Disclaimer:

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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Thursday, October 11, 2018

Treating for mites with Oxalic Acid

Soon it will be time to treat with Oxalic Acid. I recommend doing this treatment.
 This treatment is done when no brood in the hive. With no brood in the hive, all the mites are on the exterior of the bees. These phoretic mites are riding on the adult bees. The mites are very vulnerable to Oxalic Acid at this time. The mites are not hiding in the capped brood any longer. So this external treatment is perfect for the external mites.
 Oxalic Acid is Wood Bleach. Beekeepers use the powdered kind of Wood Bleach. Wood Bleach (Oxalic Acid) can be applied with the dribble method or with vaporizer method.
 The best time to use Oxalic Acid is when there is no brood in the colony, which usually is around the third week of October. Italian honey bees can be tough to treat with Oxalic Acid, because they can run brood into November. But I would still treat any way.
 Treating with Oxalic Acid depends on the temperature at the time of treatment.
 With the dribble method, the temperature needs to be at 40 degrees at the time of application. That is four zero, 40 degrees. Not 45 degrees, or other temps in the forties. FORTY DEGREES. The temperature can rise later after the treatment without any problems. At the time of treatment it should be 40 degrees.

 The reason for me being persnickety on the temperature is this, at 40 degrees the bees will be in a tight cluster. The bees will be in a tight mass and can easily be treated with a syringe filled with the Oxalic Acid solution. As the temperature rises into the upper forties, the cluster becomes looser and the bees will start moving around the hive, making the dribble method less effective.
 The vaporizer on the other hand is much more forgiving. Because the vapor is everywhere in the hive, a treatment temperature range between 40 and 48 degrees works fine. Even if the cluster of bees loosens up and the bees are moving around, they will still get vaped. Don't treat if it is too warm, if it is in the fifties for temperature, that is too warm.
Here are a couple videos I made about treating with Oxalic Acid.
Dribble Method


Vaporizer Method:


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Winter Cover Video's

 I made this video 8 years ago and it is still current on wintering a hive in the upper Midwest using a cardboard cover. It is still too early to cover your hive. Beekeepers will be doing Oxalic Acid treatments around the third week of October. The winter covers could go on anytime after that, if the weather is cool. If the temperatures warm up in late October, we may be waiting a little longer to cover the hives. The weather person tonight said 60's in about a week. But, we can never depend on a long range forecast and should not take that outlook as gospel.
 Right now, the bees should be checked for food stores. Feed if necessary. As it gets colder, the bees will not take syrup very well. A warm late October would help get the feed into the hives.
 Entrance reducers or mouse guards should be on the hives right now.



This is a video on how to use a Bee Cozy Winter cover

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Topping Off The Hives With Feed

2-1/2 Gallon ProSweet
Beekeepers are finishing up feeding their hives. Many beekeepers need a small amount to finish feeding and want to feed ProSweet but don't want to buy a five gallon pail. Nature's Nectar LLC did get in a delivery of 2-1/2 gallon jugs. $26.00 per jug.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

New Style of Winter covers

Here are some pictures of a new style winter cover that we are currently carrying.
They are constructed of a vinyl material, that is sewn on the edges and folds of the cover. They wrap around two deep boxes and secure with a strip of velcro. The covers are a snug fit.
 There is 1/2" pink Styrofoam as an insulator in the cover.
 The covers are E-Z on and E-Z off. They store flat when not being used.
The covers are available in 10 frame, 8 frame, and coming soon, nuc size for a five over five cover.
 The covers are heavy duty and should last many years.
 Nature's Nectar LLC is the only bee supply store in Minnesota carrying these covers.
 We have the 10 frame and 8 frame in stock right now.
 
These are snug fit covers

Velcro seam easily seals the cover


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Cooler Weather

The weather has cooled off to more seasonable temperatures.
  • The good news is robbing will be less because bees won't be able to fly for long periods during the day. 
  • Entrance reducers or mouse guards should be installed. With the cooler weather, mice may start moving into the hives. Entrance reducers can be with the wide opening.
  • We are still a long way off before winter covers are installed. Usually winter covers are put on anytime after Nov. 1st
  • Feeding is still going on. Topping off the hive for sufficient food stores for winter. 
  • One frame about in the center of the top box, should be only partially full of honey. It helps the bees move up into the top box, if they can move up on empty comb. If all the frames are full, the bees don't like to move onto the frozen capped honey. If a frame had the bottom third of the frame, empty of honey, will help the bees move up in January.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Different honey on frame

A beekeeper sent me this photo. They were concerned that something was wrong with the frame of honey. Looking at the frame, you can see different colors on the comb. Is there something wrong with this frame? Honey tainted?
 This frame has two distinct different honey's in the frame. Looking at the frame it is easy to see where one honey stopped and another started. There is a nice white comb at the top of the frame, but in the lower part of the frame the cappings have turned to a darker color.
 For an example the light colored wax could have been clover honey. Clover is white honey, very light in color and the beeswax tends to be light as well. The darker wax was a wildflower honey. This wildflower honey is a darker color. In this case the wax was a little darker when it is compared to the whiter wax. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

It is getting late

The window for feeding is getting smaller.
The weather forecaster from channel 5 said yesterday that we may see freezing temperatures in 7 to 10 days. As the temperatures cool off the bees will not take syrup as well as when it is in the 70's.
 Now is the time to feed your bees. The weather still is favorable for feeding.
The feed of choice right now is ProSweet. The bees can take it down and don't have to convert it to honey.
 Feeding sugar water, as we get later into the fall, the bees will have a harder time converting it to honey.
 The next few days and into early next week the temperatures are favorable for feeding.
 Any colder temperatures at this time, will not stress the bees. Winter covers don't have to be installed until November.
 Make the time to feed, now, if the bees need the feed.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The warm weather, pulling supers, feeding and robbing

The current warm weather can be helpful to beekeepers. The nectar flow is over, now is the time to get the supers off the hive, if you haven't done so. Fume boards and honey robber will work great to pull the honey off the hive. Next week it will be cooling off and fumigants used to pull honey will not work as well.
 When the nights turn cool, a bee escape board will be very effective to get the bees out of the super.
 If a beekeeper leaves the supers on too long, the bees may start moving the honey down into their hives. If the honey is uncapped, the bees will move it down very quickly.
 This warm weather is perfect for feeding. The bees will empty feeders at breakneck speed. If there is a lot of feeding in your future, you will want to take advantage of the next four days. Get the feed on NOW. 
 Next week, around Wednesday it is going to cool down into the 60's for highs. As the weather turns cooler the bees don't take the syrup with the same vigor as when it is in the 80's.
 Robbing, this weekend robbing will be in high gear. Hot temperatures, bees, wasps, hornets all have large populations. Large population with large appetites.  It would probably be a good idea to put an entrance reducer in with the large opening in the entrance. This may promote bearding from a hot hive, but it may prevent robbing from getting out of control.
 I have heard of a couple hives already getting overcome by robbers. Hive killed, dead bees everywhere, hive robbed of all honey. Oh, the carnage.
 Do not put supers near a hive to have the bees clean them out. This can start robbing. Once the supers are empty, the robbers can turn on your hive(s). One by one your bee yard can be overtaken. Don't get the robbing started.
 If you have supers to clean up, take off the telescoping cover and set the supers on top of the inner cover and put the telescoping cover back on top. The bees will come up from below and clean out the supers. This will protect the honey from robbers and the hive will clean the supers out in about three days.
 The hurricane in the Carolina's are holding this warm weather pattern for a few days. Take advantage of this and try to get the chores done.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Feeding

Beekeepers are getting in their last chores of the season. Making sure a colony has sufficent stores for winter survival is one of the last hurdles to cross for getting the hives ready for wintering. A colony of bees eats about 12 lbs of honey a month. This is about a frame and a quarter of honey. When brood rearing starts sometime in February, the honey consumption will increase. We can feed syrup again in early March, so that is our target for food stores. While this is a general rule of food consumption, use of stores can increase or decrease by the size of the overwintering cluster.
 For wintering we would like the following, if you have checked them off already that is a good place to be.
  • Have a colony as mite free as possible
  • In a perfect world, we would like to see 8 full frames of honey and one partially filled frame, say about two thirds full. The partially filled frame is located in the middle of the top box. The reason for the partially filled frame is that when the bees move up in January, transitioning from the lower box into the top box, it is easier to move up on a little empty comb instead onto cold honey or frozen honey. The cluster can move up and warm up adjacent honey in the moving process. The box under the top box should have about four frames of honey. This should give them enough food for winter. 
  • Feeding should be done as rapidly as possible. Don't drag this out over six weeks. Feeding with a quart jar with six holes in the lid, does not cut it for fall feeding. Feed with multiple feeder pails or a hive top feeder. With 40,000 bees in the hive, feeders will get empty quickly. If colonies are close to being full, you can feed one colony, then three days later feed the next one. Or, if you have the feeders, feed them all.
  • Your choice of feed for fall feeding is 2:1 sugar syrup, two parts sugar to one part water. The bees will have to suck this down, store it in the cells, dehumidify it to turn it into honey. After the bees turn it into honey, the net amount of actual food will be about 2/3rds of what you put in. Meaning if you fed 10 pounds of 2:1 sugar syrup, your net of honey would be around 7 lbs.
  • Feeding with ProSweet. ProSweet is similar to honey. It weighs about 11.5 lbs per gallon. The bees can take down ProSweet and put it into the cells and they don't have to do anything to it. Put it in the cells and they are done. If you give the bees 10 pounds of ProSweet, they have 10 pounds of food.
How to feed fast:
Three feeder pails can be put right on top of the frames this time of year. The bees will drain them in about 3-4 days. Cover with and empty brood box and inner and tele cover.
Feeding with a top hive feeder:



Feeding needs to happen now. Feed fast and get it done. The longer we feed, the longer brood is in the hive. The longer brood is in the hive, the more mites we get. Feeding spurs brood production. Get the feeding done. We want the queen to stop laying, so when we treat with oxalic acid in late October, hopefully the hive will be broodless. With a broodless hive, all the mites that are left in the hive are on the bees. The oxalic acid treatment will put a serious hurt on any left over mites. Then the colony will be ready for the rigors of winter.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Are you getting behind the eight ball?

The bee season is winding down quickly. Freeze warning this morning in northern Minnesota. The cooler weather is upon us.
  
Behind the eight ball. A term, referring to the game of pool, meaning in an unfavorable or uncomfortable position

Now is the time:
  • To treat for mites. A graduate student did her work on Varroa studies. She concluded that if bees aren't treated for mites by Sept. 10th. the odds of the bees overwintering go down dramatically. Are you behind the eight ball?
  • Feeding: Do you have enough food in the hive for winter? The top box should have eight full frames and one partially full frame of honey. The heaviest brood box needs to be on top of the brood boxes. Having a heavy box on the bottom of the brood boxes will do nothing to help feed the bees in the winter, it needs to be on top of the brood boxes. If you do not have this you need to feed now. If your hive has not enough honey and you are not feeding, are you behind the eight ball?
  • Time is ticking by everyday. Get the work done now. If it cools down early, the bees may no longer take down feed. If they don't take down the feed, there will not be enough food for winter. Don't get behind the eight ball.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

We are getting close to last call for mite treatments

I hate to be alarmist. But, beekeepers who have not treated for mites, are running out of time.
 Right now the hives are starting to make winter bees. Winter bees will be the bees that live through the winter. Winter bees will be in the hive from early September until March.
 For hive survival, the bees need to be as mite free as possible. Having your winter bees heavily parisitized by mites will decrease the odds of winter survival.
Mites can be a vector for viruses into the bees. This can lead to a colony dying in late February or March.
 Taking the time now to treat for mites is the best solution.
 There are some beekeepers who let their bees die every year and get new packages of bees. This works for them. But, they too have to treat for mites. Beekeepers who do this and do not treat for mites are a big problem for the beekeepers that winter their bees. Untreated hives can spread mites to other colonies.
 This week the weather is perfect for using Formic Pro. If you are trying to get some late season honey, Formic Pro can be on your hive with supers on. Formic Pro is considered an organic treatment. Take the time and treat your bees. The $16.00 you spend today, may save you $120.00 in the spring.
 Here again is my video on using Formic Pro:

Monday, August 27, 2018

Bears are roaming into new area's now

This bear was in Pepin City WI.

This time of year is the start of bear mating season.
Two year old cubs are chased off by their mother. The females don’t have a problem staying in their home range. The young male bears are now in the breeding area of a dominant bear. They are forced to leave their home range or risk a confrontation with the dominant bear. This will lead to a fight and the young bear could be killed.
 These young bears are forced into new territories. Beekeepers that have never had trouble with bears in the past are much more prone to a bear attack now if they have never been hit before.
I always tell beekeepers, put a bear fence up now before the bears hit the hive or you end up paying twice.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Moisture Checking Honey

The definition of U.S. Grade A honey is, it needs to taste like honey and have a moisture (water) content of 18.6% or less.
 The way to tell what the moisture level is to measure the water content with a refractometer.
 There are many refractometers used in many different industries. Refractometers are used in the food, HVAC, and the machine tool industries to name a few. Refractometers can be specific to what is needed to be tested.
 In the honey world, we need a refractomer that is specific to honey. Other refractometers look the same but they would not work to measure water in honey. So if you see one for sale on EBay you better know what you are buying. Every year I have beekeepers bring me their refractometers because they can't read it. Only to find out that they purchased the wrong one.
 Refractometers do have to be calibrated with a glycerin calibrating solution. Not calibrating the instrument can lead to a bad reading and your honey may not be U.S. Grade A. A tiny vial of calibrating solution costs about $10.00.
 I have a high end refractometer, like the one below. I calibrate it every year at the start of the honey season. It is very accurate and holds its calibration very well. I usually never have to change the adjustment. When you get to cheaper refractometers, the need to calibrate them before each season is imperative.
 At Nature's Nectar LLC we do moisture check honey samples for free. If you can't drive here, you can mail me a sample and I will call, text or email the results back to you. I need a thimble size of honey for a sample. The sample should pretty much fill the container. Don't bring a thimble size container in a quart canning jar for example. Any humidity in the jar will absorb into the honey, making the test inaccurate.
 Refractometers sell for $75.00 up to over $400.00. The one below costs over $400.00. We do sell the $75.00 refractometer in our store and I will calibrate it for free if you buy it from us. No other bee store offers this service.

Honey Refractometer


This is the scale in this type of refractometer. You can see at the bottom of the scale that it is for honey. Read the line where the blue and white meets. This honey sample reading is about 19.3% water content. This type of refractometer has a temperature adjustment thermometer on the underside of the instrument.. When adjusted for temperature the final reading was 18.5%.




Monday, August 20, 2018

Different bee comparison

Here is a Carpenter bee a bumble bee and a honey bee

The Carpenter bee is ginormous 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpenter_bee

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Be a State Fair Bee Interpreter - Sign up today


Beekeeper Steve talking bees with a civilian at the fair
Be a State Fair Bee Interpreter. Sign up by Saturday the 18th to get a free ticket to get into the State Fair. I can't say enough about this. Everyone who has done this has enjoyed doing it.
 All you do is sit on a stool with an observation hive and answer questions from the general public. Any new beekeepers is qualified to do this. Don't sell yourself short, any new beekeeper has the knowledge and expertise to interact with the general public. Most new beekeepers have the education and almost a full season of beekeeping under their belt. So you are the expert. Sign up, get into the fair for free, have a great time supporting the beekeeping industry.

https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080f48a5a628a1fe3-beehoney2
Find an open slot on the schedule. Click on the sign up and submit button at the bottom and fill out the form for the shift you want. Submit the form and you will see your name on the shift you want.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Pulling Honey off the hive

Here are a couple videos of how to pull honey off the hive.

Different items used for pulling honey:


Using a brush to remove supers:


Using a fume board to remove supers:

Friday, August 10, 2018

What is happening right now in the hive

Right now the nectar flow has grown very spotty. Some beekeepers are getting some nectar but,  I think most of us are done getting any more surplus honey.
Now we have to turn our attention to some pressing issues.
  • Mites, it is time to treat your bees NOW. It looks like the weather next week from Tuesday on should be acceptable weather to put on Formic Acid. Either Formic Pro or Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS). The longer we wait to put on mite treatments, the more mite issues can develop. When I say mite issues I mean, possible virus exposure, damaged bees and new larvae being weakened by the increased mite population. So what are you waiting for!
  • Feeding, if you inspect your colony and your top box is not full, the time to feed is now. If you are using Formic Acid to treat your hives, you cannot feed. But, once the formic is finished, feeding has to be put on the front burner.  If you did a reversal after mid June, and you put the top box on the bottom and when you did this the box was very heavy. That box was your winter honey. You need to put the heaviest brood box on top of the hive. Bees will not go down to get this honey and the bees will starve later on in the winter. By having the top box basically full of honey, insures that the bees will have enough food for winter. Feeding in late August and into early September is the right time to feed. Feeding is a nectar flow. A nectar flow spurs the queen to lay more eggs. The more brood in the colony means more mites in the colony.  Beekeepers want the hive to stop rearing brood by early October. By feeding late into September usually means that brood will be in the hive until late October or early November. If the feeding lasts into late October there may be brood in the colony into late November. More brood means more mites. Again, this is a problem. The late feeding leads to bees being heavily parisatized by mites and will likely not survive.
Now is the time to get a plan on mites and feeding. Delaying can lead to a negative outcome of winter hive survival.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Extractor Sale

We are taking pre orders for extractors
3 frame hand crank, same as in the video in the previous post.
3 frame hand crank
Regular price $425.95 Sale price $395.00
3 frame motorized
Regular price $749.95 Sale Price $695.00
9 - 18 hand crank
Regular  Price $799.95 Sale Price $699.95
9 - 18 motorized extractor
Regular price $1295.95 Sale Price $1095.00
Delivery should be by Aug 17th
All of the hand crank extractors can be updated to a motorized extractor by purchasing a motorized conversion kit at a later date.
We service all extactors that we sell. Any warranty work is done here.
If you buy extractors online, what would you do if you had to send it back for repair?
That is the advantage of buying local.


Monday, July 30, 2018

How to extract honey

Here is a video that we made last year on how to extract honey. This 3 frame extractor is the same extractor that we rent for $30.00 a day. We have four extractors available and we are taking reservations for them at this time. All of the equipment in this video is available at Nature's Nectar LLC. We can explain how to use the tools if you need more instruction than this video provides. We also sell extractors and will be having an extractor sale coming up the week of August 13th through the 18th. There will be significant savings. All our extractors are quality built. All warranties are serviced here. When you purchase extractors online, you may have to ship them back to whomever you bought them from for warranty work. Depending on the size of the extractor that can lead up to a lot of money. Plus you need to crate it up. Buying local in the long run will save you time and money.
Also, Nature's Nectar LLC will be closing early on Sat. August 4th at 1 pm. We will be open regular hours on Saturday August 11th. If you need anything you can always order it off our online store www.naturesnectaronline.com


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Putting On Formic This Week

I will be putting formic acid on my hives this week, no later than Wednesday. I was watching the weather this morning and the long term forecast calls for 90's coming back next weekend. I want to make sure I can get my mite treatment on before it gets hot again.
 There are several posts about mite treatments over the last week. Scroll down to see the older posts.

Friday, July 27, 2018

MAQS or Formic Pro and the nectar flow

Nature's Nectar LLC does carry both Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) and Formic Pro. We can show you how to put them on your colony and answer all of your mite treatment questions.
 FYI did you know Nature's Nectar LLC rents three frame extractors by the day? If you need to rent an extractor, we are taking reservations now.


 The nectar flow has slowed down for me quite a bit. I am not sure if it is over in the Stillwater area or there may be some late summer nectar ahead.
 I did see Goldenrod starting to bloom. Goldenrod will be very widespread when it peaks out usually in late August. What looks so promising of acres and acres of yellow flowering Goldenrod, more times than not, yields very little of a nectar flow. The bees do work it for the pollen and the nectar if it is present. For me, about every ten years I get a decent crop of nectar off of Goldenrod. You know you are getting Goldenrod nectar if you stand near your hives and the odor of wet sweat socks permeates the beeyard. This odor while it is a little stinky, does go away as the Goldenrod nectar ripens into honey. Goldenrod honey is actually quite tasty.
 As beekeepers we are naturally greedy and we want to get as much honey as we can. I think beekeepers need to resist that notion and plan on mite treatment and to make sure the hive has sufficient winter store of honey.
 Treating with formic acid forces the beekeeper to remove the top brood box to put the formic acid strips on. This removal of the top deep will clue in the beekeeper if there is enough honey for winter. Beekeepers like to see the top box basically full of honey. After the mite treatment beekeepers need to get serious about if they need to feed. Feeding cannot be done will formic acid is on the hive. So after the mite treatment is done, get any feeding done right away. Don't wait to feed. August turns into October before you know it and the next thing you know there is not enough food in the hive for winter.
 I will be talking about how to pull your honey off the hive and extracting your honey crop in my next few posts and videos, stay tuned. I have made many posts about mites, so scroll down and look at some older posts if you missed them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Other Mite Treatments

There are several mite treatments available to use. Some are better than others.
One thing I want to say if you have Saskatraz bees. Synthetic Chemical compounds should not be used for treating Saskatraz bees. Synthetic Chemical compounds would be ApiVar, Checkmite, Apistan.
 The synthetic miticides while initially lowering the mite populations, may in the future, lessen the Saskatraz bees ability to cope with new mite infestations. In other words if you have Saskatraz bees Formic Acid may be your best mite treatment option. Having said that here are some other mite treatment options, pro and cons.

 Formic Acid, organic, ingredient formic acid, fumigant
  • Pro, organic treatment, will not leave deposits in the wax, inexpensive, unused strips store well for a year, short treatment window 14 days, good mite efficacy, supers can be on, 2 hive, 10 hive or 25 hive treatment packs
  • Con: Temperature dependent, has a temperature window to work properly, may injure some open brood, a fragile queen may be killed, especially when treating at the upper temperature limits.
http://nodglobal.com/formic-pro/

ApiVar: synthetic miticide, ingredient, Amitraz, direct contact strip
  • Pro: works well on Italians and Carniolans, easy to apply plastic strips, Works at all temperatures,  
  • Con: expensive, 42 day treatment, may leave wax residue, some resistance being reported, strips have to be in contact with the bee cluster to work, supers must be off, unused strips do not store well, 10 strip or 50 strip package. 2 strips used per deep of bees, up to 4 strips needed per hive treatment
http://www.apivar.co.nz/FAQs.htm#FAQ%207

ApiGuard: ingredient Thymol gel, fumigant
  • Pro: works well, easy to apply tins
  • Con: 30 day treatment, two tins 15 days apart, temperature dependent, a 3/4" shim need to be used for bee space for bee access, supers must be off, needs to be applied in the upper Midwest by no later than mid August because if it cools off in September it may not be effective. Need to purchase 10 tins (five hive treatments)
https://www.dadant.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Apiguard-QA.pdf

Checkmite and Apistan have shown mite resistance to these products

When to treat for mites - It is all about the timing

 I like to treat my bees for mites usually around mid August. My mite treatment of choice is Formic Acid. There are two types of Formic Acid, Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) or Formic Pro. They are both formic acid but their application is slightly different. Formic Pro and MAQS are both made by the same manufacturer.  MAQS has a shelf life of about 6 months, while Formic Pro has a shelf life of two years. Expired MAQS should never be used because the delivery method has been compromised. Expired MAQS when applied will give 100% formic acid, the intensity of the vapors may injure the colony.
 Formic Acid should not be applied if the daytime temperatures are over 85 degrees for the first three days of treatment. This is a fumigant, the slide of a screen bottom board should be in while treating.
 Formic Acid is considered an organic mite treatment and can be applied with the honey supers on.
 But, sometimes the weather is too hot to put on the Formic Acid treatment. I have the mite treatment ready to use by end of July. So I watch the weather in August, if there is a window of three days of the 70's in early August, I will treat. By waiting until mid August, then a beekeeper thinks about treating, the weather can get too hot and stay there for several weeks. Sometimes not cooling off until the first week of Sept. Beekeepers need to get Formic on their hives sometime during the month of August. So watching the weather and long term forecasts is what I do. 
Here is a couple of manufacturers video's of using Formic Acid. Always follow the manufacturers label instructions when applying any miticide:

Formic Pro:




MAQS:




Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mite Treatments


From Scientific Beekeeping.com
Mite treatments will be the hot topic for all beekeepers very soon. Look at the graph above about the bee and mite population and the timeline. The Varroa population lags the bee population, up until early September. Then the mite population keeps increasing as the bee population goes down. This high infestation of mites damages the bees physically and also exposing honeybees to viruses. This high infestation of mites is what kills honeybee colonies.   Beekeepers need to stop this rising mite population during the month of August before the Varroa population explodes. Looking at the graph one can see there is a sharp rise in the month of August in the mite population. Treating colonies in September in many cases is too late. The bees may be so damaged by the rising mite population that they cannot recover.
 Starting in late August, and into fall, the new bees emerging will be winter bees. Winter bees have a different physiology than summer bees, they have more fat deposits to handle the rigors of winter better than summer bees could. Winter bees will live for 6 months. Winter bees need to emerge out of the cells as mite free as possible. Winter bees weakened by being parisitized by mites stand a tough time for long term survival. Winter bees emerging healthy with very low mite counts, have a great chance at winter survival. Overwintered colonies usually make much more honey than a new colony.
 For ALL beekeepers, treating colonies in August is the time to do it. If you are a beekeeper that kills your colonies off every year and get new bees in the spring, YOU need to treat for mites as well. Failure to treat for mites at the proper time can affect your neighbors overwintering success. Be a good neighbor and treat all colonies in August.



Saturday, July 21, 2018

Stay tuned

I will be making several posts over the next week about pulling honey, extracting honey, and mite treatments, how to put them on and mite treatment options. So stay tuned. Scroll down on the posts, or you may miss some of them.

I have to say this was the winner

This pic is a testament of the quality of bees from Olivarez Honey Bees. Keep the hives from swarming and the result is usually positive.
Seven colonies with forty supers on. The two on the right were overwintered colonies. The others were splits or new packages. He is extracting today. Eleven Supers on the hive on the far right. If all the forty supers were full, that would be about 1600 lbs of honey. Carniolan Queens.                                                    Located in Pine City area / Photo T. Hinze

Saskatraz before and now

Here is a pic of how a hive can change in about four months time
These were all 2 lb package of Saskatraz started in early April. Through the cold and snow that we had for the first time in Twenty years. The packages were all installed on drawn comb. Why spend the extra money on a nuc. These Saskatraz queens really go to work. Located in the east metro.
About four months ago / photo by N. Gores

Now / Photo by N. Gores

Thursday, July 19, 2018

More Saskatraz Hives

Here are a couple Saskatraz hives with their heavy supers
Saskatraz package hive from the western suburbs, Buffalo area. / photo by D. Casey

Saskatraz Hives from the Stillwater area. Left / - Overwintered Saskatraz Parent, / middle - the divide / Right - 3 lb Package with Saskatraz queen / Photo by G. Gehrman
Saskatraz packages - two full supers and the third is 2/3rds full / photo M. Thorp


What's blooming

As the white sweet clover starts to wane, more flowers are coming online. Late summer perennials are coming out. Also some weeds are blooming right now. Purple Loosestrife can takeover a swampy marsh and crowd out native plants.
Purple Loosestrife and Spotted Knapweed are both noxious weed. They should never be propagated. But as long as they are there the bees will work them.
 Purple loosestrife honey has a greenish hue. It looks like new motor oil.
 Spotted Knapweed has a buttery flavor. Both honeys are of very good flavor.
Spotted Knapweed
Purple Loosestrife

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Great Saskatraz Hive

This is a pic of a Saskatraz hive. That is one huge honey crop in the making.
This is a result of a great queen, big hive population and no swarming.This was from a package of bees from this year.
photo by M. Hergott

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Weather and the nectar flow

The nectar flow is booming for most beekeepers. Many beekeepers reporting that they have two or more supers with honey in the boxes.
 The upcoming week looks perfect for honey collection. Hot days and warm nights. Days and nights like this, get the nectar to flow, usually at a greater rate than if the highs are only in the 70's.
 Swarming is still going on. I have had several calls from beekeepers trying to collect their bees that are now up in a tree.
 When checking for swarm cells, all the boxes need to be looked at. If only one brood box is checked, there is no point on checking. Queens are being pushed down into the bottom brood box now as the top brood box fills with honey. This is what beekeepers want to see. Their top brood box full of honey for winter.
 Stay ahead of the bees. If there is two supers on a hive and both of them have honey in them, it is time to put on two more supers. This nectar flow looks like it has a long way to go. It would not surprise me if many beekeepers get four supers of honey or more.
If you are not getting much honey right now:
  • Your bees may have swarmed
  • You had queens issues sometime in the spring
  • Poor population of bees in the hive due to a brood disease
  • Poor nectar flow where your bees are located 
  • You have put the same supers on for a couple years and the bees never made wax on the foundation. Now the foundation is no longer attractive to the bees, the beeswax odor is gone. The foundation should be replaced with new.
Now is the payoff for all of the hard work we have done to get our bees to this point. We have endured cold weather, blizzards, cold spring. All of this is now old news. The honey flow is on, now lets enjoy the show.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

What's Blooming


Basswood / Linden Tree - photo N. Gores
 Basswood trees can produce a tremendous amount of nectar if the conditions are right. Basswood like hot days and warm nights to produce a good nectar flow. It does not produce every year. Last year we got Basswood honey, with the hot weather we are experiancing right now,  I am optimistic that we will have another good Basswood Flow.
Sumac - photo by N. Gores
 Sumac does produce nectar and the bees do work it. The honey tends to be in the reddish color.
Thistle -  Photo by N. Gores
Thistle is blooming everywhere right now. This is also a decent nectar plant that the bees work. 
White Dutch Clover - Photo N. Gores

Birdsfoot Trefoil and Daisy - Photo by N. Gores

Brood box tip

As this honey flow progresses, beekeepers need to think about wintering your bees. Wintering your bees means the top brood box being mostly full of honey.
 Over the next couple weeks, a beekeeper should examine the top brood box. Honey frames that are on the outside edges of the box, never get filled with honey very well. Beekeepers find themselves feeding syrup later in the season to bolster honey stores. By feeding syrup, this is a nectar flow, the queen lays when there is a nectar flow. With this new brood, mite production will continue to increase. Sometimes feeding is done very late and brood is then in the hive into November. This late brood in a colony and increased mite load can have a bad outcome for winter survival.
 Taking the time to go out, remove your supers. Look in your top box. Full frames of honey that are in the middle of the top box should be moved to the outside frames and the outside frames should be moved to the center of the top box. The bees will now be much more likely to fill the middle frames with honey. This should get you the honey you need for most of the winter stores and cut down on the fall feeding.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Honey Flow Update

I was out checking my hives this morning. It was mildly brutal in a bee suit.
 But I had put some Formic Pro on four days ago on some overwintered colonies. I decided to remove the formic strips this morning before it the day warmed up to the projected near 100 degrees. The bees were not bearding at all yet this morning, but I was concerned that two strips of formic pro, at these high temperatures, may cause me some queen and or brood loss. So I am going to call my shortened mite treatment good for now and I will treat the hives again in early August. The treatment was on at some elevated temperatures so I am sure it did have an effect on the mite level. I will do a mite check next week to see where the hive is at for mite count.
 The nectar flow is on. I do have nectar in most of my supers right now. Two of my overwintered colonies looked like they have swarmed, so the honey was a little lighter than expected in their supers.
 I have been hearing reports from several beekeepers that they have one or two supers 70% full of nectar and they were getting ready to add two more supers.
 There is white sweet clover blooming everywhere around the state right now. Driving around I see it in full bloom in huge stands in the ditches of roadways.
Summer perennials should start blooming soon.
Here is Paul's current hive scale pic. You can see that there has been a spike in honey weight. Looks like 8 - 10 lbs increase yesterday.
 If you look at the black line on the graph, that is hive weight. You can see that over the last two days it has seen a definite sharp rise.
So, if you have not put your supers on, do so now. It also looks like comb honey frames could be put in the hive now also.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

AFB

 A beekeeper from the Hudson area brought me a frame to look at last week. He suspected something was going on in with his hive. After looking at the frame, I discovered American Foulbrood (AFB) scale in the cells of the frame.
 I have seen many frames of AFB over the years so the diagnosis was easy. I could see the scale on the bottom of the cells. The larvae had died and turned to a gel that sinks to the bottom of the cell. This gelatinous material will desiccate (dry out) and turn to a hard scale on the bottom of the cell. I did not do a rope test, because there was no active larvae  to test from on the frame.The AFB scale is highly infectious when accessed directly by the bees, such as if they robbed the AFB hive of all their honey and ingested a large number of AFB spores.
 We also checked the AFB scale with a black light. AFB scale lights up to a bright green color when hit with a black light. The brighter the black light the better if glows. So if you purchase a black light, don't cheap out, the black lights with a higher number of led's work better. This one has worked for me Black Light
 So, how did they get the AFB?
 The beekeeper has been very careful over the years, buying only new equipment and never buying nuc's. There is always a possibility of getting AFB if you purchase nuc's. The AFB scale can be on used frames in the nuc. This is why package bees are usually a safer bet.
 Did his hive rob a weak neighbors colony that was weak or dying of AFB? Was the neighbors hive dead from last year and they did not put bees in the hive and the bees robbed out the honey? Most of the time hobbyists do not even know they have AFB. They buy new bees every year and by August their bees are dead. If your bees are weak and being depleted of bees right now, if you don't have an explanation for the reason, look for AFB in the frames.
 Is someone in the Hudson neighborhood feeding store purchased honey to the bees? Some civilians will see honeybees and feed them store bought honey, thinking they are helping out the bees. Giving store bought honey to your bees, can be a way to give AFB to your bees. Is someone feeding honey to hummingbirds? The bees can be robbing this feeder. Somewhere near this beekeeper is the source of the AFB. This Hudson beekeeper is going to have to be vigilant checking their hives for AFB. There is a possibility they could get reinfected if the source is not discovered.
 The beekeeper also contacted a vet for a prescription for an antibiotic. The bees will be removed of the drawn comb and will be shaken onto new frames and new foundation. An antibiotic regimen is probably a good idea. The brood break and the delay of larvae at the start, feeding syrup to flush the AFB spores out of the bees bodies, and the antibiotics will get the bees off to a fresh start.
 I do have a frame of AFB comb. Anyone that wants to see it, can stop by my shop to see it.
 AFB is not widespread. I see it every year from beekeepers bringing me frames to look at, but a few beekeepers do discover it in their hives. Normally, beekeepers get it from used equipment. Before you use used equipment, it is best to have it looked at by a competent beekeeper.
 Having an undiagnosed source for AFB can be troubling.
 It is important to be on the lookout for AFB in your hives. Discolored larvae is a red flag that something is happening to your brood. It does not mean you have AFB, but paying attention to what is happening in the hive is key to staying ahead of any possible trouble.

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.