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, September 29, 2018

New Style of Winter covers

Here are some pictures of a new style winter cover that we are currently carrying.
They are constructed of a vinyl material, that is sewn on the edges and folds of the cover. They wrap around two deep boxes and secure with a strip of velcro. The covers are a snug fit.
 There is 1/2" pink Styrofoam as an insulator in the cover.
 The covers are E-Z on and E-Z off. They store flat when not being used.
The covers are available in 10 frame, 8 frame, and coming soon, nuc size for a five over five cover.
 The covers are heavy duty and should last many years.
 Nature's Nectar LLC is the only bee supply store in Minnesota carrying these covers.
 We have the 10 frame and 8 frame in stock right now.
These are snug fit covers

Velcro seam easily seals the cover

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Cooler Weather

The weather has cooled off to more seasonable temperatures.
  • The good news is robbing will be less because bees won't be able to fly for long periods during the day. 
  • Entrance reducers or mouse guards should be installed. With the cooler weather, mice may start moving into the hives. Entrance reducers can be with the wide opening.
  • We are still a long way off before winter covers are installed. Usually winter covers are put on anytime after Nov. 1st
  • Feeding is still going on. Topping off the hive for sufficient food stores for winter. 
  • One frame about in the center of the top box, should be only partially full of honey. It helps the bees move up into the top box, if they can move up on empty comb. If all the frames are full, the bees don't like to move onto the frozen capped honey. If a frame had the bottom third of the frame, empty of honey, will help the bees move up in January.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Different honey on frame

A beekeeper sent me this photo. They were concerned that something was wrong with the frame of honey. Looking at the frame, you can see different colors on the comb. Is there something wrong with this frame? Honey tainted?
 This frame has two distinct different honey's in the frame. Looking at the frame it is easy to see where one honey stopped and another started. There is a nice white comb at the top of the frame, but in the lower part of the frame the cappings have turned to a darker color.
 For an example the light colored wax could have been clover honey. Clover is white honey, very light in color and the beeswax tends to be light as well. The darker wax was a wildflower honey. This wildflower honey is a darker color. In this case the wax was a little darker when it is compared to the whiter wax. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

It is getting late

The window for feeding is getting smaller.
The weather forecaster from channel 5 said yesterday that we may see freezing temperatures in 7 to 10 days. As the temperatures cool off the bees will not take syrup as well as when it is in the 70's.
 Now is the time to feed your bees. The weather still is favorable for feeding.
The feed of choice right now is ProSweet. The bees can take it down and don't have to convert it to honey.
 Feeding sugar water, as we get later into the fall, the bees will have a harder time converting it to honey.
 The next few days and into early next week the temperatures are favorable for feeding.
 Any colder temperatures at this time, will not stress the bees. Winter covers don't have to be installed until November.
 Make the time to feed, now, if the bees need the feed.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The warm weather, pulling supers, feeding and robbing

The current warm weather can be helpful to beekeepers. The nectar flow is over, now is the time to get the supers off the hive, if you haven't done so. Fume boards and honey robber will work great to pull the honey off the hive. Next week it will be cooling off and fumigants used to pull honey will not work as well.
 When the nights turn cool, a bee escape board will be very effective to get the bees out of the super.
 If a beekeeper leaves the supers on too long, the bees may start moving the honey down into their hives. If the honey is uncapped, the bees will move it down very quickly.
 This warm weather is perfect for feeding. The bees will empty feeders at breakneck speed. If there is a lot of feeding in your future, you will want to take advantage of the next four days. Get the feed on NOW. 
 Next week, around Wednesday it is going to cool down into the 60's for highs. As the weather turns cooler the bees don't take the syrup with the same vigor as when it is in the 80's.
 Robbing, this weekend robbing will be in high gear. Hot temperatures, bees, wasps, hornets all have large populations. Large population with large appetites.  It would probably be a good idea to put an entrance reducer in with the large opening in the entrance. This may promote bearding from a hot hive, but it may prevent robbing from getting out of control.
 I have heard of a couple hives already getting overcome by robbers. Hive killed, dead bees everywhere, hive robbed of all honey. Oh, the carnage.
 Do not put supers near a hive to have the bees clean them out. This can start robbing. Once the supers are empty, the robbers can turn on your hive(s). One by one your bee yard can be overtaken. Don't get the robbing started.
 If you have supers to clean up, take off the telescoping cover and set the supers on top of the inner cover and put the telescoping cover back on top. The bees will come up from below and clean out the supers. This will protect the honey from robbers and the hive will clean the supers out in about three days.
 The hurricane in the Carolina's are holding this warm weather pattern for a few days. Take advantage of this and try to get the chores done.

Saturday, September 8, 2018


Beekeepers are getting in their last chores of the season. Making sure a colony has sufficent stores for winter survival is one of the last hurdles to cross for getting the hives ready for wintering. A colony of bees eats about 12 lbs of honey a month. This is about a frame and a quarter of honey. When brood rearing starts sometime in February, the honey consumption will increase. We can feed syrup again in early March, so that is our target for food stores. While this is a general rule of food consumption, use of stores can increase or decrease by the size of the overwintering cluster.
 For wintering we would like the following, if you have checked them off already that is a good place to be.
  • Have a colony as mite free as possible
  • In a perfect world, we would like to see 8 full frames of honey and one partially filled frame, say about two thirds full. The partially filled frame is located in the middle of the top box. The reason for the partially filled frame is that when the bees move up in January, transitioning from the lower box into the top box, it is easier to move up on a little empty comb instead onto cold honey or frozen honey. The cluster can move up and warm up adjacent honey in the moving process. The box under the top box should have about four frames of honey. This should give them enough food for winter. 
  • Feeding should be done as rapidly as possible. Don't drag this out over six weeks. Feeding with a quart jar with six holes in the lid, does not cut it for fall feeding. Feed with multiple feeder pails or a hive top feeder. With 40,000 bees in the hive, feeders will get empty quickly. If colonies are close to being full, you can feed one colony, then three days later feed the next one. Or, if you have the feeders, feed them all.
  • Your choice of feed for fall feeding is 2:1 sugar syrup, two parts sugar to one part water. The bees will have to suck this down, store it in the cells, dehumidify it to turn it into honey. After the bees turn it into honey, the net amount of actual food will be about 2/3rds of what you put in. Meaning if you fed 10 pounds of 2:1 sugar syrup, your net of honey would be around 7 lbs.
  • Feeding with ProSweet. ProSweet is similar to honey. It weighs about 11.5 lbs per gallon. The bees can take down ProSweet and put it into the cells and they don't have to do anything to it. Put it in the cells and they are done. If you give the bees 10 pounds of ProSweet, they have 10 pounds of food.
How to feed fast:
Three feeder pails can be put right on top of the frames this time of year. The bees will drain them in about 3-4 days. Cover with and empty brood box and inner and tele cover.
Feeding with a top hive feeder:

Feeding needs to happen now. Feed fast and get it done. The longer we feed, the longer brood is in the hive. The longer brood is in the hive, the more mites we get. Feeding spurs brood production. Get the feeding done. We want the queen to stop laying, so when we treat with oxalic acid in late October, hopefully the hive will be broodless. With a broodless hive, all the mites that are left in the hive are on the bees. The oxalic acid treatment will put a serious hurt on any left over mites. Then the colony will be ready for the rigors of winter.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Are you getting behind the eight ball?

The bee season is winding down quickly. Freeze warning this morning in northern Minnesota. The cooler weather is upon us.
Behind the eight ball. A term, referring to the game of pool, meaning in an unfavorable or uncomfortable position

Now is the time:
  • To treat for mites. A graduate student did her work on Varroa studies. She concluded that if bees aren't treated for mites by Sept. 10th. the odds of the bees overwintering go down dramatically. Are you behind the eight ball?
  • Feeding: Do you have enough food in the hive for winter? The top box should have eight full frames and one partially full frame of honey. The heaviest brood box needs to be on top of the brood boxes. Having a heavy box on the bottom of the brood boxes will do nothing to help feed the bees in the winter, it needs to be on top of the brood boxes. If you do not have this you need to feed now. If your hive has not enough honey and you are not feeding, are you behind the eight ball?
  • Time is ticking by everyday. Get the work done now. If it cools down early, the bees may no longer take down feed. If they don't take down the feed, there will not be enough food for winter. Don't get behind the eight ball.