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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Tuesday, September 2, 2014


As we head into Sept, now is the time to make sure enough there is enough food in the hive. Right now the heaviest box of honey should be the top box. The top box should have at least 8 full frames of honey. The next box below this should have four full frames of honey. If the hive doesn't have this amount of honey feeding should be started immediately.
Waiting to feed can cause a couple problems:
  • As the weather starts to cool the bees become more reluctant to take feed. The risk of not having enough food in the hive becomes greater.
  • Whenever bees are fed, it is considered a nectar flow. A nectar flow encourages the queen to lay eggs and make more brood. Feeding late will keep brood in the hive for another month after the feeding stops. If a beekeeper feeds into mid October to early November, brood may be in the hive into December. The colony will have to eat more of their winter stores to feed the brood and keep it warm. This increased honey consumption can lead to colony starvation in late winter.
 The bees right now will take the honey down quickly because there are many more bees in the hive than when most of us were feeding in the spring. Feeder pails will be emptied in about 3 days because of the higher bee numbers.
 Fall feeding is heavy syrup or 2 parts sugar to 1 part water, or feed ProSweet syrup. Feeding heavy syrup the bees have to take it down and dehumidify to turn it into honey. The advantage of ProSweet is the bees don't have to turn it into honey, the bees take it down and store it in the frames and they are done.
  Adding ProHealth or some other equivalent to any syrup will also help keep down Nosema spores in the bees gut. Nosema is a stress disease that bees can get in late winter and can kill a colony. It is recommended that all colonies are fed two gallons of treated syrup in the fall.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bees on Goldenrod

Bees on Solidago rigida or Stiff Goldenrod   

Photos by S. Paddock
Some beekeepers have been getting some Goldenrod honey. The flow is spotty and not everyone is getting some of the nectar. There are a few varieties of Goldenrod and some varieties seem to produce more than others. Right now in my area the bees seem to be on the Stiff Goldenrod and not so much on the Canada Goldenrod.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hopguard II

Hopguard II is now available for sale in Minnesota

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Treating for Varroa

Now is the time to treat for Varroa. Always follow the instructions on the label. There are several products that can be used:
ApiGuard: Thymol Gel, package treats 5 colonies, shelf life is more than a year. Tin of thymol gel. The tin is placed on the top bars of the brood box. Honey must be removed before application. A 1-1/2" shim must be placed on top to raise the roof. Bees need to be able to get to the thymol gel and need the raised space to get the gel. Very safe easy to apply. Temperature critical. If it is to cool this will not work properly. Temperatures should be in the 70's and 80's. Treatment, one tin for two weeks then add another tin. leave both tins on for six weeks. The slide should be in on any screened bottom boards, all holes plugged and the main entrance left wide open.
 Hopguard II. beta acid made from the hops plant. 24 strips. Treats 12 two deep colonies. easy to use, supers can be left on while treating.
Treatment is two strips per deep. Strips are left in for 14 days. Use rubber gloves when handling. Approved for sale to Wisconsin residents, approval for use in Minnesota is coming very soon.
 ApiVar, active ingredient is Amitraz. This is a harder chemical than the previous treatments and may leave residue in the wax. Very effective. 10 strips per package. Treatment:  two strips per deep. Leave in for 6 weeks. Use rubber gloves when handling.
 Mite-Away Quick Strips. Formic Acid gel pads. Package treats 10 hives or 2 hive treatment package.Treatment, 2 gel pads per hive for seven days. Supers can be on the hive. Temperature critical. Do not use if temperatures are over 85 degrees for the first three days of application. A colony should not be disturbed three days before application. Read and follow all instructions. Use rubber gloves when handling.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mite Away Quick Strips

Next week the temperatures will be perfect to treat colonies with Mite Away Quick Strips for Varroa. This weather doesn't happen very often in August so if you want to treat with Mite Away Quick Strips take advantage of the timing. The MAQS can be put on during a nectar flow with supers on.
It is a seven day treatment.
Here is a link to the United States application page with faq. Read them carefully because putting it on wrong can cause problems in the hive.
I will have them in stock on Saturday.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Refractometer - Is the honey Grade A?

To sell honey it has the be Grade A.
Grade A honey is defined as: it has to taste like honey and the moisture has to be
18.6% water content or less.
 To find out the water content of honey it needs to be measured with an instrument called a refractometer. A refractometer takes a small sample of honey covering the lens of the instrument. Light passing through the instruments lens refracts the light and the result is read on a scale the user sees by looking through the eyepiece.
 My preference is a light reading refractometer with a thermometer for temperature compensation. It is accurate and easy to use. All refractometers need to by calibrated when new and periodically after that. Calibration is done with a sample of liquid that has a predetermined set point and adjustments are made to this scale.
 Some refractometers are digital, some are light reading. There are many scales of measurement in different industries. Beekeepers use a refactometer with a honey scale. With any instrument you get what you pay for. Refractometers range in price from $75 - $400.
 Here at Nature's Nectar LLC we check honey samples for free. Please no more than three samples at a time. Always bring a full container for a sample. The sample should be free of wax and we only need a thimble size for the sample.

Refractometer, the plastic cover is raised and honey is put on the purple lens

This is the scale inside the eye piece. This sample is reading 19.5%. There is a thermometer on the bottom of this instrument for temperature compensation. The thermometer read to take off 1% of the scale reading. So this sample of honey is 18.5% moisture content and is Grade A honey.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Extracting Workshop

We held our annual extracting workshop. The rain held off and it made for a successful event.
Large crowd for the workshop

Master Beekeeper Bob Sitko and beekeeper Mike Wybierla explain how to pull honey

Uncapping frames of honey for the extractor

Spinning out the frames in an extractor