This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Sunday hours

We will be open from 8 am until 4 pm on Sunday April 21st for First delivery bee pickup. There is no schedule today. First come first served.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Bees Have Arrived

The first delivery has arrived and we are ready to pass them out.
Open today until 7 pm.
Today Friday, is first come first served. The pickup schedule will be for Saturday.
With this sunny warm weather don't forget to fill the entrance with grass to hold the bees in the hive overnight. Failure to do this may lead to absconding.
The best time to put in the bees is 6 pm

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Video to New Pickup Location

The bee Pickup will be at 14185 Square Lake Trail, Stillwater, MN  55082
It is located about five miles north and east of the old pickup location.
This is a video of from the old location to the new. I say in the video I am heading south, I meant to say north. Or look at from about 5:30 on.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Bee Pickup Schedule For Sat. April 20th and Tues. April 23rd

  • Bee Pick up will be at a new location this year:
  • 14185 Square Lake Trail N  Stillwater, MN  55082


     Read this whole Post.  

    Pickup Schedule for Saturday April 20th and Tuesday April 23rd.

    April 20th - First Delivery We will be here Sat, Sunday and Monday for pickup

    The bees may be delivered sometime on Friday We will post if they are here.

    April 23rd - Second Delivery We will be here Tuesday and Wednesday for pickup

    The bees may be delivered on Monday. We will post if they are here

    Please stick to the pickup schedule below

 Please Stick To The Pick Up Schedule Below.

 If everyone came at once there would be several hours wait to get your bees. With the schedule, everyone is spread out through the day, no one is here more than five minutes.
If you live over 100 miles away come when you can. There is no hurry to get the bees in. Best time to put the bees in the hive is around 6 pm.

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

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

The Oakdale Bee Supply store is closed during bee pick up. 
We will sell at the bee pickup:
Cash or Check Only = No Credit or Debit Cards
Pollen Patties 2 packs ............. $9.00
Pollen Patties 10 patties ......... $35.00
Pollen Patties 40 lbs .............. $75.00
Feeder Pails ............................. $7.00
ProSweet................................  $47.00

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

Lets look at a brood pic

This is a nice frame of brood with a Saskatraz queen. Taken today. Hive is packed with bees. Did a reversal a week ago and has added a third deep because the bees are crowded. This is a great queen. Brood pattern is a large Oval. Queen hitting most of the holes. Everyone wants a frame like this in mid April. The bees in the background show the hive has plenty of bees.

Photo by M. Lai

Monday, April 15, 2019

Apiary Certificate for Wisconsin Beekeepers

This year the State of Wisconsin wants beekeepers that import bees into the state to provide them with that information.
This is the link to the webpage. There is a link to an importing bees to Wisconsin form in the page.

This is the Health Certificate for 2019

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Bee Delivery Update 4/11/2019

This the latest on bee deliveries
First delivery, Saturday April 20th
Second Delivery, Tuesday April 23rd
We will be publishing a pickup schedule. It will go by the first initial of your last name. Everyone will have an hour block of time to pick up their bees. If you can't make that time there will be a late afternoon slot open for everyone.
 There is no hurry to put the bees in. Usually around 6 pm is the best time to put them in.
If you want to see all of our you tube videos on how to put the bees in here is a link to our YouTube page. Bee Video's
Or these videos:
Installing bees using plastic bee buss cages
The bee pickup will be at Tom and Jessy Minsers home north of Stillwater.
Their address is: 14185 Square Lake Trail N. Stillwater, MN 55082

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Package Bee Delivery Update 4/10/2019

I talked with Ray Olivarez today. This is what is happening with the bee deliveries.
The first delivery:
 The bees should be here on Saturday April 20th. There is a possibility they may show up sometime on the 19th. But that is to be determined.
The second delivery:
 The second delivery will be right behind the first. The bees may be here possibly around the 22nd of April. This date is not solid, but I wanted to get it out there. If all this happens, the deliveries will be coming fast, one right after another.
I will update this blog if there are any changes or more information. Being these deliveries may be coming close together, please check this blog daily for updates.

Installing Package Bees

This is one of my old video's about installing package bees. It is a little out of date because now all of the bee cages are plastic instead of wood. This video is with wood cages. But all the rest of the video is solid and rings true today.
I will follow this one up with the plastic cage install tomorrow.
Double  Click on the video for full screen

I do like installing the queen  using a rubber band to hold the cage on the frame. That will be in tomorrows video. Or you can see all my videos by clicking the link for our YouTube channel in the upper right corner of this blog. You can't see the link on a phone without switching to web version.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

package bee update update 4/9/2019

 I talked to Ray Olivarez this afternoon. Looks like the first delivery may be sometime within the next 10 - 14 days or so. I don't want to publish a hard date because a few things need to be firmed up first. But, on the other hand, I want to make sure our bee customers are being given as much information as I can give at the moment so they can make a plan. There is a possibility that this first delivery may come on or around Easter.
I will be talking with Ray again tomorrow and hopefully things will get a clearer picture.

Monday, April 8, 2019

package bee update 4/8/2019

I did post a date today.
Just got off the phone with Ray Olivarez and he says he had to back off that date.
He wants to make sure everything is perfect before he commits to a date. It may be a couple more days or shortly after Easter.
I will talk to him tomorrow, Tuesday and there maybe a more accurate date.
I don't mean to be indecisive, I want to get a date out to everyone right away so beekeepers can make a plan. but lets watch what develops in the next few days.
I will update this post on Tuesday.

Bees in Grain and bird feeders

This time of year on the first warm days of spring, bees will look for pollen. Sometimes there is no pollen yet. Bees will go to forage on anything that may give them something to feed their brood. Bees will go to corn bins, bird feeders and even saw dust. They will collect the dust off of these and bring it back to the hive. A beekeeper may think that this is pollen coming in, but it is not. There is some pollen coming in in many locales, but not everywhere.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Package Bee Update 4/5/2019

Nothing new to report as of today. We hope to get some delivery dates very soon. 
 As soon as I know something concrete I will post it.
Everyone getting bees from Nature's Nectar LLC should be ready for bees by April 14th. Meaning, you should have purchased your bee equipment, the hive should be all painted and set out in the beeyard by then. 
 Nature's Nectar LLC has a very good selection of bee supplies and equipment right now at their Oakdale store. Their prices are the lowest in the area. Call or email them for a quote.
 If you need to put up a bear fence, do it now if the frost is out at your location.
Bear Fence Design  a bear fencer should put out 2 joules of power.

 When we get a delivery date there may be very short notice before the first delivery arrives, so don't get caught off guard. There may be no more than a seven day notice that the first delivery is coming.
 Everything may happen very quickly. Olivarez Honey Bees tries their best to stay on schedule. So once things start moving, be ready.
 We will begin posting video's on how to install package bees soon. All of the pickup information, location of pickup, pickup schedule and everything involved with the deliveries will be coming at a fast clip. So stay tuned to the blog and try to check it everyday if you can.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Checked a bee yard today

I finally was able to get to this beeyard on a four wheeler today. I have been nervous because the battery for the bear fence was not there. I put on a fully charged battery and the bear fence is on. The bear fence I have really packs a wallop.
 I looked at all my hives. I wintered seven hives in this yard. Six of them made it. Actually all of the six looked great. I put pollen patties on everyone and fed syrup and moved a few frames of honey around. I will leave the winter covers on for another week. When I go out a give them their first reversal, I will remove all the covers then.
 So I lost one colony out of 10 that I wintered. The plan is to run more hives this coming season. I actually heeded my own advise this year. I did all the mite treatments at the proper time and the bees were all heavy with honey going into winter.

You can see winter covers on seven hives. One did not make it.

All six of them looked like this. Packed with bees. They should give me some great splits in May.

Nosema, a late winter killer

This video is about a deadout colony that quickly came from a strong overwintered colony to a very weak colony in a matter of a few weeks. The symptoms make it look like Nosema.
  Nosema is a late winter disease that can cause the demise of a colony. Nosema is a stress related disease and causes bee diarrhea in a colony. The stress is caused by winter related issues. Mites can sometimes be a contributing factor. Beekeepers used to treat for Nosema using Fumigillan, an antibiotic, mixed in syrup. It is no longer available for sale.
Life without Fumigillan

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Package Bee Update 4/2/2019

I talked to our bee supplier Ray Olivarez today. He did say that they have been caging queens. So they have been getting some queen mating done, even with the tough weather. The weather in the near term is improving in his area where he is doing queen mating. He is hoping to get some type of delivery schedule together soon. Probably after this weekend. So with any luck there may be a delivery date in our future.
 I will update again as soon as I know anything.
The 14 day outlook for weather is much improved from what we have been seeing. With partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures at the mid to end of the forecast.
Orland, California 14 day forecast

Monday, April 1, 2019

Bee Strategy: Easy Way To Draw Comb In April

The bee strategy is: by adding a new box of frames with foundation on this strong overwintered colony. The bees will draw out the foundation because I am feeding them syrup. The queen will move up and start laying on the new comb. After a couple weeks, as the daily temperatures warm up, I will remove the bottom box. I will use the bottom box for package bees that come at the end of April. This will give me an advantage of starting package bees on drawn out comb. The package bees will increase their population quicker because the queen has the whole box of already drawn comb to work with.
  If I had started the package bees on the new foundation, the population of bees would grow slower. As I only have about 7500 bees in a 3 lb package of bees working on the foundation.
 Using a strong overwintered colony to draw out the new foundation, I will have probably 15,000 bees working on it today. As the population grows in the overwintered hive, there will be more workers to make comb on the frames. The bees should have this new box drawn out in about three weeks.

Doing a Reversal on an Overwintered Colony

Sometime over the next week, reversals should be done on strong overwintered colonies. The temperatures are warming up, with 60's forecast for later in the week. Reversals are needed to expand the brood nest. By doing a reversal, the queen will move through the colony more efficiently. On strong overwintered colonies, after this first reversal, whenever you see eggs in the top box, do another reversal. A beekeeper may do two or three reversals before a divide is made on the colony in May. At the same time as reversals, clean the bottom board off on all colonies, weak or strong.
 Weak colonies with two or three frames of bees should not be reversed at this time. When the colonies are weak like this, the bottom box should be removed and the hive should just be in one deep at the moment. This will make the hive easier to keep warm compared to a two deep hive. If a beekeeper has another strong colony, it would be helpful to take a frame of brood sometime later in April and add it to the weak colony. This little increase in brood can turn around a weak colony and it will start increasing the bee population almost immediately. The extra bees will aide in covering more brood, this will give the queen a better opportunity to increase egg laying.
 New Package bees are reversed usually only once in June.
 The first reversal on a three deep colony should go like this. The three deeps are numbered to keep it straight in this example.
1  should end up with  3
2                                   1
3                                   2
After this first reversal on a three deep hive setup, any new reversals will be switch the bottom box with the top box.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Bee Delivery Update

We still do not have any solid bee delivery dates. We did publish some dates when we were told that the bees were going to be delayed two weeks. Since that time, our bee supplier has not given us any firm dates.
 It has been raining every eight out of ten days in California. With this rainy conditions queen breeding cannot be accomplished. This constant rainy weather has never happened before in twenty years.  So at this time, all bee delivery dates are to be determined.
 All of the queen and package bee suppliers on the west coast are in the same predicament. All we can do is hope for drier weather in sunny California.
Orland California 10 day forecast

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Spring is coming

I was out for a walk on the Browns Creek State Trail today with the dog. I noticed some pussy willows budding out. Pussy willows are one of the first pollen sources for pollinators. The buds should open soon exposing some pollen for the bees. Many times it is too cold for bees to get this first taste of spring. But it will be in the 60's tomorrow and I am sure somewhere around the upper midwest, pussy willow will be handing out pollen.
 Even with the pollen coming soon. Pollen patties should stay on the hives. Providing the needed protein for brood development.
Pussy Willows

Large Stand of Pussy Willow

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Spring Chores

Today, Saturday is going to be a beautiful day. The temperature is supposed to be in the 50's. A hive on a warm day like this, can be broken down and the bottom board can be cleaned off. Debris from the winter usually covers the bottom board with dead bees, wax cappings and other hive debris.
 Bring a box with to scrape the debris into.
 The hive can be assessed on their food stores. Just feel the weight of the top box. The bees should be in the top box right now. If the box feels heavy then you should not have to feed. If it feels light, feed syrup. Do not over feed. This can hurt brood production if the hive is full of syrup.
 It is a little too early to do a reversal. Reversals usually happen around April 1st. Even then beekeepers need to look at the future weather. We would like to see temperatures being steady in the upper forties to low fifties for highs during the day for doing reversals.
 If you break down the hive today, restack it the same way it was when you took it apart. The moisture board can be removed for the season. With freezing temperatures going away, the moisture board is no longer needed.
 The winter cover can stay on for another week or so. Depending on where you live. some parts of MN and WI still have plenty of snow on the ground and may experience cold nights.
 If you can't break down the hive today it is not a big deal. But, the hive should be visited and food stores should be looked at. Pollen patties should be on right now and 1:1 sugar syrup or ProSweet syrup should be fed as needed.
 Put the pollen patties right on the bees. If the bees are occupying two boxes, put the pollen patties on the top bars on both boxes.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Bad weather persisting in California

The weather in California has stayed ugly. For the short term, the forecast is for rain for eight of the next ten days. This will possibly impact the package bee delivery dates. While it is still too soon to be 100% sure of any more delays, a change in the weather is needed for some more seasonal weather patterns. We just want to inform our customers of what is going on.
 What we have always said is, that this is farming and farming is at the mercy of the weather. Let's be positive and hope this rain goes away for a few weeks.
Orland California 10 day weather forecast
California is officially out of their seven year drought.
Queen Mating. This is what we need the warm weather for.
A queen may be mated by as many as 10 drones. This will give her a lifetime supply of sperm so she can fertilize eggs. A poor mated queen may only be mated with one or two drones. A poorly mated queen may run out of sperm in a short period of time and will lose the ability to fertilize eggs and will become a drone layer.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Pollinator Friendly Lawns

The legislature is contemplating subsidies for bee friendly lawns. Read all about it. Story in the Star Tribune.
Bee Friendly Lawns

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Sold out of package bees for 2019

Nature's Nectar LLC is sold out of package bees for 2019.
If you need package bees, Mann Lake LTD out of Hackensack, MN is still taking orders for bees. 1-800-880-7694 Call Mon - Fri 8am - 4:30pm
Pickup is in Hackensack sometime in early May.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Almost out of bees

 Do not mail order any more order forms.
Nature's Nectar LLC phone number 651-242-2233

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Where are we at in the bee season

I think now would be a good time to feed a pail of syrup and a pollen patty.
It is too cold to use a hive top feeder. The bees would be challenged to get to the syrup in a hive top feeder and at this point in the season, may be a bad choice for a feeder. A pail feeder goes right on top of the inner cover and most beekeepers bees are in the top box, right under the inner cover. The feeder pail is right above the cluster and should not freeze. The warmth of the cluster should keep any feeder pail from freezing.
 In about a week or so it is a good idea to go out and break the top box loose and lift it up a few inches above the box below it. This will give you an idea how much food is in the top box. If the box is heavy, do not feed anymore syrup. If the box is light, give the bees another pail of syrup. Anything in between, is a judgement call.
 One thing to remember, do not feed pail after pail of syrup. The bees will take down all the syrup that is offered. The bees will fill up the brood area with syrup and the queen will have no place to lay eggs and the population will dwindle.
 Feed syrup as needed. If you look at your bees and they are still down deep in the hive and the top box is full of honey still, feeding probably is not needed.
 Putting pollen on the hive is also going on right now. There is brood in the colonies right now. Pollen patties are needed to assure there is protein available for proper brood development. If there is no pollen available for the brood, the bees may cannibalize the young larvae and the hive's overall population will suffer with low brood numbers.
 Pollen patties need to be placed right where the bees are. Usually it is on the top bars of the top box. Put the pollen patty right on top of the bees. Don't block the inner cover hole for access to the feeder pail.
 If the bees are in both the top box and the box underneath, put a pollen patty on top of both boxes.
 Beekeepers who have overwintered five frame nuc boxes should be moving them into ten frame equipment very soon if their population is booming. Weak nucs can stay in the nucs for the short term.
 Beekeepers have had some pain getting going this season. Snow has made it tough to get to our hives. The weather will be getting better, forties are on the horizon as we move towards April.
 The next big thing on the horizon is a reversal coming around early April.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Bees Going Fast

Nature's Nectar LLC is down to about 20% of their bees left to sell. If you want to order bees, do it NOW.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

It is time

 I think it is time to feed the bees. The temperatures are on the upswing. If the bees are alive, we would hate to lose them now.
 A feeder pail of 1:1 sugar water or ProSweet, on top of the inner cover and a pollen patty on the top bars of the top box, right where the bees are. Your bees may not have any available pollen under the honey that they have been eating. Adding a pollen patty will give the bees the protein they need for some serious brood rearing. A full patty is needed. A strong colony may eat the whole patty in 10 days.
 A feeder on top of the colony is unlikely to freeze. The heat from the cluster should keep it liquid. If you are concerned about this, go buy a Styrofoam minnow bucket that will cover the pail and fit inside a deep box. Nature's Nectar LLC does have minnow buckets in their new Oakdale store.
 I know it is tough to get to the bees, but this weekend we may get more heavy snow. It may make it more difficult to get out to the beeyard for another week.
 The temperatures are beginning to moderate into the 30's and the bees are working in the hive. We need to give them a hand to expand the brood area.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Bee Detective Busting Hive Thieves

Here is a bee cop. He looks for stolen colonies of bees in Butte County, California. Thieves steal colonies of bees that have been brought into the Almond orchards. A colony of bees can fetch upwards of $250.00 for a pollination fee. Imagine stealing 1000 colonies, that have a potential payoff of $250,000.00. This large dollar amount make breaking the law very attractive to some.
The Bee Cop

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Package Bees 2019 will be delayed

I talked to our bee supplier, Ray Olivarez, (he is in Orland, California) today. He told me due to their cold and rainy weather our bees will be delayed two weeks. So at the moment, we are looking at delivery dates of around the 21st of April for the first delivery and the 27th of April for the second delivery. These dates are NOT solid dates and they may still change. All of the queen suppliers on the west coast are in this same predicament.
 Here is the 10 day weather outlook for Orland California. You can see the temperatures warming up later in the forecast.
Orland California 10 day forecast
 The cold and rainy weather has held back the Almond trees from blooming at their normal time. They are starting to bloom now. There are several varieties of Almond trees with different blooming time frames, such as early and late blooming types of Almond trees.
 The bees need the Almond trees to bloom to gather fresh pollen. It is this large influx of pollen that spurs on bee colonies to make drones. The queen producers in California need the large drone populations to properly mate with the new virgin queens that will be produced. The virgin queens need at least 60 degree weather, to go out on their mating flights. So you can see many things have to click right for queens to be produced in large numbers.
 Here is a video of the Almond trees in California.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Where is spring

23 days until spring.
Here is a map of where spring is today.
Where is spring

Monday, February 25, 2019

We are in the process of moving to Oakdale

Tom and Wendy Setting up the new digs
We are in the process of setting up Tom and Jessie's new shop in Oakdale. We should have it full of product by Thursday open time.

Current hours and location
Map to Nature's Nectar LLC Oakdale (Suite C) 
Located just off the I - 694 and MN Hwy 36 Interchange

Package bee sales are starting to heat up. This cold spell will be very challenging for the overwintering colonies of bees.
 The bees can handle the cold, but with brood going now in the hive, there will be starvation and some dead bees before the cold is over. It is important to check your bees for alive or dead after this below zero crap is over with.
 We are moving into March and feeding and pollen can possibly be started soon. Obviously if your think your hive is almost out of food, I would bring your feeder pail to the bait store and purchase a Styrofoam minnow bucket that the feeder pail fits inside. Feed your bees syrup with the minnow bucket over the feeder pail next week, if you think they are really light.
 It doesn't look like moderating temperatures until around March 7th or so. I would hold off on the pollen until then.
 Spring is coming and should start to beat back old man winter soon.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Nature's Nectar LLC has been sold

Wendy and I have sold Nature's Nectar LLC. We are sad to be leaving, but are ready for new adventures. You beekeepers are wonderful people and we are proud to have worked with you.

 What is changing:
 Nature's Nectar LLC will be moving to:
6922 - 55th St N  Suite C
Oakdale, MN 55128  
Current Open hours: Thurs and Friday 10 - 6,  Saturday 9 - 5
Located near the Hwy 36 and 694 interchange

New Owners:
Tom and Jessica Minser.

We have received your bee orders and they are safe and sound. We still have package bees available and are still taking orders. We are working together with Tom and Jessica to provide your bees.

Bee Delivery:
The two bee deliveries will go off as planned. Wendy and I will be taking part in both bee days. The pick up location will change. It is near our present location. More information will be coming when we have a pick up date.

Over the course of the season Jim will be involved with the new owners to help them in anyway he can.

Jim will continue this bee blog and hopes to improve it and continue to support all beekeepers. Education is the key to success.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Univ of MN Bee Class

There are still openings for this bee class. Here is the link.
 The Univ of MN Keeping Bees in Northern Climates Year 1
February 23rd. 
This is a great class for novice beekeepers.
You get a booklet, they give you doughnuts and lunch.
Great class, you will get a solid foundation of beekeeping knowledge.
Sign up right away as this class will fill up.

Monday, February 11, 2019

What is happening on the bee front.

This Goldfinch says spring is coming. The feathers are starting to change to bright yellow.

Spring is coming, we can start feeding our bees syrup and pollen patties in about three weeks to a month,
February is almost half over. We are getting hammered with some snow, but the below zero temperatures seem to have gone away, at least for the near term.
 Not much to do on the bee front at the moment. When I look forward, to early next week, there is some sub zero in the forecast for a day or two. Long term extended outlooks look more seasonal as we approach March.
 We are now getting into the danger period of over wintered colonies. The queen will begin laying soon. Once brood rearing has begun in the hive, the cluster loses some of its mobility. The bees will not leave the brood and cannot just move to more honey if their stores begin to get depleted around the brood. The bees can move to honey and bring it back to the brood area. This is not a problem when the daily highs are in the 20's. If the weather turns cold, near zero, with cold days, the bees cannot move to more honey very easily. Starvation can occur if the cold event is three consecutive days or more, even though honey is in the hive. One day of very cold temperatures is usually not a problem. As beekeepers, we need to get the bees over the hump and to the balmier month of March.
 If the temperatures stays seasonal there is usually not much worry of starvation. If it gets cold, starvation can happen. There are some emergency food options that can be used, winter patties, fondant, sugar can all be used for this emergency food. Winter patties purchased from Nature's Nectar LLC are now just the sugar premix. The beekeeper needs to put the sugar premix on a sheet of wax paper and flatten out the premix to make the patty.

Spring will be here soon and we can put this winter behind us.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

A beekeeper checked their hive today

This hive of Saskatraz bees is right where bees should be at this time of year. The bees have moved up from the lower box into the top box. The Saskatraz queen may start laying in the next seven to fourteen days. The hive looks in great shape. Large cluster of Saskatraz bees. The beekeeper has a Bee Cozy winter cover around the hive and a candyboard on top with candy for extra winter feed. They did two mite treatments last year. Formic Acid in August and Oxalic Acid in late October. Mite counts were very low after treatments.
  The hive was heavy with honey going into winter.
  The results are, healthy Saskatraz bees, as shown in this picture.
Photo by N. Gores

Beekeeping Classes

This is a link to some current beekeeping classes available around the metro area.

The Art of Beekeeping in Northern Climates
Century College - White Bear Lake, MN 
5 sessions, Thursdays starting at 6pm
This class is starting this week. There are spots available. 

If you have been struggling with your bees over the last year or two. Maybe you are doing something wrong. One small management task done incorrectly can lead to poor results with colony survival. A good foundation of beekeeping knowledge can help you bee successful. This is a great beekeeping class. 
 The five sessions can give the beekeeping student time to absorb all of the information presented. The instructor is well versed in beekeeping and has taught many beekeeping classes around the metro area for several years.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

How is the cluster dealing with the cold

This is from beekeeper Paul's hive. He has a thermometer in the hive. Sometimes it can be a little deceiving on the internal hive temperature. If the cluster is near the temperature probe it can give an artificial warm internal hive temperature. Usually in the hive, once you get about nine inches away from the cluster, the internal hive temperature is about the same as the outside temperature. So right now, inside the lower box in a hive, it is about minus 20 degrees. In the upper box near the cluster, It will be warmer as the bees are eating more food and generating more heat to combat the cold. Plus heat rises and the upper part of the hive should be the warmest part of the hive right now.
 So beekeepers, if you think the bees heat the whole hive and keep it warm that is not the case.
Photo by P. Liedl

Warm this weekend

This weekend is a good time to check if your bees are alive. Go out in the warmest part of day. The bees may be going on cleansing flights so it may be obvious there is bee activity.
 You can also rap on the side of the hive and listen for the buzz of the cluster.
 If colonies were very heavy with honey going into winter. Sometimes the bees have not moved up yet. The bees in this situation may not go on cleansing flights if they are still deep in the hive. A beekeepers may think the colony is dead but they may be alive and well. If your hive fits this description, rap on the hive in the lower box as well and listen.
 Always wear a veil when out with the bees. They may be chilly, but they can still put the hurt on you.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Brrrrrrrrr - We are in the deep freeze

Oh, baby it's cold outside. The winter up to this point has been easy on the bees. Many beekeepers have been seeing their bees alive and doing ok. Now the bees will face the cold weather challenge for about for the next week or so. Healthy bees can survive the cold, if they have food, usually without much problems.
 I think the cold came at a good time. Most colonies should have the cluster of bees transitioning up into the top deep box right now.
 All beekeepers should have had their top box full of honey going into winter. So the bees should be on full frames of honey right now. The bees will be consuming honey and giving the cluster of bees the warmth they need to survive. This time of year bees eat about 12 lbs of honey per month. That is about a frame and a quarter of honey. The food consumption will increase when brood production starts.
 If we look at this historically, in the 60's and early 70's the upper Midwest had many more below zero days per winter than we have today. Without the scourge of mites in the 60's, winter loss of bees was around 10% - 15% of a beekeepers colonies. 20% loss was considered a major loss at that time.
 Now with mites, the parasites can weaken colonies, making harder for bees to overwinter. But, now is the payoff for good mite control. Healthy bees can make it through this cold snap if they are on food.
 The queen will start laying in a couple weeks, usually by mid February.
 When there is brood in the hive, that is the time of possible starvation when it gets cold. Anytime after Feb 1st, is a good time to put on winter patties, sugar, fondant for emergency food. The emergency food can prevent starvation on cold days, when brood is in the hive.
 We almost have January licked, February is just around the corner, days are getting longer, the sun is getting stronger, beekeeping is on the horizon.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Super Super Sale

We are offering 10 frame assembled, painted deeps or painted supers with 10 assembled frames and foundation.
Deeps.......... $45.00 each (reg. price $58.00)
Supers ........ $40.00 each  10 or more $35.00 each (Reg price $53.00)
While supplies last.
or an Assembled Hive:
1 - Bottom Board
2 - Painted deeps with assembled frames and yellow foundation
2 - Painted medium supers assembled with frames and foundation
1 - Telescoping cover with inner cover.
In store sale only

Monday, January 14, 2019

2019 Bee Order Form

Package Bees Ready For Pickup
The 2019 order form is now available. It is in the upper right hand corner of this blog under links. or on our website.
Package Bees 2019 - We will be selling only 3 lb packages.
All packages include a mated queen
Your Choice of Carniolan, Italian or Saskatraz queen.
Cost per package
1 - 10..........  $142.00  Cash/Check
11 - 25........  $141.00 Cash/Check
26 - 99......... $139.00 Cash/Check
100+ or........ $138.00 Cash/Check
Bee Clubs

Price with credit cards is $146.00 per package
Saskatraz queen add $2.00 per package.
We will be getting two deliveries of bees.
The first delivery is early April, the second delivery is around mid April. Please specify which delivery when ordering.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Looking back on 2018

2018 has now past us by, so I think it is appropriate to go back and look how our beekeeping year was.
 January was not bad. Minus 13 to a high of 46. Average temperature was 17 degrees F. Hives were not stressed much this month.
 February was cold the first half of the month and warmer the second half. Really close to January with a average temperature of 17 degrees F. The second half of February was warm so starvation issues with brood now in the colony was not a huge problem in the metro area and points south. The northern part of MN/WI is always faced with stresses of cold weather at the time of brood rearing starting up. Which is usually around mid February. Sooner if the weather has been warm.
 March was a warmer month, average temperature was 32 degrees F. The last half of March had daily highs in the upper 30's and low 40's. Perfect weather for overwintered hives to start expanding their brood area. Pollen patties were being gobbled up at this point.
 April the weather tanked on the first day of April, cold for a few days then a glimmer of warmth then cold and snowy through the first half of the month. Below average temperatures and high winds. Beekeepers were caught off guard. Some colonies starved, when 10 days before they looked great. The bees could not move to their honey stores and some overwintered colonies did not survive. Package bees arrived in this same time frame. Beekeepers had to scramble to get their bees in. The installation while a little unorthodox, proved that beekeepers were up to the task. Most of my customers were able to save their bees and had a good beekeeping year. The weather finally turned around on the 17th of April and 40's started to show up. There was a steady uptick in the temperature from that point on with 60's being the common theme and the last day of April was 82 degrees F. I will say that in thirty years of keeping bees this was the worst weather I have ever seen. It had been cold at times, but in April, cold is usually a one to three day event, not two weeks. Average temperature was 37 degrees F. With a range from 11 degrees to 83 degrees,
 May was a warm month. It was great for colony build up. Package bees were increasing nicely. Overwintered colonies were up for divides. There was fallout from the cold spring with many overwintered colonies. Some had great populations while quite a few overwintered colonies came through the cold weaker than normal. Many beekeepers were not able to do divides, do to weak colonies. Some beekeepers did late splits in June but many beekeepers just ran their colonies the way they came out of winter. Dandelions were about a week late in the Stillwater area. The fruit bloom was delayed about a week also. Apple trees were blooming into the third week of May.
June, The Black Locust flow came a little late. This flow is usually in late May but it came in very early June. Some overwintered colonies with strong populations were able to put up a super or two of Black Locust honey. Package bees and nucs were increasing in populations. Swarming was not widespread. More than likely due to weaker than normal of some overwintered colonies. Mite levels were lower on the bees coming out of winter. The nectar flow started in late June and ended in early July. Beekeepers with strong overwintered colonies were getting great honey crops. Most package bees and nucs missed the show as their field force had not fully developed yet. By the time the package bees and nucs had good field force numbers, the nectar flow had really trailed off.
 I have been told that whenever their is a prolonged cold spring, the summers nectar flow is usually poor. For most of us that seemed to be the case.
 July and August hives looked good, populations were there, the only one that failed to show up for the party was available nectar. The plants were not giving it up. I looked at my colonies around the first of August and the supers were barren. Not a drop of honey in them. But mites were starting to rise and beekeepers turned to mite treatments because it was time to start to prepare colonies for winter. Most colonies did have some decent honey stores for winter  by mid August.
 There was a September surprise for me. most of my colonies did put up a super of Goldenrod honey. This is usually uncharacteristic of me to get Goldenrod honey. I usually get a good crop of Goldenrod honey about every ten years or so. I think the last time I got a super of Goldenrod honey was about, hmmmmm, ten years ago. Mites had built up by September, the beekeepers that treated in August and very early September were in good shape for winter. Beekeepers that waited until mid to late September may have winter survival challenges. Feeding bees was ongoing and the bees were taking it down very well.
 October was a colder than average month beekeepers who waited to feed found that it was difficult to get sufficient stores into light colonies. Oxalic acid treatments were being done starting in mid October. The weather was good for treatments. Oxalic acid treatments should have helped reduce any mite remaining high mite counts. The good thing of the cooler weather was there was not much of mite transmission from colony to colony. The cool weather had the bees staying at home. We did not have much of a fall. The weather cooled off in early October and never warmed up again.
 November and December while cool were good for bee survival. Not much winter stress on colonies. Beekeepers covered their colonies and wished there hives good luck and see you in February.
 The weather up until now has been very good for the bees. We have not had much severe weather. There has been no deep freeze. At the moment, if the colonies have sufficient food stores, mite treatments were applied at the right time and mite loads were low going into winter, the odds are very good that there will be good survival of colonies around the upper Midwest this winter.

Monday, January 7, 2019

MN Hobby Beekeepers Annual Banquet and Auction

 Annual Banquet & Auction

February 2, 4:30 pm - 10:00 pm CST 


$25 per person
Held at: Keller Golf Course, 2166 Maplewood Drive, Maplewood, MN 55109
The auction is a lot of fun. I encourage everyone to attend. This is a fundraiser so bring your checkbook. If you have an item to donate for the auction please bring it. Besides bee equipment, beekeepers have donated Twins and other sports tickets, air plane rides, personal chef dinners, weekend resort stay, be creative.  All great items, that really helped out the Basil Furgala Fund from the Univ of MN. 

Download Registration Form
This event is a great opportunity to spend time with other members, and also raise money for the the Furgala Scholarship Fund.
Social hour is at 4:30 - 5:30 pm, and a buffet dinner will be served at 6:00 pm. Auction for the Furgala Scholarship Fund begins at 7:15 pm. Cash bar will serve beer and wine.
• Something interesting to share—a honey and mead tasting table will be available.
• Items for the auction, including home crafts, baked goods, honey or bee-related things or equipment.
• Anything you think someone will bid on in the auction.
• Photographic prints of your favorite bee-related subjects for the photo contest. A $25 prize will be awarded based on the members’ choice.
Dress is business casual, or whatever you are comfortable in—we’re not very formal!
 This year the meal will be buffet style, offering a mixed fruit bowl, garden salad, chef-carved London broil, herb-crusted sautéed chicken, Yukon gold mashed potatoes, wild mushroom rice pilaf, market-fresh vegetable sauté and fresh baked bread/sweet butter.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

The warm weather

Wintering hives. The hives with cardboard covers are alive. Bees are covering the top entrance holes.
Warm weather coming. The bees will be taking cleansing flights over the next few days. This is a good opportunity to make sure your colonies are alive. Watching the bees take their cleansing flight will help confirm this.
 It is normal to see dead bees in front of the hive. The warm weather will also help the bees reposition in the hive if they need to move on to new frames of honey. The bees may have not moved up into the top box in mass yet. They may be starting this transition now and should have the bulk of their population in the top box in the next two to three weeks.