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.

Search This Blog

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Adding Winter Patties To A Hive

I put winter patties on some colonies today. The weather was perfect to open a hive. Nice and sunny and no wind. A couple colonies were short of food. I could tell these hives were light on stores by all of the bees in the top box.
 Right now the bees should still be in the bottom box. In some colonies I could see the bees down deep between the frames, this is fine. That is a sign of ample food stores.
But, when the bees are covering the frames in the top box, they need food.

Checked hives today

I checked some hives today. I wanted to see a few things. I wintered my colonies with Bee Cozy winter covers. It was a sunny day, around 20 degrees. I wanted to see how warm the center strip of the winter cover would be. Touching the strip with my hand, I could feel the whole center strip was very warm to the touch. It would be very easy for the bees to fly out of their top box hole.
bees doing cleansing flights
A couple hives were short on stores. When I looked under the inner cover there were bees all over the top box. Seeing this in late December is a clue that the hive is short of stores. I did add some winter patties to hopefully get them to February.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Bird Count

Wendy and I participated in the annual Christmas bird count. You spend the day watching the bird feeders. While there are hundreds of birds that come to our feeders during the day. We count the greatest number at any one time. This gives an idea of general population strength when compared to other years. Plus the number of species that are recorded, to track the population of any one species. There are many bird counters around the metro area and around the entire United States. We report to the northeast metro coordinator.
Our numbers for this year:

5 – Goldfinch
8 – Purple Finch
4 – House Finch
5 – Cardinals
2 – Pileated Woodpeckers
6 – Downy Woodpeckers
2 – Hairy Woodpeckers
1 – Red Bellied Woodpecker
8 – Chickadees
3 – Nuthatch
2 – Red Breasted Nuthatch
3 – Blue Jays
5 – Slate Colored Juncos
3 – Mourning Doves
2 - Crows

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Holiday hours

Closed Christmas eve Thursday Dec 24th thru Sunday Dec the 27th.
Next week closed Dec 31st thru Jan 3rd
Wendy and I would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

New E-Mail List

We're launching a new email newsletter! The newsletter will include information about package bees.
 If you're already on our email lists, we'll need you to sign up again. Click on the link to sign up.
Newsletter Sign Up

Equipment heading to Texas

I stopped at a commercial beekeepers last week. His truck here is full of empty single hives. He will bring them to Texas soon. He already has moved several truckloads of live bees to Texas already. This empty equipment will be used for splits. He will start a new colony with a frame of bees and gives them a queen cell. He checks for a laying queen after three weeks of putting in the queen cell. If there is a laying queen that's great. No queen, he puts in a new queen cell. The queen that is laying early may have brood taken from it and moved to the later starting colonies to bolster their population. All the hives will be brought back to MN or SD in early May. Hopefully before the dandelions bloom, so the bees can get the free nectar and he won't have to feed the bees as much.
If your counting, and I know you are. I believe there is 800 single hives on this load. They are on pallets. Four hives to a pallet.
Right now they have fed the bees twice since moving them to Texas. Pollen patties will go on in January. The whole crew shows up in late January. It is full time work from the first of February until the bees are shipped back here.
Feeding, making queens, and splits. Making queens and four frame nucs to sell to his many customers. Besides making up 7000 colonies for his own honey production.
Down in east Texas there are beekeepers everywhere. There is a huge market for queen cells and frames of brood. A frame of brood with adhering bees sells for $20.00 a frame.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Shopping

Nature's Nectar LLC does offer many items for Christmas gifts for your favorite beekeeper.
Honey, bottled or bulk and bulk beeswax
Gift Certificates

Bee Posters - Life Cycle and Beekeepers year
Feeder pails, winter patties, bottles, pails

Smokers, many woodenware products

Bee Suits, Bee Jackets
Many others products available to fit your budget.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015

A local beekeeper in ABJ

A local beekeeper Dewey Hassig is in the January edition of the American Bee Journal. He wrote a story about doing a bee presentation.
Dewey has kept bees for many years and is an experienced beekeeper. It is nice he is so willing to share his bee knowledge with others.
That is a wonderful trait that most beekeepers have, sharing their knowledge.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Oxalic Acid Dribble Method

Late fall mite treatment of Oxalic Acid using the dribble method. This works great as a second mite treatment to knock down any re-infestation of mites after the August treatment of Mite Away Quick Strips or ApiGuard. The best time to use it is in late October or early November when there is no brood in the hive. With no brood in the hive,  the mites are all on the bees. A treatment of Oxalic Acid by dribble or a vaporizer is a good way to kill these phoretic mites.

Double click on video for full screen


African Farmers Setting Up Fence Lines of Bee Hives

African Farmers Are Setting Up Rows Of Beehives By Their Land, But It's Not Because They Want Honey

African Bee Farmers Bee Fences

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Monday, December 7, 2015

The bees right now

Not much happening on the bee front right now. The hives should now be covered with winter wraps. The warm weather has made it not essential to do it immediately in early November, but it is good to finish the task before the darkside of winter is upon us.
 The current temperatures are just perfect for the bees. Too cool for brood rearing but warm enough for minimal consumption of food stores. This will help beekeepers who went into winter a little on the light side of honey stores.
 The long term outlook for December is warmer than normal, with highs cooling into the 30's.
 As long as the weather stays warmer than normal,  the bees should stay in good condition.
Beekeepers that did not treat for Varroa may find a lump of coal in their stocking with a colony that died out early, in spite of this perfect winter weather we are experiencing.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

We are still talking mites

If the holiday got away from you and the mite treatment that was planned never happened. There is still nice weather right now for mite treatment.
Hopguard and Oxalic Acid would be the two choices to use right now. There should not be any brood in the colonies right now so mites would be very vulnerable riding around on the bees.
 This warm month of November has been great for the bees. The honey consumption should have been minimal. If this keeps up, beekeepers that wintered light colonies may be able to eek them into late winter. Then I see a feeder pail in their future.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Making Creamed Honey

This time of year I always make creamed honey for holiday gifts.
Making creamed honey is easy. It takes about two weeks for the creamed honey to set up, it has to be made by Dec. 7th so it can ready for Christmas.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Oxalic Acid works

A beekeeper sent me a picture of his Oxalic Acid treatment.
He treated his colony with Miteaway Quick Strips (MAQS) in an early September treatment. Then in late October he treated with Oxalic Acid using the dribble method.
This is the picture of the mite drop that he had.
 After you treat with Oxalic Acid, it takes about a week to see all of the results.
Using this treatment program, this beekeepers hive should now have very low mite levels. His bees will be healthier and in much better shape to take on winter. A beekeeper has to remember that in late August - early Sept the hive must be treated with a miteacide. MAQS for example. Oxalic Acid only works on mites that are exposed on an adult bee. Oxalic Acid is not that effective when brood is in the hive. A colony in Minnesota/Wisconsin is usually broodless starting in late October into early February.
All the maroon specks are mostly mites   Photo by P. Riestenberg

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Covering Hives

I will be finally covering my hives over the next couple days. There may be some winter weather coming in on Thanksgiving day and I want to have the hives covered in case of a winter surprise.
 The weather over the next couple days will be around 40 degrees. All of my hives will be treated with an Oxalic Acid vaporizer. Every hive will be given two winter patties that are placed on the top bars of the top box.
 The next time I peek at my hives will be in late January or early February.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Time to Winterize

It looks like the weather is going to turn to some more normal temperatures.
The forecast has highs in the 30's later in the upcoming week. So covering the hives anytime would be ok for the bees. Even if it hits the low 60's for a day, the bees will be ok.
If you haven't treated for Varroa yet. A treatment with oxalic acid will help keep your mite levels low through the winter.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pollinator Program at Carpenter Nature Center

You are invited to attend “Pollinator Primer – What’s the buzz?” program at Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center.  Ian Lane, an entomology graduate student from UMN Bee Lab will be presenting on aiding native bee species.
November 22nd at 1:pm
$6.00 per person

 "Pollinator Primer -- What's the buzz?" will introduce ways to encourage native bees in your yard.

You will learn the differences between non-native bees (honeybees) and native bees on how they pollinate and nest. Mr. Lane will also be conducting a hands-on session to create bee hotels and homes for native bees to winter in.

Carpenter Nature Center provides unique opportunities for the public to learn and explore nature. “Pollinator Primer – What’s the buzz?” is made possible through a partnership with Ian Lane, entomology graduate student at the University of Minnesota.

This educational program is costs $6 per person with special rates offered for “Friends of CNC.” If you have any questions, please contact me or Jennifer  at 651-437-4359.


Katrinna or Jennifer
Communications Intern
W: 651-437-4359
Carpenter St. Croix Nature Center
12805 St. Croix Trail
Hastings, MN

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mite, Mites and more Mites

If you treated for mites in August, good job. Now you need to treat again. I have heard that many beekeepers that have tested their colony mite levels recently, discovering a re-infestation of mites. Their levels were high again. This high mite level is attributed to hives that were not treated for mites. Some beekeepers have recently discovered their bees have absconded. Honey is there but no bees. Not even dead bees, just no bees. When colonies abscond this time of year or through the winter months it is almost always due to the Varroa Destructor mite.
 This mite needs to be dealt with and now.
Oxalic acid can be used now in a colony. It can work at 40 - 55 degrees for the  dribble method. The temperature needed for the vaporizer to work well should be around 40 degrees.
 The treatment is fast and easy to do. So please consider doing it.
The hive you save may be your own.
Dribble method:
This video show from the Ontario Beekeepers treating their colonies with Oxalic Acid dribble method. Notice they are hitting every seam between the frames with the Oxalic Acid solution. Dribbling the solution right on the bees.
 Using a graduated 50ml syringe, giving each seam of bees a 5ml dose of the solution. For a total hive treatment of no more than 50ml.
He is treating two boxes, but for most of us, the bees should be in the bottom box in a two deep hive or the middle box on a three deep hive.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Using Winter Patties

Winter patties are basically sugar. They are for emergency feeding. They may help a colony survive late winter starvation that can be a problem for beekeepers in the upper Midwest.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Using an Oxalic Acid vaporizer

A customer sent me some pics of his use of a Oxalic Acid vaporizer. He did not treat for Varroa at all in late summer. The  Oxalic Acid Vaporizer did work well on taking out his mites.
On close inspection you can see all the maroon colored mites

pics be J. Fetrow

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Varroa Mite Challenge.

The Univ of MN would like all beekeepers to take part in their mite survey.
This is a great way to find out mite count around the state of MN and WI. This mite count can help us to determine the mite load of a general area of the U.S.
 University of MN Mite Survey from the Bee Squad

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pollinator Forum

There is a Pollinator Policy Forum to be held on October 22nd
Maplewood Community Center
2100 White Bear Ave.
6:30 pm
There is no charge for this forum
This forum is hosted by local political figures. The local area politicians are concerned about pollinators and need information to see how they can help.
  This can greatly help beekeepers establish better forage for all pollinators with the state of MN and the other contributors in attendance. Better forage will lead to stronger more prolific colonies that will a chance to have better survival.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Govt. Label Instructions for Oxalic Acid

Here is a link to the Govt. Oxalic Acid Label Instructions. The label describes the hazards of using Oxalic Acid, proper dose mixing levels, methods of application.
 Both drizzle and vaporization methods. The link takes you to the PDF page. Open the PDF, it is a two page document.
Oxalic Acid Dihydrate Product Label
 This is a powder. Many big box hardware stores do not carry this product. I purchased this container of Oxalic Acid at Ace Hardware. It is a 12 oz or 340 grams. It is enough Oxalic Acid to treat around 150 colonies with a vaporizer.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Oxalic Acid Vaporizer - How to use and - FAQ

This is the Varrox Oxalic Acid Vaporizer that Nature's Nectar LLC carries. They are the best on the market. Heavy duty. The vaporizer can be cooled in a bucket of water to cool off between treatments. So a beekeeper can rapidly move from hive to hive. A hive should have very little brood or broodless.
 The treatment is: Close off all entrances, have a towel or large rag to place across the bottom board entrance. Place the proper dose of Oxalic acid on the heating plate. Slide heating plate into the bottom entrance to approximately the center of the hive. Close the entrance with the towel of rag. Hook the terminals to the battery. Start a timer or stopwatch. Two minutes and thirty seconds on a charged battery will vaporize the Oxalic acid. Leave the vaporizer in for two minutes more to make sure all the Oxalic has vaporized. Pull back the towel and quickly remove the vaporizer. Put the towel back in place. Cool the vaporizer in a bucket of water. Leave the towel in place for ten minutes.
 The mite drop takes place for several days after the treatment. You can see the results if you are using a screened bottom board. Before treatment starts, tape some freezer paper on the slide and lightly coat the paper with Vaseline. This makes a cheap sticky board to observe the mite drop as they will be stuck on the Vaseline.

Oxalic Acid Vaporization – Questions and Answers

What is Oxalic Acid?

Specifically: Oxalic acid is an organic compound with the formula H2C2O4. It is a colorless crystalline solid that forms a colorless solution in water. In terms of acid strength, it is much stronger than acetic acid. Typically, oxalic acid occurs as a dihydrate (containing 2 molecules of water) with the formula H2C2O4·2H2O.

Where is Oxalic Acid found?

OA is found in peanuts, pecans, wheat bran, spinach, rhubarb, beets, beet greens and chocolate. Some others include soy foods, sweet potatoes, black tea, berries and other dark leafy greens, like Swiss chard and collards. It is what gives food that “bitter” taste.

What happens to Oxalic Acid when heated (vaporized)?

When OA reaches 215 degrees (f) the water boils off leaving anhydrous (water free) OA crystals. At 315 degrees the OA crystals start to sublime (go from a solid to a gas). At 372 degrees, OA which has not sublimed decomposes to form formic acid and carbon monoxide. However, when the vaporizer is used as directed, the vaporizers will NOT decompose the OA into formic and carbon monoxide.

How does Oxalic Acid kill mites?

The jury is still out. It is thought that OA vapors enter through the soft pads of the mite’s feet and travels to the blood stream, killing the mite. It is also thought that it destroys parts of the mite’s mouth. However it works, it decimates mites.

Is Oxalic Acid Safe for my bees and will it contaminate my comb?

When used as directed, OAV does not harm the queen, bees or the brood! And it does not contaminate the comb as poisons do. There are naturally occurring levels of oxalic acid in a hive. While OAV elevates that level, the hive returns to pre-treated levels shortly after treatment.  The microcrystals of OA that reform after treatment are quickly carried outside the hives by the bees.

How much Oxalic Acid is used in the OAV process?

The recommended dosage is one gram per brood chamber. Most have two brood chambers, so use two grams (which is very close to ½ a teaspoonful. You could use a ½ teaspoon measure in lieu of two one gram (¼ teaspoons). More is not better!

How is Oxalic Acid Heated for use in beehives?

Mostly, a 12 volt, 15 amp vaporizer is used. The OA is placed in the vaporizer’s pan which is then inserted into the beehive and connected to the battery. When the current is connected to the vaporizer, it heats the pan thus vaporizing the OA.

How long does it take to vaporize OA?

Vaporizers take 2.5 minutes to vaporize OA. The current is disconnected after the time limit and the vaporizer remains in the hive another two minutes to finish vaporizing. One should “test fire” their vaporizer prior to using as batteries in various states of age may take longer. Also, if one were to vaporize several hives (using a vaporizer not connected to continuous charger (such is in a running vehicle)), vaporization will start to take longer and longer as the battery degrades. Mites will begin to die immediately but you’ll show the largest mite drop the day AFTER treatment.

Do I have to seal the hive when vaporizing?

Yes, although a “perfect” seal is not necessary. During the vaporization period, the hive is sealed and once the vaporizer is removed, the hive resealed for an additional 10 minutes.

Is Oxalic Acid safe for the beekeeper?

Yes, if the beekeeper takes adequate safety precautions. Keep a smoker lit in the beeyard and stand up-wind. Do not BREATHE the vapors! The EPA is stating that an acid gas respirator is sufficient, use a model 6211 which filters both vapors and particulates. In Europe a mask with an N95 particulate rating is the standard. OA vapors very quickly re-crystallize to cover all the surfaces in the hive making the breathing of the vapors unlikely. However, there is always the chance, error on the side of safety!

What is the outside temperature range to perform OAV?

You need an outside temperature of 37 (f). There is no top temperature. The temperature of 37 f is only needed at time of treatment and 1-2 hours thereafter.

Will the mites grow resistance to OA?

Since OA is an acid vs a poison, highly doubtful. OA has been used in Europe for 20+years and there is no reported resistance.

When is the best time to utilize OAV?

The very best time to use OAV is when the hive is broodless. Why? OA only kills phoretic mites – those on the bees, not in the brood. At that time OAV will kill an amazing greater than 95% of the mites in the hive! So when is the hive broodless or almost so?
1. At the beginning of winter (for many, somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas).
2. When you’ve hived a swarm.
3. When you’ve completed a split and removed most of the capped brood.
4. When you purchased a package and placed it in a hive.
5. If the bees are “flying,” the best time to treat is early morning or late evening when most are in the hive.
Another great time to use OAV is in late August/early September when the mites are out-breading the bees. What you are doing at that time is killing the mites that are emerging with brood and before they enter another brood cell about to be capped. During this time, you need to vaporize 3 times at 5 day intervals.
If you have high mite loads year going into spring your can do a series of treatments before you add your supers, however other treatments are better suited to treat hives that are heavily rearing brood.

Can I perform OAV with supers in place?

No, you must remove them or place a barrier between the brood nest and the supers. Cardboard or coroplast serve well as a barrier. You can replace the supers or remove the barrier after all the vapors have subsided and new crystals formed. To be safe, wait approximately 15 minutes after you’ve removed all the seals to the hive.

Can you use an extension cord on your OA vaporizer?

Yes, after you’ve made the necessary electrical connections. However, you should use a 12 gauge wire on your extension cord to keep the current from dissipating thus making vaporization take longer. You can also use several vaporizers together for faster treatment of multiple hives.

Is Oxalic Acid legal to use in the US in beehives?

Yes, as of March 10th 2015! The EPA approved it for use in beehives as of that date!

How long will my battery last during OAV?

With a new, fresh battery, I’ve completed 20 vaporizations. Your results will vary with your battery. Basically, you won’t know until you tried.

Can you do OAV from the top of the hive? OR my bottom hive opening isn’t large enough for the vaporizer to enter.

Sure. Make a one or two inch “shim or rim” the same dimensions as your brood chamber. Cut a slot on the bottom of the shim/rim slightly larger than the rod that connects to the vaporizer. Get an old aluminum pie plate and place it on top of the frames. Fill the vaporizer with the OA, place it on the pie plate (you’ll have to flatten the sides of the pie place) then place the rim/shim over it all. Make sure you’ve closed off all openings. Replace the top cover, connect the vaporizer to the battery, don your respirator and kill some mites!

Does it make any difference to what battery terminal I connect the vaporizer battery during OAV?

No. All that is needed is a completed electrical circuit. Which wire from the vaporizer connected to what terminal on the battery is of no consequence.

Does Oxalic Acid kill tracheal mites?

It is thought so as those who have used OAV have no reported incidences of tracheal mites. However, it is not proven to do so.
As other questions are posed, I’ll add them (and the answers) to this list.

Another great use of an OA Vaporizer:

Want to avoid the chore of the sugar roll or alcohol wash to count mites? Or just want to see what phoretic mites are in your hive. Try using your vaporizer. Just vaporize as normal then afterwards insert your sticky board. The drop on the second day will show you about 95% of the phoretic mites you have killed. You can then imagine what’s still in your brood ready to emerge as 80-85% of all mites reside in the brood. You can then decide whether you need follow up with a treatment regimen.

Brood Breaks

For those that practice this mite control method, performing a treatment during this time will kill greater 95% of the phoretic mites.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Hives Moving into October

 Most beekeepers have extracted their honey and are feeding their bees if it is needed.
 The bees should be removing drones from the hive. Drones are not welcome in the hive over winter and will be replaced usually starting in late April or early May. Drones are produced when large amounts of natural pollen are available.
 Entrance reducers should be installed right now. Mice will start moving into hives with the cooler weather. The mice are looking for a nice place to ravage and an unprotected hive entrance is the perfect place to start. The entrance reducer should be at the widest opening.
 There has been some light frost in the east metro. Here north of Stillwater I have had frost the last two nights.
 Pollen is still available in small quantities at the moment. The first hard freeze will end the pollen availability, but the bees are still taking advantage of what is available.
 Brood rearing should be slowing down. Right now, Carniolan colonies may be broodless. Carniolans usually shut down brood rearing early. Oxalic Acid mite treatment will work well right now on a Carniolan colony.
 Italians will still have some brood for a little while yet.
If a hive is fed sugar syrup, plan on having brood in the hive for 30 days after feeding has stopped.
  Temperatures are forecast to be above normal for the next three months. This may be a good sign to help the over wintering in the states of MN and WI.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The weather

This looks like the last week of 70 degree weather. Beekeepers should check their hives winter stores. This warm weather may have made the bees consume more food than normal.  Topping off the hives food supply may have to be looked at.
 The extended forecast has the temperatures staying in the 60's for a couple weeks, then cooler as the days move closer to November. As the weather cools beekeepers that still have work to do will be finding it a little harder to get syrup into the hive.  Feeding needs to be completed as soon as possible. The bees do not like cold syrup and they will be reluctant to take the syrup down. It looks like there is about two good weeks of feeding ahead, after mid October the bees may be reluctant to take syrup very well.
 The top deep box should be full of honey right now. Feeding is needed if the colony is light on food stores. If the outside frames are empty. Moving the empty frames to the center of the box and full frames to the outside of the top box. The bees seem to fill the frames better if they are in the center of the box.
  Mite treatments are more limited in the colder weather. Apivar and Hopguard can be used as they are contact strips and don't depend on warm weather for them to be effective.
 Oxalic Acid has been approved for use in MN. Oxalic acid can by used around mid October, when a hive becomes broodless.  Oxalic acid only kills mites that are directly on the bees. Mites that are in brood cells are not killed by the Oxalic acid treatment. When hives are fed late, the queen will continue to lay. The nectar flow produced by feeding will stimulate the queen to lay eggs. Plan on having brood in the hive about thirty days after feeding.
 With the cooler weather moving in, entrance reducers should be put on colonies to keep mice from moving into the colonies.

Monday, September 21, 2015

What is happening now in the hive

The warm weather is helping beekeepers get their mite treatments and feeding done. Hives that were light on bees, have had an opportunity to build up to larger numbers. Beekeepers using ApiGuard and Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) have been getting the heat they need for the mite treatments to work properly.
 After a mite treatment, a test to see if the treatment worked is needed.
How to test for Varroa Destructor Mite Levels.
 Nature's Nectar LLC does carry the Univ of MN Bee Squad mite test kits. The kits contain everything needed to do a mite test.
 I had a beekeeper tell me they treated for mites with a mite treatment. Before they treated, they had five mites in the sample. After the treatment they had twenty mites per sample. This particular treatment did not work. Sometimes mite treatments don't work because of weather, hive population or being applied improperly. The beekeeper is now trying another type of treatment.
 All Varroa Destructor Mite treatments need to be applied according to the manufacturers label.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

last warm week?

This may be the last week in the 70's. Last week for mite treatment using Mite Away Quick Strips. The 70's help the treatment work properly.
Feeding heavy now. The bees will take the feed readily in the 70's. As it cools the bees don't take the feed as well. If a beekeeper has to get alot of feed in the hive in a hurry, a hive top feeder works great. They hold four gallons of syrup and the syrup is available to many more bees than a feeder pail or frame feeder.
The bees come up from below through the open channels and move down to what ever the level of the syrup is.

Hive Top Feeder The feeder goes on top of the top box

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


 I have had a few beekeepers tell me they went and checked their bees. They looked great two weeks ago and now there were no bees in the hive and all of the honey was robbed out. There were no dead bees in the hive.
 All of these absconding colonies most likely had high levels of Varroa. When Varroa levels get high, the bees will drift away. Leaving no bees and unprotected honey.
 If there were piles of dead bees one could say they were overcome by robbers and the colony was killed in the robbing melee.
 Failure to treat for mites leads to absconding or a weakened colony that will not survive the winter.

We Rent Extractors

Nature's Nectar LLC does rent three frame extractors for $30.00 a day.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Late Summer forage

This is blooming all over in my tree lines. The plant is covered with pollinators.
I believe it is from the Joe Pye weed plant family.
Note the white pollen on the bees legs.
I have been informed by a beekeeper that this is White Snakeroot.
Thanks for the plant ID.
Photo by W. Kloek

Friday, September 11, 2015

Bee Work, our schedule is growing shorter

The window for feeding and mite treatments is getting less every week.
 Extended forecasts for daily temperatures is heading into a cooler trend. As it cools off ApiGuard and MAQS ( Miteaway quick strips) will not be as effective. ApiGuard and MAQS need warmer temperatures to work effectively.
The next week to 10 days will work for MAQS.  Starting ApiGuard now would be a bad choice in the twin cities and points north. ApiGuard is a month long treatment and there will not be time temperature wise to get a full treatment regimen in.
 Moving forward, from the third week of September. The options for mite treatments will be ApiVar and Hopguard. Both of these mite treatment are contact strips and will work in the cooler fall daily temperatures.
 Feeding if needed should be done now. Beekeepers need to get any feeding done as fast as possible. Feeding promotes brood production because it is a nectar flow. Brood will be raised during a nectar flow. A hive can have brood present 30 days after feeding ceases. It is best to get feeding done by late September if possible. Right now the bees will take the syrup down very quickly. As the temperatures cool the bees become reluctant to take it down. The bees do not like cold syrup.
 Feeding ProSweet instead of sugar water is easier for the bees. ProSweet syrup is just like honey. It has fructose and sucrose. The bees store it in the cells and they are done with refining it. With sugar water the bees have to dehumidify it and turn it into honey. More work and it takes time. Nature's Nectar LLC does carry five gallon pails of ProSweet.
 The winter set up for food is this:
  • The top box should have eight full frames of honey and one partially full frame. The partially full frame should be in the center.
  • The second or bottom box (if in a two deep hive ) should have four full frames of honey, two frames on the outside of both sides of the box. The bottom box of a three brood box hive should have two full frames of honey on the outside ends of the box.
  • Do not put partially filled boxes on top of a hive. The bees may move up into this box in late winter and starve even though honey is in the box below. If you have partially filled boxes, place them now on top of the inner cover. The bees will move up and bring the honey down to the brood nest.
 Feeding ProSweet. The pails now come with an e-z pour spout. The five gallon lid does not have to be removed.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Court rules for the honeybee

A federal appeals court has overturned the EPA decision to allow the use of Sulfoxaflor.
Court Revokes EPA approval of Insecticide

Saturday, September 5, 2015

MN State Fair Competition Results

Congratulations to all of the participants at the fair. The beekeepers worked hard to turn in their honey entry.
MN State Fair Bee and Honey Competition Results
The Nature's Nectar Award for Honey Frames - Blue Ribbon winners:
Gerald Anderson - Deep Frame
Sandy Tschannen - Medium Frame

Sweepstakes Grand Champion - Sandy Tschannon

 Some fair pics
White Honey

White and Light Amber Honey

Elizabeth W. a volunteer Bee Interpreter answering questions

Chunk Honey, Creamed Honey and Comb Honey

Comb Honey

12 0z Containers and Frames of Honey

Honey Frames

Honey Frames - The honey looks dark because of the black foundation


The bees have been bringing in nectar off of the Stiff Goldenrod. They have been working it and I noticed robbing behavoir of my bees is not there at the moment.
Other beekeepers have told me their hives smell like wet sweat socks so there is a flow happening. It may be the heat and humidity that kicked in the nectar flow. The weather will change next week and the Goldenrod nectar flow may stop with the cooler weather.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bees on Goldenrod

Now my bees are on the goldenrod. Maybe the heat and humidity has made the plant more interesting. Photos by W Kloek

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Time to Pull and Extract

The nectar flow appears to have run its course. My bees are still in robbing mode. If there is any uncovered honey or syrup around, the bees find it and are after it in big numbers. When bees display this robbing behavior, the nectar flow has usually stopped or has ended.
 The upcoming week will be hot and humid. Pulling honey with fume boards works very well in hot weather. The bees leave the supers very quickly.
 If no queen excluders were used on the hive and there is some brood in the supers. The bees will not leave the brood with a fume board or a bee escape. The only way to get the bees off the frames is with a bee brush.
 If supers are pulled in the humid weather, the supers should be put in a room with a dehumidifier and a fan running. If the supers are placed in a large area, like an open basement, plastic tarps should be put up to make a temporary room so the dehumidifier would work more efficiently.
 I usually pull my honey then leave it in my honey house with a dehumidifier for at least a week before I extract. The dehumidifier will help get the moisture of the honey down to US Grade A level, which is 18.6% water content or less. It is easier to get the water content lower now, before you extract, than after it is after the honey is in a pail.
 I do check beekeepers honey with a refractometer to see what their moisture level is. This is a free service I do for my customers. Bring me or mail me a small sample, but fill the container with honey. I only need a thimble full sample. So a small vial works well. A full honey jar is ok also.
Honey that is not US Grade A will ferment with time.
This is the scale in a refractometer. This honey sample was reading 19.3%

Atago Refractometer

 A note about small hive beetle
Beekeepers who purchased their bees from Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Texas. Have to be careful if your hive has small hive beetle. If the beetles are in your supers and no bees to stop them, the beetle may start laying and beetle larvae can quickly spread. I have heard to prevent this, the beekeeper needs to get the room with the supers down to a relative humidity of 40%.
 Speaking of hive beetle. I had a beekeeper that had his bees near a beekeeper that got his bees from Louisiana. The beekeeper had his hive infested with beetles from his neighbor. Small hive beetle can fly up to 20 miles. If a hive is weak it can be very susceptible to beetle activity. In this case, the beetles got so bad that his bees absconded.
 Once the ground temperature reach 54 degrees the beetles can no longer pupate in the soil. Refrigerator temperatures kills the beetle in all stages. Beetles can live in the bee cluster throughout the winter. Strong colonies of bees will keep the beetle in check.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Oxalic Acid

Oxalic Acid is a recently approved mite treatment for Varroa Destructor. Oxalic Acid is a late October mite treatment used when no brood is present in the hive.
The mite treatment calander goes like this:
 Treat for Varroa in August or early Sept. Use Miteaway Quick Strips, ApiGuard or ApiVar strips. These mite treatments have good results. Then in late October treat with Oxalic Acid. The late treatment will kill any mites that have reinfested the hive during the robbing period of September and early October. When bees try to rob honey during those times, mites can hop off the robber bees and then reinfest your treated colonies and you may get a high level of mites again.
 If you wait to treat past the August to early September treatment window the bees will be getting damaged by Varroa. The longer you wait to treat, the more damage Varroa does to the bees. Waiting to treat in October, your bees may be so far gone they will die over the course of the winter.
How to apply Oxalic Acid. This is a great article from Randy Oliver at his website: Oxalic Acid Dribble Method
 Randy's bees are in California so after reading his article you need to form your own conclusions of how effective it would be in northern climates.
 The dribble method may not be an option if it is cold in late October. You may not to want to get your bees wet.
The other method is the Vaporizer Method.

Nature's Nectar LLC does now carry the Varrox Vaporizers. The vaporizers are widely used in Europe. The following video is put out by the Varrox manufacturer. Double click on the video for full screen.

Varrox Vaporizer

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye weed is blooming around the metro. A pollinator and honeybee favorite.
I have seen it blooming on the Brown Creek State Trail in Stillwater
Joe Pye Weed photo by D. Ulvenes

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Goldenrod the last flow?

Goldenrod is blooming around the metro area. I am not sure if there is a flow there or not. I see my bees have robbing behavior and not really on any Goldenrod. Robbing behavior happens when there is no nectar flow. Maybe as the week progresses the Goldenrod will still produce some nectar. Maybe the Goldenrod is producing nectar in your locale.
 You know if you are getting Goldenrod honey if the hive has an odor of wet sweat socks. The odor is temporary, as soon as the honey ripens the wet sweat sock odor goes away.
 This nectar flow is the last major flow of the season, The only other big possible flow a beekeeper may get is an uncut alfalfa field.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Mite Treatments

Miteaway Quick Strips MAQS( Formic Acid):
Miteaway quick strips are a 7 day mite treatment. They cannot be put on if the temperature is over 84 degrees for the first three days of treatment. Honey supers can still be on the hive. The new label now says, to stay upwind of treatment strips.  Rubber gloves must be used when handling the strips. Water should be with you in case of eye contact, water is used for flushing  purposes.
MAQS are sold in 2 hive, 10 hive and 25 hive treatment packs. It does not keep. Purchase only what you need.
Always read and follow the manufacturers label instructions when using MAQS.

Mite Away Quick Strips

Apiguard (Thymol Gel): 
Apiguard is a 30 day mite treatment. Supers must be off the hive. The odor of the thymol will damage any honey in the supers with its strong odor. The thymol gel is packaged in foil tins. Peeling back the cover exposes the thymol gel. One foil pack is put on the hive for 15 days then another tin for 15 days.  A wooden frame is needed to lift the hive box 3/4" so the bees can have access to the tin. Apiguard needs to be put on as early as possible in late summer. As the daily temperatures cool into the 60's Apiguard becomes less effective. Available in 5 hive treatment packs, 10 tins per package. It keeps for two years.  Always read and follow the manufacturers label instructions when using Apiguard.

Apiguard application instructions

ApiVar ( Amitraz):
ApiVar is a strip that carries the miticide Amitraz. The treatment is two strips per brood box. Supers must be removed when using ApiVar. Rubber gloves are used when handling this ApiVar strips. Apivar is a contact strip. The bees must come in contact with the strip. This is a 6 week treatment. ApiVar comes in a ten strip or 50 strip foil package. Always read and follow the manufacturers label instructions when using Apivar.

Apivar Application Instructions

All of these treatments are effective against Varroa Destructor.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hive Light On Winter Stores?

Mass feeding in late summer is easy. Three one gallon feeder pails right on the frames.

Three one gallon feeder pails covered with a deep. In late summer the bees will empty the three pails in about five days.
This time of year a beekeeper needs to check the hive for winter stores. If the colony had swarmed earlier in the summer, the hive might have missed the nectar flow and need some feeding. Waiting to feed later in the fall does have some pitfalls. If it cools off, the bees won't take the feed very well. Feeding spurs brood production. Normally, it is best to get the brood production to stop by late October. By feeding late, there may be brood in a colony past Thanksgiving. Having brood in a colony late, increases food consumption and colonies can starve easier in late winter.
 Right now the top brood box on a hive should pretty much be full of honey. If your colony does not have a full box of honey, feeding should start now. Don't wait to feed. Remove your supers.
 The bees will take feed very well right now. I would move full frames of honey to the outside of the top box and empty frames to the center. The bees will fill up the center frames easier that way. Feed heavy syrup 2:1 sugar and water or feed ProSweet bee feed.
  On the other hand, if your hive swarmed and all of your brood area is full of honey. You may need to extract out a few of the frames in the bottom box so the queen has room to lay.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The humid weather

With the humid weather a beekeeper needs to think about pulling honey. It is ok to pull the honey and extract it but, the beekeeper should not leave it in a garage or a non air conditioned space for a long time. Leaving honey off the hive in humid weather can make the honey's moisture level rise.
 The wax capping's can absorb moisture thru the capping's and into the honey.
On very humid days. a super pulled off the hive if it is allowed to sit in the humid air, the moisture in the honey can rise 1% in a day. So if your honey is 17.7% which is a good moisture level, if it went up 1% to 18.7%. The honey would no longer be Grade A honey and the honey may start to ferment after a few months.
Moving the honey into a room with a dehumidifier running or an air conditioned space will prevent the honey from absorbing moisture.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Pulling Honey Off The Hive

Now that the nectar flow is winding down some thought needs to put into how the honey is going to be removed. Here is a couple ways to pull honey. These are two links to my YouTube videos.
Using a bee brush.

Pulling Honey with a bee brush

Using a fume board.
 You can use Honey Robber or the better smelling Honey Bandit. Honey Robber works best. Honey Bandit works great if daytime temperatures are in the upper 80's.

Pulling Honey with Honey Robber

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The late nectar flow

Right now some beekeepers may be getting nectar, some beekeepers may be not. If I was going to put a number on it. I would say that the nectar flow is 85% done for most of us. Any beekeepers with large fields of Alfalfa, Buckwheat or Purple Loosestrief are still getting a good flow. The rest of us, are getting the last stages of probably one of the best nectar flows in many years.
This is the nectar flow chart from Warner Nature's Center. It is from Paul Liedl, volunteer beekeeper from WNC. He has put together this hive on a scale that helps put the nectar flow in a calender setting, with the accumulation of nectar through the summer. Warner Nature's Center is more heavily wooded than the perfect bee location. But the bees do make it happen and did put up some honey.
This is what Paul said about his hive that is on a scale.

I was at Warner today and hive #3 is still gaining weight but at a much slower pace.  Total weight gain for the past week was only about 6 pounds.  As you can see from the attached graph the nectar flow stopped around 7/14 but started up again a week later at a much reduced rate.  Still not getting any goldenrod nectar even though they are beginning to blossom.  The attached graph is only plotting the maximum recorded weight each day.
Weekly chart of the nectar collection from Warner Nature's Center  

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Volunteers needed for the fair

Dave Schaaf runs the Bee and Honey display
Volunteers are needed to help at the State Fair. It is a three hour stint at the Bee and Honey display in the Ag Hort building. You will be talking to the general public about honey bees. This is a great help for the public to get good information about honeybees from the beekeepers that work the hives. Usually you sit on a chair in front of an observation hive. Everyone wants to see the queen. The queens are marked and are easy to spot. It is in the shade, the doors are wide open and most of the time there is a nice breeze blowing through. So even if it is hot out it is in a comfortable spot out of the sun and weather.
 You do not have to be an expert. You know more about bees than the public. Give yourself credit. You put the bees in the hive, they grew to an awesome colony, and now there is honey on the hive. The civilians that you will be talking to don't know what a queen excluder is, so any new beekeeper sounds like an expert. If you don't know the answer to a question that is ok, someone there will know it.
 Every beekeeper that does this comes away from it as a great experience. It is a lot of fun being the expert, because you are one.
Sign up at the link below.
State Fair Bee Interpreters

Monday, July 27, 2015

The nectar flow is still rolling

The nectar flow is still rolling. Many early honey plants are still blooming. The late summer flowers are starting to appear. Purple Loosestrife is in full bloom.
Purple Loosestrife is a noxious weed and should never be propagated. It can take over a wet land and have a negative effect on the eco system of the wetland.
 Having said that,  Purple Loosestrife is a great honey plant. The honey looks like new motor oil. It has a greenish tint to it. Purple Loosestrife honey has a nice flavor. Sunflowers are blooming. Some Sunflower varieties are very good honey producers while some others are not.
Purple Loosestrife. Photo by W. Kloek

Friday, July 24, 2015

MN State Fair

The MN State Fair is coming soon. I always encourage beekeepers to make an entry. The fair is one of the largest honey and bee displays in the country. This gives MN beekeepers a wonderful opportunity to show the fruits of their labor, while promoting the beekeeping industry.
Honey entries

Volunteer Beekeeper Steve Buck talks to visitors to the bee and honey exhibit
This is the link to the MN State Fair Premium Book.
Find the Bee and Honey section. There are many entry possibilities. You can enter as many of the lots as you desire. Only one entry per lot. Always read and follow all the direction in the lot. You do get your entry back.
 There is a novice class for new beekeepers who have never won a ribbon. Also a Junior lot for kids. More than one child per family can enter the same lot.
 Bottling honey for the fair makes you a better beekeeper. There is more attention to detail because this is competition. Bottling of honey makes you think of the fair and you tend  to bottle a more consistent product.
 I find it helps to make a schedule to get ready for the fair. Have any honey extracted by early August. Let it set for a couple days for the air bubbles to rise. Bottle a week before the entry is due. Any bubbles rise to the top of the jar. Carefully take a spoon and remove any froth at the top of the jar. Top off the bottle if needed with the same honey.
 Your entry at the fair will be seen by thousands of fairgoers. All of your friends and family will stop by to see your entry. If you win a ribbon you will be able to say that you have the best honey in the State of MN and you have the ribbon to prove it.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The current nectar flow

Spotted Knapweed

The nectar flow is still on. If I was going to put a number on it, I would say the nectar flow is about 60 - 65% done at this time.
  But as we get into the later summer months the flow can start getting a little spotty. A few factors influence the late nectar flow.
 Some areas have good early summer flows and not great late summer flows. Other areas produce nectar the whole summer. While some beekeepers may only get one type of flow off one particular nectar source and that is it.
  Some of these factors have to do with moisture conditions. But I think across the upper Midwest our soil moisture conditions are not a negative factor. Usually nectar flows are better when it is a little on the dry side. But I think the good moisture conditions give all beekeepers a better chance of getting a good honey crop.
 The steady heat we have been experiencing has made the foraging by the bees a more productive endeavor. The bees can get out earlier and longer during the day. The heat makes the plants grow and mature to their full potential.
 Basswood trees are done flowering. There is still white sweet clover in bloom. It has started to wane in some areas but in other areas it is still going strong. Birdsfoot trefoil is still blooming everywhere. Now late summer flowers will be starting in abundance. Many thistles are in full bloom. Purple loosestrife will be coming out soon. I have started to look for Goldenrod, but I have not seen any yet. Goldenrod will more than likely start blooming in the southwest suburbs soon.
As we get closer to August harvesting the honey crop, treating for varroa, and entering the state fair are on the to do list.
 I can't say enough about the state fair. It is a wonderful way to display what a beekeeper has worked hard to produce. There are many possible entries. A novice class for beekeepers who have never won a ribbon. Also a child entry to make the show a true family affair. I will be commenting on the fair soon. But here is a link to their premium book with rules, schedules and entry classifications.
MN State Fair Ag-Hort-Bee Premium Book

Sunday, July 12, 2015


My friend Brian runs 200 colonies in the northwest suburbs. He has been having a great honey year. This is a picture of one of his bee yards.
 He runs one deep and a medium super. His bees winter in Texas. The hives are palletized, with four hives to a pallet. A migratory cover is used for the lid so palletized hives can be stacked on top of them.
  The pallet of bees can easily be moved with a bobcat and placed on a truck or semi. A semi can hold 800 palletized hives in singles.
 If you look close, you can see his queen excluders above the second box.
Just about everything is full of honey. A deep super has about 90 lbs of honey in the box.
Palletized hives. Some hives are doing better than others.

Friday, July 10, 2015

You never know what you can find

My wife and I were out for a long walk this morning. Wendy spotted a Bald Face Hornet nest on a rise next to the Gateway Trail in the city of Grant. Bald Face Hornets are great to have as a neighbor. Over 80% of their diet are houseflies, that makes them a good neighbor. I hope they eat deer flies because that would raise their stature even more.
Bald Face Hornet nest. A gray rippled paper pulp hive.
 Photo by W. Kloek

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Where we are at

The nectar flow is moving forward. There is still nectar plants blooming everywhere. Supers are being added to stay ahead of the bees.
 The huge rainfall we experienced was great for beekeepers in sandy soil areas. Many times sandy areas have a shortened nectar flow if it starts to get dry. The latest rain and rain in the forecast for late in the weekend should keep the nectar flowing for those beekeepers.
 The warm temperatures with days in the 80's for the foreseeable future should keep the bees on their honey collection binge.
 Goldenrod flowers are set around the 4th of July. With the big rain we had, there is a possibility of a Goldenrod flow in August. Goldenrod is a fickle nectar flow. It seems to produce a good amount of nectar only every five years or so. Being that the nectar flow is running on high octane right now. I am thinking the Goldenrod might give us a show as well.
 I am still getting swarm reports. The swarm calls seem to be easily preventable. Some beekeepers leaving entrance reducers in, not putting supers on, not checking for swarm cells in June.
 A beekeeper from Mpls having a hive from hell. She has had four swarms from one hive. Normally when a hive swarms the new queen will run around and kill any other queen in the hive. Sometimes this does not happen. Swarm after swarm will leave over a one week period. Every swarm will be smaller than the next. The swarming stops when the hive runs out of queens. The field bees in the multiple swarm hives are totally depleted. The hive will recover with time but the nectar collection will not be very good.
 The nectar flow is coming along great, time to think about a plan for harvesting the honey, mite control in August, entering the state fair to show off your new honey crop.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hot Hive

This is a hot hive. The beekeeper was concerned if this was a prelude to swarming. But it is 90 degrees out and the hive is hot. Too many days like this can possibly lead to swarming but a hot hive will cool off by Tuesday for sure.
A hot hive. Temperature around 90 degrees the bees will meander out of the hive to cool off.  When they start hanging on the bottom board in a clump it is called bearding.  
                                                        Photo by Anders

What is blooming in July

This is a link to what is blooming in July
Native's: https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/page/whats-blooming/july-native-plants

Non native's: https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/page/whats-blooming/non-native-species

Not all of these flowers are nectar flowers. Observation is the key. If the bees are working a particular flower they are getting pollen and or nectar from the plant.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Nectar Flow

Honeybee on my just now flowering Basswood Tree photo by W. Kloek
My basswood tree has finally flowered. This honeybee was taking advantage of the available nectar.
I am hearing great things about this nectar flow. A beekeeper that keeps bees in St. Paul near the Mississippi river has four capped supers already. That is about 140 lbs of honey. Which equals about 2-1/3 five gallon pails.  He is going to extract the supers this weekend and put the supers back on.  He started the hive with a package of bees this spring.
This nectar flow still has another four weeks to go.
Stay ahead of the bees, add supers before the supers on the hive are full. Check supers weekly. When in doubt add supers.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hours for holiday weekend and the nectar flow

We will be open normal hours over the holiday
Friday 9 am - 4 pm
Saturday 9 am - 3 pm

Give the bees plenty of room in the supers. If you have two supers on and they are putting any honey in the second super, it is time to add two more.
Bees have a hoarding instinct. If there is room to fill they will work to fill that space with honey. At harvest time,you never want to pull off all full supers off a hive. If all of the boxes were full when they were pulled off, that meant the bees would have made more honey if the space was there to fill.  Pulling off one partially filled super off a hive, tells you the bees gave you everything they could get.

We are at peak nectar flow right now and probably will be for the next three weeks. Good soil moisture, warm days that is the formula for success.
I am hearing of widespread honey success, with everyone having a good nectar flow.

I drove up to Hackensack, MN yesterday. There was white sweet clover blooming everywhere. So the whole state should be having a good nectar flow.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hive Weight Graph

This is a graph of a hive started at Warner Nature's Center. It was a 2 lb package that was installed on a scale. The package was installed with a feeder pail on and a pollen patty. There was some honey in the hive. The scale was then zeroed.
 The weight is on the right. You can see the hive was at a negative number from were it started due to the feeder pail being off and honey consumption. It starts in early June at a negative 12 lbs from the start of zero.
 You can see the graph creeping up. Notice the rise and fall of honey weight with the daily temperatures. There are minor honey flows going on in early June. As the temperature goes up so does the weight of the hive with new nectar coming in.  The weight goes down slightly overnight as water is evaporated from the nectar and the consumption of the nectar by the bees themselves.
Notice on the graph 6/15 it is clear the main nectar flow has started at Warner Nature's Center, which is near Square Lake in northern Washington County.
 From 6/15 to 6/27 the hive has increased its weight by about 35 lbs in twelve days. That is about the amount of honey of one medium super.
 Warner Nature's Center has open fields nearby and has a good amount of trees. It will be interesting to see if the weight goes up much when the Basswood trees open. As of today the Basswoods have not flowered in our rural area. That should change any day now.
 The inside hive temperature fluctuates around 5-7 degrees while the outside temperature has a 20 degree swing between night and day.
Scale data and photo by P. Liedl a beekeeper from Warner Nature's Center

Monday, June 22, 2015

White Sweet Clover and other plants

I saw White Sweet Clover starting to bloom in the Stillwater area. This is one of our main nectar plants.
white sweet clover
also many nectar plants are starting or getting ready to bloom.
 Milkweed is getting ready to flower.  There is a hungry, hungry monarch caterpillar on the leaf. Photo by V. Samelian
Basswood trees are flowering in the cities right now

Swarm control

I had a beekeeper that had his bees flying around the front of his hive in large numbers. He felt swarming was imminent. He called me and asked what he should do. He has several hives.
  I told him to got out immediately an switch the swarming colony with a weaker hive. So he moved swarm Hive A to weak Hive B. Then weak Hive B to swarm Hive A. He then went through the hive that wanted to swarm and removed the swarm cells. Now the field bees fly back to where they think they live. Hive B the weak one, gets all the field bees from Hive A and now gets stronger. Hive A the strong hive gets the field bees from Hive B and now gets weaker. This solves swarming issues immediately.  Now Hive B needs to be watched for swarming because it will be stronger.
 The beekeeper was lucky he was home and saw this in the morning. By noon the bees may have swarmed.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


There is still swarming happening out there. I have had two call this morning already and calls during the week. The nectar flow is happening but it still hasn't got the full attention of the bees. Rainy weather when it keeps the bees inside the hive brings out an increased likelihood of swarming. A seven day inspection schedule for swarm cells may keep your bees in the hive.
 Many beekeepers are in denial when I tell them their bees have probably swarmed. A beekeeper will look in the hive and see a large numbers of bees and they think the bees couldn't have swarmed. The thing to realize is, it is the field bees that leave. The bees that stayed behind cannot fly yet and are unable to leave with the swarm. When we are looking at a colony during the day, propably 80% of the field bees are gone at any time during a sunny day. If you looked in a colony a half hour after sunset, you would then see all the bees in the hive.  After discussing what their hives looked like, they usually come to agreement that yes their hive did swarm.
How do you know if your bees have swarmed? When the bees swarm, the queen stops laying. Queen cells are made and when the swarm cells are capped the hive swarms. Looking inside a colony that has swarmed this is what you will see:
  • Queen cells somewhere in the hive. The queen cells usually on the bottom of the frames but they can be anywhere. As you remove queen cells during inspections, the bees will get tricky and make one where you are not looking.
  • Absence of eggs and young larvae. The queen stopped laying, her abdomen shrinks anticipating flying off with the swarm. Usually you will notice only very old larvae or only capped brood.
  • The brood boxes are filling up with nectar. The bees that stayed will start foraging as they get to the right age and the nectar they bring back fills the brood boxes.
  • Few bees in the supers. Beekeepers blame no honey in the supers on queen excluders. But the real reason is their hive has swarmed. It is the denial thing again.
If you see capped swarm cells now, you can scrape off the queen cells and call Olivarez Honey Bees for a queen or you can let nature take its course and leave the queen cells alone so they will raise their own queen. A hive can make a queen in MN usually anytime after June 10th. Before that time, a queen would have to be purchased to assure it was properly mated.
 There is plenty of time for the bees to recover their population before winter. But the hive will not make any excess honey for the beekeeper.
 If the hive is light on honey stores in mid August. The honey supers should be taken off and feeding of heavy syrup or ProSweet should start then. Waiting to feed later may make it hard to get enough food into the hive before winter.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Basswood Trees

Everyone should be experiencing a nectar flow right now in the lower half of MN.
 My Basswood trees in Stillwater area have not flowered yet. I can see they are getting close with some cracks in the flower pod. I can see the yellow flower head. So I think the bloom is imminent.
We did not have Basswood flowers last year. All of the flowers fell off the trees around the state before the flowers opened.
This is a pic from S. Alms from southern MN where the Basswoods have just flowered.

Monday, June 15, 2015

What is happening now

I see, as I travel around the Stillwater area. Yellow Sweet clover, White Dutch Clover and Bird's Foot Trefoil is blooming everywhere. Sumac is also starting to bloom. Many flowering plants are starting to pop up everywhere.
 My Basswood trees have not bloomed yet but that may be getting close or is happening in the cities or the southwestern suburbs.
Swarming is a concern still. Strong hives that get cooped up with a rainy period may get the swarming impulse going. Looking for swarm cells is still a good idea until we get further into the main nectar flow. All entrance reducers should be out and supers should be on.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sold Out Of Queens

We are sold out of queens for 2015.
If you need a queen call Olivarez Honey Bees 1 - (877) - 865 - 0298

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I have a nectar flow

I went out to check my yard in my back yard for bear damage being a bear was spotted at the neighbors.
My bear fence was kryptonite to the bear. He shall not pass!
While I was happy with my new fencer I thought I would check for a nectar flow. Low and behold white comb and they were filling the top deep. The flow must have just started because frames were not full but now comb was growing everywhere. I have clover and birdsfoot trefoil in bloom around the beeyard.
You can see the new white wax being added on top of the brown burr comb. This is an indication that a nectar flow is on.

Looking down into the edge of the frames. New white comb is being build and the bees are capping the new honey with new white beeswax. You can see the inside frames are being filled. The outside frames are being worked on with new comb under construction. There are no feeders on so the bees are getting this from the flower source.
Supers on now, Supers on now, Supers on now, Supers on now, Supers on now

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Where we are at right now

Colonies are building up quickly now. Everyday more and more bees are emerging. Bees are in all boxes now. New beekeepers should have two deep boxes fully drawn out by now or close to it. Some hives may have their third box on. Now with the population ramping up in the hive, bees will be drawing out comb much faster. A deep box put on today, should be all drawn out in the next 10 days as long as the beekeeper is feeding. Compared to a month it took to draw out the first box.
 The nectar flow is creeping up. Black Locust trees are waning. Yellow Sweet Clover is blooming across the metro area. Usually yellow sweet clover doesn't produce much nectar in this part of the state. In the Dakota's it is "THE" honey plant.

Alsike Clover
 I did see some Alsike clover blooming next to my garage but no where else at the moment.
Basswood Flowers

 Basswood trees have dropped their flower pods. The flower pods are not displaying any flowers. I imagine the may bloom early. Normally Basswoods bloom around the first of July. Right now it appears the Basswoods may be blooming a little earlier than usual.
 Everything looks like it is going to fire up soon. Supers should be on now. If a beekeeper is still drawing foundation, check the hive every five days to see where the bees are at on drawing comb.
 When the top deep is finished or close to it. If it is not heavy with honey, do a reversal and put your supers on. If the top deep is heavy with honey it is too late to do a reversal and run the hive the way it is. Put the supers on.
 In general, supers go on two at a time. When drawing foundation put new supers always directly above the brood box. They will draw out the comb better. Check supers weekly. A strong hive with a good nectar flow will be able to draw out, fill and cap a whole honey super in a week. That is about 35 lbs of honey.
All we need now are some 85 degree days.