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, December 3, 2016

Winter Patties

Now is the time to put winter patties on the hive. Winter patties are an emergency food that can save a colony from starvation in February. The patties can be put on now, when it is easy to get to the hive. Winter Patties are emergency food and will not keep a colony alive that has four frames of honey in the hive right now.
 Winter patties are basically sugar. What happens in February, the queen starts laying eggs. The bees will keep the brood around 96 degrees no matter what the outside temperature is. The bees feed the brood and consume honey to keep the brood warm. So the consumption of honey increases. As the bees deplete honey around the brood, the bees will move out further away from the brood to get at more honey. The brood never moves, so the bees may have to move one or two frames away from the brood to full frames of honey.
 Now if it gets cold in February to near zero or below for two to three nights, the cluster of bees contract into a tighter cluster to keep the brood warm. The bees now in a tighter cluster, pull off the frame of available honey. The cluster is producing heat and feeding the brood now have no food. If the cold snap lasts a couple days, the colony can starve because they have no food.
 By having winter patties on the top bars of the top box, the cluster can reach this sugar and have feed during this cold snap.
Winter patties are a good investment that can save a colony and save on the purchase of more bees in the spring.
Winter patties are put on in pairs, I usually check them on February 1st and also before a February cold snap to see if they have been consumed and add more as needed. A hive can be opened in the winter to check on patties. This will not hurt the colony.
Patties are $2.50 each, a 10 lb box is $20.00. They also come in a 40 lb box.
Winter patties are put on in pairs on the top box right under the inner cover. They look like a pollen patty, but they contain mostly sugar and will not stimulate brood production.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Making Creamed Honey

This time of year I always make several batches of creamed honey. I give them away for holiday gifts to friends and family.
 Creamed honey is easy to make. The people you give it to will be amazed with the different type of honey. Many people have not even tried creamed honey.
Creamed honey is basically granulated honey. Use honey that is liquid and is free from all granulation. Honey is warmed to about 95 degrees and a good quality creamed honey is added for seed. The fine granulation of the store bought, good quality, creamed honey is the basis for the final product. Over a period of ten days to two weeks the honey will granulate by replicating the fine crystals of the store bought creamed honey. Put the fresh batch of creamed honey in a place that is around 57 degrees. A cold concrete floor works great. This temperature is perfect for honey granulation.When it has "set" the honey will be very firm. Creamed honey spreads like butter. Nothing better than a toasted English muffin with butter and creamed honey for a great winter breakfast. 
 Use one pound of creamed honey per ten pounds of liquid honey. If making cinnamon creamed honey, add 1/8 cup cinnamon powder per ten pounds honey. Don't mix in the seed if the honey is too warm. The seed crystals may liquefy and the process will not work. After I mix up the seed and honey, I put it outside for a quick cool off before the seed can melt.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Covering Hives

Now that winter is back. It is not imperative to cover hives right away. If you can do it now, great. The bees are ok in this weather. But the hives should be covered in the next week or so.
There is a snow storm on the horizon for Tuesday. You never know if we are getting an inch or a foot. So watch the weather.
I hope the beekeepers in the central and northeastern MN got their hives covered. They did have a couple days notice of impending winter.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How do we get reinfested with mites

This colony was treated in August with Mite Away Quick Strips. The hive had a low mite count after treatment. As fall progressed, the hive was reinfested with mites. The beekeeper treated with Oxalic Acid with a vaporizer. The pic from a week ago was after 2 days, now this pic from the same hive, is the mite drop after 9 days. You can see the mite drop produced hundreds of dead mites that are no longer parasitizing the bees and weakening the hive. Had she not treated, there is a good chance the bees would not have survived the rigors of winter,
A researcher recently was doing experiments on bee colonies. He had colored all the bees in the hive as part of his experiments. The hive had a very high mite count.
 The result was typical, all of a sudden all of the bees absconded. That is the scenario for fall, in a hive with a high mite count. One week the hive looks great and the next week all of the bees are gone.  Most beekeepers have experienced an empty hive if they have kept bees for several years. The question has been, where did the bees go?
 What the researcher found was the bees went to other colonies in a 1.5 kilometer area from the existing colony. He found colored bees in colonies near the hive that absconded. So all of the bees that were full of mites, went to other colonies and brought their mites with them. Now the neighbors colonies are threatened with high mite levels. Areas with many colonies in close proximity, such as Minneapolis, is a good bet for reinfestment of mites.
Now we know one way our  hives are getting reinfested with mites.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Covering Hives

I think hives could be covered at any time now. The weather next Saturday looks like it is going more towards our traditional late November weather. There is snow in the forecast, not sure how much, but that four letter word was muttered by some meteorologists.
 Starting next week we will be having shorter open hours. I will post our new hours then.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


There has been some confusion of when to treat with Oxalic Acid.
 The treatment should be done when it is around 40 degrees at the time of treatment. If it warms up later in the day that is not a problem.
 At 40 degrees the bees are clustered in one area, that makes getting all the bees covered in Oxalic Acid an easier task.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Why we treat with Oxalic Acid in late fall

A beekeeper treated her hive with a vaporizer last Saturday morning. It was around 40 degrees. This pic shows the mite drop two days after treatment. Actually it takes seven days for the full effect of the Oxalic Acid to be seen. But, after two days the mite drop was huge. She did treat with Mite Away Quick Strips in August but her hive was reinfested over the course of the fall.
Now her colony will be much more healthy for winter without the parasites on the bees all winter long.
All the red spots are mites. There are hundreds of them that dropped on the screen bottom board after two days. There will be more after the full seven days after treatment. This hive was treated in August with Mite Away Quick Strips it was reinfested over the course of the fall. The late season Oxalic Acid treatment is very effective.