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, March 28, 2012

Extra Packages

My bee supplier just informed me he can get 300 more packages on the second load delivery truck.
If anyone needs any more bees get back to me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The bees are going to be delayed

I talked to Ray my bee supplier tonight. They have had rainy weather in California. Due to the weather, both of the deliveries will be delayed approximately seven days. He says he will make every effort to get the packages out as quick as he can.
First load will be around April 21st.
Second load around April 28th.
If I get any new information I will post it as soon as I hear it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weather in Chico, California

I have been watching the weather in Chico, California (where our packages come from) for the last two weeks. There has been many days of rain. Extended rainy periods make it difficult for the queens to get mated.It has been my experience when it has rained for many days in a row, the bees may be delayed.
I will update when I know something for sure.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bears are out

This fence was made with welded livestock panels. It will not let a bear through and is electrified. Sometimes a determined bear will try to tunnel underneath it.

It was bound to happen. The first bear call. A beekeeper reported that he worked his bees on Sunday late afternoon. Returned 3 days later only to find 3 hives worth of kindling wood. The bear totally destroyed everything. It is a good idea to make sure the fencers are fired up and al the wire strands have juice in them. I always tell folks if you live where an occasional bear can show up, you might as well pony up for a fence. If you don't you will be buying new hives and a fence.
Right now in the MN Legislature there is a movement being put forth to make the bear the state mammal. I think most beekeepers would not be in the favor of the motion.
MN DNR pdf graphic on electric bear fence. I think the pricing they have in the document is several years old. But the construction is sound and will work.

Where are we at in our beekeeping calander?

I have been thinking where the over wintered hives are at from a traditional year standpoint. Right now our temperatures have been in the month of May area. Beekeepers have reported widespread over wintering success. Many hives are very strong right now. If this weather keeps up, swarming may become an issue by mid to late April. Normally reversals are done around the first of April but, if a colony is packed with bees it may be a good idea to do a reversal now. The week ahead outlook for weather has it still in the 60 - 70 degree range. Many colonies seem to be in the mid April mode.
If a colony is two deep and loaded with bees it may not be a bad idea to add a third box on top for more room. If the box is new foundation, a beekeeper will have to feed the bees for them to draw out the wax comb. Not feeding the bees with foundation on the hive would make the bees do nothing with it. The bees would look at this no comb box as no room and it will do nothing to alleviate crowding. A strong colony will draw this box out quickly. They will store honey in this box from the feed. The quicker a queen moves up into the box to lay eggs the less honey they will store.
This early and prolonged spring build up may make queens that are two years old run out of gas. I have already been hearing about queenless colonies. Hard to get any queens this time of year. For a hive to make a queen and have it properly mated this time of year would be a major crapshoot.
Keeping pollen on the hive, making sure there is enough honey, enough room in the hive for the bees and watching for swarming as it gets into later April is all we can do for them at the moment.

Beekeepers ask EPA to ban pesticide


Monday, March 19, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bees bringing in pollen

bees with pollen on their legs from Farmington area.
photo by Doug Beck

Honeybee die offs - Is this the Smoking Gun?



Many beekeepers have pollen coming into their colonies. Soft maples and pussy willows leading the way. Buds are bursting out of the trees with our crazy weather we have been experiencing. This influx in pollen will be shifting colonies into full gear spring build up. Many beekeepers are reporting having colonies packed with bees.
Long term weather forecast has highs dropping into the high 50's by the end of the this coming week. If the temperatures cool down to the 50's bees will have a difficult time collecting sufficient amounts of pollen to keep large colonies properly fed. Keeping pollen patties on until May will give the bees proper nutrition for a healthy colony.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bees in Sawdust

Photo by Ed Simon

Beekeeper Ed Simon was making hive bodies on Sunday and the bees found his sawdust pile and were foraging on the dust as pollen.

Pollen coming in?

A couple beekeepers told me they saw their bees bringing in pollen.
There isn't pollen quite yet. The bees are going to bird feeders or deer feeders and picking up dust off of the feed. They will get this seed or corn dust and bring it back to the hive as pollen. Bees will also collect fine sawdust in the very early spring. I knew a beekeeper that someone was building a treated lumber deck across the street from his hive. The bees went over and brought back the treated lumber sawdust. The treated lumber had an insecticide in it. The colony died as the result of this.
Pollen may start coming in as the frost leaves the ground. If there are pussy willows in your area watch them for bees working for available pollen.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Package Bee Order Form

Download the Package Bee Order Form

This is a link to my package bee order form.
Remember I don't ship package bees. Pick up Stillwater, MN
This is a pdf document. Download it, print it out, mail it to me.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Winter Covers

This winter is ending rolling right into warm spring days. Normally I leave my winter covers on until late March or early April.
If the weather stays with highs in the forty's the winter covers can be removed.
I don't like to leave the boxes on too long because the sun is getting stronger and will start to beat up the boxes. The sun can melt the wax coating. The coating keeps the cardboard waterproof.
The forecast for the next 15 days shows highs in the 50's almost everyday.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Univ of MN Beekeepers Short Course 2012

Volunteers that helped provide a variety of beekeeping expertise to share with the students
photo by Terry McD

2012 U of MN Beekeepers Short Course 250 Students
Photo by Terry McD

Friday, March 2, 2012

It is time to check the hives

mmmmmmmmm pollen
Leave the wax paper on both sides. Note the patty is placed right on the bees.

It is going to warm up this week. Time to visit the hives to see what condition they are in. It will be in the upper 30's - 40's this week. There is no problem opening a hive when it is this warm. Don't pull frames.
Time to check food stores and hive strength.
  • Hive strength in early March should be at a minimum, four frames of bees. Meaning if a hive is inspected, there would be four frames covered on both sides with bees. When a hives' covers are taken off, there is normally bees spread across the top bars. A little smoke will spread them out, look for the main cluster to see the number of frames the bees are concentrated on. If the bees don't cover 4 frames, a package should be ordered to help the colony increase their numbers. A colony with two frames of bees or less I would consider dead. The numbers are so low they might not build up to a decent colony all season long.
  • If the hive is low on stores and the top box is light with weight I would feed.
  • If the top box is fairly heavy to heavy I would not feed. I don't feed colonies that don't need it. To much feed is bad. The bees will plug up the brood nest with syrup and the queen will have no place to lay eggs. The population will dwindle.
  • Now is the time to start feeding pollen patties. One big patty weighing around a pound. If the colony is average strength they will need another patty in about 10 days. A colony may need 4 patties or more for their spring build up until natural pollen is available. Patty placement is critical. The patty is placed right next to the bees. If the bees are in the lower box put the patty there. If they have to travel at all, even 6 inches. they may not get to it.
Everything that is done or not done in March affects the hive population, honey production, and divides that normally happen in May.