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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Friday, December 26, 2014

Package Bee Prices for 2015

3 lb packages
The package bee prices for 2015.
Your choice of Italian or Carniolan Mated Queen
2 lb packages ........... $106.00 each
3 lb packages ........... $121.00 each
There will be quantity discounts available that will be published on our website soon.
Two deliveries in April.
The first delivery will be 2 lb packages, the second delivery will be 3 lb packages.
There will no longer be a cage deposit.
All cages have been returned to California and we will no longer be taking back cages.
 We will start taking orders in late January.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Year in review

The year started normal with hives wintering through normal weather conditions.
February brought us two subzero blasts. One around Feb 12th and the next in late in the month. The subzero temperatures caused many colonies in the upper midwest to die of starvation. In February the queen is laying and there is brood in the colony. Subzero cold for more than one day can cause the cluster of bees in the hive contract. Many times this takes the bees off available honey, The colony starves trying to keep the brood alive. The hives that survived were strong, well populated hives, weaker hives perished.
 The spring brought us cooler temperatures. Hives that survived the winter were slow to build up.
April brought us the worst weather I can remember in 25 years of keeping bees. The weather was cold, rainy and very windy. This weather pattern was unrelenting for three weeks. It happened at the worst time when package bees were arriving. Many package bees installed on foundation didn't make it due to this cold. The bees could not generate the heat to get food, wax production, and start brood rearing. Most packages installed on drawn comb survived the cold and were chugging along feeding on pollen patties and syrup.
 The cold rainy weather persisted into May. The result was slow build up of package and overwintered colonies. As the weather got better all hives picked up speed and brood rearing kicked into high gear. Hive strength increased with package bees building up normally. Brood expansion had divides happening a little later than normal but the divides had good populations. The increased hive populations were ready for the nectar flow.
 The nectar flow came in later than normal. This turned out to be good news for most beekeepers by giving hives a longer time to build up. When the nectar flow started the early flow seemed the best flow of the season, later flows became spotty and widespread.
 The cold rainy spring weather hurt the nectar flow for most beekeepers in the upper Midwest. Basswood trees developed flower pods but all the flower pods fell off on most Basswood trees before they opened up. There was no Basswood nectar flow this year. The nectar flow in general was very spotty. Poor nectar flows can bring out higher swarming issues as the bees want to leave to possibly better food sources.  Some beekeepers had good crops but most beekeepers experienced poor honey crops. With the poor honey crops beekeepers left their supers on later than normal. Mite treatments were delayed and were put on late for many of us. Some beekeepers lost colonies in October due to high Varroa levels. Hives that looked good in early October then a check in late October saw no bees and the hive full of honey. One word for this Varroa.
 The poor honey crops resulted in low hive weight for winter stores. Beekeepers that noticed this early were able to feed their colonies to get them to proper honey stores. Beekeepers that fed late found it challenging to get enough syrup into their colonies and the result were light colonies going into winter.
 Robbing was in high gear in the fall. Beekeepers feeding their hives finding robbers were stealing syrup and honey faster than they could put it in the hive. Some colonies moving backwards in hive weight due to robbing. Some colonies being overwhelmed and annihilated by marauding robbers. Strong colonies and entrance reducers kept this under control.
Right now strong colonies with a good hive weight are doing fine. There are many colonies light on food and likely will not make the rigors of the winter unless the weather stays on the warm and mild side.
 This report while sounding negative is blunt and to the point, there are some bright spots in the report. Experiance is the road to success. By posting the negative, beekeepers can avoid the pitfalls if similar conditions happen again.
Package bee survival can be greatly improved with one frame of drawn comb. Sugar Syrup can be sprayed into the cells with a hand sprayer. This food will make the package bee survival almost guaranteed. Always checking winter stores in mid August. If there is not enough winter stores then, supers need to be removed and feeding needs to begin. This gives time to get the proper amount of winter stores in the colony.  Beekeepers that wintered strong colonies with good hive weight and treated for Varroa are in great shape to successfully over winter their bees.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hive Temperatures

This is a graph of internal hive temperatures. They are from two hives from Warner Nature Center from Marine Minnesota. Graph by Paul Liedel.
This is a new updated graph.

The outdoor temperatures can do a wide swing of daily temperatures. Where the hives internal temperatures are more steady. It is interesting to note that the internal temperatures are not that far from daily outside temperature highs for the day. It is clear that opening a hive during the day at the high daily temperature does not impact internal hive temperatures.
 The temperature sensors are located in the hive at the moment away from the cluster of bees. As the cluster moves closer to the sensors the temperatures will rise on the graph. The temperature in the center of the cluster is in the 80's right now. When brood is present in February the core temperature around the brood will be in the 90's.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Package Bees 2015

We will be posting my package bee prices in late December.
Start taking orders in late January.
We will be getting the same number of bees as last year. Two truckloads.
The first delivery will be all 2 lb packages.
Second delivery will be all 3 lb packages.
Your choice of a mated hygienic Italian or Carniolan queen.
No cage deposit or cage exchange.
If you have cages from 2014 and you want your deposit back you need to return them to us by December 20, 2014. After that date we will not refund cage deposits or accept cages.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Science of an Overwintering Colony

What is happening in a winter cluster of bees? Beekeepers winter colonies and most of us don't realize the biology of the bees that we are trying to get through the winter. These two links I think explain the what is happening in the cluster and what temperatures are really in the hive. Most beekeepers think if we open a colony in the winter the bees will perish in short order. The graphic clearly shows that the hive temperatures about 9 inches from the cluster, drop to near outside temperatures. The temperatures are in centigrade and there is a Fahrenheit conversion in the charts graphic.
http://westmtnapiary.com/winter_cluster.html  This site has a good explanation of honeybees. Check out the other articles on this website.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Making Creamed Honey

This time of year I always make creamed honey for holiday gifts for friends and family. It is easy to make and it makes a special gift showing off your talent as a beekeeper. It takes about 10 - 14 days for the honey set up so if you want it by Christmas you need to make it by Dec 7th.
Double click on the video for full screen,

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Small Business Saturday Nov 29th

Please remember Nature's Nectar LLC on small business Saturday Nov 29th.
 Sale prices on select items.
9/18 motorized extractor (1 available).................................... $990.00
3 frame deluxe hand crank extractor (4 available).................  $395.00
Pink or Blue hive tools while supplies last ............................      $4.95
All Heavy Duty Cowhide Leather Gloves while supplies last . $20.00
sales tax not included, prices good Nov 29th 2014.
We also have Gift Certificates available.
Open 9-3
first come first served

Saturday, November 22, 2014

California's Drought

This is an article about California's severe drought. This is the main reason why package bee prices will rise about $15.00 this year.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Package Bee Cages

     Our supplier of package bees has decided to discontinue  cage exchange.
This means that we will no longer charge cage deposits for the package bee cages.
We will honor package bee cage deposits for packages purchased in 2014 only.
All refunds will be for store credit.
All cages need to be returned to us by Dec 20, 2014. After that date we will not give out any refunds for cages.
We can accept cages during our open business hours only.
All cages need to be unbroken and clean, free of all debris and syrup.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pics from my trail camera

     I don't hunt anymore but I still love to see wildlife on my trail cameras.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Winter Patties

We are now carrying Winter Patties. A winter patty is the same size as a pollen patty.
Two Winter Patties

The patties contains mostly sugar and a small amount of High Fructose Corn Syrup and Bee Pro pollen substitute. The patties will not stimulate brood rearing.
They are for emergency feeding or to help prevent late season starvation.
 Patties are placed on the top bars of the top box after the bees are clustered in the lower box. Clustering in the lower box usually happens when the daily temperatures are in the 30's. At that point the bees won't eat the sugar patties too early.
Single patties can fit under the inner cover. If more patties are needed, a shim is required to raise the roof slightly to accommodate the increased height. The extra height would require a slight hole relocation on a winter cover if there is one already in the cover. Patties can be stacked on top of each other.
 I would check the hives around the first of February to see if the bees are eating them and add more if needed.
Winter patties cost $2.50 each, 10 lbs $20.00, 40 lbs $60.00

Sunday, October 26, 2014

ProSweet and change in hours

We do have ProSweet available for any late feeding.

Starting November 1st, our hours will be changing.
November hours:
Wednesday 5pm - 7pm
Saturday 9am - 3 pm
or by appointment

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wintering Bees

This is how I winter my bees. I learned this from attending the Univ of MN Beekeeping Short Course 25 years ago. It worked then and works to this day.
Now we have mites to contend with. There were no mites 25 years ago.
I usually put my covers on around Thanksgiving. If we are slated to get several inches of snow before then, I put the covers on before it snows.
 Once there is snow on the ground it can get quite cold and the bees need the covers on by then.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Support the Bee Squad

Come to Billy's on Grand Ave and drink some Honey Weiss Beer

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Varroa Symptom

I have had a few phone calls from beekeepers that told me all their bees absconded from their colonies. The bees were gone or had very few left and the hives were full of honey.
Hives that display this type of behavior, are bees that have very high levels of Varroa.
In fall, a beekeeper looks at their bees and they look great, three weeks later they look again and all of the bees are gone. This is not colony collapse, it is Varroa.
 Treating for mites in August could have prevented this from happening. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Package Bees 2015

I had a lengthy conversation today with Ray my package bee supplier. He was telling me about his year. 
 California as you know is in the grips of a devastating drought. There is nothing growing unless it is irrigated or a cactus. Beekeepers normally could depend on honey from Yellow Star Thistle for a honey crop. But with the drought, there was no honey crop. He has been feeding his bees for a large part of the summer. A week doesn't go by with out having a tanker truck of bee feed making a delivery.
 He did comment that his bees look very nice. Strong colonies and he has been able to keep his mite count low. Without plants blooming he has also been feeding pollen to the bees.
 He did move several thousand colonies out of state and the bees he moved did make some alfalfa honey. Not a huge crop but enough to make the colonies heavy and some local pollen.
 We talked at length about package bees for next year. He does see an increase coming to package bee and queen prices for the 2015 season. There was some discussion of how much it might be, but he said it was too early to put a number down. Ray said he wanted to tell Wendy and I early so we could pass the information on to our customers that there will be an increase.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Late Feeding

The time is running out for feeding. The next week looks good for temperatures. The bees should take the feed down still. It could be a cold winter according to future forecasts. So a heavy hive should be a good hive.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Entrance Reducers

With the cooler weather here it is a good idea to put in the entrance reducers. The cooler weather will have the bees clustering in the hive. In a three deep hive the bees will be mostly in the middle box. So not many bees in the bottom box.
 Mice are looking for a place to stay for the winter. Entrance reducers will keep them out of the hive.
Entrance reducers should be placed at the larger opening.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Working the bees yesterday

It was a nice day yesterday. The bees were very friendly and not crabby at all.
 Most of my colonies had very strong populations of bees. Several colonies were a little lite on food. I fed most of the colonies some ProSweet using hive top feeders. All of the feed had ProHealth mixed into the syrup, this can help keep down the Nosema spores in the bees gut. Nosema  are spores that can build up in the gut of the bee. High spore levels can bring out diarrhea in the colony and can lead to colony death usually in late winter. So keeping the spores at a lower level is a priority.
  Hive top feeders hold about 4 gallons of syrup. 4 gallons of ProSweet, that is about 46 lbs of food or about 5 deep frames worth of honey.  I wanted to make sure that the colonies are heavy with winter stores going into fall.
 The up coming winter is supposed to have below average temperatures with average snowfall. Having heavy colonies going into the winter and strong populations is the key for wintering success.
 The colonies have been treated for mites using Hopguard II.

Friday, September 26, 2014


The weather will be perfect for feeding for the next week. Beekeepers need to take advantage of this summer like weather for the bees to easily put down syrup into the hive. As it cools down the bees become more reluctant to take down the syrup.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What's Happening On The Bee Front

Beekeepers have been treating for mites and feeding their bees right now. Getting enough food in the hive is working so far with the nice weather we have been experiencing. The bees have been sucking down the feed. Putting multiple feeder pails on the hive at once helps get the feed in faster.
 Robbing has been an issue for some beekeepers. Putting in entrance reducers at the large opening and plugging all the holes has been keeping robbers out of the colonies.
 Mite treatments have benefited with the warm weather. Mite away kwik strips and Hopguard II strips have been the choice of many beekeepers now in late summer.
Still to early to put on winter covers look for around anytime after Nov 1st. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

Right now what should a typical hive look like.

Now is crunch time for beehives.
The honey supers should be off and if mite treatments need to be put on, should go on now.
A hive going into winter needs to have minimum 8 frames of bees. This means if you looked at your hive on a cooler day like the cool days coming up later in the week, you should have bees covering the both sides of 8 deep frames. The queen in the hive should have never gone through a winter. An old queen can fail during the winter and cause the colony to perish.
 There should be enough honey for winter stores. The right amount is 8 full frames of honey and one partially full in the top box. The box underneath the top box, should have 4 full frames of honey in the box. Preferably two frames on either side of the box. 
 This is the minimum size of a hive going into winter.
If you don't have that much honey, feeding now is the plan.
 I talked to a lady today that said she had a lot of bees but very little honey. I gave here this advice. The odds of getting 100 lbs in the hive at this stage of the season is very unlikely. The best thing to do on any marginal colonies is to depopulate them and start new packages in the fall. The expense to try to save something that is marginal doesn't make economic sense. She could try to feed them and spend $80.00 on feed. If they die anyway and eat up most of the feed, she would have been money ahead buying a package in the spring. Hindsight here is if she would have realized a month ago that her hives were light on honey she would have had time to get that amount in them.
Take your loss in the fall. Make a plan for spring now on what hives that will need to be replaced.

Bees changing their job

This is a link to the NY times about research done and tracking foraging workers.
Sent to me by B. Page

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Robbing can be very serious. If it gets started it is hard to stop. I had a beekeeper rent an extractor today to extract his honey crop. When he went to pull his honey he found his colonies dead and empty. The two hives were overcome by bees, wasps, and hornets. The frenzy starts and it doesn't stop until there is nothing left.
 The beekeeper found his bottom board covered with dead bees and capping wax from the honey frames that are now all empty.
 How does this happen? The most common way is beekeepers put their wet extracted supers out by their hives for the bees to clean up. What can happen is the bees finish with the supers, then turn on the first hive in the beeyard. A whole beeyard can get wiped out by this robbing.
Preventing this can be as simple as putting in entrance reducers now with the largest opening open, If it appears robbing is happening, closing to the smaller opening can help, sometime the entrances have to be closed to stop the feeding frenzy.
If a beekeeper has wet supers to clean up, it works best to put the supers on top of the inner cover and put the telescoping cover on top of the supers. Make sure the cover is on tight with a brick on it. This keeps the bees from sneaking in the top. The supers should be picked clean in three or four days, They can be removed an properly stored.

Colder weather moving in - will it stay?

There is a big chunk of cold weather moving in late next week. The question is will it stay cold?
What will work, what won't work when it cools off.
Right now today Miteaway qwik strips will work for Varroa control. It is a seven day treatment so treating today will be the best choice. If the temperatures stay in the 60's Miteaway qwik strips and Apiguard will no longer be effective. This is why treating in August is best when using these products that are temperature dependent.
 The two products that work all the time, because they are contact strips, are Hopguard II and Apivar.
Feeding, if hives are light on winter stores feeding should be done immediately.
I will say that ProSweet in my opinion is superior to 2:1 sugar water. The bees pack the ProSweet away in the frames and don't have to do anything else. ProSweet has fructose and sucrose in it, just like honey.
 Feeding 2:1 sugar water the bees have to turn it into honey and dehumidify it. This takes time.
 As it cools of in the fall, bees become reluctant to take down syrup because the syrup is cool and they don't like cold syrup.
Bees on a warm day will empty a feeder pail in three days. So if feeding, stay on it. A beekeeper can fit three feeder pails directly on top of the frames this time of year. Cover the pails with an empty deep and the inner cover and telescoping cover.
 Still no hurry to cover with winter covers. Wait at least until late October.
So lets all hope for a long fall warm up.
The farmers almanac speculates snow showers in the metro area in the third week of October.

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

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pulled some honey today

I pulled some honey today.
Used fume boards and honey robber. The warm afternoon made the honey robber work great.
I pulled 4 supers off two hives and there wasn't one bee in each of the supers I pulled.
Got a little careless and sprayed some on my glove. I now smell like a 300 herd dairy farm. But any of the fume board fumigants Honey Robber, Honey Bandit and Fishers Bee Quick work very well when it is 85 degrees out. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Goldenrod the last big flow - maybe

Goldenrod is starting to bloom across the metro. This is the last major event of the season. This nectar flow is never reliable but there is pollen available for the bees to add to their larder.
How do you know if there is nectar coming in? Go stand by your beehive and if the air is full of the odor of wet sweat socks it is an indication of fresh goldenrod nectar. Don't let the odor scare you, as the nectar ripens the odor goes away.
 The Goldenrod flow can be heavy. The hives are packed with bees, right now in many locations, the nectar flow has slowed down considerably. The bees are itching to go to work. In a perfect flow it is not unlikely to get two supers of honey.

Bees working the Goldenrod

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Methods of Pulling Honey

These are a couple ways to pull honey off a hive.
The day before you pull your honey go out to the hive and pull off the supers. This breaks open any bridge comb. The bridge comb is attached from box to box. Honey usually starts dripping from the open comb. By re-stacking each box 180 degrees from how they were on the hive. The bees will clean up any dripping honey. So when the supers are pulled the next day there should not be any honey dripping.

Brushing off the bees (double click on the video for full screen)

Using a fume board (double click on the video for full screen)
This video I am using Honey Robber and a fume board. Honey Robber works the best in my opinion with a fume board. I have also used Bee Quick and Honey Bandit. All of these products work well when it is 85 degrees or warmer.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Honey extractor

Nature's Nectar LLC rents 3 frame hand crank extractors for harvesting your honey crop. The extractors need to be reserved. $30.00 a day

Friday, August 8, 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

Annual Honey Extracting Workshop - Sunday, Aug 17th

Uncapping frames with a hot knife

Master Beekeeper Bob Sitko

 We will be having our annual extracting workshop on August 17th.
This is a hands on workshop. All attendees will be able to uncap honey frames with a hot knife and capping scratcher. The frames will then be put into a 3 frame hand extractor to spin out the honey. The honey will be filtered and put into a bottling pail. Everyone will be able to pour a bottle of honey to take home.
 Also Master Beekeeper Bob Sitko will demonstrate methods on how to pull honey off the hive.
 He will also talk about getting a hive ready for winter.
  •  Cost - Free
  • When - Sunday, August 17th
  • Where - Nature's Nectar LLC Honey house at our home
  • Time - 1 - 4 pm
  • RSVP mandatory - limited to 50 beekeepers. Please no children unless they are the beekeeper. If you have taken this before, please no repeats. 
This fills up very quickly, call or email the RSVP
Using the three frame extractor

Sunday, August 3, 2014

State Fair Registration Deadline

State Fair Registration Deadline: Monday, August 11th - 4:30 pm
Most liquid honey registered is considered white honey.
Light Amber is the color of weak tea.
Amber is the color of coffee.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

State Fair

Now is the time to strut your stuff. You just had a great nectar flow and the supers are full. Now you have to sell the big load of honey. The best way to sell honey for a new beekeeper is to win a ribbon from the Minnesota State Fair.
The bragging rights with this ribbon is that you have the best honey in the state. Having award winning honey opens doors and makes people take a more favorable look at your honey.
 Download the competition Premium Book.
There are many categories to enter read the Premium Book for all the entries.
Your family, friends and co workers will all come to the bee booth to see your entry. They all are very proud to see your entry.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Nectar Flow update

photo by R. Connoy
The nectar flow is still chugging along. While not as intense as it was, there are still nectar flowers still coming out. The beekeeper that took this picture, all his supers are full. Notice the fume board on top of the hives. He has to pull some supers and extract. He will put the extracted frames back on the hive and the bees may fill them up again.
 Some beekeepers were not having a good nectar flow but about a week ago I heard that they now were getting a good flow. The coming week has perfect weather for honey collecting. Many metro beekeepers had a good rain on Friday that should keep us green for the near future.
The current nectar flow still has some honey yet to come. Keep the supers on and stay ahead of the bees.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

StarTribune Bees at the Brink part 2, PioneerPress neonic story, The Silent Spring

This is the second part of Bees on the Brink series. It pits multi billion dollar Bayer the leading producer of neonicotonoids who claims their insecticide does not kill pollinators. They are under intense pressure from citizens that do not believe their claims. 

Neonicotinoids are showing up in our food and water across the country.
Are neonicotinoids causing the demise of pollinators and the wildlife that depend on insects to survive?

Is this leading to the Silent Spring?
Read the summary of the Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and how it pertains to DDT insecticide use. Is this the same issue now with neonicotinoids?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Swarm?

A beekeeper got a call of a swarm that had moved into a hose reel.
This is what he found:
Bumblebees Photo by A. Guzik
This bumblebee colony was living in the hose reel. The homeowner did not need the hose reel all spring and earl summer. When he finally needed to use the hose he found the "swarm of bees" in it. The beekeeper removed it and brought them home for his own pollination.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nectar Flow update

The nectar flow is still rolling on.  Many beekeepers have 4 to 6 supers on. White sweet clover is in bloom everywhere with other flowers starting to bloom also.
 I noticed spotted knapweed blooming in the ditches.
Spotted knapweed brings in a nice buttery flavored honey. Spotted Knapweed is a noxious weed and should never be propagated. But if it is there, the bees will take the nectar it offers.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Nice Pics

Grand Teton

Old Faithful

As of July 5th the Basswood trees are not blooming in Cody, Wyoming.
There are many wildflowers in bloom in Yellowstone. No honeybees sighted.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Swarming and Nectar flow

Swarming is still a concern with 6 swarms I have heard of today.
The nectar flow is going, with many beekeepers reporting honey coming in. Basswoods are in full bloom in Edina on Wednesday. My Basswood trees have lost all their flower buds for some reason and will not flower thus year. I also did see Basswoods in the city of Stillwater with the same malady. Hard to say what it is but hope the can come back next season.
If your bees are not moving up into the supers your hive may have swarmed and the majority of the field bees have left.
 If you spot a capped queen cell the hive probably has swarmed. Don't cut it out. Leave it and that is going to be your new queen. She will start laying in about three weeks.
Open queen cells means the queen is in there and not mated yet.
So far this is may be one of the best nectar flows in a long time.
I hope it is as good as the one in '88.
We will be open on July 12th if anyone needs more supers by then.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Remember We Are Closed July 3rd - 11th

We will be closed July 3rd - July 11th.
Open Tonight, Monday 5 - 7
Wed 5 - 7

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Beekeeping Special Report

There is a Beekeeping special report by the StarTribune in Sundays paper and on their web site. It is a four part series.
I read the first part and took the time to look at all the pictures and the graphics. I thought they did a tremendous informative article. The plight of two migratory beekeepers, highlighting the struggle the two beekeepers have to make it in today's agriculture. I encourage all beekeepers to read the series. Please take time to comment on the article. The more comments may help bring this story into the national news.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Nectar Flow Update

There seems to be a nectar flow all over the twin cities. Flowers have been opening at a fast clip. The many varieties are everywhere. Staghorn Sumac, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Alfalfa, Vetch, Yellow Sweet Clover. Today I saw some white sweet clover blooming. This is one of our major nectar plants.
 I have heard reports of wide spread nectar flows with bees moving up into the supers and packing away the nectar. This flow may be a bin buster. Keep putting supers on two at a time.
 Bees have a hoarding instinct. The more space they have in front of them, the harder they work to fill it up.
White Sweet Clover

Sold Out of Queens

We are sold of queens for 2014.
If you need a queen try www.ohbees.com

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Closed July 3 - 11th

Nature's Nectar LLC will be closed July 3rd - 11th
If you need supers get them soon. Don't wait until the last minute.

I have a nectar flow

I was out putting supers on yesterday. I was looking at my colonies. Many of the them had nectar coming in. How can I tell?
 The frames are filling up with nectar. I am not feeding. The new wax being added is white and new looking.
Nectar Flow is on
 A closer look at this picture( double click on it). There is some darker burr comb. The edges of this dark comb has a white edge to it. The comb on the top bars is fuller and white with new wax.  Definitely a nectar flow is on in Stillwater. New beekeepers that are still drawing comb and feeding, will notice the bees may not be taking the feed very well. The bees prefer nectar to sugar water. I would leave the feeder on until it is gone or the supers go on. If the top box fills with honey before a reversal gets done. Don't do a reversal,  the full box of honey is going to be the bees winter stores.
 Now some sunny warm weather and the boxes should start filling up.
Supers go on two at a time and check them once a week. The bees can draw out, fill and cap a super in a week. So stay ahead of the bees. Better to put the supers on sooner than later.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Honey Flow Update

I was in St Paul today and saw Catalpa trees in full bloom. Usually the blooming of Catalpa trees coincide with the start of the nectar flow. Beekeepers should put honey supers on now.
 Honey supers go on two at a time. If there is foundation to draw out on new supers they should be place directly above the brood nest.
 I use queen excluders under my supers. When I have new foundation in the supers, I hold off on putting on queen excluders until there is new wax and some nectar in the cells of the super. Then I put the queen excluder in.

Monday, June 16, 2014


The next week will be warm, humid and rainy. This combination of heat and rain will make many hives crowded and will kick the swarming instinct into high gear. Beekeepers need to be on a strict 7-10 day schedule looking for swarm cells. Over wintered colonies and package bee colonies are all possible swarms waiting to happen. If the bees swarm there will probably will be no excess honey in that hive.
When a swarm cell is capped the hive usually swarms.  This hive swarmed

Cutting out swarm cells before they are capped is imperative to keep the bees at home.
A hive that has swarmed has very little brood in the hive. It usually has swarm cells that have opened. The new queen has emerged. The hive will be filling the brood frames with honey. A new queen if it was mated will start laying eggs three weeks after it has emerged from the queen cell.
These are emergency swarm cells or supercedure cells. They are normally located anywhere on the side of a brood frame.

Swarm cells are usually on the bottom of the frame but can be on the top bars or on the edge of any comb.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

What is happening on the bee front

Hives continue to build and expand. Most package bees have finished drawing comb in their second box. Many beekeepers run three deeps and the beekeepers have added their third deep. The third deep will be drawn out in about 10 days after it is put on. Hive populations are exploding now with many frames of capped brood emerging.
 If you are drawing foundation in the brood box continue to feed.
 If the bees are done drawing comb in your brood boxes do a reversal. Top box to the bottom, bottom box to the top. This gets pollen stored in the bottom to the top. the bees will fill this box with honey for their winter stores. When the bees uncap this honey in February there will be pollen available to raise brood.
 If the bees are done drawing deeps, honey supers should be put on. If the supers are new foundation it usually works best to leave the queen excluder off until the bees get a little comb and nectar going on one of the frames. Then put the queen excluder on.
 Whenever putting on new undrawn super frames on a hive always put them right on top of the brood nest.
I did see some Clover blooming in my yard. The old adage is that the nectar flow starts 10 days after seeing the first clover bloom. So get ready.
As Dr Fugala said " You can't make any honey if your supers are in your garage"
White Dutch Sweet Clover

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Yellow Sweet Clover

I was driving along 694 tonight and noticed the ditches exploding with blooming yellow sweet clover. Yellow sweet clover doesn't seem to produce a large honey crop in this part of the state. While in the western part of the state and the Dakotas, yellow sweet clover is THE honey crop. Producing huge crops of honey. Many beekeepers in the Dakotas are disappointed if they don't get over two hundred pounds per colony.
 Our major nectar flower is white sweet clover, which should be coming soon.
Yellow Sweet Clover

Black Locust

Black Locust trees are in full bloom across the metro area. This can be a very good flow if you are lucky to have these trees in your area. The honey is very light.
Black Locust trees have large amounts of showy flowers.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The bee season so far

Hives are increasing in population. This worker is just popping thru the capped cell

The warm weather has been a welcome change from our cold spring. The warmer weather has made it easy for the bees to expand their brood nest. Right now everyone who has put in package bees should have put on their second boxes by now. I have heard that many beekeepers who were on the first delivery have hives becoming very populated with bees.
 Overwintered colonies have been starting to swarm. Many of these colonies have exploding populations and need to be divided if they haven't been divided yet. If the beekeeper doesn't divide the colonies, they will divide themselves and  the beekeepers honey crop for this year will be in a tree in a swarm cluster.
Weekly checks of swarm cells is a must this year. The nectar flow will be delayed about 10 - 14 days. That puts the nectar flow starting around July 1st - July 5th.
Hives will be very crowded by that time and swarming will become a problem even in package bees. If the nectar flow is decent this season I think package bees will be able to produce a super or two of honey.
 At the moment the fruit bloom is winding down, dandelions are going to seed, and trees have bloomed and have leafed out. The current nectar flow is going away. The next nectar flow is Black Locust tree. This flow will happen in the next 10 days or so. The first Alfalfa crop should also be blooming in the same time period. I have not seen any hay being cut yet but that should be coming soon.
 For many of the local beekeepers there may be a dearth in pollen for the next three weeks. It is a good idea for beekeepers to put on pollen patties during their next visit to the hive.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Laying Workers and how to prevent them

I know a beekeeper that had three packages turn to laying workers. Due to a work schedule and bad weather the beekeeper could not get out and check for queen acceptance. Unfortunately the queens did not take and the beekeeper was looking at cells filled with multiple eggs, the clear sign of laying workers. So the decision was made to requeen. The hives were now depleted of bees so the bees were going to be knocked down to a single hive. The beekeeper on a warm afternoon took all the bees about 100 feet away from the hive and shook all the bees on the ground. The bees that could fly, came back to where the hives were.  The laying workers cannot fly and were stranded out on the ground,
 A single hive was set up with empty drawn comb in a single box. After six hours a new queen with candy tube was introduced. The bees were on the comb when the queen was put in and a feeder pail was put on. After a week the bees were checked for queen acceptance and eureka, a new hive was born.
Photo by I don't remember the beekeepers name  Italian Queen on upper left of photo
Laying workers. Many eggs in cells. None fertilized. Spotty brood pattern

Whenever a hive has no brood, no queen, no eggs. The first thing a beekeeper should do is take a frame of eggs from another colony(if you have one) and shake the bees off and put the frame in a broodless hive.
  • Move a frame of eggs into a broodless hive. The presence of brood in a colony prevents laying workers. This buys time so a beekeeper can get a new queen. This method also answers some questions.
  • If a hive has swarmed and a beekeeper is unsure of this, a frame of eggs can help confirm this. The hive has no eggs maybe very little brood. Move a frame of fertilized eggs (not drone) into this colony. After four days a quick check of the frame. If there are queen cells, you have no queen. If there are no queen cells there is a queen in the hive, she has not started to lay yet. It is always better to purchase a new queen than to have the bees raise them.  A purchased queen starts laying in a week, it takes a made queen three weeks to start laying.
  •  Right now with the cold spring it may be After June 7th before a good queen can be made in Minnesota. Drone population are low at this time and need at least two more weeks before good mating can occur.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Jr high school kids bee website

This is a link to a local Jr high school kids website about bees and CCD. Very good comparisons and thoughtful insight.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Flowering Crab, coming soon.
I have dandelions blooming now in Stillwater area. As I have been driving around the metro dandelions are blooming everywhere. This is the first major nectar flow of the year, giving nectar and pollen to the bees. Over wintered colonies should have honey supers on so the bees don't plug up the bee hive with nectar, leaving no place for the queen to lay.
 The fruit bloom is just starting in the south metro and inside the 694/494 belt line. Wild Plums are leading the way with their fragrant flowers and much desired pollen. Now with some sun and 70 degree temperatures, other fruit trees should be following in the very near future.
 During this time, bees that are drawing out foundation, may not take much syrup. Preferring real nectar over sugar syrup. Beekeepers that are drawing foundation need to keep feeding until mid June or until the bees have finished working on the frames.
 Beekeepers that have put in packages from my first delivery April 12th should be putting on their second box. When adding a second box a frame of nectar and or pollen should be moved from the lower box and put into the second box, right in the middle of the box. This frame is bait for the bees to move up into the box. Now there will be nine frames in the bottom box. Evenly space them out and run 9 frames in the bottom box. 10 frames in the top box. Move the feeder pail to on top of the second box and continue to feed. The entrance reducer will now be increased to the larger opening.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I will be receiving a new shipment of queens on Thursday.
Today I am out of Carniolans and have about 8 Italians left.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Frame managment on a new hive

New Frame Being Drawn, pic by T. Roska
Package bees are expanding their brood nests. The populations are on the upswing. As the hive get more populated, the bees will expand on to more frames, drawing comb and filling the new comb with nectar and pollen.
 A common theme that happens to all new colonies is the drawing out of the outside frames. Bees always seem reluctant to finish the outside frames.
 A beekeeper can help the bees finish this job. As the bees work on the outer frames like the one above. There is nothing but nectar and a little pollen in this frame, no brood. The beekeeper can turn this frame around and put it back in the same place it was in. Now the bees will have a fresh side to work on.
On the next visit the bees will be working on the other side. The frame should now have drawn comb on both sides. Now the beekeeper can move this frame out one frame and a new frame with foundation put in its place. Repeating this process until all of the frames are being worked on. Never move frames that have brood on the frames, only frames with nectar and pollen.
When 8 out of ten frames are pretty much done being drawn out, it is time to put on the second box. Move a frame that the bees are working on, with nectar and maybe a little pollen, into the center of second box. This frame is bait for the bees to move up into the second box. The bottom box now will have 9 frames. Evenly space out the frames in the bottom box. Running 9 frames makes it easier remove frames for inspection.
 10 frames are needed in the top box for proper comb building.
When the second box is added the entrance reducer is increased to the larger opening.
Larger opening on entrance reducer with the second box added.  This reducer is upside down and in its winter position it should now turned over. Pic by T. Roska

Saturday, May 10, 2014

What is happening in our bee world

Got Dandelions? We need them for pollen and nectar

Packages right now are building up. The first delivery bees have had emerging brood now, so their populations are rising. The second delivery bees have capped brood now and should be having emerging brood in a few days.
 The cool weather has prevented weaker overwintered colonies from building up as quick as we would like to see. Some overwintered colonies are bursting with bees and divides are happening now. Pollen has been a little hard to forage for with the rain and cool weather limiting collection time for the foraging bees. Pollen patties should still be on all bee colonies at this time.
 The first big nectar flow are dandelions and as of this morning, they are no blooming dandelions in rural Stillwater. Normally dandelions bloom around May 1st.  Beekeepers with strong overwintered colonies should put a super on for the dandelion honey right now.
 The fruit bloom usually happens with Wild Plums around May 1st and Apples around mid May. I looked my Wild Plums and they are bare twigs and the apple orchard down the road from me also, there are only bare tree limbs.
 The cool weather is setting the stage for a delayed main nectar flow. The main nectar flow usually starts around the third week of June. If the weather continues, the slow build up to summer temperatures, the nectar flow start may be more like starting around the first of July.
 This can hurt overwintered colonies because they will have swarming issues,
The late nectar flow will help package bees because it will give them two more weeks to build up. The package bees will be more likely get some excess honey if this happens.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Need Bees?

Mann Lake Ltd has a shipment of bees coming in May 10th. If you need bees you have to order NOW.
They are taking orders online only and you will have to drive to Hackensack, MN to pick them up. I went to their website this morning and they are still taking orders. They will shut off the ordering when they are sold out or they run out of time to place any further orders.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A divide with a package

Some beekeepers are going to want to make a divide on an overwintered colony. They purchased a package to fill up empty equipment. Now their overwintered colony is getting full, and they need to divide the overwintered colony so it won't swarm. The nice part of this type of management, is that the beekeeper won't have to purchase a queen.
  • Follow the directions for making a divide.
  • After the divide has been queenless overnight,
  • Put a sheet of newspaper on top of the package. put a 1/4" slit in the newspaper roughly in the middle.
  • Set the divide on top of the package.
  • Now the hive is two deeps high. Put an inner cover on top and feed with a feeder pail. Put the telescoping cover on top and leave them alone for a week. Over the course of the week paper pulp will be seen outside in front of the hive.
  • After a week open the hive and take out any extra paper. Check the hive for eggs to make sure it is queenrite.
  • Continue feeding if necessary.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Pollen stored in the comb. It can be gone within three days when foraging is difficult because of weather

The upcoming week is going to be cold and rainy. The bees will not be able to get any pollen from foraging until next Saturday at the earliest. A colony can deplete pollen stores in as little as three days. When there is no pollen in the hive, brood cannot be fed and any uncapped brood will die.
 If you looked into your hive that has had no pollen it would seem queenless with no brood.
This can set back any colony that a beekeeper was planning on dividing. The loss of brood will have a consequence of lower bee numbers when the nectar flow starts and less honey in the hive.
During the spring, pollen patties should be on the hive into early June. This is cheap insurance to have a healthy productive colony.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Do you have eggs and larvae in your new colony?

Eggs in cells

Eggs, pollen on top, nectar glistening in cells

older larvae being capped, young larvae swimming in royal jelly

Friday, April 25, 2014

Queen Sale Sat only

All remaining queens Carniolan or Italian left over from package bee order
Sat only - cash and carry
$15.00 each.
Queen with attendants in 3 hole cage with candy
We will be getting weekly shipments of queens starting next week and thru the month of May. After Saturday, queens will be $28.00 each

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bee Pick Up

Any beekeepers who have not picked up. There no longer is a pick up schedule.
Please come and pick up your bees. I am here, starting at 7:30 am.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New Second Delivery Date, Monday, April 21st

The bees will arrive here sometime on SUNDAY. They will be available for pickup on SUNDAY. I will publish on this blog when the bees are ready to pick up. SUNDAY pick up is first come first served.  Do not come here for pick up until I have published that we are ready. You will be turned away.

Pick up schedule for MONDAY

Please Clean ALL DEBRIS out of the returning cages. No Bees, No Feed Cans, No Queen Cages, No Spiderwebs, No leaves, No Cottonwood Seeds - Thank You
  MONDAY, Please follow the schedule. There are 600 beekeepers stopping by and if we get off schedule wait time will rise considerably.
Please drive in the driveway marked enter. Pull up as far as you can and stay with your vehicle. We will come to you.
We will go by the first initial of your last name.
  7:00 am any large orders over 50
W - Z    7:30 am - 8:30 am
T - V     8:30 am  - 9:30 am
R - S     9:30 am - 10:30 am
N - Q    10:30 am - 11:30 am

11:30 - Lunch for the crew

L - M    12:30 pm - 1:30pm
H - K    1:30 pm  -  2:30 pm
E - G     2:30 pm  -  3:30 pm
A - D     3:30 pm  -  4:30 pm 
Open time 4:30 pm - 7 pm
There is no rush to put the bees in. It is best to install packages after 6:00 pm. Putting them in late in the day helps prevent them from absconding.

Pollen Patties 2 pks - $9.00 / 10 lb Box $37.00 / 40 lb box $87.00
Feeder Pails $5.00 each / ProSweet Bee Syrup $46.00 5 gallons
Sales Tax is included in the above pricing. Please have exact change if possible.
No Credit or Debit Cards accepted because we will not have electricity.