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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Wednesday, September 23, 2020


 If your hive needs feeding you have to do so now. The weather is changing next week with highs in the 50's. When it cools off the bees don't take the syrup down very well. If you have a colony that is light today, there may not be another opportunity like the present to get they colony fed up before it stays cold for the duration. 

Hive top feeders with ProSweet is the best way to feed your colony syrup in the fall.

Friday, September 18, 2020

New Floor In Honey House

We extracted all our honey, cleaned off all the equipment and the floor. Then we brought in a high pressure hot water power washer to a total floor clean up. Dried the place out for a few days with a dehumidifier. Then Tom from Nature's Nectar LLC came over and prepped the floor, then applied an epoxy coating on the floor. It turned out great. Tom also has a painting business and he does all interior, exterior painting and staining and garage floors. Now we will be ready for next years honey season.

The floors turned out great. I will put in the trench grates when the floor is ready to use. I will wait 48 hours with the door open and a big fan running before I reoccupy the honey house.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Time to finish


 Goldenrod is waning, Asters are blooming. Asters are the last show in town. But for most of us the nectar flow is over. If you haven't treated for mites do so now. Not treating for mites will more than likely lead to a dead colony by springtime. For some of us, if you haven't treated for mites yet, the bees could be so damaged they may not make it to January. 

Winter Food stores. Right now a hive should have 8 full frames of honey and one partial frame of honey in the top brood box. The box underneath the top box should have about 4 frames of honey. If your hive has this much honey, it should be ample for the winter food stores. If feeding is needed get the feeders on now. Hive top feeders are the best feeders for fall and I highly recommend them. As long as the temperatures are in the upper 60's and low 70's the bees will readily take down syrup. But as the fall turns cooler, the bees will be reluctant to take down syrup, so get the feeding done now.

If you are done treating for mites, entrance reducers can be put in the hive entrance at the widest opening. This can help to prevent robbing. The weather is cooling down for the near term, and even a couple days in the low 70's will not spur any overheating of the colony.

Looking ahead, Oxalic Acid mite treatments happen in late October when hives become broodless. Winter covers are put on colonies anytime after October 31st.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Cold Weather Making It Hard On Beekeepers

 Brrrrr. I heard that today from my beeyard. Unseasonably cold for the short term 

Beekeepers need to get their work done. By now supers should have been removed and bees should have been treated for mites. Right?

If you haven't done these chores it is time. When it is cold out, bee escapes work great to remove bees out of the supers. Honey Robber does not work as well when the temperatures drop into the 60's. Get the honey off now and extract the supers.

Mite treatments need to be done now if you haven"t done it yet. As time goes on high Varroa counts can damage the bees. This damage can make the bees not survive the winter. So this week mite treatments such as Formic Acid can be applied to the hives. ApiVar can also be  used. Follow the directions on the container. 

Robbing and mice will becoming an issue. Entrance reducers could be put in the hive if it has been treated for mites. If you are treating for mites with Formic Acid, the entrance has to be left fully open. 

If you are on top of the mites and the honey is extracted, making sure the hive has enough food for the winter. Right now a hive should have eight full frames of honey and one partially filled frame in the top brood box. The partially filled frame should be located near the center of the top box. This partially filled frame helps the bees transition from the lower brood box and move up to the upper brood box. The bees don't like to move up on frozen honey. The partially filled frame is easy for the bees to occupy. The brood box below the top brood box should have about four frames of honey in it. This amount of honey in these two brood boxes should be more than ample food supply for the winter.

Feeding needs to be finished as fast as possible. We don't want to feed and let it to drag out into October. Feeding stimulates the hive and the queen will continue to lay. By getting the feeding done quickly. The queen can stop laying sooner. The last mite treatment of the year is done in late October. For this mite treatment to work the best, is to have the hive as brood fee as possible. By feeding into October, there may be brood in the colony into November.

 We are coming to the end of our bee season, time to finish up the chores.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Changed the Solar Angle to Fall Position

 We changed our solar angle today on our MT Solar ground mount, from 17 degrees to 37 degrees. This new angle should be the optimum angle until late October. The days are getting shorter and the sun is getting lower in the sky. To get the strongest solar power, being able to change the solar angle gets the most out of your solar system. Changing the solar angle on this type of a ground mount takes about 45 seconds. It is almost effortless. A solar system that is fixed and does not tilt or adjust,  still works well and the solar panels are permanently set to around 37 degrees, depending on your latitude.

We started in late April at 17 degrees
We now have the solar panels at 37 degrees. I use an angle finder to set the solar angle. This time I put a mark with a paint stick. Red for Summer, Green for Spring and Fall, White for Winter. It will be easier to find the angle with the marks.
Even the Baldface Hornets want a solar system.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Get the Identification First

A guy called me today about the honeybees coming in and out of his siding and wanted me to come and get them. These are Yellow Jackets.

Whenever I get a call like this, the first thing I do is tell the caller to text me a picture of the bee. I tell them I need a close picture of the insect. He did send me four pretty good pictures. Usually the majority of the calls I get are going to be yellow jackets or sometimes bumble bees when they are going into siding. Honeybees prefer a higher entry point like a roof fascia board or the top part of a column. Honeybees need a cavity of at least 15 liters of space or it is unlikely the honeybees will move into it. Yellowjackets and Bumble bees will move into smaller openings like an old mouse nest in the ground or a small void created by a rotting stump or decaying vegetation.

  • When you get the call because you are the bee expert. Have some simple rules of what you need to have before you go look at the "honeybee problem". 
  • Get a picture sent to you of the bees or the swarm. 
  • If it is bumble bees, I tell them that they are an endangered species and if they are not bothering them to let them be. When the first hard freeze happens the bumblebees are usually dead, then caulk the opening in the siding.
  • If it is not honeybees and you are not involved, don't give direct advise on what they should do. Be a little vague. Like, "I have heard some homeowners go out and get a can of wasp and hornet spray, then they follow the directions on the can". This keeps you out of the legal side that you told them a course of action. Always suggest to follow the manufacturers recommendations not the beekeepers.

I don't take bees out of buildings. I think a beekeepers could get sucked up into a building controversy if the homeowner feels you did damage to the structure and will want you to fix the structure at your expense. Short of a swarm in a tree or bush, that is the limit to my desire to get involved.


Sunday, August 23, 2020

We know Goldenrod nectar is coming in, the sniff test


Goldenrod is coming in right now. One of my friends is in the Northwest Metro and the other lives near Forest Lake. They both could smell the Goldenrod nectar odor of wet sweat socks in the bee yard. The odor goes away when the Goldenrod nectar ripens into honey.

I have been texting with my beekeeper friends, our comments:

 Ooooo, the goldenrod nectar is arriving in my bee yard! Smells like my socks out here!


You got me curious Dan. I just went out and walked around my hives and oh, yeah definitely golden rod coming in.

I will have to do my sniff test in my bee yard.

Goldenrod nectar is coming in and may be in your bee hive right now. During a good goldenrod flow, a hive can put up a super or two of Goldenrod honey. 


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Getting ready for winter

 OK beekeepers, winter preparations are under way. This is the to do list.

  • Pull and Extract honey
  • Treat for mites ASAP
  • Feed your bees
  •  Entrance reducers go in if robbing is a problem or if the temperatures start cooling off. 

This is a list of what not to do

  • Do not feed pollen to the bees
  • Do not feed late
  • Do not wait to treat for mites

 Mite treatments need to get done as soon as possible. If you are doing mite counts and only seeing one or two mites in a sample, you need to treat. If you don't treat, your next mite sample in mid September will have 10 mites in the sample. The hive population falls this time of year, but the mite population explodes. Get in front of the mites not behind. Damage to your bees will be happening soon and the hive may not be able to recover.

 Do not feed pollen to your bees. Bees this time of year will start to shift gears and start to make Winter Bees. Winter Bees have a different physiology than summer bees. Winter Bees have the ability to store more fat. It is this phenomena that helps the bees survive the rigors of winter. It is the scarcity of pollen that makes the bees shift to producing Winter Bees. If you feed pollen to your bees, there will no dearth in pollen. Maybe there will be no winter bees in your hive and the bees set to winter will not be prepared for the onslaught of cold weather. Plus with pollen on the hive, the bees may make too many bees and the bees will starve by eating all their winter stores too quickly.

 Feeding, I like having a hive heavy with honey going into winter. I think it helps the bees get through winter with less stress on the hive. But with fall feeding, you do not want to feed for a month. The feeding should be done quickly. Longer and later feeding leads to more mites in the hive. Longer feeding keeps brood in the hive longer. Late brood in the hive, makes for ineffective Oxalic Acid treatments in late October. Get the hive topped off and filled with honey. To do this, multiple feeders should be employed. If you fed your bees with jars with holes in the lids, don't use them. Fall feeding is like feeding the Conehead family. Give the bee family mass quantities of syrup. My favorite feeder for fall feeding is a hive top feeder. It holds four gallons of syrup. The bees can empty if in about four days. The other way to feed is multiple feeder pails placed directly on the frames top bars. This is three gallons of syrup and the bees will empty the pails in about three days. In the fall I like using ProSweet bee syrup. ProSweet is similar to honey, the bees do not have to dehumidify it. The bees take down the ProSweet and put the syrup in the comb and they are done. 2:1 Sugar syrup on the other hand, the bees take it down, then have to turn it to honey and lower the humidity. More work on their part. With ProSweet if you give the bees four gallons of syrup, that will be the equivalent of about 45 lbs of honey. Now if you give the bees four gallons for 2:1 sugar syrup, after the bees dehumidify the sugar syrup and turn it to honey, you may end up with 36 lbs of honey. Quite a difference and more work for the beekeeper. 

 The bee season is changing quickly, beekeepers need to get after it to get the hives ready for winter.


Friday, August 21, 2020

Pulling honey using a couple different methods

 This is a couple ways to pull your honey off the hive. Using a brush and Honey Robber.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Extractor Rental and cheap extractors

 Nature's Nectar LLC does rent extractors. Rented by the day. Call them for more info. 

New beekeepers who buy cheap extractors find out that the cheap extractors break very easy. Spare parts are not easy to obtain. Buying local from a local bee supply dealer is something to think about. Warranty issues are done locally. If you need to send your extractor to get it fixed, the shipping costs add up quickly.

Extracting Honey, the basics


Sunday, August 9, 2020

My nectar flow and mite treatments

 I still have a nectar flow going in my area. It may not be much, but the bees are still bring it in. Usually this time of year the nectar flow has ended and the bees start robbing. When robbing starts, bees usually start flying into my barn and garage. The bees are drawn to odors of my nucs or any frames that have had beeswax on them. I will try to get out to my beeyard for an odor test to see if there is Golderod nectar coming in.  

For many of us, the nectar flow is over with and may not start up again. Mite treatments should be on everyone's mind as we head into the latter part of August. If you did a mite check and saw you had only one or two mites, by the time early September comes around, the next test may show you a mite count of over 10. This time of year the hive population will get smaller. This will lead to the mite population getting bigger. So if you haven't treated for mites yet, it is time to figure out a plan. 

 There are a few options for mite treatments. Formic Acid (Formic Pro or Mite Away Quick Strips), ApiVar Strips or ApiGuard. Oxalic Acid is ineffective this time of year. Oxalic acid is a late October treatment. You can purchase these mite treatments at your local bee supply store. The local supplier can explain how to use the products.

Here are some YouTube manufacturers links for these products:

Formic Pro: https://youtu.be/mImTswyYGfE 

Mite Away Quick Strips: https://youtu.be/upagtCH8rvc

ApiVar Strips: https://youtu.be/slmtDdgc-OI

ApiGuard:  https://youtu.be/3RGSp3VEeAg 


Sunday, August 2, 2020

New Solar System + Solar Update For July

A fellow beekeeper put up a new 14.5 KWH solar system at their home. It consists of 42 panels. They originally wanted 48 panels, but Xcel told them that may exceed their feed wiring capacity to their house. This is because the main wire near their house was  installed in 1937 and never has been upgraded by the utility.
 Their new system is just coming online this week I think. Everything is done, they are just waiting for Xcel to set their meter. The 14.5 KWH solar system set them back $52,000.00. They will be getting a federal tax credit of about $13,500.00. So their out of pocket will be $38,500.00. They will probably have that all paid off in 10-12 years. Most solar panels have a life of 25 years minimum, with a performance of still over 90% after 25 years. The size of their system will probably cover 90% of their yearly utility bill (gas and electric). Any credit from Xcel can be used against the utility bill.
 They had All Energy Solar. install the solar system.They were very pleased with their contractor. Click on the pictures for full size.

They went with a ground mount solar system. This ground mount is fixed. It will not be able to change the panel angle. Usually fixed solar systems are set at about 37 degrees at our latitude. The advantage with the ground mount is that the solar panels are easy to remove snow and to keep clean. The panels are located in full sun so they will collect the maximum solar power available.
Our solar update for the month of July.
 So far this year it has been a very good year for solar. Our July solar was 2.42 megawatts or 2420 kilowatts. The average home in the U.S. uses about 900 kilowatts per month. So we made more than 2-1/2 times what a normal home would use. We will get a credit on our Xcel bill for July. Solar does work well in MN and WI.

Friday, July 31, 2020

My Mite Treatment Plan

 I always treat for mites in late summer, usually in August. Waiting until September to treat for mites may be too late. The bees can be severely damaged by mites at that point and the odds for winter survival may be much less.
 I like to use Formic Acid for a mite treatment in August. Formic Acid called Formic Pro or Mite Away Quick Strips. Formic Acid is considered an organic treatment and honey supers can remain on the hive during treatment.
 This may be very helpful this year. With the high humidity we have had, honey in the supers may have a high moisture content. By leaving the honey on the hive longer, there may be a better opportunity for the bees to lower the water content of the honey on the hive.
 Also, we have had great moisture this year. Goldenrod tends to produce a better nectar flow when there is adequate moisture after July 1st. A good Goldenrod nectar flow may give beekeepers the opportunity of another super or two of honey.
 Using Formic Acid in the summer, we are always looking for a proper time to use it. The daily temperatures have to be under 85 degrees for the first three days the Formic Acid is on the hive. So watching the weather is critical to find the proper time to use it. Next week looks great for using Formic acid. Highs in the upper 70's. The hive populations are high, so the bees will be able to deal with the vapors of the Formic Acid.
 I have purchased my Formic Pro and I will be putting it on the hives on Monday.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Refractometer for testing water content in honey

Refractometer, used for measuring water content of honey. Refractometers are job specific. Example, for testing honey, you need a refractometer meant for honey. Don't purchase the wrong one.
Refractometer readout.
We have had a humid summer. Looking forward a week, the dew points are supposed to drop and be much more pleasant. But the past month has given us many humid days and nights. The high humidity may have brought stored honey in honey supers on our hives, to a high level of water content.
 To be considered U.S. Grade A honey, the honey has to have a water content of 18.6% or less. When honey has a water content of above 18.6%, the honey will ferment with time.
 So a beekeeper needs to find out what the moisture level of the honey is, then take the appropriate actions to ultimately have U.S. Grade A honey.
 The upcoming week with the lower dew points will help to lower the moisture content of stored honey even on the hive. Frames of honey that is capped with beeswax may not be grade A honey. The moisture content may be too high. But the good thing is, the wax capped frames are hygroscopic. If something is hygroscopic, the substance can pick up or give up moisture relating to the relative humidity. This means during a time of low humidity the frames of honey can lose water content and bring the honey down to a lower level.
 There are many types of Refractometers, and they are specific to their industry. Refractometrs are used for measuring machine tool coolant and glycol levels in heating and cooling systems for example.
 Beekeepers need a Refractometer that is used for honey. If you look at the pic above the measured scale says Honey moisture. Many times beekeepers see a "good deal" on a refractometer and end up buying the wrong one.
 Refractometers can be purchased from a bee supply store. They range in price from around $75.00 to $475.00. Or you could bring a sample of honey to Nature's Nectar LLC and they will test your honey for free. When you bring a sample, in a container, fill the container with the honey sample. Putting a thimble full of honey in a quart canning jar will give you a false reading, because the honey sample just absorbed any humidity that was in the jar. A full jar of honey works great, the sample used, can fit on a couple of toothpicks.
 Testing frames of honey before you extract is many times inaccurate. The moisture content on honey frames can be all over the place. You can check different places on the same frame and come up with a different reading.
 The safest way to get your honey right, with the proper moisture content, is to put the full honey supers in a room with a dehumidifier for a week before you extract. Getting the humidity in the room down to 40% is the desired level to have. Removing the high moisture from honey before the frames are extracted is easier to do than after the honey if extracted.
 When extracting, the safe bet is to extract the mostly capped frames of honey first, then extract any uncapped frames separately. Usually uncapped honey can have a higher moisture content, but not all the time. Sometimes the only reason the honey was not capped, is that the nectar flow ended and the frames were never filled. The honey could be grade A.
 Moisture in honey can be a big issue, knowing what the moisture content will give a beekeeper an idea where they stand.
 I will put a video on in the future on how to lower moisture levels in honey.  

Monday, July 20, 2020

Nectar Flow Update

Do you still have a nectar flow? I have heard some beekeepers saying that their nectar flow has slowed.
 This is the time of year when nectar flows get spotty. For some beekeepers the nectar flow is over, other beekeepers still may be getting a nectar flow. Nectar flows are like real estate, location, location, location.
 As the nectar flow slows, we would like to fill the boxes we have on our hives. So adding more supers can slow down a bit. At this timing of the nectar flow, I usually make sure I have one mostly empty super at a time on the hive. I will go in and do a quick visual on the capped frames on my supers. If the outside frames of my supers are not capped, I usually will move these empty or uncapped outside frames to the center of the supers. This make the bees more inclined to fill the frames, if there is nectar available.
 Check the supers weekly, if the top box is filling up, then add another super. Nothing happening, check again in a week.
 The one thing I haven't talked about yet, is moisture content of the honey on the hive. The upper Midwest has experienced quite a few humid days. This could affect the moisture content of your honey. To be Grade A honey, the moisture content has to be 18.6% water content or less. During humid summers, high moisture honey is more common. High moisture honey will ferment over time.
Leaving honey on the hive is usually the best way to get the moisture down if the weather improves. Or, if the honey has to come off, the honey should be put in a room with a dehumidifier. A properly dehumidified space can lower the water content of honey before the honey is extracted. An air conditioned space in not adequate to dehumidify frames of honey. I use a commercial sized dehumidifier in my honey house. I try to get the humidity down to 40% in the room. I also run a fan. I leave the honey at least a week before extracting.
 If you have hive beetle in your hives, leaving them for more than three days off the hive, can get any beetles in the supers to start laying eggs on the honey frames. In a short time, the frames can have beetle larvae hatched out and damaging your honey. Having a room at 40% humidity, can help stop this from happening.
 As we come to the end of July, mite treatments should be on the minds of beekeepers. I believe that mite treatments should be put on the hives in early August. Waiting too long to treat your hives for mites, can result in poor overwintering results. Formic Acid is considered an organic treatment for Varroa mites. So it can be used anytime on a hive. Supers can be on while treating with Formic Acid. When Formic Acid is put on the hive, the first three days that it is on the hive, the daily temperatures have to be no greater than 85 degrees. So if you are going to treat with Formic Acid, keeping an eye on the weather for a window to put on the mite treatment is critical. If a window of perfect weather happens, a beekeeper needs to be ready to treat. Sometimes during a hot summer, there may only be one or two opportunities during August to use Formic Acid. So be prepared and watch the weather. Formic Acid is sold under two brand names, Formic Pro or Mite Away Quick Strips. Formic Pro has a long shelf life on any unused product, Mite Away Quick strips should be used during the season they are purchased, their shelf life is only a few months. Never use expired Formic Acid strips.

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Nectar Flow

Our hill is covered with Bee Balm. The Butterflies and the Bumble Bees are in nectar nirvana.

I think tight now we are in peak honey flow. Summer flowers are coming out more and more. I saw spotted knapweed blooming on Hwy 36 today. The white sweet clover has about another week left in it then it should start to wane.
Spotted Knapweed, a noxious weed. But the honey tastes buttery
The nectar flow is really hitting on all cylinders. I can only say, stay ahead of the bees and keep stacking on supers.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Honey For Sale

Wendy and I are still in the honey business. Five gallon pails of honey go for $178.00. Right now I have some pails of Goldenrod honey available. Call us if you are interested.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The nectar flow

I have been having a great nectar flow. I have four supers on most of my hives and I may be putting on more.
 Right now I think we are at near peak nectar flow. More and more flowers are blooming. Perennial summer flowers are starting to bloom. The hot weather is also helping the nectar flow.
 Today a surprise thunderstorm gave us an 1-1/2" of rain. So moisture is not an issue in Washington County at the moment. But we have had ample moisture anyway, so moisture should not be an issue at the moment. I think they are still dry in the Harris/Pine City area.
 Aside from that, everyone should be experiencing a nectar flow right now. If the hive has a good population, the bees should be filling the top brood box and into the supers with nectar.
 If the bees are not putting nectar into the supers but are filling the brood area with nectar, and there is no brood, your bees may have swarmed and if you did not remove any capped queen cells in the last two to three weeks, there should be a new queen laying soon. You may have to move some frames to another hive to get some relatively empty frames, to give the queen some room to start laying.
 If your bees are still in one or two deeps and they are not drawing out much comb. You could have had some queen issues along the way. The hive may not have many foragers yet. You may have to feed the bees some sugar water right now for the bees to draw out comb.
 Some strategy's to use for supers:
  • If you are running out of supers, use a deep for a honey super
  • Hives getting too tall? Take full supers and put them on top of colonies that are not producing. Move the supers bees and all. This will give the weak hive an increase in bees. (Don't worry about fighting. Smoke the bees a little and they will be fine. House bees in supers are 12 - 17 days old and easily accept other bees.)  The bees will take care of the honey. Do not take off supers and store them off the hive somewhere. The honey will absorb the high humidity that we are experiencing and will cause the honey to eventually ferment. 
  • New supers and nothing happening? Remove the queen excluder until the bees start making some comb on a couple frames then put the excluder back in.
  • Put new undrawn supers on top of the top brood box, then drawn supers on top of them. Drawn supers can be just stacked on top of the hive as needed.
  • Supers go on two at a time during the early part of the nectar flow.
The nectar flow should stay on track for awhile. Nectar flows are unpredictable and beekeepers are never sure how much honey is going to come into the hive. But staying ahead of the bees with empty frames can kick in the bees hoarding instinct. When bees have space in front of them, the bees will try harder to fill that space. If the honey space is full, the bees may stop collecting. I always like to pull off a partially filled top super at the end of the nectar flow instead of one packed full. I know with the partially filled super, I got all the nectar that the hive could produce.
 Keep ahead of the bees, the nectar is flowing, it will be a great thing if every super gets honey in the frames.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Solar Production for the month of June

 This is our solar production for the month of June. June is the month with the highest solar production of the year. This month was our highest monthly production since we put in our solar system. 2500 KWh (2.5 MWh) is almost three times what an average home in the U.S. uses per month (800 - 900 KWh). I publish this monthly solar update to prove to people that solar works.
 We have 50 solar panels for a 16.5 KWh system. So for an average, each panel made 50 KWh over the course of a month.
 If you ran a smaller system, with similar panels, you could figure out a possible solar output for the month of June using these numbers. But it all depends on how much sun per day and angle of the panels. The production of solar power can vary by many factors.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

My Nectar Flow and Adding Supers

 I am having a great nectar flow in my beeyard at my house. I checked my eight hives here today. Six of the eight needed supers. I have all the supers I own on the hives right now. I wanted to put two more supers on all the hives that needed them, but I need to get some more supers from Nature's Nectar LLC. The hives will get more supers later in the week.
 The hot weather will get the nectar flowing all this week. Keep ahead of the bees. It is still June, if the weather gives us some more rain, this nectar flow may turn into something big.
 I have stopped looking for swarm cells. When the supers start getting heavy, that is the limit. Usually the swarming behavior wanes during a good nectar flow. It never goes away, but neither does a sore back.
Good population of house bees storing nectar and making wax. New white comb is being built on all the frames. With the big population and warm weather, the bees are occupying all of the frames. Doing the business of bringing nectar from the field bees at the hive entrance. The house bees will bring the raw nectar and put it into the comb. The house bees will dehumidify the nectar ripening it into honey. Then cap the full cells of honey with beeswax. Quite a lot of work for bees that are 12 - 17 days old.

When adding new frames and foundation, always put the new box closest to the brood boxes or on top of the queen excluder
the new box of frames is on top of the queen excluder, the super which was quite heavy but not finished yet, goes on top.

Another strategy: Put new undrawn frames in the center of a box with drawn frames

Or, put one frame of drawn comb in the center of the new frames

The beeyard is getting taller. I ran out of supers. The hives should all have one more super on top.

Friday, June 26, 2020

hot weather

We will be having some hot days over the next five to seven days. The hot days are very beneficial for nectar production. Bees can forage earlier and longer during these days. Warm days and warm nights make the Basswood flow.
  Make sure you are checking your supers once a week. If there is a good nectar flow and your hive has a good population, the bees can draw out fill and cap a super in a week. A hive with supers with drawn comb can fill and cap 1-1/2 supers in a week. This is why we need to put supers on two at a time during the first three weeks of the main nectar flow.
 Stay ahead of the bees, this is how you get more honey. If the hive gets full of honey and the supers are not being put on ahead of the bees. The bees will stop collecting nectar.
 The next month is the payoff month. Everything beekeepers have done to manage their colonies is happening now.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Nectar Flow

Basswood tree in bloom. When the flowers open up, the pungent odor of the nectar fills the air.

Little white flowers on the Basswood tree. Notice the light lime colored leaves. When these light lime green leaves open that exposes the flower heads. My Basswood trees this year do not have any of these as of yet.

 I think most of us are experiencing a nectar flow. It may or may not be intense.
 I talked to a beekeeper that lives near me north of Stillwater, he has one super being capped and was adding another super that had foundation. He wanted to know the best way to put it on the hive. I suggested that the undrawn new foundation should go on top of the queen excluder and his box of honey that is being capped be put on top. He could also take one frame from the top super and switch it to the bottom box to bait the bees into the new box of frames.
 Basswood trees have been blooming in St Paul and in Stillwater that I have observed. My Basswood trees have not dropped any seed pods and at the time of this post, I do not believe that my Basswood trees are going to produce anything this year. I am not sure if this is just at my place or if this will be widespread. Basswood nectar is what usually gives beekeepers large crops of honey. Without a good Basswood flow our honey crops tend to be on the smaller amounts. Sometimes Basswood flows can be localized and sporadic. Too early to tell yet. 
 White Sweet Clover (WSC) is beginning to bloom. I did see some blooming WSC on the 694 freeway. Roadways and cities usually are area's that bloom first so soon WSC should be blooming everywhere.
 Don't fret yet. Sometimes the main nectar flow starts with a trickle, then turns to a torrent very quickly.
 I think another week should tell the tale of how this flow will develop. I am hoping to see the nectar gate will lift up fully.
 My supers in one yard were getting nectar into the boxes. I am going to check them in a day or two and give another report, so stay tuned.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Varroa on an untreated overwintered colony of bees UPDATED

 My friends overwintered bees died. He treated them but never did a mite check to see if the treatment worked. Possibly the bees came out of winter with a high mite count. Even though he treated for Varroa, the hive still died. The treatment  probably was too late to save the bees. He went to look at them a week ago and all of the bees were gone. This is a symptom of Varroa. One week the bees look great, the next week there are no bees in the hive. Sometimes there is a small cluster of bees with the queen left.
 If you have an overwintered hive and you have not done a mite check, I strongly urge  you to do so now. It might even be too late to save some of them. But by mid July, untreated overwintered colonies may be empty of bees.
 One of the only mite treatments that can be used during a nectar flow is Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) or Formic Pro. Both of these treatments are Formic Acid. They cannot be put on if the daily temperatures exceed 85 degrees F. during the first three days they are on. But the honey supers can be on when using this type of mite treatment. MAQS is a seven day treatment, Formic Pro is a fourteen day treatment. When you put formic on, you should not have messed with your bees for three days. Meaning, if you looked at your bees, pulled some frames, did a mite check etc. The hive should be closed up and the formic should be put on three days later. If you put the formic on immediately after you dug into the hive, jumbling up the bees, you can have a greater mortality to the bees.

Monday, June 15, 2020

What is happening now in the hive

We have now crossed mid June today. Flowering plants are starting to be seen in large numbers. Yellow Sweet Clover is blooming all around the metro area.
White Sweet Clover, this is one of our main nectar plants

Yellow Sweet Clover, this plant is not our main nectar plant. 

 Yellow Sweet Clover is not our best nectar plant in the eastern part of MN and WI. Yellow Sweet Clover seems to produce more nectar in drier environments, like western MN and the Dakota's, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.
 White sweet clover will be blooming soon. I do see it growing in the ditches.
I would think in the next 10 days the main nectar flow will be coming on strong.
 If your hive hasn't finished drawing out the last deep box, it probably will be too late to do a reversal. If your top box is very heavy with honey, DO NOT do a reversal. This box will be the hives winter stores. If the hive's top box is pretty much finished and the box is not full of honey you can do a reversal.
 Everyone should be putting on their honey supers now. If the honey supers are all foundation, I usually put the supers on without a queen excluder at first. Check the supers every four days, once there is some comb being built and some nectar in the cells, then put your queen excluder on.
 Supers go on two at a time. If you have drawn out supers, just set them on top of the queen excluder.
 As supers fill up, drawn out supers can just be stacked on top of the supers that are partially full or full. Stay ahead of the bees. When the second super is getting honey on a few frames, it is time to add two more supers. Stay ahead of the bees in the first half of the honey season. When it gets to be around July 21st or so, the honey may be slowing down a bit and the supers may not fill up as fast.
 When putting on supers with undrawn foundation, these new frames have to placed just above the queen excluder. If you place new frames on top of other already drawn supers, sometimes the bees won't touch them.
 The queen excluder debate: Some beekeepers call queen excluders honey excluders. Some beekeepers say when they put on queen excluders they never get any honey. The truth of the matter is, many times when this has happened to a beekeeper, the reason no honey goes into the supers is because their hive has swarmed and they don't realize this has happened. I know a commercial beekeeper who runs 5,000 hives. He has queen excluders on every hive. I can honestly say that if he would get more honey without queen excluders he would not use excluders. He has to clean the excluders every year, this costs him money to do this, so he does see value in using excluders.  So he does use them and has huge honey crops most years. This is his livelihood. So he will use whatever works best for him.  
 Get your supers on. Our hard work of starting the bees and doing all the management is about to pay off. The honey flow is about to start any time now. As Basil Furgala said, you can't make honey if your supers are in your garage.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Put my supers on

 Put my supers on everything today. Hot in the bee suit. The bees did appear to be bringing in some nectar.
 There are some nectar producing plants blooming right now. I saw Birds Foot Trefoil and Clover blooming in the ditches. Someone told me that they saw some yellow sweet clover just starting to open up.
 If everything keeps moving forward like this the main nectar flow should start in around 10 days. The cold spell coming after this heat may slow it down some. But I think 80's will be back in a week or so.
Super ready to put on
I keep the supers wet from last year. The bees get rocking right away. There is no hesitation moving up into the supers, unless the hive has swarmed.
Supers on the hives. I did mow down the grass after I took this pic.

The Yellow flower is Birds Foot Trefoil. The Reddish white flower is clover

Swarming and the weather

Huge swarm, close to the ground. Easy to catch

Swarm cells can be anywhere. Always look down on the top bars for swarm cells.

Capped and uncapped swarm cells
Swarming has really kicked into high gear. The warm weather, high bee populations and tomorrow will be in the 90's. All of these can lead to the production of swarm cells.
 The only way to beat swarming is by checking your bees weekly for swarm cells. If you aren't checking for swarm cells in all the boxes every seven days and the timing gets longer than that, a swarm can happen. All the boxes need to be checked. Any uncapped swarm cells should be removed. If you come across capped swarm cells you may have been too late and the hive has already swarmed. Don't remove capped swarm cells. That may be your new queen.
 The result of a hive that has swarmed is no eggs or young larvae. As older house bees come of age for foraging, it is very common that the brood box will be packed with nectar. A swarm hive queen won't start laying eggs for about three weeks. In that time the bees may fill the open cells. Now the beekeeper may have a dilemma of a honey bound hive. The only way to fix this is to spread nectar bound frames to other colonies or to extract the nectar to give the queen a whole deep brood box for laying eggs into.
 Everyone should be removing their entrance reducers by now. The bees need ventilation with the increased hive populations.
  Supers should be on all overwintered colonies.
 Package colonies, once the bees have finished drawing out their brood boxes, the beekeeper should do a full reversal. Top box to the bottom, bottom box to top. The reason for this last reversal is to bring frames with pollen to the top. The bees will fill these pollen frames and empty brood cells with honey for their winter stores. Next February when the queen starts laying, as the bees consume honey in the top box, the bees will expose pollen. This pollen will be used for feeding larvae. If the bees don't have this pollen, production of brood may be delayed.
 If the new hive finishes their top box more towards the end of June it may be too late to do the reversal. If the top box is very heavy with honey, do not do a reversal. It is too late, the bees have filled the box with honey and that is the bees winter honey. To supplement pollen on these colonies, pollen patties should be put on these colonies around the third week of February. Normally pollen patties are put on colonies around the first of March.
 The nectar flow is right around the corner, keep the bees from swarming and there should be some honey in the supers.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Solar power generated in the month of May

It was a good solar month. 2300 kilowatts. More than twice what we would normally use. The excess power was sold back to the grid and Xcel energy.
 The best day was 115 kilowatts. The worst day was 12 kilowatts.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Hot humid weather coming

This hive is hot. The bees are bearding under the bottom board. This is normal.
This hive is overcrowded. The hive needed a second brood box two weeks before this pic was taken. This is a swarm waiting to happen.
I noticed hot and humid weather coming this week. So I went out on Sunday to work my hives. I removed all of my entrance reducers on all my colonies except two colonies that were still a little weak in population.
 Several package colonies needed food, so I fed ProSweet. All of my hives are two deep right now.
 All of my package colonies needed pollen patties. The fruit bloom is pretty much over. In some areas the available pollen has dropped considerably. There may be a dearth of pollen for a couple weeks. Making sure hives have pollen right now will keep the hives moving forward. Package bees, while their  population is increasing, many of these hives still do not have a strong field force. There may not be sufficient foragers to supply the pollen needs of the hive.
 Having entrance reducers in right now, in hot humid weather, can get swarming behavior to start up. The entrance reducers prevent the hive from properly cooling their hive. A hot hive is the same as overcrowded conditions.
 It is normal on hot days that bees will be hanging outside the hive. Sometimes the bees hang in a clump under the entrance of the hive or the bees can be covering the front of the hive. This does not mean that the bees are swarming. The bees are just hot.
 Adding a box of drawn comb either a deep or a medium honey super is a way to add room for the bees. A box that is filled with all undrawn foundation is not room. The bees will not occupy the boxes very well. A box of undrawn foundation will not solve overcrowding.
 Switching colonies works great for preventing swarming and helping overcrowding. I show how to switch colonies in the previous post video.
 Keep up weekly hive inspections. Remove uncapped swarm cells.
 The main nectar flow is less than a month away. Keep the bees from swarming and the benefit will be a nice crop of honey.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Making a weak hive into a powerhouse hive

I had queen issues with one of my package bee hives. I caught the problem a little late. The hive did get depleted with bees, but I requeened anyways. On later inspection I noticed it only had two frames or so of bees. I knew the hive was too weak and would never build up unless it had an intervention of more bees. This video shows what I did to:
  • Make a weak hive strong
  • Make a strong hive a little weaker to prevent swarming
  • Some different methods explained i.e. newspaper method
  • Switching colonies
  • Moving a divide to another colony
Tom from Nature's Nectar LLC assisted me in doing all these moves. This is advanced beekeeping. Seeing a couple problems and making moves to address the problems with positive outcomes on all of the issues presented. This all comes from experience and the confidence in knowing what is happening in the hives and problem solving. As time goes on beekeepers never stop learning. I hope my moves are something that you can put into your bag of tricks.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A Tractor Carryall For Hauling Material

I saw this carryall on a YouTube channel. The two part series made making the carryall was very easy to build. The video series described all the steps of making the carryall.  There are links to the carryall build in the description of the video on YouTube. The carryall cost less than $500.00 to build.
 I was looking for a way to haul materials such as bee equipment with my tractor. I have used pallets on my pallet forks, but on uneven terrain, sometimes the load will fall off the pallet.
 This carryall brings a multi use attachment that is easy to take on and off. You can see in the video all of the yard debris being hauled in the carryall and the attached trailer. Side doors that open and close can support stacked bee boxes so they don't tip over.  
 The carryall can easily haul what my tractor can lift. That is around 2000 lbs. I will be able to pull my honey and carry 16 supers without any difficulty. Also. when I go back to my beeyard  I can bring more supplies with me whether I know I need them or not. This will save me trips back to the barn.
 My tractor is a John Deere 3046R. I can't say enough about the work this tractor has saved me.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

What's happening now

Swarm cells can be anywhere. This was a queenrite colony. This swarm cell is on the side of a frame. It is not a supercedure cell.

Remove the queen cells before they are capped. When the swarm cells are capped, that is usually the time when the hive will swarm.

Swarm cells can be built on the top bars. Don't forget to smoke the bees down and look for swarm cells.
The fruit bloom is still going on around my place. Apple trees still have a good amount of blossoms. But the fruit bloom should start waning soon. I think we are 7-10 days behind our normal growing season.
 Bees are still able to find ample amounts of pollen. This may change after the fruit bloom is done. There is usually a dearth in pollen for a couple weeks after the fruit bloom. I usually put pollen patties back on around the last week of May. I give each one of my hives a 1/2 a patty. Pollen is usually widely available again by around June 10 - 15th.
 Package bees should be ready for a second box by now if you haven't put one on yet. When the bees are working on eight of the ten frames, it is time to add a second box. If you are drawing foundation, you need to keep feeding syrup until the bees have finished drawing out the comb. It takes the bees a month to finish their first box, about another month to finish their second box, if you are doing three deeps, the bees will finish the third box in about ten days.
 Populations in beehives continue to grow. But so does mite populations. If you have an overwintered colony and have not treated for mites. You really need to do a mite count. Mites build up in populous hives over time. Failure to do this will have a negative outcome on the colony. Hives that have high mite counts now, will usually be dead by mid July, or so damaged that they will not survive.
 Swarming is an issue that is affecting strong colonies. This humid weather and scattered storms keeping bees in the hive, is an incubator for swarming behavior to take hold. Beekeepers need to be going through their hives weekly looking for swarm cells. Removal of swarm cells is critical or your honey flow will be up in a tree. Switching strong colonies with weaker colonies is a great strategy to employ, like I did to my colonies in a previous post.
 We are about a month away from the start of the nectar flow. Keep the bees from swarming and give them all of the resources they need. The payoff for our hard work is coming soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

What I did in my beeyard today

My beeyard at my house.
I went out to my beeyard to manage my five package bee colonies and three overwintered colonies. I had no one to run the camera so I will try to explain without being too confusing.
Hive 2, 5,6,7,8 were package colonies. All of the package hives were ready and received their second box. All of my equipment is drawn comb. I did have to feed hive 5.
Now the tricky stuff.
Hives 1 and 3 were overwintered colonies and were quite strong. Hive 3 had some capped swarm cells in the hive. So this is what I did.
  •  I took hive 1 that was crowded with bees and switched it with hive 2. I physically moved both hives. This will weaken the strong hive 1 and hive 2 will get stronger. By switching the hives, the field bees on both hives will fly to go forage. Even though they left from a different locale, they will fly back to where they thought they lived. So hive 2 will get hive 1's field bees which were more than hive 2's field bees. Hive 1 gets weaker but hive 2 gets stronger. Now with more bees, the queen in hive 2 can expand her brood laying area. Hive 1 gets weaker and probably has lost all desire to swarm because the number of field bees in hive 2 was much less. By moving the two hives I addressed possible swarming and helped a package of bees increase their numbers. Both hives will build up nicely for the nectar flow that starts around June 21st.
  • Hives 3 and 4. Hive 3 was a strong overwintered colony that I found some capped swarm cells in it. Hive 4 was a weak overwintered colony, that may have been weaker than some of my package bee colonies. I did the same thing as before, I switched hive 3 with hive 4. Moved the entire boxes, hive 3 boxes went to hive 4 location and hive 4 boxes went to hive 3 location. Also, hive 3 was very strong, I did take four frames of capped brood out of hive 3. I looked for a queen, not seeing one, I shook the bees off the frames of capped brood. I put one frame of capped brood in package hives 5,6,7,and 8. Now hive 3 gets weaker from loosing the four frames of brood. Plus with moving to the new location should have lost all desire to swarm, if they haven't done so already. I did mark the hive to look for signs of a queen on my next visit. The package hives 5,6,7,and 8 will now get stronger when the capped brood emerges soon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Solar on a cloudy day

Even on a cloudy day there is solar power being generated. Yesterday it was cloudy all day long. The solar radiation is strong as we get into summer. The solar radiation penetrates the clouds and is used by the solar panels. Granted if it was December, the solar radiation is weak at that time of year and the power generated on a cloudy day is low. On sunny days this time of year, our system that is 16.5 KWH will generate 100 to 117 kilowatts per day, The average U.S. home uses about 30 kilowatts per day. So I am sure I sold some of this excess power to Xcel.
The solar panels yesterday started generating power at about 6 am. Solar power usually peaks between  10 am and 2 pm. Then the power decreases as the sun gets lower in the sky. Power generation is over by 8 pm. As the days get longer, the power will start generation earlier and maintain it later into the evening.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

How to speed up the drawing out of wax on frames on a package of bees

This video is how I manipulate frames on package bees with new foundation. This also works for any hive that is making comb on new foundation.
I have seen hives draw out frames slowly and won't do other frames in the box. It is like the hive is stuck and can't move forward. By moving the outside frames near the brood nest, either turning a frame around or moving a new frame next to the brood area, helps a hive move forward and it is little easier on the bees. I was working with Tom from Nature's Nectar LLC, my voice is muffled due to my mask that I was wearing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The warm weather is coming, look out

Warm weather will be moving into the upper Midwest by Friday. Seventies will be the norm for highs for the foreseeable future. Long term temperatures according to my favorite weather forecaster, has upper eighties possibly for Memorial Day weekend.
 It looks like spring will come roaring back. For farmers and gardeners the warm weather will bring planting and new growth coming up through the soil. For beekeepers, LOOK OUT overwintered colonies will be swarming.
For overwintered colonies divides should be happening if you have eight frames of brood and bees.
 Also, Mites are also a concern on overwintered colonies. Mite checks should be done NOW, on all overwintered colonies. Mites counts will start creeping as we move towards June. Failure to check or treat for mites soon, may result in your hive going south by July.
 If you want to treat for mites right now, it is a good time for Formic Acid. If the formic can be put on soon, before it gets too warm. Using MiteAway quick strips would work well on strong colonies. The treatment period for Miteaway is seven days. Formic Pro, the treatment schedule is two weeks. With the Miteaway, the hive could be treated and a divide done right after the treatment is done. But swarm control should be in effect on all strong colonies.
 The fruit bloom has slowed down with the of cold weather that we have been experiencing. New colonies have also been slowed because of the cold. Bees have been having a hard time expanding their brood nests. But now with the warmer weather, new colonies should pick up the pace of their spring development. With the warmer weather, nectar and pollen should be coming into the hive at a much greater rate.
 Watch your hive population, keep up swarm control, watch the mite count, divide as needed. The cold weather is in the rear view mirror now, moving forward with a big colony, the main nectar flow is a little over a month away.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Fruit Bloom and Spring Divides

Wild Plums in bloom. I love to stand out in the thicket of Plum trees and smell the fragrant flowers and listen and watch the bees work the blooms. A simple pleasure.
The fruit bloom has started around the Mpls and St Paul area. I was driving down Hwy 36 today and noticed Wild Plum trees in bloom. I have Wild Plums at my place and they have not started to bloom yet. The Wild Plum trees on Hwy 36 were south facing and in full sun. Perfect ingredients for an early bloom. This is the beginning of what I call Ice Cream time for the bees. There soon will be an explosion of flowering trees and bushes. This will last about three weeks, then there will be a dearth of pollen for about two weeks. So, pollen patties should go on the hives around May 21st.
 This is also the time when spring divides happen. Some beekeepers have been dividing their colonies already. But for most of us, spring divides usually happen during the fruit bloom. The timing is perfect if your hive is ready to split. Ample pollen coming in and a nectar flow from all of the flowering plants.
 If you are unfamiliar or need a refresher on how to do a split, here is a great link to Gary's home page. He has a nice graphic and describes the divide process.
How to do a divide
Things to remember about doing a divide
  • Do not let the bees try to make their own queen. It is too early in the spring for honeybees to make a queen reliably. You can't make queens reliably in MN or WI until about June 10th. 
  • Do not do a walkaway split. All that is, is a waste of good brood this time of year.
  • Use the queen excluder method and wait four days to divide,  that is how Gary explains in his How to Do a Divide pdf. 
  • Shaking the bees off the frames and let them crawl up through the queen excluder would not be your best method this year. The weather may be too cold for this method. The bees may be clustered if it remains cool. The bees may not move to cover the brood quick enough. The brood may get chilled and die. 
Spring divides are necessary on strong overwintered colonies. If the bees are strong today, they will swarm in the near future and you can look at your surplus honey hanging in the tree. There are people that will buy divides if you have too many bees. Nature's Nectar LLC buys divides.
 If you have a strong overwintered colony and a spring package that you started. A great strategy is to do the divide, leave it by itself overnight. We want all the field bees to fly back to the parent hive.  Set a single sheet of newspaper across the top bars of the new package of bees. Put a 1/4" slit in the newspaper. Put the queenless divide on top of the newspaper. Put the covers on the hive. After a few days the hives will merge together and be one happy family. This new hive will become a powerhouse and swarm control will be needed in June. But if the nectar flow is strong, the hive will be a bin buster.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Cool Weather: Why Beekeepers May Need Pollen Patties

We are currently experiencing some unseasonable cold weather for the foreseeable future. Highs in the 50's to the low 60's at best. The cold weather will limit the amount of time colonies will be able to fly. Bees may not be able to get enough pollen through foraging to sustain a colony. It would be a good idea to make sure pollen patties are on all colonies right now.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Laying Workers

I got an email from someone concerned about laying workers in their hive. So here is the quick scoop on laying workers.
 A hive that has been queenless for a long time can turn into laying workers. Laying workers are workers (unfertilized females) that start to lay eggs. What's that you say "only the queen (mated female) can lay eggs".
 Here is how it all happens:
 In a queenrite hive, the queens pheromone that gets spread around the colony, the pheromone inhibits the development of ovaries in the worker bees. The pheromone is present around the hive and in the brood. When a queen dies, and there is still brood in the colony, the workers ovaries will still not develop. Once all the brood has hatched out, the queen pheromone will decline. This now can lead to the workers ovaries developing and the workers can now start to lay eggs. The symptom of laying workers is the beekeeper will see multiple eggs in cells. Maybe 5 to 8 eggs in a single cell. With several laying workers laying eggs there will be many cells looking like this. The eggs will be laid willy nilly in the cells. Having said this, don't be confused if you see this with a new queen. A new queen may lay multiple eggs in some cells. But she is new and needs a couple days to get her act together. She usually settles down and gets down to business laying eggs properly. One egg per cell attached to the back wall of the cell.
 To stop this laying worker development, measures need to be addressed.
 When doing a hive inspection and you don't see eggs and larvae in the cells on the frames, you may still see capped brood. This tells you a couple things, there maybe no laying queen present, either the hive has swarmed or for some reason the queen has perished.
 The first thing you do is grab a frame with eggs on it from another colony. This will do two things, delay the workers from starting to lay because there is still brood in the hive and also, by checking this frame after a few days to see if emergency queen cells are being built off of several egg cells, telling us that the hive needs a queen. (It is usually better to purchase a new queen in the spring, letting a hive try to make a queen in the month of May and early June is very unreliable because there usually is not very many age appropriate drones being produced yet). If no queen cells are being built on the frame, this can tells us that the hive may have swarmed and the bees, unbeknownst to the beekeeper, made a new queen already and is in the hive and will start laying in a couple weeks.
 If the beekeeper does come across laying workers in the hive and there is no brood present. A new queen is needed to save this colony. The way to requeen a laying worker colony is this:
 Do this on a warm afternoon. Take the hive and knock all the bees into the bottom box and leave it one deep, wait about a 1/2 hour. This gives the bees time to get back onto all the frames in the box. Now take the box of bees about 100 feet away. Shake all the bees off the frames and into the grass. Bring the box with the frames back and set it back on the bottom board that it came from. Now all the bees will fly back to the hive. The laying workers cannot fly and they will stay in the grass. I would give them an hour or so, then I would put in a frame of brood and the new queen with a candy plug for a slow release. This usually works, I have recommended this method and the beekeepers who did this, most had success.

Asian Hornets

Asian hornets were found in western Canada and the state of Washington last February or there about. Five Asian hornets can overcome a colony of 50,000 honeybees. Kill the bees then eat the larvae. How widespread they will become is unclear. I am not sure if they have climactic limits, such as cold weather. Here is a video of Japanese honeybees that have developed this resistance to the hornet.

Friday, May 1, 2020


Dandelions are starting to pop open around the metro area. They are about right on schedule for their normal bloom time. Which is usually around the first week of May.
 This is the first widespread nectar flow of the season. Strong colonies can put up a lot of dandelion nectar. Many commercial beekeepers try to time returning their colonies from Texas, California or other points south to right before the dandelions bloom. Returning their hives before the dandelions bloom can save commercial beekeepers thousands of dollars in feed costs. If the commercial beekeepers get back late, they may have to spend the money and feed their bees syrup.
 Strong overwintered colonies should have supers on their hives right now. A good Dandelion flow can put up a super or two of Dandelion honey. Personally I don't care for the flavor of Dandelion honey, but there is a market for it.
 New packages may cut back slightly on their syrup consumption when the Dandelions are out. But, beekeepers need to keep syrup on their hives if comb is being drawn out. New beekeepers with new equipment need to keep syrup on their hives until their boxes are finished being drawn out with wax. Sometimes that can mean feeding syrup until almost mid June.