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 28, 2013

Cleansing flights

Today the warm temperatures will spur the bees to make cleansing flights. The bees will fly out and defecate and fly back into the hive. Many of the bees will flyout and drop in the snow and die. This activity is normal.
 Bees start winter with 50,000 bees and by late February are down to around 20,000 bees. So there is attrition over the winter.
This warm weather makes it easier for the bees to move around in the hive and reposition the cluster. Hopefully they will be ready for the cold blast coming late this afternoon.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Package Bees 2014

 Nature's Nectar LLC will be getting two deliveries of bees in April of 2014.
The price of package bees will rise quite a bit in the 2014 season. Beekeepers can expect the cost of package bees to rise around $15.00 per package.
 The reason for this increase is this:
  • Bulk honey prices in 55 gallon drums have increased from $1.85 per pound to $2.30 lb. There is speculation that honey prices may hit $3.00 lb by spring. I have noticed higher honey prices in grocery stores.                   Many bee producers will be running more colonies instead of selling large quantities of bees. An example: A commercial beekeeper running 1000 hives with a 100 lb average will get almost $250,000 for that crop. More if the price rises and if they have a higher yield. To get a higher yield the simple answer is to have more bees.
  • The price of bulk bees has gone up by 50% from last year. When package bee suppliers shake bees for packages they weaken their colonies. These weakened colonies will produce less honey as they move to other states for honey production.
  • Almond pollination is around $150.00 per hive. Example: A beekeeper with 1000 colonies can expect $150,000 for his pollination contract.
I should have the firm price and be mailing out order forms by mid January.
There have already been many calls for package bees and I expect the demand for the package bees to be very strong.
 To make sure you get the bees and the delivery date you want, order early. Check overwintering colonies in early February to determine their alive or dead status.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Wendy and I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our friends and their families.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Deep Freeze

I hope everyone covered their bees. The cold weather is testing the genetics of the European Honey Bee.
 The European Honey Bee is found on every continent except Antarctica. They are as mid spread as the human race and have proved time and again how adaptable they really are.
 The current cold weather should not be a problem with the bees. The few things that beekeepers do for their bees such as covering their hives, locating them in a windbreak of trees or hay bales, having a young queen that has not gone through a winter yet, treating for varroa in August, and having enough food.
 Having provided these things for the hive will greatly increase the odds of survival of the colony. Take away one or more of the wintering to do's and the odds of survival will be more challenging.
 Honey bees are amazing creatures and their will to survive never ceases to surprise a beekeeper.What a thrill it is when we check our hives in February and find the bees alive and well.
Peeking in February

Sunday, December 1, 2013

New Winter Hours

Our new winter hours are:
Monday - Friday call for appointment after 4:30 pm
Saturday - 9 am - 2 pm

Friday, November 29, 2013

Swarm stand

Now is a good time to look for a deer stand to use as a swarm catching platform. Many outdoor retailers are putting deer stands on sale right now because the hunting season for the most part is over.
 Deer stands work great for a swarm catching platform, some come with ladders to make retrieval easier. Putting a hive box 8 feet off the ground is the perfect height to catch a swarm.
Catching several swarms over a couple seasons should pay for the deer stand with the extra honey a beekeeper could possibly get.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Making Creamed Honey

Every year around the holidays I make a large batch of creamed honey. I give it out to friends, family, and vendors that I have worked with. The creamed honey is always well received.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Doe and Buck

 I caught this doe and buck on my trail cam. Nice short video, great contrast with the snow. Double click on the video for full screen.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Honey Frame

This frame of honey has 2 different types of honey. Notice the irregular line of wax capping. There is a definite line of the dissimilar honey. The color of the wax even changes/

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dirty Honey, Greed and finally justice

This link tell the tale of some honey brokers that broke the law importing banned honey and not paying any of the appropriate duties. Also some of this honey was adulterated and contained some banned substances. The devious methods used helped depress honey prices on a national if not global scale.
 Now with a fair playing field, beekeepers have been seeing honey prices move to a more profitable level.

A tale of Mites and why we need good queen genetics


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fall Feeding

Many beekeepers are feeding their bees right now. The race is on to get the feed on right now before it gets cold. The syrup fed in the fall is 2 parts sugar and one part water, or a beekeeper can feed ProSweet.
 The bees have to convert the sugar water to honey and take the moisture out of it. With ProSweet the bees take it down and put it in the cells on the frame and done. ProSweet will not ferment or granulate. Adding ProHeath a feed additive will make the syrup more attractive to the bees and is a health aide for Nosema.
This time of year two feeder pails can fit above the inner cover straddling the oblong hole. Giving the bees as much feed as the bees can take makes the feeding go faster.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Robbing behavior in bees

I have been extracting my honey and should be getting to the end in the near future. I have had the honey in my honey house for a week drying it down before I extracted it. Most of the honey samples beekeepers have bought to me to test for moisture have had low moisture levels. I have seen some higher moisture levels of honey that has come in late. Most of this hasn't had the time to ripen and beekeepers had to take it off to feed or add mite treatments.
 The nectar flow seems to be over. The bees have switched to robbing any open morsel they can find. A fellow beekeeper and myself hauled about thirty supers out of my honey house to load into a truck. Five minutes with the supers not covered in the back of a truck, a cloud of bees developed in short order.
With any movement of honey, the boxes should be covered or moved quickly. The supers we moved were taken to a beeyard and the supers were placed on top of the inner covers. The telescoping covers were then placed on top of the supers. This way works great for the bees to clean all the supers with no robbing.
Wet supers just placed in a beeyard in the open for the bees to clean up leads to robbing behavior. Once the bees are done with the supers they look elsewhere to rob honey. The bees can turn on a healthy hive and overcome the bees and rob out the honey and kill the bees in the process. A whole beeyard can perish with this robbing behavior.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

What is happening with the bees

The nectar flow is pretty much over for most beekeepers. Dry weather has really dried up the nectar producing flowers. Pulling supers and extracting honey is what is going on now. Getting mite treatments on should be done at the same time. Supers off - mite treatments on.
 Extracting honey, spin out the capped honey and the uncapped honey separately.
The uncapped could have a high moisture content and it is wise to have their moisture levels checked before the honey gets mixed together. The moisture is checked with a small sample of honey on a refractometer. I have one here in my shop and check moisture levels for free.
 Mite treatments:
Apiguard is Thymol gel. It comes in shallow tins. A 1-1/2" shim is needed to raise the roof so the bees can get at the Thymol Gel. One tin is placed on the top bars of the top box. Two weeks later another tin is put on the top bars. Easy to use. Temperatures have to be above 60 degrees to work properly.
Hopguard made from Hops. Cardboard strips drenched in the miticide liquid. Treatment is two strips per brood box once a week for three weeks. Can be used at any temperature. The boxes have to be lifted off one another to put the strips in.
Miteaway quick strips (formic acid) Two strips per hive for one week. Temperatures need to be 60 - 84 degrees. An organic respirator is required to put the strips on.
Apivar  two strips per box for 6 weeks.
Feeding If a colony is short on stores feeding needs to start right away. A beekeepers can't feed with Apiguard or Miteaway on the hives.
When feeding a mineral oil supplement such as ProHealth should be added to the feed. Some beekeepers have been using this to prevent nosema in their colonies.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


Goldenrod is in full bloom around the metro. The Goldenrod in my wife's flower garden has large heavy heads. I swear every pollinator in Washington County is in my yard working the Goldenrod. The bees are loving it.
 A beekeeper stopped in my shop today, he extracted his honey last week. He put his wet extracted supers on top of the inner cover for the bees to rob out any nectar that was left. He went to check on them yesterday and found the bees were putting honey back in the supers. So he had to put the supers back on and he is hoping to get one to two supers of honey off the goldenrod.
Full Blooming Flower Heads of Goldenrod photo by W Kloek

Bee working the Goldenrod photo by W Kloek

MN State Fair Bee and Honey Results


Saturday, August 24, 2013

methods for pulling honey

Using a brush to remove the bees from a super.

Using a fume board with Honey Robber. You can use Honey Bandit or Fishers Bee Quick. All of these work the same. The trick is to pull honey when it is hot out. In my opinion the Honey Robber works the best and is the least expensive. The Honey Robber is offensive to some beekeepers, the Honey Bandit and Fishers Bee Quick are more pleasant (odor) to work with.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Extracting Demonstration

Uncapping Honey

Master Beekeeper Bob Sitko and Beekeeper Mike Wybierla explaining how to pull honey. 
Our annual extracting workshop was Sunday. Fifty beekeepers attended. It was a great time with everyone able to try a hand at uncapping frames of honey, extracting, filtering and bottling a jar to take home. The moisture content of the honey that we extracted was 16.4 percent. Very low moisture.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Goldenrod, the last hurrah

I have noticed Goldenrod starting to bloom around town. It should last around two weeks. Hard to say if it will be a nectar producer or just a pollen producer.
 Right now the nectar flow has slowed around the metro and hopefully there will still be one more super to fill.
 The top deep box should be pretty much full of honey right now. If the top deep only has a couple frames full of honey, supers should now be removed and feeding should start, the bees need to fill the top deep box with feed for the colony's winter stores. Feeding colonies now that are low on winter stores must start now to give the bees enough time to put enough food away. Feed 2:1 sugar syrup, 2 parts sugar to 1 part water heavy syrup or feed ProSweet.  Once the temperatures start cooling off as fall comes on, the bees slow their ability to take down large quantities of feed.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Extracting Workshop

Warren Schave and Master Beekeeper Bob Sitko demonstrate over wintering

Uncapping a frame of honey to extract

We are having our annual extracting workshop on Sunday, August 18th. 1 - 4 pm
This is a hands on workshop.
We will show how to pull honey using various methods. 
 Everyone will be able to uncap honey, spin frames in an extractor, filter and bottle honey.
Also how to treat for mites and prepare a hive for winter.
This workshop is limited to 50 beekeepers, please no children.
Please call and reserve a spot.
No repeats please.

State Fair

Now is the time to get some honey for the state fair. The fair is a great way for beekeepers to show off their product to the general public.
 This year the Ag Hort building is being remodeled and will be a huge draw to the fair goers. Your entry in the fair helps promote the honey industry.
 Your family and friends have patiently listened to you talk about your bees all year. Now it is time to show your stuff at the fair.
Go to the Ag - Hort - Bee competition page. Check out the Ag Hort Bee premium book. Under the Bee and Honey section there are many classes to enter. If you have never done this before there is a novice entry class. I strongly encourage beekeepers to enter. It is fun, you may win a ribbon. Read and follow the directions for the class you are entering.
 An extracting frame of honey, first place prize is $75.00 cha-ching
All the ribbons pay an award and you will have award winning honey, the best in the state.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Nectar Flow Update


The nectar flow has slowed down. There are still nectar flowers out there and the bees are still bringing nectar in. Some areas around the metro are better than others. Some locales the nectar flow is down to a trickle.
 I have heard of most beekeepers have had a very good flow so far and there is still more to come.
 Goldenrod is going to start blooming in the near future. The flow from Goldenrod is always a little iffy. The flow can be very good with one to two supers of honey coming in or hardly any honey in the supers. The Goldenrod flow hits when hives are in peak population and it is about the only show in town. The bees totally focus on this plant for honey and pollen.
You know if Goldenrod nectar is coming in because the bee hives smell like wet sweat socks. While this may concern beekeepers their honey will smell bad, this oder goes away as the honey ripens. Goldenrod honey has a nice mild flavor and is sought out by people with fall allergies.
  There is supposed to be a decent rain tonight. The rain should keep the flow going.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Treating for Varroa with Formic Acid and Hopguard

Treating for Varroa in the month of August is critical for the hive surviving through the winter. Varroa builds up with time. The bees that are being parisitized by the mites are weakened and can become victims of viruses over the winter months, causing the hive to die before spring. Treating in August gives the bees time to go through a couple of brood cycles before winter. The new bees have not been victims of the Varroa parasite and are much healthier going into winter. Treating in Sept makes it harder for the bees to turn out enough healthy bees before winter. Using Formic Acid or Hopguard works great for keeping the supers on and treating for the Varroa mite at the same time. This will let us have the supers on later to take advantage of the Goldenrod flow which will be late, like every nectar flow so far this year.
 This coming weekend is supposed to be cool. This is a perfect time to treat colonies with miteaway quick strips with the ingredient called formic acid.
This is a fumigant that kills Varroa. The cool weather lessens the initial intensity of the vapors. if the weather is too warm it can kill some brood. Miteaway quick strips is a seven day treatment and can be used when the supers are on. The dose involved is the same amount as a food additive and is perfectly safe with the honey supers on. The strips need to be removed if the temperature are going to be over 85 degrees F. the first three days of treatment. The labels says a respirator needs to be worn when using Miteaway qwik strips. Always read and follow the label before using any miticide.
Double click on the video for full size.  Website http://www.miteaway.com/


Photos by Paloma, Mites are in everyone's hive you can see the little red pests on the drone larvae

Hopguard is a miticide that comes from the Hops plant. Hops are used for making beer.
Hopguard can be applied when the honey supers are on. Hopguard is applied with cardboard strips. The strips come in a foil pouch that has the liquid miticide in the pouch. Each pouch has 50 strips. The directions on the label is a little confusing and has led to improper applications.
 The proper dosage is two strips per brood box. One brood box two strips, two brood boxes four strips, three brood boxes six strips. Treatment is over a three week period of time. The strips are put in for one week. Then another set for one week, then one more set of strips for the third week. This kills Varroa through a full 21 day brood cycle.
Read and follow the directions on the label.
A beekeeper that used hopguard and was befuddled by the label. A good explanation and his positive results. http://www.honeybeesuite.com/tag/hopguard/
Hopguard video

Nectar Flow update

Right now I see Spotted Knapweed in full bloom around the metro. Also Purple Loosestrife is blooming in swamp areas. Both of these are noxious weeds and should not be propagated. But having said that, they are both great honey plants. Purple Loosestrife honey is a greenish color and looks like new motor oil. Both plants make nice tasting honey.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Great blog

This blog has good perspective from a new beekeeper. He has had some glitches along the way but was able to get through them just fine. Dealing with a swarm your first year is always challenging but he made all the right decisions.
The pictures are great and add a lot to his beekeeping venture.

Big Honey Crop

This nectar flow is proving to be a big honey crop. I have been talking to beekeepers coming through purchasing more supers. They all have been saying their hives are full of bees and the honey is still coming in strong.
 I do think this nectar flow has some staying power. We are coming up on the second cutting of hay. Alfalfa produces more nectar this time of year than at any other time. The ground still has good moisture and our honey plants are still looking great.
 Here are some pics of some beekeepers hives. Most of the hives started as packages this spring.
photo by T. Hinzie

photo by T. Hinzie

photo by R. Connoy

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

More Than Honey - The Movie

 More Than Honey moves from the Lagoon Theatre to the Edina Cinema and runs from July 19th through July 25th.
After that it is gone.

What's Blooming and the nectar flow

Milkweed, Spotted Knapweed, Vetch, many other flowering plants. The nectar flow is still going strong and seems that it will keep going a while yet. If the honey supers are filling up, put on two more supers and the bees may fill them up.
 Several new beekeepers have stopped in and purchased more supers. They were surprised to get honey their first year. Most beekeepers should be getting four supers of honey or more this season.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

More Than Honey - The Movie 2013

This movie is playing at the Lagoon Theatre in Mpls. It has a very limited engagement. See it before it is gone.

Nectar Flow

We have been talking to beekeepers coming through our shop. The nectar flow seems to be flowing very well with many beekeepers stopping in and getting more supers to keep up with the flow. A beekeeper from Hudson, WI stopped by to get more supers. He says he will need a ladder if he has to put on anymore supers.
  Many nectar bearing flowers haven't even bloomed yet so the nectar flow will last for a while.
Some new beekeepers think that they won't get any honey their first year. This year everyone that has a good population of bees and their bees have not swarmed will get honey. Beekeepers will find that two supers will not be enough and will need more supers to hold their honey crop.
 When looking at supers on a hive, if the bees are in the second box and drawing comb and nectar is starting to get put in the cells, two more supers need to be put on.  New supers with foundation need to put on directly above the brood nest.
 Bees have a hoarding instinct. If there is room to store honey they will work to fill that room. Supering ahead of the bees will give us all a super honey crop.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

White Sweet Clover

I did spot white sweet clover blooming yesterday. White sweet clover is the major honey plant in this part of the state.
white sweet clover

Saturday, July 6, 2013

What's happening in the bee world

Right now every beekeeper should have all their brood boxes drawn out and have honey supers on. We are done feeding syrup.
 Supers have to go on. The bees will plug up your hive with honey and they will not live through the winter if you don't put on the honey supers.
 If the supers are new foundation you might want to hold off on putting the queen excluder on. Once the bees have a little drawn comb and nectar going in the supers the queen excluder can be slipped in then.
 Supers go on two at a time. When drawing foundation in supers they should always go on right on top of the brood boxes. If using drawn out supers, they can be stacked on as needed.
 Stay ahead of the bees, supers can get filled up very quickly. Check them weekly. If one is done and they are working on the second box, throw on two more.
What I see blooming in the ditches, yellow sweet clover, birds foot trefoil, red clover, sumac, Basswoods are just starting.
Everyone should be experiencing a nectar flow at this time.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Swarm Cells

Swarm cells can happen anywhere on the frame. Usually they are on the bottom of the frame, sometimes they are on the top bars, sometimes in the corner of the frames.

Swarm Cells

Swarm Cells on Top Bar of Frame

Swarm Cells On Bottom Bar

Moved some hives today

I moved two hives this morning and put my queen bank hives in another beeyard.
Woke up at 4 am to move the hives before the bees started to fly. I took advantage of the cool morning and all the bees were clustered and not flying. I tried a new product, a moving screen. This screen fit perfect on the bottom board and is easily pulled tight with a ratchet strap. I had the bottom board attached to the deep box with hive staples. So the move went fast and easy with no disasters.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Put the supers on

I was in Chaska at my day job and stopped for gas at the Kwiktrip on 212. They have some small Basswood trees and I noticed the flowers were just starting to open. On the drive home I saw yellow sweet clover blooming everywhere. The nectar flow is coming to hive near you so get ready.
 We need some warm days and warm nights with no rain.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Sold out of queens

We are sold out of queen for 2013.
If you still need a queen, try ohbees.com
This is their webpage.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Last reversal

I was out in my beeyard and most of my colonies that I had drawing comb have finished their job. I now have done a full reversal. Top box to the bottom, bottom box to the top. What this does is it puts the darkest comb on top and the bottom box more than likely has pollen stored in the frames.
 When the main nectar flow starts the bees will fill the new top box of the hive with honey. That will be their winter food stores. The top box now has pollen in the comb. The bees will cover the pollen with honey. The bees move up into the top box usually in January. When the queen begins laying in the top box the bees would have uncapped and exposed the pollen under the honey. The bees will now have natural pollen to feed the brood in February. Also the bees move up on to dark comb much better than new white comb.
 One last note, if a beekeeper goes out to do the last reversal and the top box is very heavy with honey it is too late to do the reversal and the hive should remain as it is.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Catching a swarm

Bob Sitko put a bait hive up under his deer stand. The hive is about 8 feet off the ground. He had frames in the bait hive and used lemon grass oil as an attractant.
Lemon grass oil is also in ProHealth with also very attractive to the bees.
The bait hive was up for around a week. The pictures show it was a big swarm. He took the box down and had to put the bees in a two deep hive right away because there were so many bees.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bloomimg Flowers

I have been working in Chaska lately. The drive to and fro has given me time to scan the ditch for flowers in bloom.
 Yesterday I saw some Bird's FootTrefoil blooming. Today there was a very small amount of yellow sweet clover starting up.
These plants will spread across the metro.
An old adage that the main nectar flow starts 10 days after the first clover blooms
 spotted. That put the nectar flow at least in Chaska at around July 1st.
yellow sweet clover
Supers should be on now or in the very near future.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Bear Fence

 12 volt fencer mounted in a deep hive body.
 The fencer, 12 volt deep cycle battery, solar charging regulator
 Closed up fencer with the solar panel on top. There is a black switch on the front to turn the fence off.
This fencer pegs all the lights on the tester. 7000 volts

Wendy and I spent a morning cleaning the bee yard and restringing some fence wires. I also had to upgrade the gate. So the whole fence got an upgrade. Wendy was working the shovel and rake smoothing the edges of the yard so the fence wires were not touching the ground. We both found where all the wood ticks were hiding.
Wendy and I put in a new bear fencer. It is 12 volt and as I can attest from personal experience, if you touch the fence when it is hot, it WILL HURT.
I swear it felt like 10,000 volts.
This 12 volt fencer puts out 2 joules of power. Most 6 volt solar fencers put out .15 joules or less. More joules means a better shocking experience. This fencer uses less power when it is not weedy. If it gets weedy and the weeds are touching the wires it will still deliver the hefty jolt but battery consumption increases. The 30 watt solar panel keeps the battery charged. A solar power controller stops the battery from overcharging.
I hope this will keep Yogi at bay. I am sure on his next visit, he will be shocked to see the changes in my bee yard. 

Ramblings of whats happening in the bee world

Swarm Cell On Bottom Of Frame
The warmer weather has kicked up swarming into high gear. Swarm control is now on the front burner with hive inspections at no more than 10 day intervals.
Miss taking out a swarm cell and it is Sayonara to the field bees.
Bees have been building up nicely with everyone should have their second box on by now and many beekeepers in three deep hives have put on their third box.
The temperatures are quite warm most everyone should be able to remove the entrance reducers at this time. Leaving them in can help start swarming.
When the boxes that were drawing foundation are done being drawn or close to being drawn out, honey supers should be put on the hive. First year beekeepers who have been told they won't get honey their first year may be in for a surprise this year. Honey supers are put on two at a time. When a nectar flow starts, a hive can fill and cap a super in a little less than a week, if the flow is intense.
Overwintered colonies should have supers on now.
 I talked to a beekeeper who was surprised to have a super of honey already. I commented that he probably lives near a good stand of Black Locust trees and the bees are really bringing it home.
The main nectar flow looks like it is still out two weeks yet.  The farmers in the Stillwater area have just started cutting their first crop of hay. Two weeks later than normal. So Alfalfa should be blooming now. I have not seen any clover blooming yet. My Basswood trees have opened the seed pods and the flower heads are unopened at this time. I think around first week of July for the Basswoods to bloom.
With the delay of the nectar flow the bees have been able to build up stronger than a normal honey year. If the nectar is a decent one, there should be a bounty of honey for all.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Black Locust and Alfalfa

Black Locust trees are blooming across the metro area. Black Locust trees produce very nice honey and the bees can pack it in.
Alfalfa should be blooming now. Farmers should have cut hay around the first week of June. The wet weather has prevented them from cutting the hay. Beekeepers benefit from the farmers misfortune.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


I am temporarily out of queens until Tuesday the 18th.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


over crowded hive
Over wintered colonies had been on a slow build up with many beekeepers not dividing the colonies. Now many of the same colonies that three weeks ago were just ok,  now the populations have crept up and the bees are starting to hang out the front of the hive. This coming week the temperatures will be in the 80's and swarming will kick into high gear.
 There are a few choices for swarm control:
  1.  Divide the colony, make a new colony with a new queen. This will lower the population but a beekeeper still has to look for swarm cells on a 10 day schedule.
  2. Divide the colony, leave the divide queenless for 24 hours. Add the divide on top of a package uniting them with a sheet of newspaper between the boxes. A 1/4" slit is cut into the newspaper. The bees will chew through the newspaper and as the hole gets bigger the bees will start going into each others boxes slowly getting used to each other.This will make the package much stronger and it will probably be a good honey producer.
  3. Switch the strong colony with a weak colony. Move strong hive A to the location of weak hive B. Weak hive B is moved to the location of strong hive A. When switching hives the whole hive is moved. The field bees fly out to forage and come back to where they think they live. The result is the weak hive gets stronger and the strong hive gets weaker.
Swarm control is a must on overwintered colonies. Checking for swarm cells on a no more than 10 day schedule. Entrance reducers should be removed. If a beekeeper is using a Varroa screened bottom board, the slide bottom should be removed. Any colony with a queen over one year old is much more likely to swarm than a colony with a new queen. All hives can swarm, overcrowding, hot weather, no pollen or nectar coming into a colony, poor air flow in a bee yard can contribute to swarming. Now is the time to be diligent on swarm control. The nectar flow is on the horizon probably about three weeks out. This statement sums up swarming. Swarming leads to no excess honey in a hive. Swarm controlled leads to a bumper honey crop.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


The rainy weather has made pollen collecting a challenge for bees. The bees need the pollen to keep feeding their brood. No pollen and the brood can die and the colony moves backwards in colony strength.
This time of year right after the fruit bloom there can be a dearth of pollen available for around two to three weeks. Pollen patty's are needed now to keep the brood well fed and the colony strength up before the main nectar flow hits.
When checking the bees this time of year a beekeeper has to make sure there are enough food stores to get to the honey flow. Usually I pick up a brood box and judge by weight if they have enough honey. A heavy box means they are good for a week, if it is light weight I feed.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I know someone that has some nuc's for sale. Anyone interested call or email me and I will pass on the contact info.


I have heard of 6 beekeepers hit by bears this week. I myself was one of them. I have a yard at a non profit in Marine. They have a seven foot high fence around about fifteen acres. They grow vegetables in this site. My bees have been there for many years. Bears have always been in the area and I have never had a problem. Somehow a bear must have tunneled under the fence and found a tasty snack at my expense. The bear destroyed four of eight hives.
Another beekeeper in south Maplewood also was hit. Bears are out there and if you don't have a bear fence they will happily share your bees with you.
Add caption

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Adding second box

Ready for second box

I was out feeding bees today on my day off. I have about 15 hives from the first delivery of packages. I have not looked at them in a while. All of the hive looked great. I had 5 to 6 frames of brood in various stages (eggs, larvae and capped). The bees were pretty much covering the top bars on all frames. The picture above is a very nice single box with bees covering 8 frames. Time to add another box to give them room to increase the brood nest. The cool weather we have had has made it a little more difficult for the bees to expand the brood nest. This upcoming week has temps in the 70's and lo 80's. This will greatly help the bees.
Looked at some other colonies of mine from the second delivery of packages. They were doing great and should be ready for their second box in about 5 days.
 I went over to a neighbors bee yard to look at his bees. He is new this year and wanted to make sure everything was working.
 I smoked the entrance, lifted the cover, smoked underneath it, removed the cover, smoked the inner cover hole, lifted the inner cover and smoked underneath that. This is how I enter a hive.
At first glance I saw no feeder:
Jim: Where is the feeder?
new beekeeper: I thought I was done feeding.
Jim: When drawing foundation on new colonies you need to feed syrup from the time you put the bees in until the first of July or until the foundation is all drawn out, whichever comes first.
New beekeeper hives were on the second delivery.  His beeyard was very nice, the hives had a custom copper roof that he had built. I looked at his frames that he put together and they looked well constructed.
The hives were set back a little by not feeding and they had not expanded their brood nest because the bees could not make beeswax without the syrup.
One hive was doing ok the second hive was a little better but with some syrup they both should be ready for another box in about 10 days. A little more time and I could tell that they will perk right up.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nature's Nectar Closed Memorial Weekend

We will be closed Memorial Day Weekend. Sat - Sun - Mon
We will be open this Thursday the 23rd 5 - 7 and Friday the 24th 5 - 7
Open again Tues the 28th 5 -7.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The fruit bloom

The fruit bloom has started. The first to bloom around my area are the wild plum trees. They smell wonderful and the bees love the pollen. Flowering crabs are blooming also, I think apple trees around me are a week out for flowering.
Dandelions have finally appeared on my lawn. About three weeks later than normal.
 There will be a great variety of pollen coming in now but after June 1st there may be a dearth of pollen for a couple weeks. Pollen patties may be needed at that time.
Flowering Crab in Eden Prairie


Wild Plums in the ditch in front of my house

Cool Bird

I had the Scarlet Tanager in my bird bath earlier in the week. I have never seen one before live and in color. Thought I would share the pic.
I have also seen but no pics yet, indigo bunting, orioles, humming birds. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

More Packages

The package bees are here and I will start passing them out starting at 8:30 am Friday.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Emergency queen cells

This is what emergency queen cells look like. They could also be called supersedure cells. They are located across a frame with the bees desperate too get a new queen. This was one of my packages that went queenless for some reason. You can see two queen cells look ok the others are puny and would be a very poor queen. Being with this weather we have had. If a queen would have emerged the odds of here getting mated properly would be very low. The cold spring has left very few drones to be had in the hives. It may be mid June before there will be sufficient drones to get a queen properly mated.
I did squash the cells and installed a new queen.
The supersedure queen cells are the elongated cells hanging on the side of the frame. Two look about the right size for a queen, the others are small and would not turn into a good queen.

The Silent Hive?

During the 60's the book called "The Silent Spring" was published. The author Rachel Carson talked about DDT and other chemicals in the environment and how the pesticides were being distributed around the world.
 The American Bald Eagle is the symbol of the DDT fallout. The DDT was making their egg shells thin and the Eagles' eggs were breaking in the nests, their reproduction was dramatically affected by DDT.
When I was growing up in the 60's to see an eagle was a huge event. Since the ban of DDT in 1972, eagles have made a huge come back, and now I see an eagle several times a week.
 The Silent Spring has a line from a John Keats poem "The sedge is wither'd by the lake, and no birds sing." A compelling quote if you substitute bees for birds.
 The author talks of how we as cohabitants of the planet, that we share with all living things. That we can't control the planet to our own exclusive control. Something will break and it is the human race that ultimately will pay the price for this attitude.
The Silent Spring helped launch the conservation movement.
 Is this same pesticide event now happening to bees and to all pollinators?
Is American agriculture creating the silent hive? My readers should stay informed about this issue and draw their own conclusions.
A good commentary in the StarTribune about this very issue is worth the read.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Queen Acceptance

  10 days from hiving a package would be appropriate time to check for eggs.
First delivery beekeepers need to check their hives for larvae and laying pattern.
Second delivery beekeepers should check their hives on or around this coming Tuesday the 14th.  If the queen is not accepted the bees will dwindle. A new queen will have to be introduced to keep the hive going.

you can see the eggs in the cells

 Older Larvae