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, June 30, 2018

What's Blooming

Basswood / Linden Tree - photo N. Gores
 Basswood trees can produce a tremendous amount of nectar if the conditions are right. Basswood like hot days and warm nights to produce a good nectar flow. It does not produce every year. Last year we got Basswood honey, with the hot weather we are experiancing right now,  I am optimistic that we will have another good Basswood Flow.
Sumac - photo by N. Gores
 Sumac does produce nectar and the bees do work it. The honey tends to be in the reddish color.
Thistle -  Photo by N. Gores
Thistle is blooming everywhere right now. This is also a decent nectar plant that the bees work. 
White Dutch Clover - Photo N. Gores

Birdsfoot Trefoil and Daisy - Photo by N. Gores

Brood box tip

As this honey flow progresses, beekeepers need to think about wintering your bees. Wintering your bees means the top brood box being mostly full of honey.
 Over the next couple weeks, a beekeeper should examine the top brood box. Honey frames that are on the outside edges of the box, never get filled with honey very well. Beekeepers find themselves feeding syrup later in the season to bolster honey stores. By feeding syrup, this is a nectar flow, the queen lays when there is a nectar flow. With this new brood, mite production will continue to increase. Sometimes feeding is done very late and brood is then in the hive into November. This late brood in a colony and increased mite load can have a bad outcome for winter survival.
 Taking the time to go out, remove your supers. Look in your top box. Full frames of honey that are in the middle of the top box should be moved to the outside frames and the outside frames should be moved to the center of the top box. The bees will now be much more likely to fill the middle frames with honey. This should get you the honey you need for most of the winter stores and cut down on the fall feeding.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Honey Flow Update

I was out checking my hives this morning. It was mildly brutal in a bee suit.
 But I had put some Formic Pro on four days ago on some overwintered colonies. I decided to remove the formic strips this morning before it the day warmed up to the projected near 100 degrees. The bees were not bearding at all yet this morning, but I was concerned that two strips of formic pro, at these high temperatures, may cause me some queen and or brood loss. So I am going to call my shortened mite treatment good for now and I will treat the hives again in early August. The treatment was on at some elevated temperatures so I am sure it did have an effect on the mite level. I will do a mite check next week to see where the hive is at for mite count.
 The nectar flow is on. I do have nectar in most of my supers right now. Two of my overwintered colonies looked like they have swarmed, so the honey was a little lighter than expected in their supers.
 I have been hearing reports from several beekeepers that they have one or two supers 70% full of nectar and they were getting ready to add two more supers.
 There is white sweet clover blooming everywhere around the state right now. Driving around I see it in full bloom in huge stands in the ditches of roadways.
Summer perennials should start blooming soon.
Here is Paul's current hive scale pic. You can see that there has been a spike in honey weight. Looks like 8 - 10 lbs increase yesterday.
 If you look at the black line on the graph, that is hive weight. You can see that over the last two days it has seen a definite sharp rise.
So, if you have not put your supers on, do so now. It also looks like comb honey frames could be put in the hive now also.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018


 A beekeeper from the Hudson area brought me a frame to look at last week. He suspected something was going on in with his hive. After looking at the frame, I discovered American Foulbrood (AFB) scale in the cells of the frame.
 I have seen many frames of AFB over the years so the diagnosis was easy. I could see the scale on the bottom of the cells. The larvae had died and turned to a gel that sinks to the bottom of the cell. This gelatinous material will desiccate (dry out) and turn to a hard scale on the bottom of the cell. I did not do a rope test, because there was no active larvae  to test from on the frame.The AFB scale is highly infectious when accessed directly by the bees, such as if they robbed the AFB hive of all their honey and ingested a large number of AFB spores.
 We also checked the AFB scale with a black light. AFB scale lights up to a bright green color when hit with a black light. The brighter the black light the better if glows. So if you purchase a black light, don't cheap out, the black lights with a higher number of led's work better. This one has worked for me Black Light
 So, how did they get the AFB?
 The beekeeper has been very careful over the years, buying only new equipment and never buying nuc's. There is always a possibility of getting AFB if you purchase nuc's. The AFB scale can be on used frames in the nuc. This is why package bees are usually a safer bet.
 Did his hive rob a weak neighbors colony that was weak or dying of AFB? Was the neighbors hive dead from last year and they did not put bees in the hive and the bees robbed out the honey? Most of the time hobbyists do not even know they have AFB. They buy new bees every year and by August their bees are dead. If your bees are weak and being depleted of bees right now, if you don't have an explanation for the reason, look for AFB in the frames.
 Is someone in the Hudson neighborhood feeding store purchased honey to the bees? Some civilians will see honeybees and feed them store bought honey, thinking they are helping out the bees. Giving store bought honey to your bees, can be a way to give AFB to your bees. Is someone feeding honey to hummingbirds? The bees can be robbing this feeder. Somewhere near this beekeeper is the source of the AFB. This Hudson beekeeper is going to have to be vigilant checking their hives for AFB. There is a possibility they could get reinfected if the source is not discovered.
 The beekeeper also contacted a vet for a prescription for an antibiotic. The bees will be removed of the drawn comb and will be shaken onto new frames and new foundation. An antibiotic regimen is probably a good idea. The brood break and the delay of larvae at the start, feeding syrup to flush the AFB spores out of the bees bodies, and the antibiotics will get the bees off to a fresh start.
 I do have a frame of AFB comb. Anyone that wants to see it, can stop by my shop to see it.
 AFB is not widespread. I see it every year from beekeepers bringing me frames to look at, but a few beekeepers do discover it in their hives. Normally, beekeepers get it from used equipment. Before you use used equipment, it is best to have it looked at by a competent beekeeper.
 Having an undiagnosed source for AFB can be troubling.
 It is important to be on the lookout for AFB in your hives. Discolored larvae is a red flag that something is happening to your brood. It does not mean you have AFB, but paying attention to what is happening in the hive is key to staying ahead of any possible trouble.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Nectar Flow Update

Comb being built and nectar being stored in the new frame and foundation. Bees draw out the frame and fill from the top of the frame to the bottom of the frame. Photo by Paul J.
Paul has a good amount filled in one super and the bees are moving into the second super.
I have been polling beekeepers coming in to our bee supply store. There is a consensus that there is a nectar flow going on. Most beekeepers in southern half of MN and WI should be experiencing a nectar flow. It may be a little slow but as the temperatures heat up later this week, 90's in the forecast, the nectar should be increasing.
 It can be a little confusing to some beekeepers. No honey in the supers yet. I think you need to consider that the bees should fill up the top deep box first before the honey super. This honey in the top brood box will be the hives winter honey.
 At this stage of the season I think we are no longer doing reversals. If you have your supers on, and you should right now, if they are new foundation, I would leave the queen excluder off. Check the supers every five days, when the bees start making comb and storing a little nectar in the new comb, then put the excluder on.
 Supers go on two at a time. If the supers have drawn comb, they can just be stacked on top of one another. If the supers are new foundation, new supers should be placed directly above the brood boxes. Example, say you have two supers of drawn comb, the bees fill them up. Now you need to add two more, but they are new foundation. The full supers should be taken off the hive, the two new supers go on, then the full supers replaced on top of the new supers. The reason for this is that if the new supers with foundation were put on top of the drawn comb supers, the bees may not do anything with them.
 Check your supers weekly. Bees can draw out, fill with honey and cap with wax a super of honey in one week. Stay ahead of the bees with weekly super checks. Add supers as needed.
Here is Paul's latest hive scale update:
You can clearly see an upward trend of honey weight. Starting on the 21st.
Click on the pic for full screen.

Local beekeepers saves the day at MPR

Local beekeeper and MN Hobby Beekeeper member saved the day by picking up a swarm near MPR in St Paul.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

July Queens For Nucs

Five Frame Nucs in April Picture by Adrian Quiney
I have been getting a lot of interest for queens in July for making up nucs for overwintering.. I am exploring a possibility of queens delivered here July 11th.  The queen prices will be less than the spring queens were. I don't have the numbers yet. I just wanted to throw this out there to see if there is any interest.
If you are interested in any queens delivered here on July 11th. Get a hold of me please.
 The queens available will be Carniolans, Italians and Saskatraz. Marked or unmarked.

Sunday, June 17, 2018



I have Milkweed blooming next to my house. It a little ahead of the Milkweed in Wendy's Pollinator garden. The flowers have a nice fragrance. Milkweed is a great pollinator plant.

White Sweet Clover - It is Game On

White Sweet Clover

White Sweet Clover
I saw my first white sweet clover blooming plant today on Hwy 36. This is the premier honey plant for most of us. It will be becoming widespread over the next two weeks. If it is producing nectar and our weather is accommodating, we should be in for a good honey crop.
 Colonies are building up to good populations, swarming this year has been less than normal. Probably due to the cool spring. Although, I have heard of some swarming in the last couple days. Keep doing swarm control management. Once the nectar flow hits at a good rate, the swarming impulse should lessen considerably.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Scale Hive

This is the scale hive graph from Paul's scale hive. http://www.paulsapiary.com
This is an overwintered Saskatraz queen hive. The hive added about 80 lbs of honey from May 17 until June 16th. The bulk of the honey from about May 20th until around June 6th. After June 6th the hive has put on about 6 lbs. of honey. Which at the moment, there is no indication that a major honey flow has started yet. The scale is on an upward trend, so we will see if it starts rising in the very near future.
  The bulk of the honey corresponded with the blooming of Black Locust trees. Paul said he has never got so much honey in the spring before. The Saskatraz queen built up very well coming out of winter and he was able to reap the reward.

Bear sighting

Bear sighting in Afton area. 42nd and Odell Ave S.
Why do I need a bear fence? There are no bears in Afton. Pic by D.Viramontes

Friday, June 15, 2018

Remove entrance reducers now

The hot weather has made the bees in this nuc beard out on to the front of the hive.

Entrance reducers should be removed now from the entrance of colonies because of the heat. The bees will be able to more effectively cool the hive with the reducers out.The warm weather may get swarming going in strong colonies. Beekeepers should still be doing doing swarm prevention in their management practices.
 Seeing bees bearding or covering the front of the hive during hot weather is normal behavior. The bees may even be outside overnight when it is weather like we are experiencing right now. By Monday it will be cooler and the bees will be back inside the hive again.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Pollen Patties online sale only

Ultra Bee Pollen Patties are on closeout.
5 patties for $10.00. That is 50% off the normal price.
Online sales only. Limited quantity.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

AFB - American Foulbrood Disease

I have heard of three cases of American Foulbrood (AFB) today.
Two cases in Minneapolis and one in Lake Elmo.
The incident in Lake Elmo was a hive with all equipment purchased new. The beekeeper was an experienced beekeeper and the bees more than likely robbed out an infected colony.
The Mpls AFB, I believe was on used equipment.
 Purchasing used equipment while sometimes you can save money, there is the pitfall of equipment with AFB scale. Early on in my beekeeping career I purchased used equipment. The beekeeper said hive equipment was good and he never had any problems with disease.  Well, his equipment was full of AFB scale and I quickly had a major AFB problem in my beekeeping outfit. I will say that experience is the best teacher. My experience in this AFB fiasco did educate me about buying used equipment and I quickly learned of what AFB scale looks like in the frame. Since that incident, I have discovered many AFB infected frames that beekeepers have brought to me to check out.
  AFB infected larvae will start to discolor, turning a yellowish color, then will darken to a milk chocolate color. The larvae will turn gelatinous and sink to the bottom of the cell it is in. You will see the larvae laying flat on the bottom of the cell. The tongue of the bee may be sticking up in the cell. As the larvae desiccates (dries out) the larvae forms a hard scale on the bottom of the cell. This scale is highly infectious and contains over 2 billion of infectious AFB spores. That is just one cell. Imagine a frame of a couple hundred cells of AFB scale. The cappings of the larvae cells will have a shrunken appearance and the cappings may be perforated will small holes. Beekeepers always think they will smell the foulbrood. The odor only gets pronounced when there is a large infection in the colony.
 As more larvae die, the colony will get weaker. While the colony still will try to carry out its normal function of foraging for honey and pollen. As the colony weakens it is more susceptible to being overcome and robbed of its honey stores. Normally, colonies will get robbed out in the spring or late summer, when there is not a nectar flow. Some honey in the AFB hive may have been stored in cells with AFB scale. Now the infected honey is brought back to a healthy colony.  The healthy colony now has a good chance of getting AFB.
 The trick with AFB, is knowing that you have it before it gets out of hand. Looking at your larvae and making sure it is pearly white. If the larvae is any color other than pearly white, you have a brood issue. There could be many reasons for discolored brood, chilled brood in the early Spring, AFB, European Foulbrood (EFB), Parasitic Mite Syndrome (PMS), The Crud, these are the most common. The only thing that makes AFB different, is that when the larvae is in the milk chocolate color stage, the larvae will rope out with a toothpick or small stick. To do this, a small stick, toothpick , or matchstick is punctured into the milk chocolate colored diseased larvae. The wooden instrument is slowly drawn away from the larvae. The goo attached to the wood will start to string out. If it is AFB, the string of goo will be an inch or more before it detaches from the stick. If it does not rope an inch or more, it is not AFB.
The treatment for AFB is shaking all the bees on new foundation. Feeding the bees syrup for them to draw out the comb will flush out the AFB spores out of their bodies. When the bees start feeding the new brood in the hive on the new foundation, the AFB spores should be gone. A treatment also with Terramycin will get the bees off to a good start. Terramycin can only be purchased with a prescription from a Veterinarian. Getting rid of the infected frames is imperative. That is where the problem lies. Infected comb.
 AFB spores are long lasting. They have an active infectious life of well over 50 years. The Univ of MN took some AFB spores from some frames they had that I think were over seventy years old. They purposely infected some colonies trying to see if the AFB was still infectious. All of the colonies came down with AFB.     The infected old frames have to be burned. The boxes can be reused but the inside of the boxes should be blackened with a torch. The only thing that kills AFB spores is a direct flame over 1000 degrees or irradiating the scale with radiation at an irradiation facility. I think there is an irradiation facility in the Chicago, IL. area.
Here is a link that accurately talks about all aspects of AFB:

Sunday, June 10, 2018

I have a nectar flow

I checked all my hives today. My package bees that I put in on my May 7th delivery, 6 were on drawn comb and needed a second box. They were very crowded and probably needed a box a week ago. I have three packages that I started on foundation. They are probably a week behind the hives with drawn comb.
 My overwintered colonies are packed with bees. I had no swarm cells. All of my overwintered colonies got two supers put on top of them. They did need them as they have been bringing in nectar.
How do you know there is a nectar flow?
My deep boxes have drawn comb and the comb is on the dark side. Notice the white comb attached to the darker burr comb.

The dark burr comb has new white comb. Whenever the bees add comb to anywhere in the hive, it will be white in color during a nectar flow. So I knew at a glance that this hive was bringing in nectar recently.

Nectar Flow

In my travels I am always looking for what is blooming. Driving down hwy 36 and 694, east of St Paul, I am seeing widespread yellow sweet clover and birdsfoot trefoil in bloom. My yard is full of blooming white dutch clover. Red Clover is blooming in the ditches of a new roundabout north of 36.
 The conclusion is, that most of us are experiencing or will soon be experiencing a nectar flow. Supers should be on colonies now.
  If the deep hive boxes are finished or close to being finished drawing comb, supers should be on new colonies. Supers should always be put on a colony when the colonies are ready for them. Failure to put on supers will possibly make the bees fill the whole hive with honey. This honey bound hive will leave no place for the queen to lay. With no place to lay eggs, the population will suffer and the hive may not survive the upcoming winter because of not enough bees.
 The nectar flow can start with a huge intensity. A medium super that is just foundation can be drawn out, filled with nectar and capped in one week. That is why we always put supers on two at a time.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Sold Out Of Queens For 2018

We are sold out of queens for 2018.
If you are in need of a queen(s).
Contact: Olivarez Honey Bees
Carniolan, Italian and Saskatraz marked or unmarked

Thursday, June 7, 2018

What I am doing now with my hives

The nectar flow will be starting soon. I have some final prep work to do in the next few days.
 My over wintered colonies: I will be going through the hives looking for swarm cells and removing any uncapped swarm cells. If the top box is not real heavy with honey, I will do a reversal. If the top box is quite heavy, I will leave it on top and not do a reversal. My honey supers are on.
 My package bee colonies: I have a few package bee colonies from my April delivery of bees. All my deep boxes have drawn comb and I am not drawing out foundation. The bees have built up very well and there is several frames of capped brood ready to emerge. This will be perfect timing for the hive to have large amounts of house bees to deal with the new nectar coming in. If the top box is not heavy with honey, I will do a final reversal. If the top box is heavy with honey, I will leave it on top. Uncapped Swarm cells will be removed. I will be putting on my honey supers.
 I do have late packages from my May 7th delivery, so they are a little behind. They have just had their second box put on top. ProSweet is still on the hive and feeding will continue until all my foundation is drawn out.  I am using Quick Draw foundation in the frames. Quick Draw foundation is yellow RiteCell foundation. The foundation has three times the beeswax on the foundation than the Black RiteCell foundation. The bees draw this foundation out faster and better than the black foundation. Quick Draw foundation costs more because of the added beeswax, but I feel it gives me an edge for quicker frame comb building.
 In both of my beeyards I have a couple of undivided overwintered colonies. The overwintered colonies are getting huge so I need to cut them back a little bit to prevent them from swarming. I did not divide them because I knew I was going to remove brood from them.  I will take a few frames of brood from these strong colonies and add a frame of capped brood to a few of my late packages. This should give them a little jump start to increase my late package population before the nectar flow.
 The nectar flow is coming soon.
If you are drawing out new foundation, keep feeding.
If you are done drawing out foundation or very close to finishing the comb, do a reversal. Do not do a reversal if your top deep box is heavy with honey. Put two honey supers on. If the supers are new foundation, leave the queen excluder off. Check the supers weekly. When you see comb being built and some nectar on a frame or two, then put your excluder underneath the supers.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Yellow sweet clover and White Dutch Clover blooming

yellow sweet clover

White Dutch Sweet Clover
I have White Dutch Sweet Clover starting to bloom in my yard. I saw Yellow Sweet Clover blooming on Hwy. 494.
The nectar flow is coming soon.
The old wives tale is that the main nectar flow starts ten days after the first clover bloom. That puts it around mid June for the Stillwater area. A little sooner in the Rochester area, a little later St Cloud and points north.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


I have about 60 queens left.
I will not be getting anymore for 2018.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Birds Foot Trefoil

Birds Foot Trefoil is blooming across the metro area. Birds Foot Trefoil is a legume. It is a short plant. Bees do like it.
You can usually see it next to roadways. It does get planted on roadsides on both state and county roads.