This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Bacteria Discovered In Honeybees

 This researcher spoke at the MN Hobby Beekeepers meeting a couple months ago. His results are intriguing. Is this new found bacteria the cause of the demise of bee colonies? Is Varroa the vector that brings the bacteria to the bees? Many unanswered questions still exist, but this may be an important discovery.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Varroa Control Videos

Bob Sitko forwarded this link to me. There are several videos about Varroa control. Look at the video of Varroa sampling. I think beekeeping success is all about controlling this pest. Doing Varroa sampling and treatments, at the right time, are critical for hive management.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cold Weather

Cold weather has really arrived. Below zero around the state.
The bees will be in a tight cluster. Eating honey and making heat in the cluster.  The bees can handle the cold as long as there is honey in the hive.
 Beekeepers that may be having a tough time right now are the beekeepers that fed late into November. The late feeders may still have some brood in their colonies. So the bees have to keep the brood warm, consuming more honey to keep the brood warm. This can lead to starvation if the bees deplete all the honey around the brood.
 The best advise I can give to prevent getting into the late season feeding is this. If it is mid August and the top brood box is not full of honey, remove the supers and start feeding then. Waiting to feed, leads to being in pickle in the late season with brood in the hive in December. Not much a beekeeper can do now, but wait until the first hive check around Feb 1st.
 But most of us have heavy top boxes full of honey, we have treated for mites twice in the fall, the hives are covered with a winter wrap and their bees should be as good as they can be for the rigors of winter.
This beekeeper added a plastic tarp windbreak to help stop the cold winter winds. Good southern exposure for some solar heat, full sun on the hives all day.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

New Winter Hours

Open Wed noon - 6pm
Saturday 10 - 2pm
or call for an appointment

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Winter Patties

Now is the time to put winter patties on the hive. Winter patties are an emergency food that can save a colony from starvation in February. The patties can be put on now, when it is easy to get to the hive. Winter Patties are emergency food and will not keep a colony alive that has four frames of honey in the hive right now.
 Winter patties are basically sugar. What happens in February, the queen starts laying eggs. The bees will keep the brood around 96 degrees no matter what the outside temperature is. The bees feed the brood and consume honey to keep the brood warm. So the consumption of honey increases. As the bees deplete honey around the brood, the bees will move out further away from the brood to get at more honey. The brood never moves, so the bees may have to move one or two frames away from the brood to full frames of honey.
 Now if it gets cold in February to near zero or below for two to three nights, the cluster of bees contract into a tighter cluster to keep the brood warm. The bees now in a tighter cluster, pull off the frame of available honey. The cluster is producing heat and feeding the brood now have no food. If the cold snap lasts a couple days, the colony can starve because they have no food.
 By having winter patties on the top bars of the top box, the cluster can reach this sugar and have feed during this cold snap.
Winter patties are a good investment that can save a colony and save on the purchase of more bees in the spring.
Winter patties are put on in pairs, I usually check them on February 1st and also before a February cold snap to see if they have been consumed and add more as needed. A hive can be opened in the winter to check on patties. This will not hurt the colony.
Patties are $2.50 each, a 10 lb box is $20.00. They also come in a 40 lb box.
Winter patties are put on in pairs on the top box right under the inner cover. They look like a pollen patty, but they contain mostly sugar and will not stimulate brood production.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Making Creamed Honey

This time of year I always make several batches of creamed honey. I give them away for holiday gifts to friends and family.
 Creamed honey is easy to make. The people you give it to will be amazed with the different type of honey. Many people have not even tried creamed honey.
Creamed honey is basically granulated honey. Use honey that is liquid and is free from all granulation. Honey is warmed to about 95 degrees and a good quality creamed honey is added for seed. The fine granulation of the store bought, good quality, creamed honey is the basis for the final product. Over a period of ten days to two weeks the honey will granulate by replicating the fine crystals of the store bought creamed honey. Put the fresh batch of creamed honey in a place that is around 57 degrees. A cold concrete floor works great. This temperature is perfect for honey granulation.When it has "set" the honey will be very firm. Creamed honey spreads like butter. Nothing better than a toasted English muffin with butter and creamed honey for a great winter breakfast. 
 Use one pound of creamed honey per ten pounds of liquid honey. If making cinnamon creamed honey, add 1/8 cup cinnamon powder per ten pounds honey. Don't mix in the seed if the honey is too warm. The seed crystals may liquefy and the process will not work. After I mix up the seed and honey, I put it outside for a quick cool off before the seed can melt.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Covering Hives

Now that winter is back. It is not imperative to cover hives right away. If you can do it now, great. The bees are ok in this weather. But the hives should be covered in the next week or so.
There is a snow storm on the horizon for Tuesday. You never know if we are getting an inch or a foot. So watch the weather.
I hope the beekeepers in the central and northeastern MN got their hives covered. They did have a couple days notice of impending winter.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How do we get reinfested with mites

This colony was treated in August with Mite Away Quick Strips. The hive had a low mite count after treatment. As fall progressed, the hive was reinfested with mites. The beekeeper treated with Oxalic Acid with a vaporizer. The pic from a week ago was after 2 days, now this pic from the same hive, is the mite drop after 9 days. You can see the mite drop produced hundreds of dead mites that are no longer parasitizing the bees and weakening the hive. Had she not treated, there is a good chance the bees would not have survived the rigors of winter,
A researcher recently was doing experiments on bee colonies. He had colored all the bees in the hive as part of his experiments. The hive had a very high mite count.
 The result was typical, all of a sudden all of the bees absconded. That is the scenario for fall, in a hive with a high mite count. One week the hive looks great and the next week all of the bees are gone.  Most beekeepers have experienced an empty hive if they have kept bees for several years. The question has been, where did the bees go?
 What the researcher found was the bees went to other colonies in a 1.5 kilometer area from the existing colony. He found colored bees in colonies near the hive that absconded. So all of the bees that were full of mites, went to other colonies and brought their mites with them. Now the neighbors colonies are threatened with high mite levels. Areas with many colonies in close proximity, such as Minneapolis, is a good bet for reinfestment of mites.
Now we know one way our  hives are getting reinfested with mites.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Covering Hives

I think hives could be covered at any time now. The weather next Saturday looks like it is going more towards our traditional late November weather. There is snow in the forecast, not sure how much, but that four letter word was muttered by some meteorologists.
 Starting next week we will be having shorter open hours. I will post our new hours then.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


There has been some confusion of when to treat with Oxalic Acid.
 The treatment should be done when it is around 40 degrees at the time of treatment. If it warms up later in the day that is not a problem.
 At 40 degrees the bees are clustered in one area, that makes getting all the bees covered in Oxalic Acid an easier task.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Why we treat with Oxalic Acid in late fall

A beekeeper treated her hive with a vaporizer last Saturday morning. It was around 40 degrees. This pic shows the mite drop two days after treatment. Actually it takes seven days for the full effect of the Oxalic Acid to be seen. But, after two days the mite drop was huge. She did treat with Mite Away Quick Strips in August but her hive was reinfested over the course of the fall.
Now her colony will be much more healthy for winter without the parasites on the bees all winter long.
All the red spots are mites. There are hundreds of them that dropped on the screen bottom board after two days. There will be more after the full seven days after treatment. This hive was treated in August with Mite Away Quick Strips it was reinfested over the course of the fall. The late season Oxalic Acid treatment is very effective.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Our Warm Weather

This warm weather we are experiencing is letting beekeepers with not quite enough honey stores, some added time to get feed into the colony.
 The bad news is, with the warm weather and no hard freeze, there still is pollen available for the bees. With the pollen coming in and the warm weather, there may be brood still being produced by some colonies. As more brood happens so do more mites.
 The warm weather makes it a little harder to do the dribble method oxalic acid treatment. Not being cold enough to get the bees in a hard cluster. The advantage of the vaporizer is you can treat, because the vapor is distributed throughout the hive.
 Some beekeepers who have treated their bees for mites, are finding very high mite counts again. The bees have been re-infested with mites. Some of these beekeepers have already had their hives die from high mite loads.
A beekeeper sent me this pic. He treated with formic in August. He was concerned that his hive had a brood disease. At first look, it did look that way. On closer inspection you can see mites in the cells and on the larvae.
This hive is suffering from Parasitic Mite Syndrome. Very high mite count.
High mite load. You can see several mites on larvae in the cells.
Where are all these mites coming from after the hive was already treated? The problem is other beekeepers who do not treat their bees. Their problem becomes our problem. It is in the best interest of all beekeepers if everyone treated for mites.

Monday, October 31, 2016

New Bee Lab on the St Paul Campus

University of MN Bee Lab est.2016


Main Hallway - Freezers for experiments - to lab rooms

Observation hives room. The bees cannot see red. So a red light is dark to them

Work shop / Woodworking Tools

Hot room for honey supers before extracting. Heated floor with dehumidifier on the wall

40 frame Tangential Extractor. This type of extractor is very efficient. The extractor turns for only five minutes per cycle. A radial extractor by contrast, uses around a 15 minute cycle.

The honey leaves the extractor and flows into a clarifier that is below the floor. From the clarifier the honey is pumped through a bag filter, then into the honey bulk tank.

The bulk tank is piped to an E-Z Fill automatic bottler. This bottler fills a wide variety of bottle sizes. The E-Z fill can be set to fill any size bottle, filling the bottle precisely to the correct weight. The other tank to the rear of the pic is a wax melter.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Time for Oxalic Acid

Sometime in the next 7 to 10 days, is a good time to treat with oxalic acid. Pick a time of day when it is around 40 degrees at the time of treatment.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

New Bee Lab Grand Opening

The new bee lab is having a grand opening. Please come and tour the facility.
Bee Lab Grand Opening

Monday, October 24, 2016

Late October Commercial Beekeepers

In late October commercial beekeepers are finishing their work also. Many of them are preparing hives for shipment to warmer climates. Hives are moved to a central location. They are then loaded on to trucks, strapped down and covered with a net. A flat bed semi can haul 800 palletized single deep hives.
A pallet holds four one deep colonies

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Late October bee work

Not much happening in the hives at the moment. Beekeepers are waiting for a little cooler weather to do Oxalic Acid treatments. Looks like that is about a week away. To be effective, the temperatures should be around 40 - 42 degrees out.  The day can warm up later, but at time of treatment it should be around 40 degrees. At this temperature the bees will be in a harder cluster so the dribble and vaporizer methods will catch all the bees in one concentrated area. If it is warmer than 40 degrees, the bee cluster is looser and bees are more spread out. The treatment for the dribble method in warmer temperatures, is less effective.
Some beekeepers are still scrambling to get more feed into the hives before the temperatures cool down. The bees are still taking syrup.
 Too soon for covering hives but that time is coming soon.
A waiting game for most of us at the moment. But in the next 30 days we should all be done with our hives until February.

Friday, October 14, 2016

We now have ProSweet and whats going on in mid October

We are now back to our regular hours after being on vacation. If feeding still needs to be done, feed now with 2:1 sugar water or ProSweet, don't wait to feed. The weather is still warm enough for feeding and beekeepers need to take advantage of that before any permanent cool down moves in.
 Winter covers and moisture boards are the hot item with beekeepers at the moment. Still too early to cover the hives but with cold weather on the horizon, beekeepers are getting their supplies in order.
We are still waiting on receiving winter patty supplies. hopefully we should have them soon. Packaging of winter patties may be different than in years past. Nothing major, I will make a video if there is any big changes.
Still too warm for Oxalic acid treatments but that will be coming soon, so keep that in the back of your mind.
Entrance reducers should be on, mice are lurking in the tall grass, so let's keep the mice out before they think they have a new Holiday Inn.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Where we are at on the bee front for early October.

Welcome to October. Cooler weather is starting to creep in, and soon it will be the norm.
Everyone should have treated their hives with mite treatments by now. Feeding has been going on and should start slowing down as it gets cooler.
I have had a few customers discovering that they suddenly have very high mite counts in their colonies. This can come from a couple of factors.
1. The colonies had high mite counts in the brood cells when they initially treated and the desired mite mortality did not occur.
2. That their colonies were involved in robbing out a colony in thier immediate area from a beekeeper that did not treat for mites. The mites hopped on the robbing bees and viola, high mite infestation.
A treatment of Oxalic Acid at the right time should be able to take down the high mite load and hopefully keep the bees healthy.
Entrance reducers should be in place now. With the cooler weather, mice will start to want to move in for the winter. Entrance reducers can be put in with the larger opening.
Winter covers and Oxalic Acid treatments are on the horizon, but still about three weeks away, unless there is a drastic weather change. Like a foot of snow.
Oxalic Acid Dribble Method

Wintering Bees in Minnesota

Bee Cozy Winter Cover

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Pesticide cuts drone sperm 39 percent


Last of the good feeding weather?

This next four or five days may be the last 70's we will see. Perfect feeding weather. End of next week has highs in the low 50's. As the temperatures cool, feeding slows down. The bees don't like cold syrup.
So take advantage of the weather and get the feeding done.
By this time, all colonies should have been treated for mites. The top box on a hive should be pretty much full of honey. 
Oh, by the way, happy October.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Oxalic Acid Vaporizers on Sale

Varrox Oxalic Acid Vaporizers are on sale now. Now $145.00 Save $20.00
These are the best vaporizers on the market today and will last a long time.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Bees in the Flood

A commercial beekeeper I know in the south metro had his bee yards is in a low area. With all the rain recently his hives all of a sudden, were going under water. His hives are palletized with four hives to a pallet. All of his hives are two deep hives. The water came up so fast that he could not use his bobcat to get the hives. He feared that the bobcat would get stuck and that would be getting submerged also. So getting the hives came to be the hard way. He had to lift every box off the pallet himself and move them to high ground. Remember they are all heavy with winter stores.
The hives in the foreground the water is up to the pallets. The hives in the distance are under water with only the top box above water. All the bees had moved to the upper box.

Safe and sound in a new location. All of the hives are alive.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Late September work

This is where I am at with my bees. I have pulled all my honey. It is sitting in my honey house with a dehumidifier running. The dehumidifier is keeping the room in the 80's. The plan is to extract all my honey this coming week.
 The dehumidifier should get any of the honey that was a bit high in moisture content, down to Grade A status by the time I extract.
 All of my hives have been treated for mites.
Now I am into mass feeding mode. I did have one yard perform poorly on the honey collection and all of the hives are being fed hard with Pro-Sweet as shown in my previous post video. That yard all of the hives needed to be fed. Each of the hives only had about four frames of honey in the top box. My two rounds of feeding should have given each hive about seventy two pounds of Pro-Sweet. That should be enough to fill approximately eight deep frames. So those hives should be good. My other two yards had good honey crops and most of the hives are very heavy with honey stores. I have one hive in each yard that needs to be fed once.
Any hives that need feeding has to be fed now. The later a hive is fed, the longer brood will be present. The longer brood is present, the more opportunity for mites to reproduce. Feeding a hive in early to mid October will have brood in the colony until late November. Beekeepers want the brood to shut down by late October. This will make Oxalic Acid treatments very effective. If brood is in the hive, the Oxalic Acid treatments lose their effectiveness.
 Also the last tidbit. Never leave a partially filled deep or super on top of a hive that is being overwintered. If bees move up from below, into a full honey box that works great. But with a partially filled box on top, the bees may move up again into that box. Leaving the full box of honey below them. The bees will eat all the honey in that partially filled box. Then when the honey is gone, the bees starve even though there are still many frames of honey in the box below them. In winter, it is very unlikely that the bees will move down to get honey.
So feed, feed feed.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Feeding Using A Hive Top Feeder And Pro-Sweet

I was out feeding bees this morning. I have fed once and I am feeding a second round. The feeder I am using is a hive top feeder.
 Hive top feeders work great for fall feeding. In the spring it can be too much syrup for a package of bees, but for fall feeding they work the best.  My hive is a little out of level so I can't feed the full four gallons but two rounds of feeding give me the desired outcome.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Mites 14 days after treatment with MAQS

These are pics taken two weeks after a treatment of Mite Away Quick Strips on two colonies of Julie D's two hives. So the treatment of MAQS strips were on for seven days. That was her first pic two weeks ago. She removed the strips and cleaned off the screen bottom board slide. The new cleaned off slide was left on for two weeks post treatment. The mites you see still dropped off of bees or from the mites that had died in the cells and were removed by the bees. There were dead mites everywhere on her screen bottom board again. Julie started the year with two packages of bees. She did get some honey for her first year.
I think this illustrates the importance of treating for mites. If you think you don't have them and you do, I call that beekeeper denial. Treat your bees NOW. It is starting to get late in the treatment window of time.
Click on the pics for a bigger pic.
Photo by Julie D. You can see the dead maroon colored mites scattered all over the screen bottom board slide. Hive 1

Photo By Julie D. Hive 2

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hive Setup For Winter And Feeding

Now that the honey flow is over for most of us, it is time to make sure the hive is set for winter. Mite treatments should be ongoing or completed by now.
Honey has to be in the upper boxes. Bees will not move down for honey in the winter. Never leave a partially filled deep box or super on top of hive. If the bees move into this box they may consume the available honey and starve, even though there is honey in the box below.
 The top box on the hive should have 8 full frames of honey and one partially full frame. With the partial frame in the middle.
 The box below should have four frames of honey in it. Position the frames two on each side. There should be honey in the other frames that have brood in the hive.
 If you are in a three deep hive, in a perfect world, two frames of honey on the outside, one on each side.
 If your hive does not have that, you need to feed. Feed NOW.
 The bees should take feed very good right now. As the daily temperatures decrease, the bees may not take the feed down very well. That is why we need to feed hard.
 When we feed, it spurs brood production because it is a nectar flow and the queen will lay. The later you feed, the longer there will be brood in the hive. With brood in the hive, the bees will consume more food feeding and keeping the brood warm. This can effect their winter stores. Also mites will start increasing in the brood.
 Fall feeding is 2 parts sugar to one part water. The bees have to convert it to honey. That does take time. If you put in 24 lbs of sugar water, the bees have to dehumidify the sugar water to convert it to honey. So the net amount of syrup put into the hive will be several pounds lighter because of evaporated water.
 Nature's Nectar carries ProSweet syrup. ProSweet is similar to honey. The bees do not have to convert it to honey. The bees put it into the cells and they are done. If you put in twenty four pounds of ProSweet that is what is put into the hive.
So feed hard. The bees will empty a pail in three days.
This is how to feed hard:
Three feeder pails can be placed directly on the top bars in the fall.
A hive top feeder holds four gallons of syrup. The bees come up through the slots under the screen. Whatever level the syrup is, in the syrup well, the bees can pick up. When the bees are feeding, the entire screen area is solid bees.

Hive top feeder

Sunday, September 4, 2016

What are beekeepers doing at the moment

The honey flow is over for most of us.
Mite treatments need to be put on ASAP. Treating for mites is imperative for hive winter survival.
 This pic is from a local beekeeper that treated for mites a week ago. She started the season with packages in new equipment. She did get a couple supers of honey, so for her first year she was very successful.
 She was concerned about winter survival of her bees so she treated for mites using Mite Away Quick Strips. Looking closely at the pic (double click on the pic for full screen) you can see the little maroon mites all over the sticky board.
Mites are all over the sticky board
If there would have been no treatment, the mites would have increased with time. By early October the mite population would have exploded, the odds of overwintering would have been much lower. Waiting to treat the bees for mites? As time goes on, the mites will cause damage to the bees. The weakened bees are more stressed and winter survival can be threatened.
 A high mite load can cause late fall absconding. You look at your bees in early October and they look fine. Two weeks later you look again and there isn't a bee in the hive. This is a symptom of a high mite load.
 The other symptom of high mite load is the bees make it into February and look great. Then over the month the cluster decreases in size and the bees finally die, usually by late February. The bees are succumbing to a virus brought on by a high mite load.
 Treat your bees. By not treating, you are spreading mites to your neighbors hives. Be a good neighbor.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Test Your Honey

After honey is extracted. The honey should be tested for water content. To be U.S. Grade A honey, the moisture content of the honey needs to be 18.6% water content or less. Honey that is over 18.6% will ferment over time. It is still safe to eat, but as time passes the honey can spoil.
 The water content is measured by an instrument called a refractometer. The refractometer takes a small sample of honey smeared on its lens. Then by looking through the eyepiece, a scale can be read in the instrument. This scale will tell what the moisture level of the honey sample is.
 There are many different refractometers out there. Refractometers are used in many different industries, measuring many types of liquids. Beekeepers use a refractometer that is specifically for honey.
 We at Nature's Nectar LLC will test any honey for free. Bring us a sample. 
Scale inside refractometer. This was reading around 19.3% water content

Refractometer, the plastic cover is lifted and honey is smeared on the purple lens.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Still Some State Fair Volunteer Openings

Here's a link to the signup page if you'd like to re-check the schedule:  http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0544aaa92aa2ff2-beehoney

There's also a signup page for helping after the fair.  If you're available, I could really use the help on those days, as we take down exhibits and put everything away for next year:  http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0544aaa92aa2ff2-prefair

I've attached a document with some basic information about honey bees and beekeeping, including answers to many of the questions we're frequently asked.  Read it if you're interested.  You're not expected to memorize any of this.  Your experience with beekeeping is all the information you'll need.

If you have questions or need anything, email me at dschaaf@gmail.com or call during the fair at (651) 642-2307.

Thanks again for supporting the Bee & Honey Show and the MN State Fair.  See you soon!

David Schaaf
Superintendent, Bee & Honey Department

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What's happening in the hive right now

The nectar flow for most of us is over. Some beekeepers are getting some late summer honey. It is very spotty. A few beekeepers are getting some Goldenrod nectar but they are the exception not the rule.
 Mite treatments are being put on hives right now. Bees emerging now, until brood rearing stops, are our winter bees. Winter bees live through the entire winter and are not replaced be any new bees. We want the winter bees as mite free as possible for increasing the odds of over-wintering success.
 The current cooler weather is appealing to beekeepers putting on Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS). The vapors of MAQS are a little less intense when it is in the 70's and the product still works well. When the temps are in the low 80's for the first couple days, there can be some bee and brood mortality. It usually is not much of a problem. But if it gets too warm there is a possibility that a queen can get zapped.
  Other mite treatments are not as intense, but their treatment time take longer. ApiGuard is a one month treatment and ApiVar is a six week treatment.
But the common theme here to get in your head (to the tune of it's all about the bass)  It's all about the mites, bout the mites, bout the mites.
Colonies not heavy with winter stores should be fed now. Don't wait to feed.
Fall feeding is heavy syrup. 2:1 sugar water, 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. The other feed to use is ProSweet. ProSweet is just like honey. The bees take it down and put it in the cells and they are done. Sugar water the bees have to dehumidify it to convert it to honey.
There is some work to do now with our colonies, September is a week away.

Monday, August 22, 2016

40 frame extractor

40 frame radial extractor

40 frame radial reel
A friend of mine has this extractor for sale. He wants $1000.00
It is stainless steel homemade extractor. It is operated with an AC motor.
For it to operate the best, it could use a DC motor and a speed controller. If you are good with tools and understand how to put those items on, this extractor this may be for you. A speed controller costs around $1000. I am not sure about a DC motor.
Call or Text Mike if you are interested 507-202-8861

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mite Treatments Now

Image result for varroa
This larvae has a high Varroa count. The rest of the brood in this colony will be just as bad. Varroa weakens the bees immune system and will kill a colony.
Beekeepers around the Midwest are treating their bees for Varroa mites. The time to treat for mites is over the next two weeks. If the treatments are put on a colony too late, the bees may not survive the winter. Bees that emerge from now until October are winter bees. Winter bees need to be as mite free as possible to be able to handle the rigors of our extreme winters.
 In the hive as time goes on, Varroa populations can increase dramatically. What starts as a relatively low population of mites in early August, can explode exponentially by late Sept or early October. Hives with high Varroa populations may look great in early October, but when the beekeeper comes back to wrap the colony for winter only to discover all the bees are gone. This is one symptom of Varroa. Late season absconding.
 Bees have around fifteen different viruses that lay dormant in their bodies. High mite loads cause these dormant viruses to come out. Bees are dramatically weakened by high mite loads and if the bees do not abscond in fall they will usually succumb to a virus in late winter.
By doing a mite treatment now and following up with a mite treatment of Oxalic Acid in late October will greatly increase the health and survival  of a colony of bees. Some beekeepers want to use Oxalic Acid all the time. Too many treatments of Oxalic Acid on bees can kill them. The pic above illustrates a high Varroa infestation in the brood cells. Oxalic Acid has no effect on mites in cells. That is why Oxalic Acid only works well in late October when there is no brood in the colony and all the mites are on the bees themselves.
Mite treatments to use during August are Mite Away Quick Strips, ApiGuard, or ApiVar. I have a previous post a week or so ago explaining these mite treatments in detail.
 Beekeepers that don't treat their bees are part of the problem. Their bees have high mite loads and will infest their neighbors hive with their mites. Be a good neighbor and treat your colonies now.
 The daily temperatures after Wednesday in the upcoming week looks perfect for Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) treatments.

Goldenrod pollen for sure, nectar maybe

Field of Goldenrod photo by D. Krueger
Goldenrod is blooming all over the metro area. There are many varieties of Goldenrod. Prairie Restorations claim there are over 45 varieties in Minnesota.
Only a few varieties form huge fields of flowers. Tall, Missouri, and Canada Varieties spread to form large colonies of flowers.
 The nectar flow off Goldenrod is very spotty and unpredictable. When Goldenrod nectar does flow, it can be a decent nectar flow and the bees can put up a super or two of nectar. You know you are getting Goldenrod nectar in your hive by standing next to your hive. If your hive stinks like wet sweat socks you know that the Goldenrod is producing nectar. The stink is only temporary. As the Goldenrod nectar ripens and turns to honey, the odor goes away. The honey does have a subtle but distinctive flavor.
 Goldenrod is one of the last large pollen sources for the bees of the season and they will pack the pollen away.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Extractor rental

Did you know Nature's Nectar LLC rents three frame hand crank extractors?
$30.00 a day. 9 am - 8:30 am the next day.
The extractor needs to be reserved, please call for availability.

Pulling Honey

Honey can be pulled off the hive anytime now. The nectar flow has slowed in many areas. By mid August the nectar flow is over for most of us. Honey should be pulled and mite treatments should be applied.
 Any supers that are above the brood box is excess honey and can be removed and extracted by the beekeeper. Here is a couple videos on how to pull honey off the hive.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Overstock sale

We are overstocked on several items. We need the room and are having a sale.
  • Hopguard II for treatment of Varroa. 24 strips per bag $30.00 / normal price $48.95
  • Assembled deep hive bodies with assembled frames with black foundation  $49.95 each / normal price $65.00
While supplies last.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Time for Mite Treatments

 I have listed several mite treatments that are available for treatment of Varroa mites. Mite treatments should be put on the hive by Sept 1st.
 As time goes on Varroa builds up in a colony of bees. Failure to treat at the right time can cause your bees to become irreparably damaged by the mite and the hive more than likely will not survive the rigors of MN winters.  Also failure to treat, causes your bees to infest other beekeepers colonies of bees. As bees in an untreated colony population crashes, bees from healthy colonies come to rob honey and get infested with mites from the untreated colony. Be a good neighbor and treat.
I do not list Oxalic Acid here because that product works best in late October and not recommended for August treatments. Mite treatments cannot wait until October to treat. Waiting that long to treat will cause damage to the bees by Varroa. Treating with Oxalic Acid in August does not get to the mites in the cells. Repeated treatments of Oxalic Acid on the same bees in a colony can cause damage to the bees themselves.

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.


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 and FAQ

All of these treatments are effective against Varroa Destructor.

Chickens love drone brood

Terry McD had some loose burr comb that was all drone comb. She inspected some of the drone brood and saw Varroa mites attached to the brood. So a fitting end for Varroa Destructor. She is pulling her honey supers and starting to treat with some ApiGuard

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Monday, August 8, 2016

Volunteer at the fair

Beekeeper Steve Buck talks to a civilian about bees. That is the best part. Even a first year beekeeper knows more than the general public about bees. Don't be hesitant, it is fun.
 Please consider volunteering at the MN State Fair. This is the Minnesota Beekeepers crown jewel. Beekeepers can show off their industry. The large number of fair goers coming through the Bee display is astounding.  Positive public awareness leads to public support for protecting all pollinators. The fair staff can really use some help on setup and bee interpreters. I can't state enough how positive this experience this is. Wendy and I have volunteered at the fair for over twenty years. It is something we look forward to and it is always a great time.
On the sign up page on the link below, click the link.  Click on the sign up box in the date and time slot you want and the box will have a green check mark in the box. At the bottom of the page there is a black box that says submit and sign up. Click that and that takes you to the sign up page. Fill out the highlighted boxes. Under comments I just wrote our names. It is required to write something, some folks wrote their initials. Dave needs your address, if you sign up before the 15th he will send you a free ticket to get into the fair. Wendy and I signed up twice so Dave is sending us to the fair for free.

From Dave Schaaf MN State Fair Bee Exhibit Supervisor:
The Minnesota State Fair is just over two weeks away.  We're looking forward to sharing the fascinating world of honey bees with 1.8 million fair-goers

If you're still considering volunteering at the Bee & Honey Show, please check your calendar and sign up soon.  A couple things to point out...

  *  Volunteers especially needed Labor Day weekend, Sept 2 - 5.  This are the busiest days of fair, with more people looking at our exhibits and asking questions than any other time.  It's your last chance to have this much fun until 2017!

  *  Lots of help still needed pre-fair, as we're getting everything ready for opening day.  We're having a cleaning party this Saturday, Aug 13, from 9am until 1pm.  Also need many helpers Aug 22 - 24, the last three days before the fair opens.

  *  If you'd like to get a State Fair admission ticket in the mail, you need to register by Monday Aug 15.  That's when I print the list and assemble volunteer packets.  You can still sign up after that date, but I won't be able to mail you a ticket.

Signup pages:
     Pre-fair Bee & Honey Show preparation  http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0544aaa92aa2ff2-prefair

     Exhibit hall interpreters during the fair  http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0544aaa92aa2ff2-beehoney

Thank you for supporting the Bee & Honey Show.  See you at the fair!

-David Schaaf
Bee & Honey Dept.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Extracting Workshop

We will be having our annual extracting workshop again this year. It is limited to 40 beekeepers. If you have been to this workshop before no repeats. Please give a newbee a chance.
Uncapping and extracting honey

Master Beekeeper Bob Sitko explains how to pull honey
When: Sunday August 14,   1 pm - 3 pm    Cost: Free
Where: Nature's Nectar LLC Honey House
What: We will be demonstrating how to pull honey, methods of extracting honey, bottling honey, how to winter your bees. This is a hands on work shop. You are expected to get a little sticky.
Please RSVP by phone or email. Limited to 40 beekeepers. Please no small children.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

3 frame extractors

This is a video of three frame extractors, hand crank or motorized.
Nature's Nectar LLC sells these extractors. We do rent the hand crank three frame for $30.00 a day.

9 - 18 extractor

This is a video of a 9 - 18 frame radial extractor.
This is one of the style extractors that Nature's Nectar LLC sells.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The MN State Fair

Honey on display at the MN State Fair. The black honey is Buckwheat honey and is considered Amber in color, The reddish colored honey is Light Amber in color. The lighter colored honey in the rest of the photo is considered White honey.
The great Minnesota get together is coming in a few weeks. Beekeepers have a wonderful opportunity to show your honey to the state of Minnesota.
 Entering honey in the fair competition is fun and all your fiends and family will go to the honey display to look at your honey.
 There are two classes to enter in many honey categories novice and open class.
The honey booth is a huge draw for the general public and beekeepers can promote the beekeeping industry by participating by entering some honey.
MN State Fair Competition Page
Download the Premium Book Ag-Hort-Bee Premium Book 
Read the Premium book about the different classes to enter. If you have never won a ribbon you can enter the novice class. If you have won a ribbon, the open class is for you. Follow the directions in the class you are entering.  
You need to register by 4:30 pm August 15th.
It is best to have your honey bottled several days before the entry is to be delivered to the fair. Nature's Nectar LLC carries all the bottles for the fair and can offer tips on how your entry should look.
Did I mention that you can win some prize money?
If you win a ribbon, you can say that your award winning honey is the best in the State of MN. 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Where we are at in the nectar flow

 The nectar flow has been decreasing in intensity. Many summer flower are going away. New late summer flowers are coming online. Goldenrod, Purple Loosestrife, Joe Pye weed, Sunflower, and Alfalfa will start blooming again. At this stage of the nectar flow I usually look at my supers and I hold off on putting more supers on. Letting the bees fill up partially filled supers before adding more supers. If the supers are 3/4 full, I will add one super at that time.

Joe Pye Weed photo by D. Ulvenes


White Snake Root toxic to cows, goats, sheep, humans. Don't know how the nectar is. The bees love it.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Neonicotinoids in South Dakota

This article talks about research on honeybees in South Dakota and the levels of neonicotinoids. Neonic's are a pesticide applied to seeds of many plants such as corn and soybeans.
Neonic's in South Dakota honeybee study

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hive Scale

Paul from Warner Nature Center shared this hive scale photo. The yellow line is the honey weight. You can see the hive weight increased from about 110 lbs on 6/29 to around 150 lbs on 7/7. Notice the rise and fall of the hive weight everyday. As the bees bring in nectar, the bees fan the hive to evaporate water in the nectar. The weight of the hive changes daily until the supers are filled out. The weight then stays pretty much constant after that. Maybe falling slightly. Paul explains that it was not for a lack of nectar flow. The supers were all full and the bees stopped collecting. He was aware of the supers being full.
Scale hive at Warner Nature Center from 6/29 through 7/14

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hot Weather, Hot in the Hive, Cool at Nature's Nectar LLC

FYI: We have installed air conditioning in our sales room.

This hive was overcrowded earlier in the year. But it is a good pic for a hot hive. The hive is hot and bees are hanging outside

How does the hot weather affect the bees?
When it gets really hot, the bees will hang out on the front of the hive. This is normal.
  Inside the hive it is packed with bees. Bees are hanging on and covering the frames. With the large population of bees it is hard to cool the hive. To compensate for the heat, collection of water increases. Water is placed throughout the hive and the bees will fan their wings to create air currents. The air currents evaporate the water and have a cooling effect similar to a swamp cooler that are used in the drier western states for air conditioning. The weather that is coming has high heat and humidity. The high humidity make evaporating the water in the hive more difficult and the cooling effect from evaporating the water is not as great. So to help cool the hive, bees will move out of the hive to reduce crowding on the frames. The bees can cover the front of the hive, cluster under the front of the bottom board, and/or cluster underneath the front edge of the telescoping cover.
Taking measures like lifting covers can make cooling the hive harder. Bees set up air currents in the hive by fanning. Creating a large opening may make it harder for the bees to cool the hive.
When the temperatures cool of the bees will move back inside.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

What's Blooming on the Browns Creek Trail

My wife and I went for a walk down the Browns Creek Trail in Stillwater this morning. We went a few miles, beautiful morning for a walk. Breezy plus no bugs. We were looking at all the flowers blooming. Many summer flowers in full bloom or some coming on strong in early stages of bloom. Take Manning Ave to McKusick Road. head east to Neal Ave. Take Neal Ave South about one block. There is a large parking area there and a Stillwater park with a big kid play structure.  We got on the trail and headed west. It is about a mile to the Manning Ave Bridge. I am being descriptive because they are working on a new subdivision of 55 homes. At that point it is a perfect place if you have any tykes that like trucks and big equipment to safely view the construction from an elevated viewpoint. But I did take some pics of what is blooming that was my true focus, not the loss of pollinator habitat.
Bee Balm at my house. This is a great pollinator plant. Also used by butterflies and Humming birds

At the MN Hobby beekeepers on Tuesday night. An hour before the meeting two U of MN scientists Gary and Mike go thru colonies and explain what is going on. They answered questions and demonstrated mite testing. The over wintered colonies they tested all had high mite counts. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about what is happening in a bee hive.

Queen Ann's Lace (big white flower ) I did not see any bees working it. Yellow  flower is Birds Foot Trefoil, purple flower is Spotted Knapweed

White Sweet Clover and Rudbeckia is the yellow flower

Sumac and Rudbeckia

Goldenrod in bloom already. We just saw one plant. Normally it is widespread in August



There goes the neighborhood