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, March 31, 2018

Frame setup for package bees

This is a pic of an existing hive setup for package bees. The frames in this case,  are already drawn out comb, six mostly empty frames and three frames full of honey. I know the pic has only eight frames drawn on the box, put in nine. The ninth frame should be empty and go with the three empty frames in the middle of the hive. I would still feed one pail of syrup. The bees will put the sugar syrup where they want it, around their new brood. After that one pail of syrup, I would not feed. There is ample honey in the hive for a month. A pollen patty needs to be put on the top bars. Move the frames of honey indoors a few days before the bees come, so the honey frames are warm.
 Giving the bees cold frames of honey, may not be  good idea.

Another cold weather installation video.

This is another cold weather package bee install. I did not use sugar spray on the bees. Also, I used a marshmallow for releasing the queen.
 First I remove four or five frames out of the hive. The bees are then dumped into the hive from a plastic bee cage (which is the style of cage that is coming with the bees).  The bees are spread out across the bottom board with a hive tool. Then I take the queen, remove the cork and stick a mini marshmallow in the cork hole. I hold the queen cage down into the mass of bees to get several bees on her cage. The cage is then put under a rubber band that has been put around the frame. The queen cage is slipped under the rubber band, screen down. The rest of the frames are put back into the hive. This works on a five frame nuc box or a 10 frame box. In all cases the bees are put into a single box. I think the video explains the process. You may lose a few bees in the process but that will not impact the end result.
Feed syrup with a feeder pail. Do not use an entrance feeder or a hive top feeder.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Cold weather bee installation

I made this video a couple years ago but never published it. I felt it was appropriate for the cold weather that we will be having with the bees coming in a week. It looks like the weather will be in the 30's when the bees arrive.
 I used a 5 frame nuc box, but a 10 frame box can be used. The bees can keep a five frame nuc box warmer easier. With a 10 frame box it is important for the sun not to warm the side of the hive. When the sun warms the side of the hive, the bees may move to that warm side. This may cause them to be off the feeder pail and starvation can occur. This is one reason that bees are put in after 6 pm when the sun is not shining on the side of the hive. 
 Beekeepers need to install their bees with no sugar spray. Getting the bees wet with sugar water may harm them. The bees may be chilled and will not get off the bottom board.
 It would be great to start the colony with one frame of drawn comb with sugar water sprayed into the cells. If you are feeding bees frames of honey, from a dead hive. Bring the honey frames inside your house several days before the bees are to be installed so the honey can warm up. It can take a couple days for the dense honey frames to warm up. Do not use cold honey frames in your hive. The dense honey will radiate cold for a couple days after the bees are put in the hive and may chill the bees and harm them.
 I had a wooden cage at the time of this video. All the package bees now are plastic.
Double click on video for full screen

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Bee Delivery Update

The bee delivery dates that I posted
April 7th - 8th - 2 lb packages and
April 14th and 15th - 3 lb packages
I did talk to our bee supplier this afternoon to firm up the delivery dates. He told me everything looks good as scheduled.
Please check this blog daily starting next week in case there is a change in the delivery dates due to weather.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Online shopping at Nature's Nectar Online

Nature's Nectar online is now up and running. It is being run by Tom and Jessie Minser out of North Branch, MN. We are supplying them with equipment and are testing the waters on how well this online store will work out with our customers. Not everything we sell is on the website but more will be coming if it looks like this is what our customers want. Check it out.

Are you ready for bees?

Our first delivery of bees is less than two weeks away.
Remember, on the days we are passing out bees, our store will be closed.
We will only be selling pollen patties, ProSweet Syrup and feeder pails.
Brush up on your bee installation process:
  • Best to install bee after 6 pm.
  • Grass in the entrance. We want to hold the bees in the hive overnight. Also if the bees are installed early in the day and they can get out because there is no grass holding them in, they can abscond and they will not be coming back. That is why we put them in at 6 pm when it is getting on towards night or anytime, if it is going to be raining all day. Bees don't fly at night or in the rain.
  • If you are feeding frames of honey. Bring the honey indoors to warm up for a few days. Put the honey in the bee boxes right when you will be putting in the bees.  Otherwise the frames of honey, left outside, will be radiating cold for several days. This may hurt the bees if it stays on the cold side.
  • If it is less than 50 degrees, you may not want to spray the bees with syrup. When it is cold, if the bees get chilled from the sugar water spray, they may not get off the bottom board and may not survive.
  • This goes for queen also. Get a big rubber band that goes around a frame. The queen cage can use a marshmallow release instead of spraying the queen on a cold day. Put the queen cage under the rubber band near the top of the frame in the center of the hive. Dip the cage into the mass of bees on the bottom board after dumping the bees in the hive. Get about 6 to 8 bees on the cage, then slip the cage under the rubber band. The bees will keep the queen warm will they are waiting for the rest of the bees to climb up the frame.
  • Do not use an entrance feeder. If it is cold, the bees cluster at the top of the hive. If it is cold, the bees will not break cluster and they will not be able to reach the syrup at the hives entrance feeder and may starve. A pail feeder is the best choice because the bees will cluster underneath the pail.
  • If you have all empty drawn comb to start your colony. Spray some warm syrup into the cells of the center frame under the feeder pail. When the bees crawl up on the frame, they will have syrup to eat and can then produce heat easier. 
  • I will be posting a few videos over the next week that demonstrates these methods.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Honeybees at the Joshua Tree National Park

Jason found these wild honeybees in a downed tree at Joshua Tree National Park.
Desert country in California.

Monday, March 19, 2018

A little cool still

Our weather while warming up some and giving us some melting, is still cool enough to leave on our winter covers.
 Not much has changed on our hive routine at the moment. Pollen patties on, check food stores for proper food supplies. Feed syrup if necessary. Don't overfeed. The weather should improve as we get to the first of April.
 Looking ahead,  around the first of April to remove winter covers. Reversals should be able to be done around this time as well.
 Beekeepers are not doing much right now, the bees are doing it for us. The queen is busy on an early spring build up. The queens egg laying has been increasing all month. The pollen patties we are giving the bees and the increased egg laying, should bring beekeepers healthy spring divides in May.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Package bee delivery date update

Looks Like the delivery date is a little different than previously stated.
First delivery, all 2 lb packages - April 7th - 8th
Second delivery, all 3 lb packages - April 14th - 15th
We will now be open on Wednesday noon - 6pm

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Spring Mite Strategy

As colonies start their spring build up, once again mites are on the minds on most beekeepers.
 As colonies get more populated with the increased brood production, there is also increased mite production.
 Colonies should be treated for mites before divides are done in the month of May. It is better to treat the overwintered colony before doing a divide, than treating them after the divide is made. This is more costly for the beekeeper than if they would have treated before the divide.
Two different mite treatments are the best for spring treatments. Formic acid - Mite Away Quick Strips / Formic Pro or ApiVar.
 Mite Away Quick Strips and Formic Pro can be applied in late April or early May. Proper temperatures are needed to assure a good treatment is delivered. Colonies should have large populations when using formic acid. The vapors can be intense and could injure brood and possibly the queen. Colonies with smaller populations may not be able to split, formic acid treatments may have to be delayed until hive populations increase.
 If ApiVar is used for mite treaments, ApiVar should be put in the hive in late March, around March  20th. ApiVar is a 42 day treatment. The treatment will be complete by May 1st. ApiVar is an opaque strip treated with Amitraz. Two strips are put into the brood area. There is a possibility that the cluster may move during treatment and the strips will have to be relocated to where the cluster is located. ApiVar comes in 10 strip or 50 strip packages. The active ingredient is micro encapsulated on the strips.
 Having a plan for springtime mites will make healthy bees, healthy divides and good hive populations for the summer nectar flow.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

3 lb packages update

We picked up the mail today and there were over one hundred packages ordered.
If anyone wants a three lb. packages, you should call us directly. By the time the mail comes in another day or two we will be out of bees.

Tentative package bee delivery dates

Bee Delivery Truck
These are the tentative bee delivery dates. The dates may change due to weather. But at this time these are the dates we are planning on.

2 lb packages first delivery, April 7th - 8th

3 lb packages second delivery, April 14th - 15th

We will be publishing a pick up schedule when we are near the delivery date. 

Right now we are still selling 3 lb packages but they are going fast. If you need bees you better do it very soon. We have about 10% left to sell.
We are sold out of 2 lb packages.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Package Bee Update

We are sold out of 2 lb packages.
We are still taking orders for 3 lb packages.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

It is pollen (yes) and feeding (maybe) time

It is almost time to put on pollen patties. Anytime starting this weekend should be OK. Always put the patty where the bees are. The bees need to be touching it. They will not travel much of a distance to get it. A strong overwintered colony should get a full patty and may eat it all in ten days. Once pollen patties are put on the hive they need to be replaced before they are all gone. The bees will increase brood production and they will need the pollen.
 A strong overwintered colony may use three to four full pollen patties. Possibly more than that if the spring season is wetter than normal, keeping the bees in the hive. Plus, a pollen patty should be placed on a hive around mid May because the fruit bloom may be over and there may be no large amounts of pollen available until early June.
 If the bees have not moved up into the top box, the pollen then needs to go between the boxes where the main cluster is. If this is the case you may want to put pollen on top of both boxes.
 Feeding syrup. Feeding can be done now only if the bees need it.  Feed 1:1 sugar syrup or ProSweet syrup. Do not overfeed. The bees will plug the hive with syrup if the beekeeper keeps feeding pail after pail of syrup. This will leave no place for the queen to lay. and will impact the hives population.
 Lift up the top box off the hive a few inches above the hive to feel the weight. If it feels light, feed, if it feels heavy, don't feed.
 I wouldn't pull frames yet and look at the brood. A little cool for that.
 When looking at your hive as the patties go on. The population should have about four frames of bees. Carniolans may have three frames of bees. Anyting less than this population may mean you colony is too weak and may not build up to a viable colony without an addition of bees. If you have multiple hives, a frame of brood can be added to this weak colony later in March. Then add another frame of brood in early April. A reassessment will then be needed to see if the hive needs more brood later in April.
 If there is only two frames of bees in a hive right now, I would call the colony dead. This is because this hive will never build up to a good population probably until late summer. This type of hive will be a total liability. It will never put up enough food for winter and the beekeeper will need to feed it all of its winter stores. This weak colony may be compromised by mites and may fizzle out by the month of May leaving the beekeeper with nothing.
 It would be best to shake out this weak hive in the snow and start again with a new package of bees.
 This can be troublesome to some beekeepers, but this is farming and to be successful at farming, sometimes the herd has to be culled.