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, December 31, 2017

2017 - Year in Review

The 2018 Bee Baby is coming. A new year is upon us.
Goodbye 2017
Let's look back and see the year in review.
 January - The year started with some cold temperatures early. The temperatures warmed up nicely late in the month. Not much stress on the colonies.
 February - The weather was above normal temperatures. There was not much cold weather that can cause widespread starvation. Overwintered colonies were able to start brood rearing with ease.
 March - Temperature roller coaster. This did cause some late season starvation. There was a good amount of brood going in the hive. A few beekeepers were caught off guard to a cold blast that came from the 10th through the 15th.
 April - Package bees came. The first delivery was perfect weather. The second delivery was hot and humid on the first day. We had the pallets of bees outside in the shade to keep them cool. Late in the day, the weather turned and the bees were comfortable inside. Warmer than normal first two weeks of the month, cooled off last third of the month. The early warm weather was bring spring on quickly. Overwintered colonies were strong and needing to split soon.
 May - Bees have been building up nicely. Splits were being made through out the month. Queens were in demand through the month. Some cooler weather put the breaks on the fruit bloom. What earlier looked like an early bloom coming on, became a more average mid May event. A little cooler late in the month held back the Black Locust flow. Black Locust trees normally bloom in late May. The cooler weather kept swarming to a minimum.
 June: Started with 10 days of very warm weather. Swarming hit big. Brought on by the hot weather. Many beekeepers who did not split their hives saw their bees fly away. Swarm cells were showing up in strong colonies. The Black Locust flow came on stronger than normal. The early hot weather made this a big event. Many beekeepers in southern MN and WI got huge Black Locust crops. Beekeepers that overwintered colonies but did not do spring mite treatments were experiencing hive collapse. Colonies in general were building very well. Package bees were building and expanding into more brood boxes. The mid-June nectar flow was a no show. No nectar flow means more swarm cells. Beekeepers were fighting the swarming impulse.
 July - The main nectar flow hit around July 4th. About two weeks later than normal. The delay of the nectar flow gave beekeepers with package bees and nucs a little more time for colony build up. Most beekeepers had larger than normal nectar flow with first time beekeepers getting honey in their supers. The Basswood flow was a big help to a big honey crop. There was no Basswood in 2016. Whenever the Basswood flows, the honey crops are usually on the heavier side.
 August - Cooler than normal weather in August put the brakes on the nectar flow. There was not much increase in colony weight during this month. The nectar flow became more spotty. Some beekeepers still got honey but for most of us, it was over with.  Mite treatments were happening from mid August on. The cooler August made it perfect for Formic Acid treatments. Beekeepers were starting to extract their honey crop. The MN State Fair had large participation by beekeepers showing off their honey crops. Beekeeper volunteers kept the honey booth full of knowledgeable docents.
Sept -  Honey extracting and mite treatment were the monthly chores going on. Some warmer than normal temperatures made Formic Acid treatments a little more challenging. Trying to get days under 85 degrees for three days in a row became a timing issue for Formic Acid treatments.
Oct - Beekeepers were finishing up mite treatments and feeding colonies. The warm first half of the month made feeding possible. Late mite treatments were being put on. Too late for many colonies. Some beekeepers were experiencing absconding colonies as high mite loads on untreated or ineffective mite treatments started to take its toll. Beekeepers who treated in August started doing their Oxalic Acid treatments. Oxalic acid was working well and many beekeepers were finding large amounts of dead mites on their screen bottom boards. The late October cooler weather stopped varroa from being transferred from hive to hive. The cold weather kept all the bees at home.
Nov - Dec - A little warmer than normal temperatures hit through Nov. and early Dec. Too cool for the bees to fly much, keeping varroa numbers unchanged in most treated colonies. The warmer weather had the bees consuming very little of their winter stores.  Colonies looked good going into winter. Hives heavy with honey, Varroa properly treated. Winter covers on, preparing for a big cold spell.
 Bitter cold in the end of December might take out any colonies weakened by Varroa. Most colonies should be ok.
Going into 2018 looks good for many of us. Many beekeepers tried the new Saskatraz queens we were offering. Their claim to fame is good mite tolerance and great overwintering capabilities. Come late February we will see how the Saskatraz queens stacked up.
 Wendy and I would like to thank all of our customers for another beekeeping season. It is always our goal to help our beekeeping friends be successful in their hobby.
 What the new year brings, is always different and beekeepers have to roll with the challenges that lie ahead.
In about 60 days it will be time to put pollen patties on.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Installing 2 lb Package Bees in 5 Frame Nuc Box's

We made this video after the first delivery of package bees last April. I finally got around to posting it. It is a good demonstration on how to install bees on a cold morning with no syrup spray.
 Using a five frame nuc box to start a 2 lb package of bees works great. There is enough room for the bees to fit in the box. The package will not be getting any bigger in population for about four weeks. The bees can keep the five frame nuc box warm, easier than a 10 frame box. The lady in the video, Megan, who helped me install the bees, had just shown up at my shop for some bee supplies for her three lb. package that was coming in a week. She left with her supplies and some good experience about putting package bees in a hive.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

Wendy and I would like to wish all our beekeeper friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
 Best wishes to you and your family for a bright and prosperous New Year .

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Cold weather moving in

Cold weather is on our doorstep. It looks like about a fourteen day event. The first week of January look very tough.
The weather up to this point has been a cake walk for the bees. The warm late fall has been easy on the bees and on their food supply.
 Since the first of November, the average hive has consumed around 12 lbs of honey. The average hive consumption in winter is around 12 lbs a month. So the bees have not hit their food supply very hard.
 This cold weather will test colonies. The stresses on a colony in extreme conditions that have been weakened by mites. May result in a less than desirable outcome.
Colonies that a beekeeper managed properly, had low mite counts and ample food stores, is in much better condition to survive the winters of the Upper Midwest.
 I just received this twitter weather update from MPR.
 Coldest weather in 22 years coming according to MPR.
Other weather models are not saying this.
MPR weather twitter feed

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Crank Up Bird Feeder

I put up a crank up bird feeder. I have always had trouble with squirrels and an occasional bear on or destroying our bird feeders.  This feeder keeps all of the varmints from being on the feeders.
 The crank up feeder was easy to install. The post is all aluminum and made for outside conditions.
 The birds love it. Four feeders, offering up a variety of feed. More feeders makes for more birds feeding.
 If you are a serious bird feeder this feeder may work for you.
I purchased this locally from
Crabtree's Garden Gate - Marine on St Croix, MN 55047

Friday, December 8, 2017

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Winter has arrived

After enjoying the warm late fall weather, reality hit this morning. Ice and snow. It looks like the snow may be here for the duration.
 I was able to vaporize and cover all my hives before this weather hit. If you did not get around to covering your hives, now is the time to do it.
 If winter patties have been on for longer than two weeks, it may be a good idea to go out and take a peek to see if the patties are still there.
 The warmer than normal temperatures had the bees spread throughout the hive. In some cases the bees have been eating the sugar patties. So, check it out, replace as necessary. Now with the colder weather, the bees should stay clustered below the winter patties. If the hive has enough food the bees should be in the box below the top box.
 The warm weather has been an easy time for the bees. Honey consumption over the last month has been very low. Normally bees eat about 12 lbs of honey per month in the winter months. Over the last month, the honey consumption has probably been around 7 lbs (depending on cluster size).
 Now beekeepers can take a break. The season is over, the hives are covered and treated for mites. All the bees are ready for the rigors of winter.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Creamed Honey

Made up 30 cases of creamed honey, cinnamon and clover honey. I give the creamed honey to my friends and relatives. This is about 200 lbs of honey. It will take about 10 days to set. So it should be ready to give away by Dec. 10th.
9 oz hex jars. The cinnamon jar is dark, clover is the light colored jar

Monday, November 27, 2017

Open Hours Changing and Random FYI

Starting Dec 1st we will be changing to our winter hours. We will be open Saturdays only, 10 - 2pm.
 Any other time is by appointment. We do not have a problem setting up a time that better fits your schedule, if Saturday doesn't work.
 Beekeepers right now are finishing covering their hives for winter.
The unexpected warm weather is still giving beekeepers a little extra time to treat with oxalic acid. Plus the warm weather is making the bees consume less honey. This may help beekeepers who have light colonies going into winter.
 Did you know that Nature's Nectar LLC sells 5 gallon pails of bulk honey. If you need some honey for holiday gifts, give us a call to reserve a pail. Also we sell bulk strained beeswax. We have a special beekeeper price of $7.50 lb. We do have an assortment of candle molds and wick.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Making Creamed Honey

This is my making creamed honey video. I post it every year just before Thanksgiving.
 Creamed honey is liquid honey that is processed by mixing warm liquid honey with a starter seed of creamed honey purchased from a grocery store.
 After the honey and seed are combined and bottled, it takes about two weeks to firm up. (The creamed honey needs to be bottled in a wide mouth jar, so the contents can be removed with a butter knife). So give yourself time for it to get ready before gifting it.
The creamed honey spreads like butter, but it is all honey.
 What happens is,  the seed  which is finely ground crystallized honey. Will start to replicate the fine crystals. Over the two week period, all the honey will crystallize by replicating the fine crystals. This leads to a nice smooth texture. Normally when honey crystallizes the texture is very course. But by mixing in the fine crystals of the seed, the process controls the replication to the fine crystals.
 Creamed honey is easy to do. It makes great holiday gifts. Your family and friends will be amazed at this wonderful treat.
 The honey used has to be liquid with no granulation crystals in it. Sometimes the honey needs to be warmed up before making creamed honey to make sure it is clear of crystals.
 If making a small batch, say 10 lbs or so. Honey can be put into a gallon pail and put in a water bath in a crock pot. Heating on low brings the temperature to around 125 degrees. This usually will clear up the crystals. Make sure it is clear by gently stirring a time or two to make sure no crystals are on the bottom of the pail. Remove it from the heat when it appears ready. Wait for it to cool down to about 95 degrees before adding the seed. Too hot and the seed may melt, it is granulated honey after all. Too cool and the seed will not be properly mixed into the honey.
 After the seed is mixed in and the honey is milky in color throughout the mixture. Set it outside for a quick cool down to keep the crystals from melting.
Here is the video:

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Last week for Oxalic Acid

 The weather is warming up. The upcoming week looks good for any Oxalic Acid treatment.  Oxalic acid is applied when it is 40 degrees. I have been harping a lot about the Oxalic Acid treatment. I firmly believe that this treatment can improve the odds of successfully overwintering your hives. Here is a re-post of the dribble method YouTube video.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What are beekeepers doing right now

This has been a cold week for beekeepers. Many beekeepers wanted to do Oxalic Acid treatments but it has been a little to cold to do it. The next couple days will be also too cold.
It looks like next week some heat returns with highs in the 40's again. Several days look good for applying the Oxalic Acid.
The dribble method should be done at 40 degrees.
 Covering hives with winter covers is progressing. Many beekeepers are putting on winter patties or a candy board on when putting "the hives to bed".
 New beekeepers who are running hives next year and their hives are in bear country, still have time to put tee posts in the ground for a bear fence. Best to put the posts and ground rods in now, before the ground freezes. The rest of the fence can be installed at your leisure. Sometimes the ground is still frozen in early April. This can leave a hive unprotected at a time when bears are waking up from hibernation with an empty stomach.
 Cold weather is coming soon, another few days next week to finish mite treatments and then the bottom can fall out of the thermometer anytime after that.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Deer Pics

With deer hunting coming this weekend. I wanted to give the hunters something to shoot for. Most of these pics were near one of my beeyards. I don't hunt, but I like looking at wild things with a trail camera.
Looking for love

A doe pic was one minute before when this pic was taken.
The big bucks normally only travel at night. The rut brings out a more careless behavior. Looking for love.  Looks like a 10 point buck. Trophy size.

This guy must have been fighting. One side of the antlers is gone

Monday, October 30, 2017

This week, oxalic acid and covering hives

Looking at the weather in the future looks pretty much of the same. Highs in the 40's at best.
 Feeding colonies is pretty much over. When it gets cold like this, the bees are in a tighter cluster usually in the box below the feeder. This is too far away from the cluster, so feeders may go untouched. Hopefully everyone was able to get their hives heavy with feed before the weather turned south.
 If you go out and look at your hive when it is 40 degrees and look underneath the inner cover at the top box. There should not be any bees on the top bars. If there is a large cluster of bees on top under the inner cover, your hive may not have enough winter stores in the hive for the winter stores.
 This week is a good week for Oxalic Acid treatments. Try to pick a day when it is not real windy. The magic number for the temperature at time of treatment is 40 degrees. Oxalic acid treatments should be done soon. It looks like this week and next week look ok for temperatures. After that it may be too cold to do it.
 Free Oxalic Acid samples are available from Nature's Nectar LLC. The sample of Oxalic Acid, is enough to treat 5 colonies
 We do have Varrox Oxalic Acid Vaporizers on sale right now. Regularly $165.00 now $145.00. They are the best quality vaporizers on the the market.
 Hives can be covered anytime now. I don't think we will see anymore 60 degree weather. Winter patties can be put on also, when covering the bees.
 A little work left to do on the bee front, then it is time to relax and reflect on the year. New beekeepers started the season with a nervous amount of knowledge. The season progressed and so did the new beekeepers. From package bees to winter covers. A whole season of bees pretty much over.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Wintering a beehive in the upper midwest

These are two videos of different winter covers and how to install them on the hive.
 Winter covers can be put on anytime after November first.
I usually put my covers on around Thanksgiving. But I watch the weather also. If there is going to be several inches of snow, I will run out and cover the hives.
A top entrance is imperative for wintering. If you don't have one, drill a 1" hole like in my previous post.
Wintering a hive, needs at least 8 frames of bees. Meaning at around 45 degrees, the bees would be covering both sides of 8 frames. I say 45 degrees because at that temperature the bees are more concentrated in the hive to get a more accurate judgement on the population strength.
 The other winter parameters are a young queen that has not gone through a winter yet. The top box should have eight full frames of honey with the ninth frame partially full, locate this frame in the center of the box. Put two winter patties on the top bars of the top box for emergency late winter feed.
 If your honey is under the cluster of bees like in the bottom box. The bees will not go down in the winter. They will end up starving. Also, do not leave any partially filled boxes on top of the hive. The bees may move up into this box, remember what I just said? The bees will not move down. Many new beekeepers do leave partially filled boxes on top, not realizing they are making a potential bad situation.
 This is one of the last chores for winter. Then the bees are on their own. A properly prepared hive with a low mite count, has a good chance at winter survival.

Cardboard Snug Fit

Bee Cozy

Winter Patties

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Queenless hive?

I had a customer call me looking for a queen. She went through her hive and could not find any brood. In a panic she was looking for a queen.
 After a short conversation about queen types, I learned she had a Carniolan queen. Carniolans shut down brood rearing in early fall. Right now if you looked in a Carniolan hive you should be broodless.
 If a hive is being fed syrup, that is a nectar flow and there more than likely brood in a colony that is being fed or was fed in the last two weeks or so.
 Italian queens will have brood into November. Especially if they have been fed.
 I have gone into Italian hives on Thanksgiving weekend and have found brood in the hive.
 All of this ties together about mites. Feeding should be done early so a hive can be broodless for the Oxalic Acid treatment. This beekeeper with the broodless Carniolan hive, will be able to get an excellent treatment of Oxalic Acid and it should prove to be very effective.
 Late feeders, who will have brood in the colony ( I am still feeding three colonies myself) the Oxalic Acid treatment may be a little less effective because of capped brood in the hive. But the treatment is still of great value and is worth doing.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Trail Cam Pics

Here is a few September trail cam pics
Doe is getting her darker brown winter coat

Forkhorn buck

Fawn has almost lost its spots

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Robbing this week

This coming week will be warm all week. Several days in the low 70's.
 This warm weather while very nice, can be a week of robbing. Now most of us that live north of the metro have had a killing frost. Most nectar plants have died from the frost. So the only nectar available is in a hive.
 Hard to say what has happened to the yellow jacket and hornet population. Did the freeze take them out? We will see if they are in the robbing mix.
 All beekeepers can do at the moment is to put in entrance reducers with the smallest opening.
 If mouse guards are on now, cover most of the holes with duct tape or a piece of wood. This will help the bees defend their hive and may minimize the robbing.
 After next week, cooler weather may be here for the duration of the fall. Robbing should become a non issue.

Friday, October 13, 2017

End of Season Chores

The bee season is winding down. Most beekeepers have extracted their honey, treated for mites and made sure their hives were heavy with honey. But what remains?
 If your hives are still light on feed, there is still time to feed some syrup. Next week the highs are in the 60's and even a couple 70's are forecast. 
The bees will take down syrup still.
After next week, the weather looks like it will be cooling off. Feeding syrup gets much more difficult when the highs are in the low 50's and 40's.
 So if you have some feeding to do, get it done asap. Consider feeding ProSweet. The bees don't have to convert it to honey, so the feeding goes faster.
 Oxalic Acid treatments can be applied anytime when the temperature is 40 degrees. It can warm up later in the day, just at the time of treatment it should be 40 degrees. At this temperature the bees are in a tight cluster and the treatment works the best. If the dribble method of oxalic acid is done when it is warmer than 40 degrees, the treatment may be much less effective because the bees may be spread out more in the colony.
 Using a vaporizer is more forgiving. The vaporizer coats the bees and equipment with  Oxalic Acid. The vaporizer does a little better treatment than the dribble method, but the dribble method works well when applied properly. 
 Entrance reducers or mouseguards should be in place now. Vermin will be trying to get into the hives now as the temperature cools. Three deep hives are more susceptible to mice compared to a two deep hive when the temperatures initially starts cooling off. In a three deep hive, the bees will cluster in the middle box leaving the lower box mostly empty of bees. With no bees to challenge the mice, the mice set up shop for the winter. In a two deep hive, there are bees in the bottom box to challenge the mice. But as it gets colder, the mice can still sneak into the bottom box and start to take advantage of rent free housing.
 Winter Covers and moisture boards:
 It is too early to cover hives for winter right now. Winter covers can go on anytime starting in November, I usually cover my hives around Thanksgiving. I watch the weather up until late November. If we are going to get several inches of snow, I will run out and put the covers on early. Once there is several inches of snow on the ground the daily temperatures cool dramatically. Temperatures in the 30's are not stressful for a colony. But when high temperatures are sneaking into the low 20's a winter cover should be on the hive.
 Top boxes need to have a 1" hole drilled in the box for a winter exit. This gives the bees the ability to go on cleansing flights over the course of the winter. The reason for hole is this: As winter progresses and the bees move up into the top box, they would have to travel down to go out the lower entrance, the bees will fly out and poop, fly back into the lower entrance and travel back to the cluster.  The bees will get chilled and die attempting to do this.
 The top hole is right where the bees are in the cluster. They can leave the cluster fly out, poop, fly back into the hole and the warm cluster of bees. There are always dead bees all around the front of the hive in the snow. This is normal. Remember, the hive start winter with around 40,000 bees. The population may fall by 50% over the course of the winter. If on March 1st the bees are totally covering at least four frames in the top box, that is a good number of bees to build up to a May divide.
 Winter is coming, the time is short, get the work done. The bees that get saved may be your own.

This is where I drill my holes in the hive bodies. One inch below the hand hold, center of the box.

I use a one inch auger bit. This type of drill with a screw thread on the end that pulls the drill through the wood. When drilling larger holes like this, the drill motor should be on the slow speed.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Drones being thrown out of the hive

Don't be surprised to see dead bees in front of the hives.
This is the time of year when drones are thrown out of the hive in big numbers.
Look close at the dead bees. The big eyes of the drone is an easy way to tell it is a drone. The workers are getting their hive ready for winter and this is one of the last chores to do before winter hits.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Last Mite Treatment - Oxalic Acid

Soon it will be time for the last mite treatment of the year.
 Oxalic Acid is used for this treatment. Oxalic Acid is wood bleach. Oxalic Acid was discovered to have good properties for killing mites it comes in contact with.
 Beekeepers use this treatment in late October.
 The reasoning is this, in late October most hives have shut down brood rearing and is broodless in the hive or close to it. The Oxalic Acid mite treatment is only effective on mites that are on the bees.  These are called Phoretic mites. Phoretic mites ride on adult bees feeding on their blood such as a wood tick on humans. Being there is no brood in the hive, all mites are on the bees. This is a time when these mites are very easy to kill using Oxalic Acid. By treating at the right time, in a broodless colony, Oxalic Acid can kill 90% of the mites that are on the bees. If there is brood in the colony, the Oxalic mite treatment may not be as effective.
 The treatment:
 A beekeeper needs to pick a time when it is 40 degrees at the time of treatment. It can warm up during the day, but 40 degrees is an important factor, especially for the dribble method.  When it is 40 degrees, the bees are in a tight cluster. All the bees are usually present in the box under the top box on a hive. This concentration of bees makes the dribble method work the best.
 There is two treatment options. The Dribble method or the Vaporizer method.
 The dribble method takes a solution of Oxalic Acid and sugar water in a syringe and squirting the solution on the bees.
 The Vaporizer method takes Oxalic Acid powder on a vaporizer pan, plugging it on to a 12v battery and vaporizing the powder which floods the colony with Oxalic Acid vapor. This vapor coats the bees and the inside of the hive with Oxalic Acid.
 Both of these methods work. The vaporizer method may work a little better, but either way works.
Oxalic Acid Link: EPA Label with safety and directions for use
 Here are two videos on the Dribble and Vaporizer Oxalic Acid Application:
 Dribble Method

Vaporizer Method:

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

New Woodenware design

All of our box woodenware is a slightly new design. The narrow rabbet strip is now combined into a bigger piece of the end of the box. The pics show how the boxes are slightly different from old style and new style. I think the new style will be a little stronger than the old style.
Old Style on left - New style on right

An assembled box with the new larger rabbet style

Old style on top - New style on bottom. Notice the wider rabbet on the bottom box end. Both rabbets are on the right side. The top one is narrow, the bottom rabbet is wider and harder to break.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Last Flowers Of The Year

A beekeepers shared a couple pictures with me. He is still getting some nectar coming into his hives. Compliments of a huge field of Asters that are in full bloom. Asters and Goldenrod are usually the last fall forage that the bees can use. Early frosts can hurt these late flowers, but this year the flowers are still standing tall.
 I was doing some feeding today on a couple hives that were a little light on winter stores. The warm humid day was making it easy for the bees to forage.
 The bees were still bringing some creamy white pollen on their legs.
Photo by D. Strand

Photo by D. Strand

Sunday, October 1, 2017

New Hours for October

These are our new October Hours:
Wed - Noon - 6 pm
Thursday Closed
Friday Noon - 6 pm
Sat 9 am - 3 pm
Or call for an appointment.
As the season slows down so do our open hours. We are closing now on Thursdays.

What do I do with my supers and unused equipment

Now the honey is extracted what should happen with the wet supers and how to store them?
 It works well to take wet supers and put them back on the hive. Put the supers on top of the inner cover. The bees will come up from below and clean up anything that is still sticky. Depending how warm it is outside, they should have them cleaned up in about five days. If you have a bee escape board, put that on before the supers are removed for good. The escape board is an easy way to get the bees out of the super. Or, remove the supers on a cold morning when most of the bees are clustered below the inner cover. You may have to brush off a few bees.
 Long term storage, supers can be stored in a shed or a garage for the winter. The supers need to be stacked so they are mouse tight. Any little crack or hole will be an opportunity for vermin to move in and wreck the drawn comb. I store mine on the little pallets I made with a telescoping cover on top with a brick on the lid.
 But there is one more thing to do before we commit the bees to long term storage. For equipment storage, cold weather is our friend. When it is going to be freezing temperatures, I wheel the stacks of supers I have outside and leave them there for a week. This freezing weather will kill any wax moth or hive beetle that may be in the equipment. I am then confident that the supers or deeps are good for winter storage.
 Storing woodenware in an attached garage is fine, but the garage area does not freeze for a long time. The hive pests can get started to ravage the comb if it is warm where the equipment is stored. Wax moths and hive beetle love brood comb. Brood comb is rich in protein. If you just have a few frames, the frames can be put in plastic bags and put in a freezer for three days. The freezing temperatures kill the beetle and wax moth in all stages. That is eggs, larvae, and the pest.
 Dead colonies can be left outside. Hives should be set up for bees for next year. Put your best comb in the bottom box, so when bees come, the hive is basically ready to go. The hive should be swept out and cleaned of any dead bees and debris. Close up all the holes and openings. Put in entrance reducer and screen off the entrance hole to keep out mice. Staple a stiff screen over the entrance reducer hole. Cut the screen a little big so it hits the box above. Then a mouse can't push the entrance reducer in and spend the winter in luxury.
 Taking care of your comb will help a beekeeper get a good start when it is time to use that good comb next year.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

What the hive needs for winter food

I get asked this time of year what is the hive setup for honey in a hive. A hive going to winter needs the following honey stores.
Top box - the top box should be pretty much full of honey. Eight full frames of honey and one partially full frame. A partial frame of honey is important for this reason. In January when the bees need to transition between the lower box and the upper box, the bees need to move up. Bees don't like to move up onto cold honey frames. By having a partial frame, (located around the middle of the top box), the bees will easily move up on the few empty cells of the partial frame.
 The empty cells can easily be warmed by the bees to make the move up. As some of the bees move up, they will come in contact with the cold honey. They will be able to warm the honey for the bee clusters consumption. Soon more bees will join them and the bees will have more and more warm honey for their consumption.
 Middle or bottom box - In a perfect world this box should have about four frames of honey in the box. This amount of honey will give the bees enough food stores to last into January when the bees move up. If this box is light on honey, the bees may move up into the top box too soon and there is a possibility of hive starvation from premature consumption of their top box winter stores.
 Winter patties or candy boards can be added when the winter covers are put on the hive. These emergency food stores should not be added until the winter covers are put on the hive.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Robbed out hive

This pic shows one of a beekeepers hives being robbed. It was her strongest hive. For some reason robbing started and never stopped. The hot days we just experienced was a contributing factor. Hot days brought all kinds of bees, wasps and hornets to the table. The hive was overcome and died. There were not many dead bees inside but the combs inside were badly shredded from the robbers attacking the honey in the comb. This was a split with a new queen this year. The hive may have had a high mite count and the population was starting to crash, making it an easy target for robbing.
Hive being robbed

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Time to finish pre winter work

This is a heads up. October first is one week away. For some of us, it was August just yesterday and now it is almost October. This fall is moving too fast.
 There is work to finish up now before it gets too cool.
Mite treatments. If mite treatments have not been done and a beekeepers wants to still do it, the miticide of choice should be ApiVar.
 Now with the cooler weather coming on, several mite treatments would not be effective. ApiVar is a contact strip. The strips are put in for 42 days and have to be removed after the treatment is finished. That would be removing the strips around mid November. The strips must be removed. The strips cannot be left in the hive.
 Feeding, as the weather gets cooler into the 40's, feeding can get more difficult. When syrup gets cold, the bees will not take the syrup very well. If feeding is still needed, feed now with 2:1 heavy syrup sugar water or ProSweet syrup.
 The advantage here is ProSweet. The bees will fill the frames with ProSweet and no other work is needed by the bees.
 The bees need to convert sugar water to honey. As it cools off, late feeding sugar syrup becomes tougher for the bees. The ability to have the time too convert the sugar water to honey becomes a greater challenge.
 Beekeepers are in the home stretch with their season. Time to get the chores done to help the bees survive the rigors of winter.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


This is the time of year beekeepers need to get their feeding done as fast as possible.
 To get the feed in a hive quickly, a few different fall feeding methods can be used.
Beekeepers can use multiple pails on a hive. Three feeder pails can be put right on top of the top bars of the top box. It is warm now and there is 50,000 bees in the hive. So beekeepers can take advantage of this by feeding multiple feeders to get the feed in fast. The bees can empty three gallons from the feeder pails in three to four days.
 Using a hivetop feeder is another way to feed a large quantity of syrup to a hive. A hive top feeder holds four gallons of syrup. A larger of number of bees have access to the syrup and the bees can put the four gallon away in about three to four days.
 Feeding ProSweet is the best fall food. ProSweet is similar to honey and the bees take it down and put it into the frames. The do not have to do anything to the ProSweet. The bees put it into the cells in the frame and they are done.
 With 2:1 sugar water, the bees have to dehumidify the sugar water and convert it to honey. Which takes time and energy.
 To compare, a gallon of ProSweet is one gallon of food that the bees get. A gallon of sugar water is by my estimate about 75% of a gallon of food after the syrup is dehumidified and converted into honey.
 three feeder pails on the top bars for fall feeding 

empty box surrounding feeder pails

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Bear getting sneaky

This bear was able to reach through an electric fence with a paw. He tried to pull the hive to the fence but it tipped over and he was unsuccessful.  I was told that the bees were not pleasant when being "saved" by the beekeeper.
 Bears will reach in fences, tunnel under the wires, and climb a tree to jump into the fenced bee yard.  Beekeepers beware. This was in the east metro.

Bear reaching through the electric fence. Photo by D. Meyers

Monday, September 11, 2017

All Mite Away Quick Strips on sale

We have all mite away quick strips on sale.
2 treatment $12.95 was $14.95
10 treatment $45.00 was $51.95

What is happening on the bee front

As the bee hives start slipping into late summer early fall mode this is whats going on.
 The bees are making winter bees right now. Winter bees have a different physiology than summer bees. Winter bees have the ability to store more fat in their bodies for winter survival.
 Beekeepers have been treating for mites and feeding their bees. Most beekeepers have pulled and extracted their honey. Mite treatments have been completed or are on the hive right now.
 Right now is judgment time. To winter or not to winter, that is the question.
 Beekeepers need to determine if weak colonies should be wintered, combined with other colonies or depopulated in late November.
 To winter, a hive needs at least 8 frames of bees. Meaning if it was say 50 degrees out and you looked at your bees, they would be covering both sides of eight frames. It is hard to to make a judgement when the bees are everywhere in a colony on a warm day, short of it being obvious that they are packed with bees.
 Weak colonies can be combined with other hives. The caution here is that a beekeeper does not want to add bees to an already strong colony. There is such a thing as too many bees. A colony with too many bees will eat their food stores and more than likely starve over the course of winter.
 Two weak colonies can be combined together. One of the queens needs to be killed, then the colonies can be combined with the newspaper method.
 Feeding: Any colonies that are light on food need to be fed NOW. As we move into fall and it starts to cool into the low 40's, the bees will not take down syrup.
 Feed is 2:1 heavy sugar syrup or ProSweet bee feed. With sugar syrup, the bees need to dehumidify it and turn it into honey. This does take effort by the bees.
 Feeding ProSweet is much easier on the bees. The bees can take down the syrup and put it in the cells and they are done. ProSweet is just similar to honey, it has fructose and sucrose.
 These are the late chores that beekeepers need to complete very soon.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mite Treatments

Mite treatments need to put on the hive by around Sept 10th.
Waiting to treat can jeopardize the bees ability to survive. Mites build up with time. The mites can cause irreparable harm to the bees as time goes on. Most bee researchers put around Sept 10th as the latest date to treat for mites.
Join the mite a thon, that is put on by pollinator.org. This is a North American effort to see what the mite load on a massive scale.
Nature's Nectar LLC does sell the Univ of MN mite test kits.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Nectar Flow Is Over, Robbing Is Starting

The nectar flow is over for most of us.
 I have heard that robbing is happening to some beekeepers.
   For honeybees, robbing starts with the end of the nectar flow. Robbing from wasps and hornets starts usually around mid to late August.
 Robbing can be a serious issue for beekeepers. The thieves will try to sneak into a hive and take all the food stores. A beekeeper can have a full hive of winter stores and after a week or so of robbing, all of a sudden six frames of honey are gone and emergency feeding is needed to get the food stores back into the hive.
 Robbers can also overcome and weaken or kill colonies to get at their food. The robbers can be your own bees or the neighbors bees.
 What can we do to prevent robbing?
Robbing Screen, are used to prevent robbing. A screened entrance with three entrances. Two doors with metal swing doors to reduce the available entrance. A third entrance at the top of the Robbing screen, that is a smaller entrance with a metal door. There is a metal plate that can be seen on the left side of the screen. This prevents bees from figuring out the top entrance. The robbing screen is attached to the front of the hive by nails, screws or a strap around the hive.

  • Never put open honey or syrup near your hives. After extracting never put wet supers near your hives. The bees will clean them out, but when the supers are clean the robbers will want more. So the robbers now move to your hive. The beekeeper may have a dead hive soon. If you want bees to clean up wet supers, put them on top of the inner cover. The bees will go up through the inner cover hole and clean up the honey and bring it down into the brood box. This prevents getting the robbing started.
  • Robbing at a hive entrance looks like like a frenzy of activity. If you see this frenzy, you need to react to this. If you are not treating with Formic Acid you can put in an entrance reducer at its smallest opening. If you are treating with Formic Acid and have robbing, a robbing screen is a good alternative.  
  •  Keep all syrup inside a hive where it is not available to robbers. Make sure pails are not leaking. When using Hive top feeders,  a rock should be placed on top of the telescoping covers so bees can't sneak under the cover to get to the syrup
Robbing will lessen with cooler temperatures, when the weather limits daytime flying time. A hard freeze will help with the elimination of the wasp and hornets. But for now watch out, the bandits want your food.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


I had this bear on my trail cam in 2008. A little creepy looking.
This is the time of year when a mother bear chases off her two year old cubs. The mother is going to look for a mate and no cubs can be with her.
 The cubs must find an area to live in. The females are easily accepted as a possible mate and are not chased off by rivals.
 Male cubs on the other hand are constantly challenged by other male bears if they are in an established male's bear territory. The young male bears, are chased out of their home area and must find a new territory to live in.
 What does this mean for beekeepers? These young bears can pick a territory that normally doesn't have bears. So, a beekeepers that has never had a bear fence is a ripe target for these young bears.
 If you are near any areas that have had bears, you may want to consider a bear fence. This is a link to the MN DNR and their bear fence design. The material costs are way off, but the design is solid. A bear fencer should be 12 volt and put out at least 2 joules of energy.

Friday, August 25, 2017

2017 MN State Fair Bee and Honey Competition Results

Congratulations to all the participants in the Bee and Honey Competition at the MN State Fair.
All of the entrants took the time to enter a quality product. Hard work, attention to detail and the desire to say, I have the best in the State of Minnesota.
 The Honey Sweepstakes winner was Grand Champion Kurt Walleser of Rochester.
The participants have all helped to promote the whole bee industry and to promote our craft of Beekeeping. I think all beekeepers want to thank everyone who displayed their products.
Here is a link to the results: Bee and Honey Competition Results

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I treated for mites, what's next?

When the mites have been treated, making sure I have enough food stores for winter is next on the agenda.
 Actually, when putting on mite treatments is the time to check the food stores.   Most of the mite treatments involve taking off the top deep honey box.
 A feeding plan should be developed, and a plan made of when and how to feed at the same time when looking at food stores.
 The top box needs to be pretty much full of honey for winter stores. As I take the top box off, there are two things I look and feel for. I feel for the weight of the box. This quickly tells me how heavy the box is. I then tip the box back and look at the bottom of the frames. A little smoke on the frames gets the bees off the bottom of the frames. I want to see capped honey to the bottom of the cells of the frames.
 When bees fill honey frames, they start at the top of the frame and work their way down the frame. Just looking at the top of the box does not give an accurate description of the honey stores. Looking at the bottom of the frames, gives a true assessment of the amount of honey in the box.
 Typically, the bees will fill the center core frames in the top box. The frames more towards the outside of the box may not be filled as much.
 When I check for food in the box and determine the center frames are full and the outside frames are light on honey. I pull the center frames and move them to the outside and move the less full outside frames to the center. Then, when I feed, the bees are more likely to fill the center frames quickly. Bees never do a good job filling the outside frames.
 Most mite treatments say you cannot feed during the treatment process, other than ApiVar. Feeding needs to be started and finished as fast as possible.
 Feeding should not be dragged out for several weeks. As the colony is fed, the bees look at it as a nectar flow. During a nectar flow the queen is stimulated to lay eggs and produce brood. Beekeepers want the queen to stop making brood by early to mid October. Then a treatment of Oxalic Acid can effectively clean up any mites that are left on the bees. This leaves a hive as healthy as possible and ready for the rigors of winter.
 Now here is the issue: If feeding continues late into the season, there will be brood in the colony for about a month after the feeding stops. As the colony makes brood, there is the opportunity for more mite reproduction. The bees also have to feed the brood and keep it warm.
 Feeding late, say into October, a hive could have brood into November, sometimes as late as December. Caring for the brood will make the hive consume food, this can put a strain on a colony that needed more food to begin with.
 As fall progresses towards winter, the cooler weather makes it more difficult to feed. The bees do not like cold syrup and may not take it anymore.
 So get mite treatments done NOW.
 There is work to finish to get the bees everything they need for winter. Beekeepers that get this done will be in much better shape for winter survival.

Mite Treatments

There are many things to do in a short time. Pulling honey, extracting honey, mite treatments, feeding, not necessary in that order.
 It is now mid August and fall will be coming on fast. Beekeepers need to get many chores done very soon. There will be several posts about what we need to get done.

 Mite treatment: Mite treatments should be put on now. Waiting to treat for mites can jeopardize survival of your bees. Mites with time, damage your bees. If the bees are damaged too much by mites, even if you treat the bees, they will not survive the winter. Some Mite treatments can be put on with supers on. such as Formic Pro and Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS). Both of theses mite treatments cannot be put on if it is above 85 degrees for the first three days of use.
Other mite treatments
Apivar: Apivar FAQ
ApiVar cannot be used with supers on.
ApiGuard: ApiGuard FAQ
ApiGuard cannot be used with supers on.

Pollen coming in

It looks like Goldenrod pollen is the food of the day.
Large amounts of yellow pollen entering this observation hive. Photo by D. Munkvold

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Pulling Honey

With the upcoming end of the nectar flow. Beekeepers will need to pull their honey off their hives. Here is a couple videos of how to pull honey.

Using a brush to remove the bees:

Using Honey Robber with a fume board:

Monday, August 14, 2017

The nectar flow, fading into late summer

The nectar flow, as it is right now, is about 90% done. This time of year the flow gets very spotty. One beekeeper is getting nectar others not. For many beekeepers the flow is over. There are some Alfalfa fields still flowering. If they don't get cut, there will be some honey there.
 The main flower at the moment is Goldenrod. Goldenrod is blooming everywhere. Fields are becoming thick with yellow flowers. It certainly looks impressive and beekeepers are licking their chops at this huge flower show.
 But lets get real. Goldenrod is the most devious flower. While beekeepers think we are going to get this huge crop of Goldenrod honey, time and again we are left with unfilled supers and unfilled hopes of a late crop.
 Goldenrod is a fickle flow, once in a while there is nectar in the supers, but I usually don't plan on it. About ten years ago I got two supers of Goldenrod honey but not much since then. Other beekeepers have fared better. But being the yellow flower is there, I am always the eternal optimist for some stinky nectar.
 Stinky nectar? What's up with that statement?
 Goldenrod nectar when it is high moisture content smells like wet sweat socks. As the nectar ripens the odor goes away. Goldenrod honey does have a distinct flavor.
 Goldenrod nectar may be coming your way, so I hope your hive's stink up the beeyard.

Extractor Sale extended one week

We have extended our extractor sale until August 19th.
9 - 18 motorized extractor ..... $1175.00 in stock
3 frame deluxe hand crank .... $399.95 in stock
Grey uncapping tank ............. $115.00 in stock

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Help at the MN State Fair

There are some volunteer opportunities at the fair. Volunteering at the fair is fun. Answering questions from the general public is a big help in promoting beekeeping. The booth at the state fair is a major draw at the fair and really helps get the message out to the general public about beekeeping, pollinators, and honey. Beekeepers score big in public opinion by what they see at the fair.
 Volunteering is a great way to help. Any first year beekeeper knows more than the general public. Don't sell yourself short. If you don't know an answer to a general questions, there will be someone there that can answer it. But most of the questions are easy for a first year beekeeper.
Sign up now, you get a free ticket to get into the fair. There is a honey demonstration sign up, a exhibit hall volunteer, and pre-fair setup volunteer.

Harvesting Honey Demo http://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080f48a5a628a1fe3-harvesting
Exhibit Hall Volunteer http://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080f48a5a628a1fe3-beehoney
Pre-Fair Preperation http://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080f48a5a628a1fe3-beehoney1

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Treat now for mites

Right now is a perfect time to treat for mites. Just because you don't see mites doesn't mean that they are not there. If you start seeing mites on bees the mite population is very high in the hive. Be proactive, the hive you save may be your own.
 The weather is perfect right now for Formic Pro or Mite Away Quick Strips. Both of these treatments are considered organic and can be applied with supers on the hive.
 Treating now will lower the mite population before the bees start making winter bees, which usually starts around mid to late August.
 Winter bees are the bees that live through the winter. Winter bees have a different physiology than summer bees. Winter bees have the ability to store more lipids (fat) in their bodies.
 Having winter bees as mite free as possible is the key to overwintering success.
Waiting to treat your bees into September can cause your winter bees to be weakened and get viruses by a higher mite population. The odds of survival are much lower.
Dave Dahl from KSTP is forecasting hot weather coming back in about a week. If it is too hot, you may not be able to use Formic Pro or MAQS, other mite treatments will have to be used.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Formic Pro - The Video

We have a new mite treatment in stock and ready for sale now. This mite treatment is called Formic Pro. It will be the replacement for Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS). It is manufactured by the folks who gave us MAQS. Basically it is the same product. Looks the same and the application process is the same. The difference is, the treatment is a two week treatment instead of a one week treatment. It should be more effective for Varroa mite control. Supers can be on during the application of Formic Pro. There is an extended shelf life of Formic Pro of two years compared to 6 months for MAQS.
This is a video of what the mite treatment looks like and how it is applied to the hive.
 double click on the video for full screen

Sunday, August 6, 2017

All Extractors on sale

We have all of our extractors on sale this coming week.
Our lowest prices of the year. One week only.
The three frame hand crank deluxe extractor normally $439.95 now $399.95
Have a big honey crop?
We are offering the 9/18 motorized reg $1395.00 now the 9/18 motorized extractor on sale for $1175.00.
This is a radial extractor and does 9 deep frames or 18 medium or shallow frames at once.
Hand Crank 9/18 is normally $799.00 now $675.00
Need an uncapping tank, our grey uncapping tank is now $115.00 normally $135.00
Prices good until August 11th, 2017.
We are taking pre orders now, delivery to Nature's Nectar LLC in Stillwater MN within 7 days, depending on availability. We will be able to make sure they will be available when you order. 
You can stop by and look at these extractors.
The advantage of ordering from Nature's Nectar LLC is all warranty work is done here. When you order online and there is warranty work to be done, can you imagine what it would take to ship it back for service and the cost?
Buy local. save money and save on a possible big hassle.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Tools needed to pull honey off the hive

This is a basic video that shows several tools to pull the honey off of the hive.
All of the tools work, some better than others.
double click the video for full screen

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Minnesota State Fair

Honey at the MN State Fair. The black Buckwheat honey is Amber honey. The Reddish Honey is Light Amber, all the other honey in this picture is White Honey.
This is the time of year when beekeepers compete for the best honey in the state of MN. Registration needs to be completed by 4:30 pm on August 14th. http://competition.mnstatefair.org/
Bee and Honey entries has to be bought to the fair on Saturday the 19th or Sunday the 20th of August.
 Food exhibits only on Tuesday, August 22nd 9 am to noon.
  You do get all your entries back at the end of the fair.
 Entries are in three classes, novice class, open class and Junior Division aged 10 - 15 years old ( the Junior Division does have some age requirements on some entries).  
 The novice class is for beginners and is a great place to start if you have never entered before.

All classes need to be looked at in the premium book. Read it thoroughly because the rules need to be followed exactly.
 You can enter any or all of the possible entries.
 Each entry has a description of what the entry contains.
There are many entry possibilities:
Liquid Honey in glass jars
Liquid Honey in squeeze containers
Granulated Honey
Chunk Honey
Comb Honey
Extracting Frame
Gift Basket
Beeswax Block
Food Entries
Creative Bee Art
Link to the Bee and Honey Premium Book

Friday, July 28, 2017

Great Weather and Nectar Ripening

The nice sunny weather will really give the bees a great opportunity to dehumidify any uncapped honey.
 It wouldn't surprise me, if you go out today and look at your colonies, that you would see bees at every opening fanning their wings.
 The bees are bringing in the warm dry air. The air currents of air that they move around in their hive, will bring down the moisture content of the nectar as it ripens into honey.
 Sometimes in humid weather, even though the honey is capped, it could still have a high moisture content. This dry weather can help improve that scenario.
 The beeswax capping are hygroscopic. That means it can absorb or give off water vapor right through the cappings.
 This sunny weather will keep the bees out working the nectar plants. I do think the nectar coming in has slowed a bit. But there still is nectar coming in.
 The nectar flow is probably about 65% - 70% over if I was to put a number on the nectar flow. The bees are still trying to store honey. If your supers are full, there is still time to add one more.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Using a Refractometer

A Refractometer is used to measure the water content of honey.
 To be U.S. Grade A, honey has to have a water content of 18.6% or less. Honey that is over 18.6% water content, will ferment over time.
 There are many types of refractometers that have different scales and are used for a specific fluid in many different industries.
Beekeepers use a refractometer that is set up for honey. A honey refractometer is set up with a moisture content of 13% - 30% on the measurement scale.
 Honey refractometers are electronic or a visual lens.
The electronic refractometers use a sample of honey and will give you a moisture read out.
 I myself prefer the low tech lens style. A sample of honey is put on the lens. Then the sample is held up to a bright light for the reading. How the light passes through the honey sample gives the reading on the scale in the instrument. I like the low tech system because it is visual and you can see the results.
 A refractometer has to be calibrated to make sure it is accurate. Calibration fluid is used to calibrate the instrument. I always calibrate my refractometer before every season to make sure it is accurate.
 Beekeepers can bring me a sample of their honey and I will test it for free.
double click on the video for full screen

This is what the scale looks like in a Atago refractometer. Where the purple line and the white color meet is your number. Then a temperature adjustment is figured off the attached thermometer. This sample is reading about 19.3%.  Different manufacturers may have different looking scales

Atago Refractometer

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Some Pollinator Plants

 Many summer Perennials are still coming out and will be for the next few weeks.
These are a few of them that are in our Pollinator Garden.
Also, Purple Loosestrife is blooming in swampy areas.

Blazing Star

Milkweed in the background is still coming out

Butterfly Weed

Purple Cone Flower

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Extracting, The Basics

This is a video about extracting for a new beekeeper. Equipment used are a three frame extractor, uncapping tank, capping scratcher, filtering system, and a bottling pail.
 Your first year of extracting your honey crop, I usually recommend a capping scratcher to uncap the frames. With ten frames in the super the capped honey is very flat and flush with the wooden frames. It is hard to use a hot knife to uncap the wax cappings. With a capping scratcher it is easy to uncap. There is more wax in the honey and filtering is a little more putzy. Next year supers that have drawn comb, can be run with nine frames. The capped honey will be fatter on the frame, making it easy to use a hot knife.
Nature's Nectar LLC does rent several three frame honey extractors for $30.00 a day. We do take reservations for the extractors for when you would like extract.
If you have any questions about how to extract or what to use, stop by and we can help you make the right decisions to make extracting easy.
Double click on the video for full screen

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Planning for Varroa

I was up at the MN Honey producer summer meeting. One of the speakers was Meghan Milbrath. She is an epidemiologist. 
Epidemiologists are public health professionals who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans. They seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through research, community education, and health policy. They get involved with mass outbreaks of disease and epidemics. 
 Meghan describes the current Varroa issue as an epidemic. Here is a link to her site for Planning for Varroa.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Nectar Flow update

Spotted Knapweed Flower

Spotted Knapweed Flowering
The current nectar flow so far has been outstanding. Many beekeepers have reported that they have 4 - 6 supers on their hives with most of the supers full of honey.
 I had a beekeeper in yesterday. He runs about 25 colonies. He purchased more supers. His hives have a total 100 supers, most of them are full of honey but not capped yet. He has pulled off some supers and extracted them to give him more room. His story is the same for many beekeepers that I have talked to.
 This will be a record honey year for many beekeepers. Many beekeepers may get up to eight supers per hive. One tip: if a hive gets too high from too many supers, you can move full supers onto any under performing hives. The weaker hives will take care of the honey. When moving the supers you can move them with the bees in them. Just pull them off and move them.
I think the next seven to ten days may be the peak in the current nectar flow. The warm days and warm nights with dry days make the nectar flow in large amounts. Being the nectar flow started a little late, I think it may last into mid August.
  If I was to put a number on it, I would say the nectar flow is about 45 - 50% done. This is about the midpoint of the nectar flow. So more nectar is still coming. The intensity may lessen as Basswood and White Sweet Clover start to wane after the next week to ten days, but the nectar flow is not done by any means.
 More nectar plants are still coming. Joe Pye weed and Purple Loosestrife to name a couple, but there will be also other flowers that bloom in late July into August. I had a beekeeper observing his bees working on spotted Knapweed. He says they looked like they were preferring the Knapweed. Knapweed honey has a buttery flavor.
 From a moisture stand point we need some rain. Quarter to half inch spurts spread out over the next month would be perfect. Not enough rain can turn plants. A little brown in the lawns is fine, but brown and crispy it too dry. Also large amounts of rain can also impact the nectar flow. Too much rain can possibly impact the nectar flow in a negative way.
If you are not getting any nectar in your supers, your hive may have swarmed or the colony has not enough foragers to bring in the nectar.
 Stay ahead of the bees, check your supers every five days. I hope everyone is riding this nectar train.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Friday, July 14th

We will be open normal hours on Friday, July 14th. noon - 6 pm
Jim will be at the MN Honey Producers convention in Walker, MN
Wendy will be running the store on Friday.
Jim will be back for Saturday hours, 9 - 3 pm

Monday, July 10, 2017

What's Blooming

Some common nectar plants I have seen blooming:
Yellow Sweet Clover
White Sweet Clover
Birdsfoot Trefoil
Bee Balm
Spotted Knapweed
White Dutch Clover
Alsike Clover
Sumac (waning)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Package Bees and Supers

The nectar flow that has arrived a little late, that is good news for beekeepers with package bees. Usually the honey flow starts around the third week of June. This year it started in earnest around July 4th.
 Package bees are usually at full strength around July 1st. So most of the new beekeepers are benifitting from the later nectar flow. Package bees are getting honey and are putting it in their supers.
 Now, what is the strategy. Most of the new beekeepers were told they would not be getting any honey their first year. I think for many of them, they can throw that statement out.
 As the bees draw out wax on the super frames and fill it with nectar, when they move into the second box and start work there, it is time to add two more supers. Bees have a hoarding instinct. If there is space to fill with honey, the bees will try very hard to fill it up. If the beekeeper is not diligent in adding more space, the bees may not collect anymore honey, or they could possibly fill the brood nest with honey. Filling up the brood area is never good. This cuts down on the queens ability to lay eggs and may ultimitly lead to the population of the hive diminishing.
 I think it is not a stretch for new beekeepers who have action in both supers could possibly fill two more supers.
 Let's look at where we are at in the nectar flow. I am estimating we have gone through about 25% of the nectar flow so far. That still gives us the majority of the nectar flow still in the future.
 I have heard good things so far with many beekeepers with overwintered hives have over 4 supers filled with honey already. Much of it was Black Locust, that ran very heavy this year.
 The week ahead weather wise, looks perfect for honey collection. Warm days, eighties to upper eighties. The warm weather helps the nectar flow better.
So, watch the supers, check them every five days or so and stay ahead of the bees.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Washboarding bees

A beekeeper shot this video of her bees washboarding on the front of her hive.
This is a behavior that happens occasionally in a hive. This is a little odd because a large area on the front of the hive has bees doing the behavior. The bees are just moving back and forth.
 No one is sure what really causes this, but an interesting behavior.
Video by K. Strupp

The Nectar Flow is Intense

The nectar flow has really picked up steam. Beekeepers have been stopping in for more supers. They were looking in their hives yesterday and today and noticed a huge difference than where the hive was just a few days ago.
 The hive at Warner Nature Center is on a scale. That hive put on over 12 lbs of honey on the 4th of July alone.
 You can see on the graph, the honey weight is the yellow line. From the 29th until the 1st, a slight honey gain. The 2nd and the 3rd, a more notable increase. Then the 4th of July, the nectar weight starts to rise dramatically. Today the 5th the weight is still on an upward trend. This is the link to Paul's Scale.
Paul's Hive Scale
 Beekeepers need to check their hives if they haven't checked them lately.

Current hive weight on a colony at Warner Nature Center - P. Liedel