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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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

We are getting close to last call for mite treatments

I hate to be alarmist. But, beekeepers who have not treated for mites, are running out of time.
 Right now the hives are starting to make winter bees. Winter bees will be the bees that live through the winter. Winter bees will be in the hive from early September until March.
 For hive survival, the bees need to be as mite free as possible. Having your winter bees heavily parisitized by mites will decrease the odds of winter survival.
Mites can be a vector for viruses into the bees. This can lead to a colony dying in late February or March.
 Taking the time now to treat for mites is the best solution.
 There are some beekeepers who let their bees die every year and get new packages of bees. This works for them. But, they too have to treat for mites. Beekeepers who do this and do not treat for mites are a big problem for the beekeepers that winter their bees. Untreated hives can spread mites to other colonies.
 This week the weather is perfect for using Formic Pro. If you are trying to get some late season honey, Formic Pro can be on your hive with supers on. Formic Pro is considered an organic treatment. Take the time and treat your bees. The $16.00 you spend today, may save you $120.00 in the spring.
 Here again is my video on using Formic Pro:

Monday, August 27, 2018

Bears are roaming into new area's now

This bear was in Pepin City WI.

This time of year is the start of bear mating season.
Two year old cubs are chased off by their mother. The females don’t have a problem staying in their home range. The young male bears are now in the breeding area of a dominant bear. They are forced to leave their home range or risk a confrontation with the dominant bear. This will lead to a fight and the young bear could be killed.
 These young bears are forced into new territories. Beekeepers that have never had trouble with bears in the past are much more prone to a bear attack now if they have never been hit before.
I always tell beekeepers, put a bear fence up now before the bears hit the hive or you end up paying twice.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Moisture Checking Honey

The definition of U.S. Grade A honey is, it needs to taste like honey and have a moisture (water) content of 18.6% or less.
 The way to tell what the moisture level is to measure the water content with a refractometer.
 There are many refractometers used in many different industries. Refractometers are used in the food, HVAC, and the machine tool industries to name a few. Refractometers can be specific to what is needed to be tested.
 In the honey world, we need a refractomer that is specific to honey. Other refractometers look the same but they would not work to measure water in honey. So if you see one for sale on EBay you better know what you are buying. Every year I have beekeepers bring me their refractometers because they can't read it. Only to find out that they purchased the wrong one.
 Refractometers do have to be calibrated with a glycerin calibrating solution. Not calibrating the instrument can lead to a bad reading and your honey may not be U.S. Grade A. A tiny vial of calibrating solution costs about $10.00.
 I have a high end refractometer, like the one below. I calibrate it every year at the start of the honey season. It is very accurate and holds its calibration very well. I usually never have to change the adjustment. When you get to cheaper refractometers, the need to calibrate them before each season is imperative.
 At Nature's Nectar LLC we do moisture check honey samples for free. If you can't drive here, you can mail me a sample and I will call, text or email the results back to you. I need a thimble size of honey for a sample. The sample should pretty much fill the container. Don't bring a thimble size container in a quart canning jar for example. Any humidity in the jar will absorb into the honey, making the test inaccurate.
 Refractometers sell for $75.00 up to over $400.00. The one below costs over $400.00. We do sell the $75.00 refractometer in our store and I will calibrate it for free if you buy it from us. No other bee store offers this service.

Honey Refractometer

This is the scale in this type of refractometer. You can see at the bottom of the scale that it is for honey. Read the line where the blue and white meets. This honey sample reading is about 19.3% water content. This type of refractometer has a temperature adjustment thermometer on the underside of the instrument.. When adjusted for temperature the final reading was 18.5%.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Different bee comparison

Here is a Carpenter bee a bumble bee and a honey bee

The Carpenter bee is ginormous 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Be a State Fair Bee Interpreter - Sign up today

Beekeeper Steve talking bees with a civilian at the fair
Be a State Fair Bee Interpreter. Sign up by Saturday the 18th to get a free ticket to get into the State Fair. I can't say enough about this. Everyone who has done this has enjoyed doing it.
 All you do is sit on a stool with an observation hive and answer questions from the general public. Any new beekeepers is qualified to do this. Don't sell yourself short, any new beekeeper has the knowledge and expertise to interact with the general public. Most new beekeepers have the education and almost a full season of beekeeping under their belt. So you are the expert. Sign up, get into the fair for free, have a great time supporting the beekeeping industry.

Find an open slot on the schedule. Click on the sign up and submit button at the bottom and fill out the form for the shift you want. Submit the form and you will see your name on the shift you want.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Pulling Honey off the hive

Here are a couple videos of how to pull honey off the hive.

Different items used for pulling honey:

Using a brush to remove supers:

Using a fume board to remove supers:

Friday, August 10, 2018

What is happening right now in the hive

Right now the nectar flow has grown very spotty. Some beekeepers are getting some nectar but,  I think most of us are done getting any more surplus honey.
Now we have to turn our attention to some pressing issues.
  • Mites, it is time to treat your bees NOW. It looks like the weather next week from Tuesday on should be acceptable weather to put on Formic Acid. Either Formic Pro or Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS). The longer we wait to put on mite treatments, the more mite issues can develop. When I say mite issues I mean, possible virus exposure, damaged bees and new larvae being weakened by the increased mite population. So what are you waiting for!
  • Feeding, if you inspect your colony and your top box is not full, the time to feed is now. If you are using Formic Acid to treat your hives, you cannot feed. But, once the formic is finished, feeding has to be put on the front burner.  If you did a reversal after mid June, and you put the top box on the bottom and when you did this the box was very heavy. That box was your winter honey. You need to put the heaviest brood box on top of the hive. Bees will not go down to get this honey and the bees will starve later on in the winter. By having the top box basically full of honey, insures that the bees will have enough food for winter. Feeding in late August and into early September is the right time to feed. Feeding is a nectar flow. A nectar flow spurs the queen to lay more eggs. The more brood in the colony means more mites in the colony.  Beekeepers want the hive to stop rearing brood by early October. By feeding late into September usually means that brood will be in the hive until late October or early November. If the feeding lasts into late October there may be brood in the colony into late November. More brood means more mites. Again, this is a problem. The late feeding leads to bees being heavily parisatized by mites and will likely not survive.
Now is the time to get a plan on mites and feeding. Delaying can lead to a negative outcome of winter hive survival.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Extractor Sale

We are taking pre orders for extractors
3 frame hand crank, same as in the video in the previous post.
3 frame hand crank
Regular price $425.95 Sale price $395.00
3 frame motorized
Regular price $749.95 Sale Price $695.00
9 - 18 hand crank
Regular  Price $799.95 Sale Price $699.95
9 - 18 motorized extractor
Regular price $1295.95 Sale Price $1095.00
Delivery should be by Aug 17th
All of the hand crank extractors can be updated to a motorized extractor by purchasing a motorized conversion kit at a later date.
We service all extactors that we sell. Any warranty work is done here.
If you buy extractors online, what would you do if you had to send it back for repair?
That is the advantage of buying local.