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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Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Movie - Queen of the Sun

This is a new movie coming out Spring 2011.
Double click on the movie for full screen.

I forwarded this e-mail about the movie Queen of the Sun

Here is an up coming event we and the Bee Lab received about an upcoming event:
I am writing you again because i strongly feel that your members will be very interested in this film, and we would greatly appreciate any help you can give to promote it.
We're proud to announce that the new award-winning grass-roots feature documentary "Queen of The Sun: What are the bees telling us?" is being released nationally around the country. Queen of The Sun will be holding it's Minnesota Theatrical Premiere at the St. Anthony Main Theater in Minneapolis, starting March 4th. I am writing because we deeply believe in the work the Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers is doing, and would like to invite you to partner with Queen of The Sun to help raise awareness of the bee crisis. Check out our NEWLY RELEASED trailer.
For the past half-decade, we've faced the alarming reality that bees have been dying out in massive numbers in the U.S. Queen of the Sun is a profound, alternative look at this global honeybee crisis from Taggart Siegel, award-winning director of the grass-roots hit The Real Dirt on Farmer John.
The Real Dirt on Farmer John was supported by a global-network of organizations striving to bring farming back to local communities. Queen of The Sun is also supported by a global community and advocates restoring sustainable agriculture, eliminating the use of pesticides, preventing genetically modified seeds, protecting habitats and restoring a culture in balance with nature.
We would like to invite you to partner with our non-profit, Collective Eye, to support the release of Queen of The Sun in your area and share this important, hopeful and inspiring message to your members and friends. We believe that with your support Queen of The Sun will help educate and inspire people to make positive changes for the environment and their community. (WWW.QUEENOFTHESUN.COM)
With our successful grass-roots theatrical release in Portland, Oregon the community came out, supported by local organizations that rallied behind the film. These organizations bolstered their membership by setting up booths at screenings with information about their activities, introducing the film on select nights, and publicizing the film's release in creative ways such as on their own e-mail newsletters, blogs, websites and facebook pages and in turn it brought awareness to the bee crisis.
Here are a few ways that Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers can be involved:
• Build & inspire community by helping spread the word about the Theatrical Run of "Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us?" through newsletters, facebook, twitter, and any other social media.
• Invite viewers to take action by setting up a table with information about Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers in the theater lobby for before and after screenings and grow your membership.
• Introduce the film on a select night or nights.
• Add us to the upcoming events in your website.
• Sponsor an ad in the local paper that promotes both your organization and Queen of The Sun.
Below is our poster, a press release, and a few short blurbs which can be shared and used for promotional use. Please let us know if you have any questions, concerns or insights!
We would be very honored to partner with the Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers and look forward to hearing back from you soon.
Warm Regards,
Hannah Apricot
"Queen Of The Sun"
Outreach Coordinator
Collective Eye, Inc.
(503) 232-5345
Hello Everyone at the Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association,
I am following up to an email my colleague Alex had sent last week regarding an upcoming film screening/event of QUEEN OF THE SUN: WHAT ARE THE BEES TELLING US? (Tuesday, March 1 @ 7pm). We'd like to know if you or someone from your group would like to attend the screening to talk with the audience about issues raised in the film, your organization, and the state of hobby beekeeping in Minnesota.
As part of the new Sustainability Film Series 2011--a collaborative series with the University of Minnesota's Bell Museum and The Institute on the Environment of films and panel discussions designed to generate awareness, conversation and debate around current issues in sustainability--we will be showing QUEEN OF THE SUN: WHAT ARE THE BEES TELLING US? on Tuesday, March 1st at 7pm at The Film Society at St. Anthony Main Theater (115 SE Main St, Minneapolis, 55414) and also Friday, March 4 thru Thursday, March 9th.
Also, as a non-profit film exhibitor we rely on grassroots marketing to get the word out on our events. With this in mind, we'd like to ask you to pass on a note about the screening to anyone who might be interested in your group or otherwise.
I look forward to learning your disposition toward this opportunity and would be happy discuss this further. You can reach me at this email or by calling 612-331-7563.
Information on all of the participant movies and the panel discussions of the Sustainability Film Series 2011 can be found at http://www.mspfilmsociety.org/sustainability
Kind Regards,
Jesse Bishop
Programming Coordinator
The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul/MFA Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (April 14-May 5, 2011)
125 SE Main St
Minneapolis, MN USA 55414
t: 612-331-7563 | f: 612-378-7750
m: 858-334-3814 | e: jesse@mspfilmsociety.org
About the film:
In 1923, Rudolf Steiner, a scientist, philosopher & social innovator, predicted that in 80 to 100 years honeybees would collapse. His prediction has come true with Colony Collapse Disorder, where bees are disappearing in mass numbers from their hives with no clear single explanation. In an alarming inquiry into the insights behind Steiner's prediction Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? examines the dire global bee crisis through the eyes of biodynamic beekeepers, scientists, farmers, and philosophers. On a pilgrimage around the world, the film unveils 10,000 years of beekeeping, highlighting how our historic and sacred relationship with bees has been lost due to highly mechanized industrial practices.
Featuring Michael Pollan, Vandana Shiva, Gunther Hauk and beekeepers from around the world, this engaging, alarming and ultimately uplifting film weaves together a dramatic story that uncovers the problems and solutions in renewing a culture in balance with nature.
From: Jerome Rossi
Membership Chairman
Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association
9701 10th St NE
Saint Michael, MN 55376-9210
Tel: (763)497-0845
Fax: (763)450-3850

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Almond Trees are blooming

Mating nuc's for queen cells. Many queen producers have thousands of these mini nuc's spread around the countryside near their drone rearing colonies.

Pollination hives in Almond Grove

The Almond trees are blooming in northern California.
What does that mean for midwest beekeepers?
The large quantity of fresh pollen coming into a hive starts bee colonies into high gear producing drones in large numbers. A high drone population is needed for proper queen breeding. When queens are mated they will mate with 8 - 10 drones. If they mate with fewer than this number they may run out of semen and become a drone layer sooner than normal. weather and a high drone population is the key for good queens.
Warm weather is crucial now for queen mating.
Queens usually fly out in the afternoon to be mated. Temperatures in the low 60's is the minimum temperature for successful mating. Cold weather can impact queen delivery to beekeepers and is always the risk bee farmers live with every year.
Queen breeders in California will start grafting larvae for queen production any day now. The demand for queens for a spring delivery is huge in the northern states. California queen breeders make tens of thousands of queens to help satisfy the demand. Most queen producers are sold out of queens before mid December.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A beekeeper checked his hive today

This is normal, dead bees in front, brown snow from cleansing flights. It is not nosema or the hive dying.
John checked his colony today, this is what he saw.
I did look into the hive this weekend. Large (about 5 frames wide) ball of bees and still 4 or 5 frames of capped honey in the top deep. Didn’t intrude more. No condensation or frost on top. The sponges I have on top to absorb moisture are dead dry.

I slid up the metal mouse guard at the bottom entrance and started to scrape out dead bees away from the hive opening. There were lots of active live bees being pulled out as well so I quit. There were some bees flying and lots of evidence of “cleansing flights” ( I love that euphemism…) on the snow. See the pictures attached. I figure that on days like today (Sunday) if I have bees at the hive bottom entrance and at the top in a ball then they have pretty general access to whatever food is in the hive when temperatures allow.

Mite Away Quick Strips have EPA approval

PRESS RELEASE - MAQS Receives Federal Registration in United States

Press Release – NOD Apiary Products Receives Federal Registration for MAQS™

The US beekeeping industry will welcome a versatile new product to the varroa mite control tool box. Mite Away Quick Strips™ (MAQS™) was officially federally registered by EPA in the United States as of February 4, 2011, obtaining the Section 3 registration.

The product will be gradually available over the next few months as production ramps up and pesticide registrations are obtained in each state.

MAQS™ is a formic acid gel strip product. Two strips are placed on the top bars in the brood area of the hive. The treatment period is seven days and can be used during the honey flow at temperatures up to 93 degrees F. No extra equipment is required. MAQS™ achieves up to 95% mite kill and penetrates the capping to destroy the male mite and immature female mites as well as the phoretic female mites on the adult bees.

What caused this?

A beekeeper sent me these pictures in hopes of trying to figure out what did this. I thought a bear at first because of the elevation of the damage. Then looking at the claw marks they seemed small. I am open for a CSI observation.
There were no observable foot prints and a rock was knocked of the top of the lid. Many varmints are in hibernation mode right now so it is hard to put a finger on it. Could it be a Woodpecker? I think a bee would be a tasty treat.
I have been e-mailed a suggestion that it is a Red squirrel tearing off the cardboard cover for nesting material.

Is this a common picture across the state of MN?

An e-mail sent to me.

On 2/13/11 6:48 AM


I went out to check on my hive yesterday and found all the bees had died. I went thru all the frames and found the following:

Nearly all of frames in the bottom box and some of the frames in the top box had capped and uncapped honey on them.
Where the honey had been removed from the frames, there were bees face first in the comb....looking for honey?
One frame had capped brood on it but it had a funny odor.....I don't remember what the AFB frame smelled like from the beekeeping class but that was my first thought.
The rest of the frames did not have that odor. Were the larvae "rotting" as the weather warmed....and not AFB?

A little more background: when I extracted the honey last fall, the deeps were nearly full of brood and two frames ....outside frames....were solid capped honey on one side only. The capped and uncapped honey in the hive now came from the goldenrod and aster during the wonderful fall weather. I did NOT treat for mites or Nosema by choice because, at the time I harvested the honey, I would have bet the hive would not have time to collect and store enough honey....and there was no place for them to put honey replacement if I had fed them.

Conclusions and questions:
The bees could not get to the honey in the hive....prolonged cold spell?
What to do with that frame in question? I was at the meeting on Tuesday and I think someone said they would bring in a frame with AFB.
If it is AFB, is removing the one frame going to be enough?
What to do with the honey that remains in the hive? Leave it there and let the package bees deal with it? Try to extract it?

I did remove the moisture board, put the outer cover on straight and cork the top hole so no critters can get into the hive.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.

My reply:

Most likely your bees starved to death. The cold weather last week and having brood in the colony added up to a colony killer scenario. The bees won’t leave the brood. When the honey was depleted around the brood it was too cold for the cluster to reach out to more frames of honey. This scenario will be common across Minnesota this year. This is why beekeepers need to check their colonies now while there is still time to order replacement bees.
The way the honey was distributed in the colony, you said that the lower box was full of honey? If the bottom box was full of honey it should have been on top of the colony. Bees move up in the winter and never move down. They can starve with 90 lbs of honey right under the cluster.
As far as the AFB, you need to check the frame of brood for AFB symptoms. Capped brood have perforated cappings? Discolored brood? Larvae the color of milk chocolate? Puncture test, does the larvae rope out over an inch?
It more than likely will not be foulbrood, more likely an odor of a dead colony.
If it is not AFB, clean up the loose dead bees, clean off the bottom board. Seal up the hive so it doesn’t get robbed out. If it is not AFB using the honey for a new package of bees should be fine.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Austrailia stops looking for the Asian Honey Bee

I hope this does not make it into the U.S.

Spring is coming

I was out driving this morning and saw my first sign of spring. The willow tree branches have turned yellow. They are very noticeable against the cloudy bleak landscape of early Feb. I did some work outside today and heard the spring Fee-Bee call of the Black Capped Chickadee.
The weather is going to turn south this week. Cold weather is going to blast us again. Not much we can do about it at the moment. Crossing our fingers and hopefully the bees are on a good frame of honey to make it through the cold snap.