.
Please check this blog daily starting next week in case there is a change in the delivery dates due to weather.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Online shopping at Nature's Nectar Online

https://naturesnectaronline.com/
Nature's Nectar online is now up and running. It is being run by Tom and Jessie Minser out of North Branch, MN. We are supplying them with equipment and are testing the waters on how well this online store will work out with our customers. Not everything we sell is on the website but more will be coming if it looks like this is what our customers want. Check it out.

Are you ready for bees?

Our first delivery of bees is less than two weeks away.
Remember, on the days we are passing out bees, our store will be closed.
We will only be selling pollen patties, ProSweet Syrup and feeder pails.
Brush up on your bee installation process:
  • Best to install bee after 6 pm.
  • Grass in the entrance. We want to hold the bees in the hive overnight. Also if the bees are installed early in the day and they can get out because there is no grass holding them in, they can abscond and they will not be coming back. That is why we put them in at 6 pm when it is getting on towards night or anytime, if it is going to be raining all day. Bees don't fly at night or in the rain.
  • If you are feeding frames of honey. Bring the honey indoors to warm up for a few days. Put the honey in the bee boxes right when you will be putting in the bees.  Otherwise the frames of honey, left outside, will be radiating cold for several days. This may hurt the bees if it stays on the cold side.
  • If it is less than 50 degrees, you may not want to spray the bees with syrup. When it is cold, if the bees get chilled from the sugar water spray, they may not get off the bottom board and may not survive.
  • This goes for queen also. Get a big rubber band that goes around a frame. The queen cage can use a marshmallow release instead of spraying the queen on a cold day. Put the queen cage under the rubber band near the top of the frame in the center of the hive. Dip the cage into the mass of bees on the bottom board after dumping the bees in the hive. Get about 6 to 8 bees on the cage, then slip the cage under the rubber band. The bees will keep the queen warm will they are waiting for the rest of the bees to climb up the frame.
  • Do not use an entrance feeder. If it is cold, the bees cluster at the top of the hive. If it is cold, the bees will not break cluster and they will not be able to reach the syrup at the hives entrance feeder and may starve. A pail feeder is the best choice because the bees will cluster underneath the pail.
  • If you have all empty drawn comb to start your colony. Spray some warm syrup into the cells of the center frame under the feeder pail. When the bees crawl up on the frame, they will have syrup to eat and can then produce heat easier. 
  • I will be posting a few videos over the next week that demonstrates these methods.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Honeybees at the Joshua Tree National Park

Jason found these wild honeybees in a downed tree at Joshua Tree National Park.
Desert country in California.

Monday, March 19, 2018

A little cool still

Our weather while warming up some and giving us some melting, is still cool enough to leave on our winter covers.
 Not much has changed on our hive routine at the moment. Pollen patties on, check food stores for proper food supplies. Feed syrup if necessary. Don't overfeed. The weather should improve as we get to the first of April.
 Looking ahead,  around the first of April to remove winter covers. Reversals should be able to be done around this time as well.
 Beekeepers are not doing much right now, the bees are doing it for us. The queen is busy on an early spring build up. The queens egg laying has been increasing all month. The pollen patties we are giving the bees and the increased egg laying, should bring beekeepers healthy spring divides in May.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Package bee delivery date update

Looks Like the delivery date is a little different than previously stated.
First delivery, all 2 lb packages - April 7th - 8th
Second delivery, all 3 lb packages - April 14th - 15th
We will now be open on Wednesday noon - 6pm

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Spring Mite Strategy


As colonies start their spring build up, once again mites are on the minds on most beekeepers.
 As colonies get more populated with the increased brood production, there is also increased mite production.
 Colonies should be treated for mites before divides are done in the month of May. It is better to treat the overwintered colony before doing a divide, than treating them after the divide is made. This is more costly for the beekeeper than if they would have treated before the divide.
Two different mite treatments are the best for spring treatments. Formic acid - Mite Away Quick Strips / Formic Pro or ApiVar.
 Mite Away Quick Strips and Formic Pro can be applied in late April or early May. Proper temperatures are needed to assure a good treatment is delivered. Colonies should have large populations when using formic acid. The vapors can be intense and could injure brood and possibly the queen. Colonies with smaller populations may not be able to split, formic acid treatments may have to be delayed until hive populations increase.
 If ApiVar is used for mite treaments, ApiVar should be put in the hive in late March, around March  20th. ApiVar is a 42 day treatment. The treatment will be complete by May 1st. ApiVar is an opaque strip treated with Amitraz. Two strips are put into the brood area. There is a possibility that the cluster may move during treatment and the strips will have to be relocated to where the cluster is located. ApiVar comes in 10 strip or 50 strip packages. The active ingredient is micro encapsulated on the strips.
 Having a plan for springtime mites will make healthy bees, healthy divides and good hive populations for the summer nectar flow.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

3 lb packages update

We picked up the mail today and there were over one hundred packages ordered.
If anyone wants a three lb. packages, you should call us directly. By the time the mail comes in another day or two we will be out of bees.

Tentative package bee delivery dates


Bee Delivery Truck
These are the tentative bee delivery dates. The dates may change due to weather. But at this time these are the dates we are planning on.

2 lb packages first delivery, April 7th - 8th

3 lb packages second delivery, April 14th - 15th

We will be publishing a pick up schedule when we are near the delivery date. 

Right now we are still selling 3 lb packages but they are going fast. If you need bees you better do it very soon. We have about 10% left to sell.
We are sold out of 2 lb packages.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Package Bee Update

We are sold out of 2 lb packages.
We are still taking orders for 3 lb packages.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

It is pollen (yes) and feeding (maybe) time


It is almost time to put on pollen patties. Anytime starting this weekend should be OK. Always put the patty where the bees are. The bees need to be touching it. They will not travel much of a distance to get it. A strong overwintered colony should get a full patty and may eat it all in ten days. Once pollen patties are put on the hive they need to be replaced before they are all gone. The bees will increase brood production and they will need the pollen.
 A strong overwintered colony may use three to four full pollen patties. Possibly more than that if the spring season is wetter than normal, keeping the bees in the hive. Plus, a pollen patty should be placed on a hive around mid May because the fruit bloom may be over and there may be no large amounts of pollen available until early June.
 If the bees have not moved up into the top box, the pollen then needs to go between the boxes where the main cluster is. If this is the case you may want to put pollen on top of both boxes.
 Feeding syrup. Feeding can be done now only if the bees need it.  Feed 1:1 sugar syrup or ProSweet syrup. Do not overfeed. The bees will plug the hive with syrup if the beekeeper keeps feeding pail after pail of syrup. This will leave no place for the queen to lay. and will impact the hives population.
 Lift up the top box off the hive a few inches above the hive to feel the weight. If it feels light, feed, if it feels heavy, don't feed.
 I wouldn't pull frames yet and look at the brood. A little cool for that.
 When looking at your hive as the patties go on. The population should have about four frames of bees. Carniolans may have three frames of bees. Anyting less than this population may mean you colony is too weak and may not build up to a viable colony without an addition of bees. If you have multiple hives, a frame of brood can be added to this weak colony later in March. Then add another frame of brood in early April. A reassessment will then be needed to see if the hive needs more brood later in April.
 If there is only two frames of bees in a hive right now, I would call the colony dead. This is because this hive will never build up to a good population probably until late summer. This type of hive will be a total liability. It will never put up enough food for winter and the beekeeper will need to feed it all of its winter stores. This weak colony may be compromised by mites and may fizzle out by the month of May leaving the beekeeper with nothing.
 It would be best to shake out this weak hive in the snow and start again with a new package of bees.
 This can be troublesome to some beekeepers, but this is farming and to be successful at farming, sometimes the herd has to be culled.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

2018 University of Minnesota Bee Class

The University of Minnesota Bee Class 2018. Welcome to the newest beekeepers in Minnesota. 240 students.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Open Longer Hours

We are now open:
Friday noon to 6 pm
Saturday 9 am to 3 pm

Monday, February 12, 2018

Wednesday colony check?

Looks like 40's on Wednesday. Good time to check colonies.
 When it is above 25 degrees and not windy, it is not a problem to open a colony for a quick check.
What to look for: whenever you open a colony in the winter, having a plan on what to look for before the top is pulled off.
  •  Alive or dead. This is obvious, but sometimes the bees are down deep in a hive and may be alive. No bees on top? Look deep in the boxes.
  • Colony strength, Right now we would like to see at least four frames of bees in the hive. Most colonies should have bees in the top box. The cluster should be spread out over four frames. A Carniolan queen hive may have threes frames of bees, this is fine. Carniolans winter a smaller cluster and build up very quickly. Sometimes a hive can cover the top of the frames in the hive and looks fine for population. In reality, that is all the bees there is in the hive. To get a good idea that there is a good population, leave the inner cover and moisture board on, break the top box loose. Lift up one side of the box and teeter it back. Look underneath the top box. If you have bees covering four frames to the bottom of the top box, that is a good population.
  • Food stores. For me the best way to judge food stores is to slip off the winter cover, I leave the inner cover and moisture board on. Break the top box loose with the hive tool and lift the top box off the lower box. This will easily tell the weight of the colony. If the hive box feels heavy you should be good. If it feels light, feeding is on the horizon. If the hive feels empty of food and very light, starvation can be near. Winter patties can get a colony to limp along for the short term before we can feed syrup in a couple weeks.
  • Order new bees. If you colony has two frames or less of bees consider them dead. Weak colonies struggle along and can't get their population to move forward. They will not build up to a productive colony without addition of bees from another colony. 
  • Great bee strategy. If you have a couple hives and have one hive alive or are expanding to a second colony. Some beekeepers plan on doing a divide to expand their colonies. Sometimes colonies do not come through the winter strong, and at divide time the colony cannot be divided. Now the other hive sits empty. Here is the strategy. Purchase a 2 lb package for the empty hive. Install the bees in the empty hive. If the overwintered hive can be divided, the divide can be added to the package. This will assure that all the hives will be filled with bees. The package hive will get very strong. No queen will need to be purchased for the divide. The stronger colony will produce more honey than a package or divide could make. The extra honey the colony makes should offset the cost of the package. Do the math. Package around $128.00 including tax. You don't need to purchase a queen for the divide, cost of a queen $35.00. Now we are at $93.00. If you got an extra super of honey because of the stronger colony, which is about 40 lbs of honey worth at least $2.50 lb that's $100.00.  Package bees paid for. I have had several beekeepers use this strategy and they have commented to me on how well it worked.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Hive Location

I was driving up near Finlayson this morning. I noticed a temperature contrast that was worth noting. Driving on I-35 the temperature was about 1 below in Forest Lake.
 As I continued driving north the temperature was cooling off. By the time I got to the Finlayson exit, the temperature was 6 below. As I traveled west on Hwy 18 the road took a few dips. The temperature in the bottom of the dips was 14 below. As I came out of the dips the temperature rebounded to between 6 below and 9 below.
This is a good lesson when locating hives. Avoid low spots. Cold air runs like water. If a hive is in a lower spot and is surrounded by trees and brush. The vegetation will hold the cold air. If the brush was cut in a fashion that forms paths. The cold air can possibly leave and not settle in on frosty mornings.

Monday, February 5, 2018

What is happening in the hive right now.

The winter is moving forward, now it is early February and beekeeping spring is about 30 days away. Beekeeping spring is when we can feed pollen patties and syrup (if needed) to our overwintered colonies.
 Right now the bee cluster should be up in the top brood box. The exception to this if your hive was very heavy with honey. The bees may still be in the lower box. But, for most of us the bees should be up. In most cases the queen has just started to lay a few eggs or will be starting very soon. The bees will be uncapping and consuming honey. When they start opening capped cells of honey, there should be pollen under some of the capped honey (if you did reversals on your colony last early June). The pollen will help stimulate brood rearing. If you don't think you have pollen under the cells in your hive, just solid honey, you may want to throw a pollen patty on, around Feb. 20th or so. If you did a reversal or two last spring, I would not put pollen patties on until early March.
 Don't put pollen on too early, pollen patties can get the colony moving forward too fast. Putting pollen on too soon leads to increased consumption of honey and in some cases, results in huge hive populations in late April. This can lead to early swarming before queens are available for divides. Think about timing and what you did last year before putting pollen patties on. Once pollen patties go on, you need to keep them on through spring.  
 As we get into the start of brood rearing, this is the time when bees can starve if the weather gets cold.  This week is going to be cold, if the queen has started to lay, I wouldn't worry about starvation because of small amount of new brood in the hive this week. But anytime after the February 10th is around the time when most hives have brood in the hive. There won't be frames of brood, but one side of a frame will be getting eggs laid on it. Being it takes 21 days for brood to hatch, as time goes on, more sides of frames will start having brood on them as the queen starts increasing her egg laying.
 Starvation can occur in February when there is brood present and we have weather that is near zero or below for three or more consecutive nights. The cold weather makes the cluster of bees contract to a tighter cluster. The tighter cluster is needed to maintain a 96 degree temperature over the brood. If the bees have consumed honey off the frame(s) of brood, the bees have to go to the honey that maybe a frame or two away from the brood. The brood can't move, so the bees have to move to the honey. When it is cold for several days in a row. The cluster  moves off the honey, to maintain the proper brood rearing temperatures. Moving off the honey for several days can result in starvation, even though honey is one frame away. This is the time of year when winter patties, candy boards or even granulated sugar on wax paper laying on the top bars of the top box can possibly prevent starvation. If the weather in February, is around the normal highs and lows, most colonies will be fine.
 By the end of February, most hives will have a couple frames of brood in the hive. Maybe more if their population is large and they can cover and feed that large amount of brood.
 Our hives are changing, soon it will be time to dust off that bee suit.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Saskatraz Queens

  I talked to my bee supplier today Ray Olivarez. He was talking Saskatraz queens.
He says he has Saskatraz queens in about half of his operation of 16,000 colonies. He has been really pleased with how the queens have worked.
Saskatraz queens when they were being developed, part of the criteria was being sustainable. Sustainable meaning they are better dealing with mites, honey production and winter survival. What Ray has found that his bees have been much healthier. Being that the bees are in the Almond groves of California, fungicides are widely used to protect the blossoms of the Almond tree. Honeybees have been getting injured by the fungicides. Ray has noticed that the Saskatraz have been able to handle the fungicides much better. Ray also feels, in his opinion, that the Saskatraz queens seem to be better dealing with Deformed wing virus.
 Olivarez Honey Bees is the exclusive producer of Saskatraz Queens in the U.S.
Ray gets breeder queens from The Sakatraz producer in Saskatchewan, Canada. So the only companies selling true Saskatraz queens are Olivarez Honey Bees and his trusted sources https://www.ohbees.com/collections/hobbyists-sideliners
 Ray says the orders for Saskatraz queens have been through the roof, over 70% of his orders for packages and queens are for Saskatraz.
 Some queen producers are trying to raise Saskatraz off production queens. The resulting quality do not have all the vigor and vitality of a true Saskatraz Breeder Queen from Saskatchewan. Any beekeeper purchasing these queens, are not getting true Saskatraz queens and are getting a queen that does not have the attributes of the real deal.
 Nature's Nectar LLC is pleased to be the only seller of true Saskatraz queens in the state of Minnesota. We have noticed the Saskatraz are outselling Carniolans and Italians. This is the hottest selling queen around the country right now. We are getting more beekeepers who used to by their bees elsewhere buying from Nature's Nectar LLC, they see the value of purchasing Saskatraz queens. They realize, spending a little more, for a better queen, is worth it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Sign of Spring

After the big dump of snow and the bone chilling cold of a short time ago. Beekeepers are looking forward to be able to dig in their hives. While beekeepers need to be patient for the short term. Spring is coming.
 I was out shoveling today. The bright sunny day after all that snow. It was quite beautiful with all the snow still hanging on the tree branches and the fresh new undisturbed snow. The glare of the sun off the snow, being hard on the eyes. But the sunny winter day brought out the chickadees mating call. Fee-Bee Fee-Bee.
 Finally a sign of spring. Also right now Great Horned Owls will be nesting now. Sometimes early in the morning before it gets light, I can hear the Owls hooting.
 Take some time in these next few warm sunny days, stop and smell the roses. Listen for the chickadees. If you live in a rural wooded area, walk outside before it gets light and listen for the owls.