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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Monday, December 9, 2019

Beekeeping Workshop Dunn County Beekeepers

 The Dunn County Beekeepers do a good job helping new hobbyists. Their workshops provide good information.
www.dunncountybeekeepers.org

Monday, December 2, 2019

One way to cool down creamed honey

Creamed honey after it is made, needs to set up. It usually takes 10 days to two weeks to set up. Keeping the creamed honey in cool temperatures. around 57 degrees works best.
 I have the creamed honey in my honey house, under a big window.

I take an insulated panel and lean it over the creamed honey and against the window
The insulated panel covers most of the creamed honey.
The physics is this. The room is around 64 degrees. The cold of the glass will create convection currents of air flow. The cold air is heavier than warm air. The cold air will fall over the creamed honey and spill out on the sides. This should keep the creamed honey cooler than the room and aid in a rapid set. I can monitor the set by squeezing a couple soft plastic containers I bottled. The firmness of the plastic containers will tell me when the creamed honey is properly set.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Honey and Beeswax For Sale

one pound and two pound blocks of beeswax

My wife and I are still in the honey and beeswax business.
Bees and Honey LLC. We don't sell bees, just honey and beeswax.
The beeswax is rendered and filtered, ready for candlemaking.
Beeswax is $8.00 per pound.
Five Gallon (60 lbs) pails of honey $178.00. Liquid and strained, ready to bottle.
Beeswax and Honey available at our home north of Stillwater. 
The best deals on quality Candle molds and wick can be purchased at Nature's Nectar LLC in Oakdale, MN

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Making Creamed Honey

This is how I make creamed honey. I usually make it right before Thanksgiving so it has time to set. I give the creamed honey away to my friends and relatives for Christmas gifts.
 Making creamed honey is easy. Purchase creamed honey from the grocery store. This is the seed. The seed puts the fine crystals of the creamed honey into the liquid honey. You need to add one pound of creamed honey per ten pounds of honey. I usually double the creamed honey, using two tubs of creamed honey per ten pounds of honey. Some creamed honey is in 12 ounce tubs, I use two of them per ten pounds of honey.
 The chemistry is, with time as the mixture starts to set, it replicates the fine crystals of the store bought creamed honey. The fine crystals have a nice smooth texture in your mouth.
 The first step is to take my best honey. The trick is to use honey that is free of granulation. Warm the honey to 95 degrees. Use a thermometer, don't guess.
 A crock pot set on low, usually works well for heating the honey.  Pour the warm honey into a bottling pail. If the honey is too warm, let it cool in the bottling pail. You may need to stir it slightly to move the warm honey around.
When the honey is at 95 degrees stir in the creamed honey. I usually move the mixture outside after the creamed honey is blended so the mixture can cool off rapidly. If the creamed honey stays in the heat for too long, the crystals will liquefy and the creamed honey will not set properly. You will have to repeat the whole process if the mixture does not set up. 
 Follow the directions in the video. I fast forwarded the bottling in the video, because the creamed honey had started to set up. It was very thick and hard to pour. I waited three days before I bottled it. Bottle the creamed honey after 1-2  days after stirring in the seed crystals. Always pour one plastic container so you can squeeze the container and tell when the mixture has set. The creamed honey when properly set will be very firm and feel hard when squeezing the plastic container, Put the honey somewhere where the temperature is around 57 degrees. An unheated cold basement floor works well. Honey in general, granulates best at 57 degrees. We use that fact to help set up the creamed honey.


Saturday, November 23, 2019

What's happening in the hive right now

Most beekeepers have finished wintering their bees. The bees are wrapped for the winter.
 Today, Saturday and tomorrow Sunday the temperatures will be right for treating for oxalic acid.
 Even if you wrapped your hive and have not treated with oxalic acid, this mite treatment is worth doing.
 I have talked to several beekeepers who have not treated with oxalic acid. They said they treated with Formic Acid in August. A couple of the beekeepers said they went out to their hives in early November and all their bees were gone.
This is a symptom of high Varroa mite infestation.
 Sometimes for some unexplained reason, Formic Acid may not work. This is why when any mite treatment is used, a pre-treatment and post treatment mite check is needed. This is to know first, what is the current mite load and second, did the mite treatment reduce the mite population to low levels.?
 Sometimes you need to treat with formic twice.
 A beekeeper I know last year treated ten hives with formic. He did a mite check post treatment. Three of the ten hives still had a high mite count after treatment. So he treated the three hives again, the second treatment worked in all the three hives.
 Also, sometimes a beekeeper treats their hives properly in August, the treatment works and the mite count is low. If the weather stays warm and the bees can fly in September and October, hives can pickup higher mite counts from other untreated colonies that are located near your treated hives. The mite counts in your treated hive can rise to higher levels from this transferring of mites.
 The late season mite treatment of oxalic acid, helps get your hive as mite free as possible to with stand the rigors of winter.
 The bees right now are are clustered in the box under the top deep. Bottom box if you are two deep, middle box if you are three deep, A hive with supers for brood boxes should have four supers. The two top supers should be full of honey and the bees should be clustered under these two.
 Other than that, the bees are clustered in the hive eating honey and keeping warm. They may fly out on cleansing flights if it can get to 50 degrees or so.
 The bees over the winter, will eat about 10-12 lbs of honey per month. That is about a deep frame and a quarter worth of honey. A deep frame full of honey has about nine lbs per frame.
 Hives should be covered with a winter wrap soon, if they have not been covered yet.
 Winter is coming and beekeepers are taking a break from the chores of the past season. A well deserved rest.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Pollinators - the movie

This is an opportunity to watch the movie on the silver screen, The Pollinators.
A great movie that shows the scope of beekeeping and pollination. Most civilians have no idea of the commercial beekeeping industry in North America. This movie shows the scale of what some commercial beekeepers do to keep bees.
The movie will be shown at Marcus Theaters in Oakdale.
You need to reserve tickets: follow the link below,
https://tickets.demand.film/event/9233?ref=dempYGMX
Monday, Dec 16th, 6:30 pm
The Pollinators - movie trailer

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Last chance for Oxalic Acid?

The high on Saturday is supposed to be 40 degrees. If you haven't treated your hive with Oxalic Acid, this may be your last opportunity to do it.
 Purchasing the right Oxalic Acid is imperative. Liquid Oxalic Acid is the wrong product to use. The proper Oxalic Acid to use is a white powder.
 Mixing the proper dose of Oxalic Acid powder with sugar water gives you the solution to treat your colonies.
 Nature's Nectar LLC does have the proper Oxalic Acid for the last mite treatment of the year.
 The road construction is pretty much over with on Hadley Ave. The access to Nature's Nectar LLC is now directly open off of Hwy. 36.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Commercial beekeeper moving bees

A commercial beekeeper I know is getting ready to move his bees to Texas. He tries to hold the bees here as long as he can. If the bees get moved too soon and it is warm in Texas, the bees tend to eat too much of their food stores. It works out best if it is cool in Texas when the bees arrive.
 Right now in Texas, the temperatures are in the low 50's with freezing temperatures at night. The cool temperatures keep the bees from flying and picking up Varroa from other beekeepers.
 Most of the hives are in singles. There should be enough food in the hives until late December or early January feeding. Pollen patties will be put on in late January to stimulate colonies for brood production. Dividing colonies will happen sometime in late February.
 When commercial beekeepers split their hives in February in Texas, they move one frame of brood and bees into a single hive box. A queen cell is added with an unmated queen, ready to emerge in a day or two after putting the queen cell in the hive. The queen will fly and get mated in about ten days after emerging from the queen cell. The queen starts laying a week or so later. This divide, which is too small if doing it in Minnesota, will build up over the next couple months. As the temperatures warm up, the brood nest will be able to expand. The goal is to have five to eight frames of brood when the bees will be shipped back to Minnesota. Many pitfalls can happen that a commercial beekeeper has to deal with, unmated queens, weak colonies, starvation of colonies, varroa mites.
 But if everything works out, 400 colonies can turn into 1000 colonies by early May.
Pallatized hives with four hives per pallet

A flatbed semi truck can haul 800 pallatized single deep colonies

Friday, October 25, 2019

Different Winter Covers For Wintering Your Bees

Using a cardboard cover


Using a Bee Cozy cover


Using a Velcro Wrap cover

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Foam floating on top of honey

Whenever beekeepers bottle honey, foam can be an issue. Air bubbles in honey makes the honey unattractive. Air bubbles come from the agitation of honey when pouring into a container or from extracting. With time, the container of honey will clear up, as all the air bubbles rise to the surface. When the bubbles hit the surface of the honey, the bubbles form a layer of white foam.
 Next time you go to the grocery store, look at the top of the containers of honey on the shelf. You will see foam on the top of the honey in the jar.
 This small amount of foam is a result of moving the honey from a large container and the agitation of the honey as it fills the smaller bottle.
 Hobby beekeepers keep their stored honey in 5 gallon pails or in larger honey bottlers. The surface of honey in the pail or bottler will accumulate foam. This foam can be troublesome when bottling the last bit of honey.
 When pouring the last few jars of honey, large amounts of foam will go into the bottles. It can be many bottles end up with a large amount of foam. This results in unattractive honey.
 What can be done to stop this foam issue? A beekeeper can skim the foam off. That can be very time consuming, messy and wasteful of good honey.
 What works well, is to use Cling wrap or Saran wrap. Tear a sheet off and lay it on the foam, on top of the honey surface. You may have to tap the wrap down so it is in contact with the foam. Have a trash container next to you. Peel the wrap back, most of the foam will be on the wrap. It is not perfect, but it does seem to get rid of 90% of the foam as the wrap comes off the surface of the honey.
This is my 300 lb honey bottler. On top of the honey, floats a layer of foam. I have laid Cling Wrap on top of the foam. 

Peeling back the wrap, you can see the foam cling to the wrap.

Peeling back the wrap shows a much less foam. The amount of honey being wasted is very small.

The result of the Cling Wrap. Almost foam free.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Last Call For Feeding


This looks like maybe the last weekend for feeding. Bees will take the feed down on warm days. As it cools off, the bees become more reluctant to take down syrup if the syrup gets cold. Plus, the feed is usually up on the top brood box. This time of year the bees cluster under the top brood box. As it stays cold the bees will stay in cluster and not move to the top of the hive to retrieve syrup.
Get the feeding done now. The clock is ticking.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Treating with Oxalic Acid

One of the last bee work to do is treating your colonies with Oxalic Acid. Even if you had low mite counts into October, in my opinion this last treatment of Oxalic Acid is critical for winter survival. Hopefully your bees are now becoming broodless as the hive shuts down brood rearing. Late feeding may keep brood in the colony for a while yet.
 To get the best treatment, beekeepers need a broodless hive. With no brood in the hive, all of the mites in the hive are riding on the bees. A treatment of Oxalic Acid during this broodless time, yields the best results. When there is brood in the hive, most of the mites are in the capped brood cells and the Oxalic Acid treatment is less effective.
 Oxalic Acid treatments happen in late October.
 The treatment is applied when it is a temperature of 40 degrees at the time of application.
The temperatures can warm up later in the day, but at the time of treatment, we want the temperature to be 40 degrees.
 The reason for this is, the bees are clustered to a tight ball of bees when it is 40 degrees. The bees can easily be treated with the main cluster easily accessible. If it is warmer then 40 degrees, the cluster loosens up and it is harder to get all the bees treated properly.
 There are two methods of treating with Oxalic Acid, the dribble method and using a vaporizer.
 Do not use a bug fogger. A varroa vaporizer has been engineered for the treatment with Oxalic acid, a bug fogger has not been designed for mite treatments. The bug fogger does not have a way to measure proper dosing. With a fogger you could be killing your bees with to much Oxalic acid or you could be killing your bees with an ineffective treatment. Both scenarios are, your killing your bees.
 Here are two videos of treating with Oxalic acid.  Double click on the videos for full screen.

Dribble method, you are squirting the Oxalic Acid directly on the bees.



Using a vaporizer


Friday, October 11, 2019

Deformed Wing Virus


Deformed Wing Virus. Plus you can see the Varroa mites on the bee.
This is an article about Deformed Wing Virus or DWV. This article explains the importance of treating colonies before winter bees are being produced. By having low mite levels by around August 1st helps prevent the transmission of DWV into winter bees. By treating colonies later in the season, the mite level drops significantly, but there is a possibility that DWV is still a factor that leads to the colony's demise later in winter.
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0180910

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Bears are active

Bears are still active. This beekeeper had a bear get through his electric fence. The beekeeper did see that the bear was trying to tunnel under the fence. Some how the bear got bored with that and must have just taken the hit, to get to the pot of gold.
Who needs an uncapper when you have claws

Friday, October 4, 2019

National Solar Tour

This weekend is the National Solar tour. This is a great opportunity to go and look at homeowners solar system. You can talk to the homeowner about solar and look at their systems.
 Most solar owners will give you an honest assessment of their solar projects, what they did right, what they did wrong. Costs of their systems and their results on the electric bills.
 The best part of all of this, is that no salesman will be present.
https://www.nationalsolartour.org/map/ You can search for a Minnesota or Wisconsin map.
 We are hosting a solar tour at our home if anyone is interested:
https://www.nationalsolartour.org/open-houses/1450/

A brief respite with warmer temperatures

Warmer temperatures are moving in for early next week. Last minute feeding can be done if needed.
 Too early for Oxalic Acid treatments. Late October is your best bet for proper treatment.
In my opinion I think all beekeepers should be treating with Oxalic Acid. If your hives have been running low mite counts, a treatment of Oxalic Acid in late October will clean up and extra mites. This will keep a colony healthier and will help the colony deal with the rigors of winter.
 Entrance reducers should be in right now.
Winter covers can be put on anytime after Nov 1st.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Whats happening on the bee front.

By now beekeepers should have treated their bees for mites and have fed any colonies that were light on food stores.
 The weather is changing, as it starts cooling off, feeding bees will get more difficult. Bees will not take cold syrup very well.
 Next week looks like highs in the 50's later in the week. A light frost is possible.
As the temperatures cool, mice will start moving into hives. So it is time to put in entrance reducer with the wide opening, or put on mouseguards.
Still to early to on winter covers.
Looking ahead, hives should be treated again for mites in late October using Oxalic Acid.
 Oxalic Acid is applied either with the dribble method or a vaporizer. Do not use a bug fogger. Oxalic Acid vapoizers for mites have been engineered for this purpose. Many do it yourself vaporizers give too much or too little of a treatment. In both cases you are injuring your bees, jeopardizing their survival.
 Oxalic acid is applied in late October, when the temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit, at the time of treatment. More on this in upcoming posts.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Feeding and how much honey to leave in the hive

As fall progresses the days will start turning cooler. As it cools off the bees are reluctant to take down syrup. Long range temperatures have highs in the 50's.
 A hive going into winter needs to have 8 full frames of honey and one partially filled frame in the top box. The lower box on a two deep hive or middle box if you are running three deeps, should have about four frames of honey.
 The partially filled frame should be in the middle of the top box. This partially filled frame is used to help the bees to transition from the lower box to the top box in late January. Bees don't like to crawl up on to frozen honey. The cluster can move up on the partially filled frame because the lower part of the frame is empty of honey. The bees can easily warm the empty beeswax cells. As the cluster moves up on the frame, the bees can begin to warm up honey on the adjacent frames at the same time.
 The upcoming week should be in the upper 60's to low 70's. Perfect weather for feeding bees. Try to get the feeding done as fast as possible. Feeding is a nectar flow, the nectar coming in will keep the queen laying. With the increased brood production there will be more mite production. What a vicious circle we beekeepers have to live with. For this reason, treating with Oxalic Acid in late October can counter the new brood/Varroa production. Try to get the feeding done as soon as possible, so we don't have brood in the hive for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Asters, the last hurrah for the bees

The flowers are going away. Goldenrod is in major decline. With the exception of  some late blooming perennial gardens, the last show in town for the bees are Asters.  Asters definition on Wikipedia
I was on my morning walks on the local state trails and have found Asters blooming everywhere. The are a small headed flower. The bees do work them.
 Don't expect much more nectar to come into your hive. If your top deep box is not full of honey, you need to feed now.
If your top box is not all drawn out and only partially full and if your hive setup is three deep, remove that top deep and winter the hive in two deep.
 A hive should never go into the winter with a partially filled top box. As winter progresses the bees move up from the lower box. If they move into the partially filled box, there will be insufficient stores for winter and they will starve. Once the bees move up, they will not move down to get honey in the winter. If the hive is a three deep hive and not drawn out, the odds are, the middle box may have more honey. Remove the top deep and take any frames of honey and put them in the middle box. Feed the bees if the hive still needs food. The weather will be cooling off soon and the bees will not take syrup very well when it starts getting into forties.
Asters come in a variety of colors

On the state trail near Stillwater

Near the St Croix river on the state trail

Monday, September 16, 2019

Feed for bees

There are many options for feeding bees. There is sugar water, High Fructose Corn Syrup and ProSweet. They all have pluses and minuses. Using the right feed at the right time can lead to better quality bees and increasing winter survival. Let's break them down.
  • Sugar, sugar has been the feed that beekeepers have used for the last one hundred years. Table sugar" or "granulated sugar" refers to sucrose. It is mixed with water and fed to the bees. The spring mixture of sugar and water is 1 part sugar to one part water. Fall mixture is heavy syrup, 2 parts sugar and one part water. The bees take this mixture of feed down into the hive and use the carbohydrate for their food and wax production. The bees need to turn this feed from sugar water to honey for long term storage. Sugar water will ferment with time. If the bees don't take it fast enough, sometime the syrup spoils and has to be thrown out.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). A fructose based sugar. There is two types of HFCS, HFCS 42 and HFCS 55. HFCS 42 granulates very quickly, about 2 weeks to granulate, not many commercial beekeepers use this. HFCS 55 is widely used by commercial beekeepers, it can granulate within a month. Heating HFCS can produce toxins for the bees, that is why with HFCS 55, only purchase what you need to use. HFCS will add weight quickly to a hives winter stores. HFCS is sold by Mann Lake and their dealer network. Mann Lake has the exclusive North American contract with Cargill to sell HFCS to beekeepers. A commercial beekeeper would order a half a semi truckload or full truckload of syrup for their operation. Hobby beekeepers sometimes struggle with the problem of granulation with HFCS.
  • ProSweet, ProSweet is a custom feed developed by Mann Lake. It is widely used by both hobbyists and commercial beekeepers. It is purchased in the semi truckload or in 2-1/2 gallon or 5 gallon containers. ProSweet is both sucrose and fructose. Honey is both glucose (which has the same general sweetness as sucrose) and fructose. Honey weighs 12 lbs per gallon, ProSweet weighs 11.55 lbs per gallon. ProSweet does not granulate or ferment. For spring feeding ProSweet gives the developing bees the proper nutrition for proper gland development, because of the providing both sucrose and fructose. ProSweet is available to use direct from the container it comes in. No mixing required. It lasts from one season to the next. Out of all the feeds out there, ProSweet is the most attractive for the bees in my opinion. For fall feeding the bees can take down ProSweet and do not have to dehumidify the syrup, like they have to do for sugar water. ProSweet is more concentrated than sugar water. If you feed a gallon of sugar water, after the bees work to dehumidify the syrup the net amount of syrup is less than a gallon that was started with. The net food after the fact may only be about 2/3rds of a gallon. With ProSweet, you feed a gallon and the net amount of food in the hive is one gallon. So a beekeeper has to feed more sugar water to get the same amount of feed as ProSweet. That leads to increased trips to the hive costing time and gas money. If a beekeeper needs to feed a lot of syrup to a hive, if it gets cool the bees may not be able to get enough sugar water into the hive. The bees may then starve from lack of food. Or the bees may not have enough time to convert sugar water to honey. This may cause the sugar water to ferment in the hive. Fermented syrup and honey can give the bees dysentery and cause the hives demise. By feeding sugar syrup for a long time in the fall can lead to more brood in the colony and higher mite counts. The higher mite counts can increase viruses in the bees. With ProSweet, beekeepers don't have these problems. Feeding is done quickly and the bees don't have to do anything extra for their feed to be ready for winter.

Robbing

The next couple days will be very warm and muggy.
Robbing will be an issue. Every bee, wasp and hornet will want to get to your bees honey stores.
 It would be a good idea to put in entrance reducers on with the largest opening being used.
 There may be some bearding with the warm temperatures.
 If you have robbing screens, put them on.

Bees being used for new organic Pesticide application

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/bees-will-be-used-deliver-new-organic-pesticide-will-it-n1054416

Sunday, September 8, 2019

White Snakeroot

White Snake Root is blooming everywhere around me. The bees do gather pollen from this plant. The pollen is white.
White Snakeroot is not a good plant for domesticated animals.
Read all about it: White Snakeroot

Ground mount almost finished

We are almost done with the ground mount for our solar panels. Just waiting to get all the rails up. The rails hold the solar panels.
 The steel is all installed. It was not too difficult to put everything together. I had a couple people helping me because the steel beams do weigh over 75 lbs each. Everything bolted up fine, the company shorted me some special nuts in the two kits but, I was able to purchase them locally.
I have to finish putting up the rails. Then the solar company will come and put the panels on the rails and wire everything up.
I have about 16 silver rails that will be mounted to the steel. Once the solar panels are bolted down to the rails, I will lift the whole structure to the top of the black pole. There are two collars and a few bolts to tighten up at that point. Then the rigging can be removed, the last two solar panels will then go on where the poles are sticking through the steel. We will then be able to adjust the tilt angle with the handle you see at the back of the black pole. The buckets you see hold the pull chain of the chain fall, so the chains don't get full of sand.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Putting up a ground mount solar array

 We are tweaking our solar system. Don't get me wrong. our solar system has performed great. It has been almost a year and we have produced 15,000 kilowatts of electricity. Our solar has produced more electricity than we use. Even after running our air conditioning quite a bit in July. We haven't had an electric bill since February and have received rebate checks from Excel energy From March through August so far. The credit from Excel pays for both our gas and electric use.
 We have decided to put up a ground mount solar array. This ground mount is tilt adjustable. We will be able to change the angle of the solar panels to change with the season. This will result in higher solar panel output plus the snow can be removed much easier. I have the pipes in the ground and will begin assembly this weekend. I will post pics when we are done.
 Ground mount solar systems are not allowed in some municipalities, so some investigation is needed to see if your city allows them.
 If you have any questions about solar, I will be glad to answer them. 
8 inch Sch 40 pipe. The pipe is in the concrete 7 feet deep. I added the flanges to make it easier to manhandle the pipe. The pipe is 8 feet above the ground.

This is the kit for the solar panels to bolt on to. We have two kits for two pipes. There are several pieces of steel beams to bolt together in the white pallet. This will hold 28 solar panels.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

How Skunk Raids A Hive

This video shows how skunks raid a hive. Most of us have our hives on the ground. If a skunk starts coming around, they will eat the bees at the entrance. The author of the video is right on how the skunks scratch at the entrance and eat the bees as they come out of the hive.
 The front of the hive gives us clues that prove a skunk is coming at night. Trampled grass in front of the hive, mud or dirt at the entrance of the hive where the skunk is scratching. When you work the bees they can become very defensive from the skunk bothering the hive. Noticing the bees are defensive is a clue that something is setting them off. One note, bees in September and October are usually defensive, it is not from skunks, it is because there is no nectar flow and many field bees are home in the hive and they are not happy to see you.
 I do think a skunk can depopulate a hive with time and the hives population will suffer.
 The author of the video is not concerned of this loss of bees. But, for me I would react differently. Many of us have bear fences that usually keep out skunks and opossums. If you don't have a bear fence, carpet tack strips attached to a board located at the entrance of the hive works well for keeping the skunk away from the entrance. The tack strips have small nails sticking up and are like punji sticks. The skunks won't walk on them. Some beekeepers put chicken wire in front of the entrance. The bees can fly through the chicken wire while keeping the bees away from the entrance.
 Skunks are creatures of habit. They will usually come at the same time at night to raid your hive. A trail camera set up by the hive will also confirm that it is a skunk and when the skunk is visiting.


Monday, September 2, 2019

What is happening on the bee front

Beekeepers are finishing up getting their honey pulled off the hive. The nectar flow is over. It is time to get the honey off and prepare the hive for winter.
 Mite treatments need to be applied NOW. The bees are starting to make winter bees right now. It is the winter bees that overwinter in the hive. For a hive to overwinter, the winter bees need to be as mite free as possible.
 The queen is slowing down egg laying. The hive population is decreasing. With this decrease in population, leads to a massive increase in mite population. If you did a mite check in early August and found two mites, a mite check today may yield mite counts of five mites or higher.
Having a low mite count is the key to overwintering success. Keeping high mite counts through mid September can cause irreparable damage to your winter bees. Hives with damaged bees usually die by February. The hive usually dies from a virus. The Varroa mite is a vector for viruses. The parasite weakens the bees and brings out viruses that normally lie dormant in the bees. As time goes on more and more bees succumb to the virus.
 It is time to get your work done. Mite treatments, then finish feeding. The hive you save may be your own.  

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Feeding

 When to feed? If you went out to your hive today and your top brood box is not full of honey, you need to feed right away. Or, if you have finished your mite treatments and do not have enough winter stores, you need to feed now.
 Our weather right now has been on the cool side. Weather sometimes gets in a trend. The trend at the moment is on the cool side. I have looked at long term fall weather forecasts. The forecast is for cooler weather, with colder weather as we move into late October and November.
 When it gets cool, the bees do not take syrup very well. If your hive needs more winter stores, feeding NOW is the best strategy.
 For winter stores the top brood box needs 8 full frames of honey and one partially filled frame (located in the center of the top box). The brood box under the top box should have four frames of honey, two frames on either side of the box.
 When we feed we need to feed fast and hard. Feeding needs to get done as fast as we can do it. The longer we feed the more mites can be produced. So it is in our best interest to get feeding done.
 I call it feeding hard. Getting as much syrup as we can in the fastest time frame. Don't feed with one feeder pail, use three feeder pails. There is 40,000 bees in the hive and they can empty feeder pails in a couple days. A hive top feeder may be a better choice. A hive top feeder holds four gallons. The screened access the bees use to get the syrup, lets hundreds of bees feed at the same time. You don't need a hive top feeder for every hive. Feed one hive, then move it to another hive.
 The syrup being fed is 2:1 sugar syrup, two parts sugar to one part water. The bees then have to dehumidify the syrup and turn it to honey. This takes time. When it is cold, sometimes it is hard for the bees to finish the syrup.
 ProSweet in my opinion is the best feed. The bees don't have to convert it to honey. The bees put it in the comb and they are done with it. Nature's Nectar LLC offers the best deal on ProSweet.
Fall feeding using three pails, resting directly on the frames. It is warm out and we do not have to put the pails on the inner cover.

You can see the three pails fit. The bees will empty the pails in about 3-4 days.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Mite Treatments

Now is the time to get mite treatments on. Mite Away Quick Strips or Formic Pro can both be safely used right now. The temperatures are perfect to use them. It is supposed to be in the 70's in the up coming week.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Pulling Honey

Pulling Honey using a bee brush


Pulling Honey using Honey Robber

Sunday, August 11, 2019

What's blooming now late in the season?

It is getting late in the flowering plant realm. A few plants that are blooming are Goldenrod, Purple Loosestrife and Spotted Knapweed. I must have a nectar flow going on around me. The nectar flow had stopped about 10 days ago at my locale, but it has started up again. How do I know this?
 I had my shipping container open all day today. I have one super in the container that is wet with honey. The super in the container did not have one robber bee in there all day today. So the bees are finding something.
 The nectar will start getting spotty now. Some beekeepers will be getting some nectar, other beekeepers may be seeing a slowing down in nectar production. Honey can be pulled and extracted anytime now. If you already treated for mites you can leave your supers on for a while yet. Beekeepers who have not treated for mites should get that on the front burner. The long term forecast according to WCCO morning weather guy is a 40% chance of above normal temperatures from the 18th to the 24th of August. Mite treatments (Formic Acid) may be too warm to use.
You can see the Goldenrod blooming at the back of the photo. The yellow blossoms are just coming out in the foreground.
Purple Loostrife is a noxious weed that should not be propagated. But if it is there, the bees work it.

Spotted Knapweed is another noxious weed. It puts out an excellent honey.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Miners to Beekeepers

An interesting program in West Virginia trying to help former miners from the coal industry. The coal industry has been devastated with unemployment that went deep into the West Virginia economy. It isn't just the coal miners, it is also all the non miners that supported the mining operations. So the unemployment is much more than just the miners.
 This beekeeping program maybe can help the people of West Virginia.
At the end of the video, is a hot knife uncapper. You can see hoses hooked up to the knives. Hot water is pumped through the knives. The combination of heat and vibrating knives, uncap the frames of honey.
https://www.nbcnews.com/video/miners-keepers-could-bees-be-the-answer-to-west-virginia-s-coal-slump-65180229578

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Whats happening to the nectar flow

The nectar flow had stopped in my locale around 10 days ago. I could see bees robbing. Since then, the robbing has stopped as the nectar flow was going again. I don't think the bees are putting up a lot of honey, but there is something out there still for them.
 White and Yellow sweet clover have waned and are pretty much done. The late summer flowers are in play right now. Purple Loosestrife, Spotted Knapweed, Joe Pyeweed. There are other perennials blooming that are giving up some nectar. We should see Goldenrod blooming soon. So there still be some nectar still to be had.
I wouldn't put anymore supers on if the bees are still capping honey in the current supers that are already on the hive.
 In the big picture the honey season is over for many of us. Beekeepers need to switch their attention to mite treatments. Don't wait too long to do mite treatments. Mites can start damaging your bees soon. Later next week the temperatures look good for using Formic Acid. I have made a post about this a couple posts ago. By waiting too long to treat for mite can put your colony in peril for winter survival. Please look at that post if you are considering Formic Acid as a mite treatment.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Be a beekeeper interpreter at the state fair


Beekeeper interpreter talking to civilians about the beekeeping craft. He has an observation hive at the ready for showing off the marked queen.
The Honey and Beekeeping display at the MN state fair is looking for volunteers.
 The MN State Fair has one of the best honey displays in the country. To make all this happen beekeepers help to talk to the general public about beekeeping. My wife and I have done this for many years. We always have a great time sharing our beekeeping knowledge with the general public.
 To be a interpreter, you do not have to be a entomologist. Most new beekeepers have much more knowledge than the general public. Most of the questions are very easy to answer. Like where is the queen, how long does a bee live, how much honey do you get, do you get stung often etc. If for some reason you don't know the answer, there will be someone there that can answer the question, and you point to the other interpreter and say that person can answer that question. But most first year beekeepers are very competent to do this.
 Everyone gets a three hour shift. You will be mailed a free ticket to get into the fair for each interpreter that signs up. There will be a stool to sit at and most interpreters will have an observation hive to work with. Most civilians want to see the queen. All the queens are marked so they are easy to find.
 This is the link to the sign up genius. You can see every day of the fair and what times are available for a volunteer shift.
https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080f48a5a628a1fe3-beehoney4
 Most beekeepers who do this stint at the fair have a great time and have a great experience.  Sharing our craft with the public helps the whole beekeeping industry.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Yellow Jackets

This is a YouTube video on a guy digging out an underground Yellow Jacket nest. He also takes apart the nest to look at the larvae and comb.
 As beekeepers we do get calls to help get rid of Yellow Jackets. This video can give you an idea of what it all looks like.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Is the nectar flow over?


This scale is from paulsapiary.com. Paul keeps his bees in the east metro. He has a hive on a scale. This is his latest reading on July 28th. There was a good honey flow on for Paul starting around mid June. The flow slowly increased until about the end of June. The flow picked up in July at a pretty good clip. But by July 16th the flow has really slowed down considerably. He has put up about 80 lbs of honey into his hive. That is a little more than two medium supers.
 There are other flowers blooming now. But time will tell if the nectar flow still has some legs or not. Just because the flow is slow or stopped in one location does not mean it has ended elsewhere.
 There may be some more honey to capture. Make sure the bees have some empty frames. I would hold off adding more supers unless the present supers are mostly full and 2/3rds capped. If you move empty frames from the outside of the boxes to the middle of the super, the bees may fill them up easier than if you left them on the outside edges of the super.
 If the bees have not put any honey into your supers their are only a couple reasons for that. Your bees swarmed, you had queen issues in late May or early June, there was not a good nectar flow around your bee yard.

Bear in the neighborhood

Bear came calling last night. Tore my bird feeder off of its pole. The bright spot is that the bear could not get to my elevated hanging feeders.

There is a bear in the neighborhood. He came calling last night. Tore down one of my bird feeders. Saw some bear scat on the trail back to my bee yard. Bee yard was fine. The bear fence saved the bees again.

Bear left his calling card. Bear scat.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Formic next week?

Looks like the weather could be perfect for using Formic Acid next week. If you know you are going to treat, it is best to get the formic in your possession. This will give you the option to make the judgement at anytime, to treat for mites.
 We never know what the weather will bring in August. It could be in the upper 80's for most of the month and getting a mite treatment on can be difficult. Being proactive on mite treatments will put your colony in better shape for going into fall. In my opinion following up the Formic treatment, a treatment of Oxalic Acid in late October really cleans up the mites for a healthy colony going into winter.
 Always do a mite count after you treat with formic to make sure it was effective.
Read and follow the label for proper application instructions and read the FAQ.
The FAQ can give you added information that may not be in the label instructions.

Formic Pro FAQ: http://nodglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2017-Formic-Pro-FAQS-North-America.pdf

Put the mite strips in the proper place in the hive. Formic Pro is a fourteen day treatment. Don't mess with your bees during the treatment time period.
 DO NOT PULL YOUR HONEY AND PUT THE FORMIC STRIPS ON AT THE SAME TIME.  The colony should not be disturbed for three days before you put the strips on. The bees are in their normal positions and they can handle the formic vapors. If the hive is all jumbled up from pulling honey or moving frames,the bees are not in their normal positions around the hive and this can lead to more bee mortality.
 Some beekeepers cool off the Formic Pro in the refrigerator to cool it down. When applied to the hive,  it slowly warms up and the vapor slowly increases in intensity. This can make the bees react to the vapors a little easier.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The nectar flow and mite treatments

I think the nectar flow has slowed or stopped in my locale. I had my truck bed open and bees were going after syrup that had spilled. There was a decent number of bees robbing. Also, I have been working in my honey house pumping honey with my door open. I had to close the door because bees were coming in. They could smell the honey.
 The heavy rains we have had could have washed nectar out of flowers temporarily. I hope that the more stable weather we are having now will turn this nectar flow around for me.
 More perennial flowers are blooming now. So there should be more nectar available soon.
 My Basswoods are done blooming. White Sweet Clover is still blooming around the area. The clover will start to wane soon and the intensity of the flow will slow down. We need to keep watching our supers and still stay ahead of the bees.
 Mite treatments using Formic acid can be put on anytime we have some cooler weather. In my opinion, it would be a good idea to purchase the mite treatment soon. The next time you see the daytime weather with three days under 85 degrees would be a good time to treat. According to Kare 11 weather, next Monday through Wednesday look perfect for Formic to work right. The weather can change and long term outlook temperatures can change. But by having the mite treatment already, makes the decision easier and the ability to react to proper weather conditions.
 Formic acid according to the label, can be applied during the nectar flow. It is better to put the mite treatments on by early August to get the mite levels down.  Formic Pro FAQ:  http://nodglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2017-Formic-Pro-FAQS-North-America.pdf
In late August the bees start making winter bees. These are the bees that live through the winter. By keeping the mite levels very low will help the winter bees to be healthier and help the bees deal with the rigors of winter.
 A treatment of Oxalic acid in late October will clean up any mites that are left in the colony.
 There is still some work to do but August is coming, mite treatments, pulling honey, extracting and feeding (if needed) are all on the agenda.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The true population of the hive

 A beekeeper from the east metro sent me these pictures. The question he had was, are the bearding bees foragers? It is 2am and 70 degrees, why are they bearding?
This pic was taken by a trail camera at 2:00am. Photo by M. Lai


This pic was taken at 9:00am. Now 82 degrees and no bearding. Photo by M. Lai

This is a great example of the true population of a hive. All the bees are home at night. Even at 70 degrees there is a large population in the hive. The populations are so big, the hive is crowded and the bees need to hang outside to keep cool. The hives are not attempting to swarm, they are just hot. Also, the bees are circulating air through the hive, dehumidifying the nectar collected from the previous day.
 Now the lower picture. This pic was taken at 9:00 am and 82 degrees, note very little bearding. What gives? Why no bearding, it is warmer then at night?
 The bees hanging out at night are foragers, or a combination of foragers and house bees. This top picture gives us the real strength of a strong colony. The lower picture shows us that the foragers are now out working. The colonies have a large forager population, and a large house bee population.
 How would I know this? The beekeeper has four to five supers on the hives. The bees are filling up the supers. He couldn't get to that level of honey production without having both large populations of foragers and house bees.
 When a hive has poor honey collection, it is because the population of foragers and/or house bees are not sufficient. The hive needs both classes of bees to put forth a good honey crop. A swarm (loss of foragers) a dead queen in late May and early June (low numbers of house bees during the nectar flow).
 The key to a big honey crop is a great nectar flow and a hive that is packed with bees. More bees means more honey. Keep the bees from swarming and the honey is in the bank.

Time to remove the welcome mat

photo by D. Imhoff
 My friend Dan lives in the Elk River area. He got a picture of a mama bear walking down his driveway yesterday. She also had a cub bear with her. Very rude of the bears to show up uninvited. Dan has not seen a bear in 25 years of keeping bees at his place. More and more we are seeing bears encroaching on the more populous part of the rural ring of the metro area.
 I always encourage beekeepers to put up a bear fence if they are in bear country. The main reason for this is, you can put up a bear fence now or put up a bear fence after the bear wrecks your hives and eats your bees. If it is after the bear shows up, now you are paying for your hives twice.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Need Honey?

Wendy and I are still in the honey business.
We sell:
60 lb pails of honey for $178.00 each
Bulk honey is $4.00 lb. 60 lbs of more it is $2.80 lb.
651-492-six five seven three

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The upcoming heat


My Basswood is in full bloom. The blossoms are very dense this year. I took this pic at 9:15 am this morning. The bees are working the blossoms early this morning because it is in the 70's already. If it was a cool morning the bees wouldn't be here yet. Warm days and warm nights gives the bees a full day to work flowers. The tree is literally buzzing and alive with bees. I can hear and see honeybees, bumblebees and other pollinators working the flowers..This tells me that the Basswood is putting up nectar for the bees.
At this time of year, hot weather helps the nectar flow. Basswoods produce the most nectar with warm days and warm nights. I walked outside this morning and went underneath my Basswood trees. They are in full bloom, I could just smell the pungent odor of the flowers. The bees were working the flowers at 8:30 pm last night.
 Basswood sometimes is a fickle honey flow. Beekeepers don't get large amounts every year. But, when Basswoods nectar flows heavy, beekeepers usually get big honey crops.
 The 10 day forecast has upper 80's to low 90's every day. Looks like rain possible one day out of ten.
 We have had ample moisture, now we just need occasional sip of water to keep everything green.
 Everyone should be getting a nectar flow by now. Check the supers once a week and stay ahead of the bees. Add two supers at a time.
 If you are a new beekeeper, put your supers on. Don't think you will not get honey your first year. I have had new beekeepers get four supers of honey off of package bees. The late start of the nectar flow has helped colonies build in strength increasing the likelihood of getting honey.
 A beekeepers showed me a picture of his hive on Tuesday. It was a package of bees with a Saskatraz queen on drawn comb. He has four supers very full of nectar and he just added two more supers.
 Stay ahead of the bees through the month of July. Having empty supers on the hive, spurs the bees on to fill the boxes. Bees have a hoarding instinct. By having empty boxes ahead of the bees, will make the bees work harder to fill the space with honey if there is honey to be had. If the bees don't have a place to put honey, they will stop collecting nectar.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Some Wildlife Pics

Nice Buck Deer In Velvet

Young Fawn With Mama In The Background
Wren Peeking Out Of Her Nest photo by W Kloek

Cedar Waxwing Eating Berries
I Believe This Is A Flycatcher Photo By W Kloek

Friday, July 5, 2019

Sweet Clover is blooming and the Strawberries are ripe

I noticed yesterday that White Sweet Clover is now blooming. I did see a large stand of white sweet clover in full bloom along 694.
 Also, my wife and I went to the Arboretum and saw the Basswoods were blooming.
So make sure at least two supers are on your hives.
The Strawberry picking was most excellent today. We were at the Berry Patch in Marine, right near Big Marine Park. Picked 20 lbs in 20 minutes. The berries were very big. Perfect size for making jam.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Fort McHenry - Happy Fourth of July

Fort McHenry is located in the bay protecting the city of Baltimore, Maryland.
During the war of 1812, September 13-14, 1814. British troops had landed and were approaching the city of Baltimore in force to raze the city.
 The citizens of Baltimore had a home militia. Citizens of Baltimore hastily built trenches to form a line to stop the advance of the British troops. You need to understand that at that time in history, the British soldier was the best and most experienced soldiers in the world. Many of these troops were involved with defeating Napoleon earlier in the year.
 For the British, their plan was to take the city by sailing their warships into Baltimore harbor to shell the city. Also the ground troops would move in and burn the city of Baltimore to the ground.
 Fort McHenry stood in the way of the plan. The British felt they could obliterate the fort and then move on the city.
Fort McHenry defenses
 A ship flying a flag of Truce approached the British ships. On board that ship was Attorney Francis Scott Key. He was sent to negotiate for release of a detained citizen.  His delegation was on the truce ship and witnessed the British shelling of the fort.
The massive shelling of the fort inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner.
After the shelling, the ships had depleted their ammunition and were forced to withdraw.
 The citizen militia challenged and stopped the British ground troops. The British General was killed during the battle.  
 Fort McHenry is a national shrine.
 The original flag is located at the Smithsonian museum. The flag of 1814 had 15 stars and 15 bars.

Raising the flag in the morning at Fort McHenry. Visitors are asked to help hold the flag as it is being raised.


Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Nectar Flow - Update

The Nectar flow currently has been underwhelming. There is a nectar flow going, but it is hanging on by life support.
Time to get it going again

Milkweed is just starting to bloom. I have seen Monarch caterpillars on the Milkweed for about a week now.
Basswood trees are getting very close to opening flowers. Basswood usually blooms around the fourth of July. The buds appears to be following that path.


Catalpa trees are in full bloom. While I never see the bees working them, the timing of their flowers usually coincides with the start of the nectar flow.

White Sweet Clover has been missing in action. While Yellow Sweet Clover has been blooming for about two weeks now. White Sweet Clover is not to be found anywhere around my locale. This single plant of White Sweet Clover is on a walking path down by the St Croix River.

Red Clover is blooming. 


Staghorn Sumac is blooming. The bees do work it.

Birds Foot Trefoil is probably the main nectar plant at the moment,
The recent heat has made many plants turn the corner of flowering or will bring them to the brink very soon. There has now been ample moisture. We just need the flowers to pop. I think later this week we should see some good nectar coming in. Check your supers before you leave the hives for the long weekend. If the nectar flow is heavy, the bees can draw out, fill and cap a super of honey in a week. Give them enough room to cover their action and have a great 4th.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Solar Update - Shading

I have been asked quite a few times how our solar system is working out. I was planning on doing a video of the solar system after one year of use. That would be around mid October when it was turned on.
 For a refresher, our solar system is 16.5 kw. There are 50 - 330 watt panels.
 18 panels on the garage and 32 panels on the pole barn.
https://youtu.be/ByE9VFqOeo4
As of today, our system has cranked out approximately 10 megawatts of electricity so far. That is 10,000 kilowatts since October. A typical house in America uses about 7,500 kilowatts per year. We use more power than the average home because of our beekeeping business.
 So we still have another 3 -1/2 months left before a year is up. We should probably add another 5-6 mega watts in the next 3-1/2 months. So I would have to say, so far, the solar system has been a big success. The last three electric bills were March, we owed $27.00 for gas and electric, April, we had a $137.00 credit, May we had a $87.00 credit. Xcel writes us a check right away for any credit.
 But what I wanted to comment on today was shading of solar panels. If you are considering solar, shading should be a consideration before making a move.
 The panels on our pole barn see full sun most of the day. The panels on the garage get shaded later in the afternoon from a big Ash tree. My wife and I value the shade tree and are not going to remove it. But, shading on solar panels can be an issue. Even small shading has an effect. Here are some pics on the shading and what it did to the solar panels. Now don't get me wrong, the panels do put out very well when the sun is on them, but the panels get shaded at about 4:30 every day and there are much lower solar gain because of it.
Right now the shade is creeping on to the roof. The roof solar system is putting out about 4000 watts of power

Now about twenty minutes later there is some shade on a few panels. The power output now is about 1600 watts.

Now the solar panels are basically fully shaded. They are putting out about 300 watts.
 I went back and looked at my solar panels on the roof of my pole barn, still in full sun, they were putting out about 4500 watts at this same time as the shaded panels were putting out 300 watts.
 Shading of panels can have a negative outcome on solar panels. Shading can come from anything, a power pole, roof vent, flag pole etc. While some times slight shading doesn't affect the panels much, it is best to avoid it if possible.