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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Monday, July 30, 2018

How to extract honey

Here is a video that we made last year on how to extract honey. This 3 frame extractor is the same extractor that we rent for $30.00 a day. We have four extractors available and we are taking reservations for them at this time. All of the equipment in this video is available at Nature's Nectar LLC. We can explain how to use the tools if you need more instruction than this video provides. We also sell extractors and will be having an extractor sale coming up the week of August 13th through the 18th. There will be significant savings. All our extractors are quality built. All warranties are serviced here. When you purchase extractors online, you may have to ship them back to whomever you bought them from for warranty work. Depending on the size of the extractor that can lead up to a lot of money. Plus you need to crate it up. Buying local in the long run will save you time and money.
Also, Nature's Nectar LLC will be closing early on Sat. August 4th at 1 pm. We will be open regular hours on Saturday August 11th. If you need anything you can always order it off our online store www.naturesnectaronline.com

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Putting On Formic This Week

I will be putting formic acid on my hives this week, no later than Wednesday. I was watching the weather this morning and the long term forecast calls for 90's coming back next weekend. I want to make sure I can get my mite treatment on before it gets hot again.
 There are several posts about mite treatments over the last week. Scroll down to see the older posts.

Friday, July 27, 2018

MAQS or Formic Pro and the nectar flow

Nature's Nectar LLC does carry both Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) and Formic Pro. We can show you how to put them on your colony and answer all of your mite treatment questions.
 FYI did you know Nature's Nectar LLC rents three frame extractors by the day? If you need to rent an extractor, we are taking reservations now.

 The nectar flow has slowed down for me quite a bit. I am not sure if it is over in the Stillwater area or there may be some late summer nectar ahead.
 I did see Goldenrod starting to bloom. Goldenrod will be very widespread when it peaks out usually in late August. What looks so promising of acres and acres of yellow flowering Goldenrod, more times than not, yields very little of a nectar flow. The bees do work it for the pollen and the nectar if it is present. For me, about every ten years I get a decent crop of nectar off of Goldenrod. You know you are getting Goldenrod nectar if you stand near your hives and the odor of wet sweat socks permeates the beeyard. This odor while it is a little stinky, does go away as the Goldenrod nectar ripens into honey. Goldenrod honey is actually quite tasty.
 As beekeepers we are naturally greedy and we want to get as much honey as we can. I think beekeepers need to resist that notion and plan on mite treatment and to make sure the hive has sufficient winter store of honey.
 Treating with formic acid forces the beekeeper to remove the top brood box to put the formic acid strips on. This removal of the top deep will clue in the beekeeper if there is enough honey for winter. Beekeepers like to see the top box basically full of honey. After the mite treatment beekeepers need to get serious about if they need to feed. Feeding cannot be done will formic acid is on the hive. So after the mite treatment is done, get any feeding done right away. Don't wait to feed. August turns into October before you know it and the next thing you know there is not enough food in the hive for winter.
 I will be talking about how to pull your honey off the hive and extracting your honey crop in my next few posts and videos, stay tuned. I have made many posts about mites, so scroll down and look at some older posts if you missed them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Other Mite Treatments

There are several mite treatments available to use. Some are better than others.
One thing I want to say if you have Saskatraz bees. Synthetic Chemical compounds should not be used for treating Saskatraz bees. Synthetic Chemical compounds would be ApiVar, Checkmite, Apistan.
 The synthetic miticides while initially lowering the mite populations, may in the future, lessen the Saskatraz bees ability to cope with new mite infestations. In other words if you have Saskatraz bees Formic Acid may be your best mite treatment option. Having said that here are some other mite treatment options, pro and cons.

 Formic Acid, organic, ingredient formic acid, fumigant
  • Pro, organic treatment, will not leave deposits in the wax, inexpensive, unused strips store well for a year, short treatment window 14 days, good mite efficacy, supers can be on, 2 hive, 10 hive or 25 hive treatment packs
  • Con: Temperature dependent, has a temperature window to work properly, may injure some open brood, a fragile queen may be killed, especially when treating at the upper temperature limits.

ApiVar: synthetic miticide, ingredient, Amitraz, direct contact strip
  • Pro: works well on Italians and Carniolans, easy to apply plastic strips, Works at all temperatures,  
  • Con: expensive, 42 day treatment, may leave wax residue, some resistance being reported, strips have to be in contact with the bee cluster to work, supers must be off, unused strips do not store well, 10 strip or 50 strip package. 2 strips used per deep of bees, up to 4 strips needed per hive treatment

ApiGuard: ingredient Thymol gel, fumigant
  • Pro: works well, easy to apply tins
  • Con: 30 day treatment, two tins 15 days apart, temperature dependent, a 3/4" shim need to be used for bee space for bee access, supers must be off, needs to be applied in the upper Midwest by no later than mid August because if it cools off in September it may not be effective. Need to purchase 10 tins (five hive treatments)

Checkmite and Apistan have shown mite resistance to these products

When to treat for mites - It is all about the timing

 I like to treat my bees for mites usually around mid August. My mite treatment of choice is Formic Acid. There are two types of Formic Acid, Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) or Formic Pro. They are both formic acid but their application is slightly different. Formic Pro and MAQS are both made by the same manufacturer.  MAQS has a shelf life of about 6 months, while Formic Pro has a shelf life of two years. Expired MAQS should never be used because the delivery method has been compromised. Expired MAQS when applied will give 100% formic acid, the intensity of the vapors may injure the colony.
 Formic Acid should not be applied if the daytime temperatures are over 85 degrees for the first three days of treatment. This is a fumigant, the slide of a screen bottom board should be in while treating.
 Formic Acid is considered an organic mite treatment and can be applied with the honey supers on.
 But, sometimes the weather is too hot to put on the Formic Acid treatment. I have the mite treatment ready to use by end of July. So I watch the weather in August, if there is a window of three days of the 70's in early August, I will treat. By waiting until mid August, then a beekeeper thinks about treating, the weather can get too hot and stay there for several weeks. Sometimes not cooling off until the first week of Sept. Beekeepers need to get Formic on their hives sometime during the month of August. So watching the weather and long term forecasts is what I do. 
Here is a couple of manufacturers video's of using Formic Acid. Always follow the manufacturers label instructions when applying any miticide:

Formic Pro:


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mite Treatments

From Scientific Beekeeping.com
Mite treatments will be the hot topic for all beekeepers very soon. Look at the graph above about the bee and mite population and the timeline. The Varroa population lags the bee population, up until early September. Then the mite population keeps increasing as the bee population goes down. This high infestation of mites damages the bees physically and also exposing honeybees to viruses. This high infestation of mites is what kills honeybee colonies.   Beekeepers need to stop this rising mite population during the month of August before the Varroa population explodes. Looking at the graph one can see there is a sharp rise in the month of August in the mite population. Treating colonies in September in many cases is too late. The bees may be so damaged by the rising mite population that they cannot recover.
 Starting in late August, and into fall, the new bees emerging will be winter bees. Winter bees have a different physiology than summer bees, they have more fat deposits to handle the rigors of winter better than summer bees could. Winter bees will live for 6 months. Winter bees need to emerge out of the cells as mite free as possible. Winter bees weakened by being parisitized by mites stand a tough time for long term survival. Winter bees emerging healthy with very low mite counts, have a great chance at winter survival. Overwintered colonies usually make much more honey than a new colony.
 For ALL beekeepers, treating colonies in August is the time to do it. If you are a beekeeper that kills your colonies off every year and get new bees in the spring, YOU need to treat for mites as well. Failure to treat for mites at the proper time can affect your neighbors overwintering success. Be a good neighbor and treat all colonies in August.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Stay tuned

I will be making several posts over the next week about pulling honey, extracting honey, and mite treatments, how to put them on and mite treatment options. So stay tuned. Scroll down on the posts, or you may miss some of them.

I have to say this was the winner

This pic is a testament of the quality of bees from Olivarez Honey Bees. Keep the hives from swarming and the result is usually positive.
Seven colonies with forty supers on. The two on the right were overwintered colonies. The others were splits or new packages. He is extracting today. Eleven Supers on the hive on the far right. If all the forty supers were full, that would be about 1600 lbs of honey. Carniolan Queens.                                                    Located in Pine City area / Photo T. Hinze

Saskatraz before and now

Here is a pic of how a hive can change in about four months time
These were all 2 lb package of Saskatraz started in early April. Through the cold and snow that we had for the first time in Twenty years. The packages were all installed on drawn comb. Why spend the extra money on a nuc. These Saskatraz queens really go to work. Located in the east metro.
About four months ago / photo by N. Gores

Now / Photo by N. Gores

Thursday, July 19, 2018

More Saskatraz Hives

Here are a couple Saskatraz hives with their heavy supers
Saskatraz package hive from the western suburbs, Buffalo area. / photo by D. Casey

Saskatraz Hives from the Stillwater area. Left / - Overwintered Saskatraz Parent, / middle - the divide / Right - 3 lb Package with Saskatraz queen / Photo by G. Gehrman
Saskatraz packages - two full supers and the third is 2/3rds full / photo M. Thorp

What's blooming

As the white sweet clover starts to wane, more flowers are coming online. Late summer perennials are coming out. Also some weeds are blooming right now. Purple Loosestrife can takeover a swampy marsh and crowd out native plants.
Purple Loosestrife and Spotted Knapweed are both noxious weed. They should never be propagated. But as long as they are there the bees will work them.
 Purple loosestrife honey has a greenish hue. It looks like new motor oil.
 Spotted Knapweed has a buttery flavor. Both honeys are of very good flavor.
Spotted Knapweed
Purple Loosestrife

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Great Saskatraz Hive

This is a pic of a Saskatraz hive. That is one huge honey crop in the making.
This is a result of a great queen, big hive population and no swarming.This was from a package of bees from this year.
photo by M. Hergott

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Weather and the nectar flow

The nectar flow is booming for most beekeepers. Many beekeepers reporting that they have two or more supers with honey in the boxes.
 The upcoming week looks perfect for honey collection. Hot days and warm nights. Days and nights like this, get the nectar to flow, usually at a greater rate than if the highs are only in the 70's.
 Swarming is still going on. I have had several calls from beekeepers trying to collect their bees that are now up in a tree.
 When checking for swarm cells, all the boxes need to be looked at. If only one brood box is checked, there is no point on checking. Queens are being pushed down into the bottom brood box now as the top brood box fills with honey. This is what beekeepers want to see. Their top brood box full of honey for winter.
 Stay ahead of the bees. If there is two supers on a hive and both of them have honey in them, it is time to put on two more supers. This nectar flow looks like it has a long way to go. It would not surprise me if many beekeepers get four supers of honey or more.
If you are not getting much honey right now:
  • Your bees may have swarmed
  • You had queens issues sometime in the spring
  • Poor population of bees in the hive due to a brood disease
  • Poor nectar flow where your bees are located 
  • You have put the same supers on for a couple years and the bees never made wax on the foundation. Now the foundation is no longer attractive to the bees, the beeswax odor is gone. The foundation should be replaced with new.
Now is the payoff for all of the hard work we have done to get our bees to this point. We have endured cold weather, blizzards, cold spring. All of this is now old news. The honey flow is on, now lets enjoy the show.