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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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.