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.

Search This Blog

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Bee Delivery Update

We still do not have any solid bee delivery dates. We did publish some dates when we were told that the bees were going to be delayed two weeks. Since that time, our bee supplier has not given us any firm dates.
 It has been raining every eight out of ten days in California. With this rainy conditions queen breeding cannot be accomplished. This constant rainy weather has never happened before in twenty years.  So at this time, all bee delivery dates are to be determined.
 All of the queen and package bee suppliers on the west coast are in the same predicament. All we can do is hope for drier weather in sunny California.
Orland California 10 day forecast

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Spring is coming

I was out for a walk on the Browns Creek State Trail today with the dog. I noticed some pussy willows budding out. Pussy willows are one of the first pollen sources for pollinators. The buds should open soon exposing some pollen for the bees. Many times it is too cold for bees to get this first taste of spring. But it will be in the 60's tomorrow and I am sure somewhere around the upper midwest, pussy willow will be handing out pollen.
 Even with the pollen coming soon. Pollen patties should stay on the hives. Providing the needed protein for brood development.
Pussy Willows

Large Stand of Pussy Willow

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Spring Chores

Today, Saturday is going to be a beautiful day. The temperature is supposed to be in the 50's. A hive on a warm day like this, can be broken down and the bottom board can be cleaned off. Debris from the winter usually covers the bottom board with dead bees, wax cappings and other hive debris.
 Bring a box with to scrape the debris into.
 The hive can be assessed on their food stores. Just feel the weight of the top box. The bees should be in the top box right now. If the box feels heavy then you should not have to feed. If it feels light, feed syrup. Do not over feed. This can hurt brood production if the hive is full of syrup.
 It is a little too early to do a reversal. Reversals usually happen around April 1st. Even then beekeepers need to look at the future weather. We would like to see temperatures being steady in the upper forties to low fifties for highs during the day for doing reversals.
 If you break down the hive today, restack it the same way it was when you took it apart. The moisture board can be removed for the season. With freezing temperatures going away, the moisture board is no longer needed.
 The winter cover can stay on for another week or so. Depending on where you live. some parts of MN and WI still have plenty of snow on the ground and may experience cold nights.
 If you can't break down the hive today it is not a big deal. But, the hive should be visited and food stores should be looked at. Pollen patties should be on right now and 1:1 sugar syrup or ProSweet syrup should be fed as needed.
 Put the pollen patties right on the bees. If the bees are occupying two boxes, put the pollen patties on the top bars on both boxes.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Bad weather persisting in California

The weather in California has stayed ugly. For the short term, the forecast is for rain for eight of the next ten days. This will possibly impact the package bee delivery dates. While it is still too soon to be 100% sure of any more delays, a change in the weather is needed for some more seasonal weather patterns. We just want to inform our customers of what is going on.
 What we have always said is, that this is farming and farming is at the mercy of the weather. Let's be positive and hope this rain goes away for a few weeks.
Orland California 10 day weather forecast
California is officially out of their seven year drought.
Queen Mating. This is what we need the warm weather for.
A queen may be mated by as many as 10 drones. This will give her a lifetime supply of sperm so she can fertilize eggs. A poor mated queen may only be mated with one or two drones. A poorly mated queen may run out of sperm in a short period of time and will lose the ability to fertilize eggs and will become a drone layer.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Pollinator Friendly Lawns

The legislature is contemplating subsidies for bee friendly lawns. Read all about it. Story in the Star Tribune.
Bee Friendly Lawns

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Sold out of package bees for 2019

Nature's Nectar LLC is sold out of package bees for 2019.
If you need package bees, Mann Lake LTD out of Hackensack, MN is still taking orders for bees. 1-800-880-7694 Call Mon - Fri 8am - 4:30pm
Pickup is in Hackensack sometime in early May.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Almost out of bees

 Do not mail order any more order forms.
Nature's Nectar LLC phone number 651-242-2233

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Where are we at in the bee season

I think now would be a good time to feed a pail of syrup and a pollen patty.
It is too cold to use a hive top feeder. The bees would be challenged to get to the syrup in a hive top feeder and at this point in the season, may be a bad choice for a feeder. A pail feeder goes right on top of the inner cover and most beekeepers bees are in the top box, right under the inner cover. The feeder pail is right above the cluster and should not freeze. The warmth of the cluster should keep any feeder pail from freezing.
 In about a week or so it is a good idea to go out and break the top box loose and lift it up a few inches above the box below it. This will give you an idea how much food is in the top box. If the box is heavy, do not feed anymore syrup. If the box is light, give the bees another pail of syrup. Anything in between, is a judgement call.
 One thing to remember, do not feed pail after pail of syrup. The bees will take down all the syrup that is offered. The bees will fill up the brood area with syrup and the queen will have no place to lay eggs and the population will dwindle.
 Feed syrup as needed. If you look at your bees and they are still down deep in the hive and the top box is full of honey still, feeding probably is not needed.
 Putting pollen on the hive is also going on right now. There is brood in the colonies right now. Pollen patties are needed to assure there is protein available for proper brood development. If there is no pollen available for the brood, the bees may cannibalize the young larvae and the hive's overall population will suffer with low brood numbers.
 Pollen patties need to be placed right where the bees are. Usually it is on the top bars of the top box. Put the pollen patty right on top of the bees. Don't block the inner cover hole for access to the feeder pail.
 If the bees are in both the top box and the box underneath, put a pollen patty on top of both boxes.
 Beekeepers who have overwintered five frame nuc boxes should be moving them into ten frame equipment very soon if their population is booming. Weak nucs can stay in the nucs for the short term.
 Beekeepers have had some pain getting going this season. Snow has made it tough to get to our hives. The weather will be getting better, forties are on the horizon as we move towards April.
 The next big thing on the horizon is a reversal coming around early April.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Bees Going Fast

Nature's Nectar LLC is down to about 20% of their bees left to sell. If you want to order bees, do it NOW.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

It is time

 I think it is time to feed the bees. The temperatures are on the upswing. If the bees are alive, we would hate to lose them now.
 A feeder pail of 1:1 sugar water or ProSweet, on top of the inner cover and a pollen patty on the top bars of the top box, right where the bees are. Your bees may not have any available pollen under the honey that they have been eating. Adding a pollen patty will give the bees the protein they need for some serious brood rearing. A full patty is needed. A strong colony may eat the whole patty in 10 days.
 A feeder on top of the colony is unlikely to freeze. The heat from the cluster should keep it liquid. If you are concerned about this, go buy a Styrofoam minnow bucket that will cover the pail and fit inside a deep box. Nature's Nectar LLC does have minnow buckets in their new Oakdale store.
 I know it is tough to get to the bees, but this weekend we may get more heavy snow. It may make it more difficult to get out to the beeyard for another week.
 The temperatures are beginning to moderate into the 30's and the bees are working in the hive. We need to give them a hand to expand the brood area.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Bee Detective Busting Hive Thieves

Here is a bee cop. He looks for stolen colonies of bees in Butte County, California. Thieves steal colonies of bees that have been brought into the Almond orchards. A colony of bees can fetch upwards of $250.00 for a pollination fee. Imagine stealing 1000 colonies, that have a potential payoff of $250,000.00. This large dollar amount make breaking the law very attractive to some.
The Bee Cop

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Package Bees 2019 will be delayed

I talked to our bee supplier, Ray Olivarez, (he is in Orland, California) today. He told me due to their cold and rainy weather our bees will be delayed two weeks. So at the moment, we are looking at delivery dates of around the 21st of April for the first delivery and the 27th of April for the second delivery. These dates are NOT solid dates and they may still change. All of the queen suppliers on the west coast are in this same predicament.
 Here is the 10 day weather outlook for Orland California. You can see the temperatures warming up later in the forecast.
Orland California 10 day forecast
 The cold and rainy weather has held back the Almond trees from blooming at their normal time. They are starting to bloom now. There are several varieties of Almond trees with different blooming time frames, such as early and late blooming types of Almond trees.
 The bees need the Almond trees to bloom to gather fresh pollen. It is this large influx of pollen that spurs on bee colonies to make drones. The queen producers in California need the large drone populations to properly mate with the new virgin queens that will be produced. The virgin queens need at least 60 degree weather, to go out on their mating flights. So you can see many things have to click right for queens to be produced in large numbers.
 Here is a video of the Almond trees in California.