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, 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.