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, July 31, 2019

Yellow Jackets

This is a YouTube video on a guy digging out an underground Yellow Jacket nest. He also takes apart the nest to look at the larvae and comb.
 As beekeepers we do get calls to help get rid of Yellow Jackets. This video can give you an idea of what it all looks like.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Is the nectar flow over?

This scale is from paulsapiary.com. Paul keeps his bees in the east metro. He has a hive on a scale. This is his latest reading on July 28th. There was a good honey flow on for Paul starting around mid June. The flow slowly increased until about the end of June. The flow picked up in July at a pretty good clip. But by July 16th the flow has really slowed down considerably. He has put up about 80 lbs of honey into his hive. That is a little more than two medium supers.
 There are other flowers blooming now. But time will tell if the nectar flow still has some legs or not. Just because the flow is slow or stopped in one location does not mean it has ended elsewhere.
 There may be some more honey to capture. Make sure the bees have some empty frames. I would hold off adding more supers unless the present supers are mostly full and 2/3rds capped. If you move empty frames from the outside of the boxes to the middle of the super, the bees may fill them up easier than if you left them on the outside edges of the super.
 If the bees have not put any honey into your supers their are only a couple reasons for that. Your bees swarmed, you had queen issues in late May or early June, there was not a good nectar flow around your bee yard.

Bear in the neighborhood

Bear came calling last night. Tore my bird feeder off of its pole. The bright spot is that the bear could not get to my elevated hanging feeders.

There is a bear in the neighborhood. He came calling last night. Tore down one of my bird feeders. Saw some bear scat on the trail back to my bee yard. Bee yard was fine. The bear fence saved the bees again.

Bear left his calling card. Bear scat.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Formic next week?

Looks like the weather could be perfect for using Formic Acid next week. If you know you are going to treat, it is best to get the formic in your possession. This will give you the option to make the judgement at anytime, to treat for mites.
 We never know what the weather will bring in August. It could be in the upper 80's for most of the month and getting a mite treatment on can be difficult. Being proactive on mite treatments will put your colony in better shape for going into fall. In my opinion following up the Formic treatment, a treatment of Oxalic Acid in late October really cleans up the mites for a healthy colony going into winter.
 Always do a mite count after you treat with formic to make sure it was effective.
Read and follow the label for proper application instructions and read the FAQ.
The FAQ can give you added information that may not be in the label instructions.

Formic Pro FAQ: http://nodglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2017-Formic-Pro-FAQS-North-America.pdf

Put the mite strips in the proper place in the hive. Formic Pro is a fourteen day treatment. Don't mess with your bees during the treatment time period.
 DO NOT PULL YOUR HONEY AND PUT THE FORMIC STRIPS ON AT THE SAME TIME.  The colony should not be disturbed for three days before you put the strips on. The bees are in their normal positions and they can handle the formic vapors. If the hive is all jumbled up from pulling honey or moving frames,the bees are not in their normal positions around the hive and this can lead to more bee mortality.
 Some beekeepers cool off the Formic Pro in the refrigerator to cool it down. When applied to the hive,  it slowly warms up and the vapor slowly increases in intensity. This can make the bees react to the vapors a little easier.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The nectar flow and mite treatments

I think the nectar flow has slowed or stopped in my locale. I had my truck bed open and bees were going after syrup that had spilled. There was a decent number of bees robbing. Also, I have been working in my honey house pumping honey with my door open. I had to close the door because bees were coming in. They could smell the honey.
 The heavy rains we have had could have washed nectar out of flowers temporarily. I hope that the more stable weather we are having now will turn this nectar flow around for me.
 More perennial flowers are blooming now. So there should be more nectar available soon.
 My Basswoods are done blooming. White Sweet Clover is still blooming around the area. The clover will start to wane soon and the intensity of the flow will slow down. We need to keep watching our supers and still stay ahead of the bees.
 Mite treatments using Formic acid can be put on anytime we have some cooler weather. In my opinion, it would be a good idea to purchase the mite treatment soon. The next time you see the daytime weather with three days under 85 degrees would be a good time to treat. According to Kare 11 weather, next Monday through Wednesday look perfect for Formic to work right. The weather can change and long term outlook temperatures can change. But by having the mite treatment already, makes the decision easier and the ability to react to proper weather conditions.
 Formic acid according to the label, can be applied during the nectar flow. It is better to put the mite treatments on by early August to get the mite levels down.  Formic Pro FAQ:  http://nodglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/2017-Formic-Pro-FAQS-North-America.pdf
In late August the bees start making winter bees. These are the bees that live through the winter. By keeping the mite levels very low will help the winter bees to be healthier and help the bees deal with the rigors of winter.
 A treatment of Oxalic acid in late October will clean up any mites that are left in the colony.
 There is still some work to do but August is coming, mite treatments, pulling honey, extracting and feeding (if needed) are all on the agenda.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The true population of the hive

 A beekeeper from the east metro sent me these pictures. The question he had was, are the bearding bees foragers? It is 2am and 70 degrees, why are they bearding?
This pic was taken by a trail camera at 2:00am. Photo by M. Lai

This pic was taken at 9:00am. Now 82 degrees and no bearding. Photo by M. Lai

This is a great example of the true population of a hive. All the bees are home at night. Even at 70 degrees there is a large population in the hive. The populations are so big, the hive is crowded and the bees need to hang outside to keep cool. The hives are not attempting to swarm, they are just hot. Also, the bees are circulating air through the hive, dehumidifying the nectar collected from the previous day.
 Now the lower picture. This pic was taken at 9:00 am and 82 degrees, note very little bearding. What gives? Why no bearding, it is warmer then at night?
 The bees hanging out at night are foragers, or a combination of foragers and house bees. This top picture gives us the real strength of a strong colony. The lower picture shows us that the foragers are now out working. The colonies have a large forager population, and a large house bee population.
 How would I know this? The beekeeper has four to five supers on the hives. The bees are filling up the supers. He couldn't get to that level of honey production without having both large populations of foragers and house bees.
 When a hive has poor honey collection, it is because the population of foragers and/or house bees are not sufficient. The hive needs both classes of bees to put forth a good honey crop. A swarm (loss of foragers) a dead queen in late May and early June (low numbers of house bees during the nectar flow).
 The key to a big honey crop is a great nectar flow and a hive that is packed with bees. More bees means more honey. Keep the bees from swarming and the honey is in the bank.

Time to remove the welcome mat

photo by D. Imhoff
 My friend Dan lives in the Elk River area. He got a picture of a mama bear walking down his driveway yesterday. She also had a cub bear with her. Very rude of the bears to show up uninvited. Dan has not seen a bear in 25 years of keeping bees at his place. More and more we are seeing bears encroaching on the more populous part of the rural ring of the metro area.
 I always encourage beekeepers to put up a bear fence if they are in bear country. The main reason for this is, you can put up a bear fence now or put up a bear fence after the bear wrecks your hives and eats your bees. If it is after the bear shows up, now you are paying for your hives twice.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Need Honey?

Wendy and I are still in the honey business.
We sell:
60 lb pails of honey for $178.00 each
Bulk honey is $4.00 lb. 60 lbs of more it is $2.80 lb.
651-492-six five seven three

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The upcoming heat

My Basswood is in full bloom. The blossoms are very dense this year. I took this pic at 9:15 am this morning. The bees are working the blossoms early this morning because it is in the 70's already. If it was a cool morning the bees wouldn't be here yet. Warm days and warm nights gives the bees a full day to work flowers. The tree is literally buzzing and alive with bees. I can hear and see honeybees, bumblebees and other pollinators working the flowers..This tells me that the Basswood is putting up nectar for the bees.
At this time of year, hot weather helps the nectar flow. Basswoods produce the most nectar with warm days and warm nights. I walked outside this morning and went underneath my Basswood trees. They are in full bloom, I could just smell the pungent odor of the flowers. The bees were working the flowers at 8:30 pm last night.
 Basswood sometimes is a fickle honey flow. Beekeepers don't get large amounts every year. But, when Basswoods nectar flows heavy, beekeepers usually get big honey crops.
 The 10 day forecast has upper 80's to low 90's every day. Looks like rain possible one day out of ten.
 We have had ample moisture, now we just need occasional sip of water to keep everything green.
 Everyone should be getting a nectar flow by now. Check the supers once a week and stay ahead of the bees. Add two supers at a time.
 If you are a new beekeeper, put your supers on. Don't think you will not get honey your first year. I have had new beekeepers get four supers of honey off of package bees. The late start of the nectar flow has helped colonies build in strength increasing the likelihood of getting honey.
 A beekeepers showed me a picture of his hive on Tuesday. It was a package of bees with a Saskatraz queen on drawn comb. He has four supers very full of nectar and he just added two more supers.
 Stay ahead of the bees through the month of July. Having empty supers on the hive, spurs the bees on to fill the boxes. Bees have a hoarding instinct. By having empty boxes ahead of the bees, will make the bees work harder to fill the space with honey if there is honey to be had. If the bees don't have a place to put honey, they will stop collecting nectar.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Some Wildlife Pics

Nice Buck Deer In Velvet

Young Fawn With Mama In The Background
Wren Peeking Out Of Her Nest photo by W Kloek

Cedar Waxwing Eating Berries
I Believe This Is A Flycatcher Photo By W Kloek

Friday, July 5, 2019

Sweet Clover is blooming and the Strawberries are ripe

I noticed yesterday that White Sweet Clover is now blooming. I did see a large stand of white sweet clover in full bloom along 694.
 Also, my wife and I went to the Arboretum and saw the Basswoods were blooming.
So make sure at least two supers are on your hives.
The Strawberry picking was most excellent today. We were at the Berry Patch in Marine, right near Big Marine Park. Picked 20 lbs in 20 minutes. The berries were very big. Perfect size for making jam.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Fort McHenry - Happy Fourth of July

Fort McHenry is located in the bay protecting the city of Baltimore, Maryland.
During the war of 1812, September 13-14, 1814. British troops had landed and were approaching the city of Baltimore in force to raze the city.
 The citizens of Baltimore had a home militia. Citizens of Baltimore hastily built trenches to form a line to stop the advance of the British troops. You need to understand that at that time in history, the British soldier was the best and most experienced soldiers in the world. Many of these troops were involved with defeating Napoleon earlier in the year.
 For the British, their plan was to take the city by sailing their warships into Baltimore harbor to shell the city. Also the ground troops would move in and burn the city of Baltimore to the ground.
 Fort McHenry stood in the way of the plan. The British felt they could obliterate the fort and then move on the city.
Fort McHenry defenses
 A ship flying a flag of Truce approached the British ships. On board that ship was Attorney Francis Scott Key. He was sent to negotiate for release of a detained citizen.  His delegation was on the truce ship and witnessed the British shelling of the fort.
The massive shelling of the fort inspired Francis Scott Key to write the Star Spangled Banner.
After the shelling, the ships had depleted their ammunition and were forced to withdraw.
 The citizen militia challenged and stopped the British ground troops. The British General was killed during the battle.  
 Fort McHenry is a national shrine.
 The original flag is located at the Smithsonian museum. The flag of 1814 had 15 stars and 15 bars.

Raising the flag in the morning at Fort McHenry. Visitors are asked to help hold the flag as it is being raised.