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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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Commercial beekeeper moving bees

A commercial beekeeper I know is getting ready to move his bees to Texas. He tries to hold the bees here as long as he can. If the bees get moved too soon and it is warm in Texas, the bees tend to eat too much of their food stores. It works out best if it is cool in Texas when the bees arrive.
 Right now in Texas, the temperatures are in the low 50's with freezing temperatures at night. The cool temperatures keep the bees from flying and picking up Varroa from other beekeepers.
 Most of the hives are in singles. There should be enough food in the hives until late December or early January feeding. Pollen patties will be put on in late January to stimulate colonies for brood production. Dividing colonies will happen sometime in late February.
 When commercial beekeepers split their hives in February in Texas, they move one frame of brood and bees into a single hive box. A queen cell is added with an unmated queen, ready to emerge in a day or two after putting the queen cell in the hive. The queen will fly and get mated in about ten days after emerging from the queen cell. The queen starts laying a week or so later. This divide, which is too small if doing it in Minnesota, will build up over the next couple months. As the temperatures warm up, the brood nest will be able to expand. The goal is to have five to eight frames of brood when the bees will be shipped back to Minnesota. Many pitfalls can happen that a commercial beekeeper has to deal with, unmated queens, weak colonies, starvation of colonies, varroa mites.
 But if everything works out, 400 colonies can turn into 1000 colonies by early May.
Pallatized hives with four hives per pallet

A flatbed semi truck can haul 800 pallatized single deep colonies

Friday, October 25, 2019

Different Winter Covers For Wintering Your Bees

Using a cardboard cover

Using a Bee Cozy cover

Using a Velcro Wrap cover

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Foam floating on top of honey

Whenever beekeepers bottle honey, foam can be an issue. Air bubbles in honey makes the honey unattractive. Air bubbles come from the agitation of honey when pouring into a container or from extracting. With time, the container of honey will clear up, as all the air bubbles rise to the surface. When the bubbles hit the surface of the honey, the bubbles form a layer of white foam.
 Next time you go to the grocery store, look at the top of the containers of honey on the shelf. You will see foam on the top of the honey in the jar.
 This small amount of foam is a result of moving the honey from a large container and the agitation of the honey as it fills the smaller bottle.
 Hobby beekeepers keep their stored honey in 5 gallon pails or in larger honey bottlers. The surface of honey in the pail or bottler will accumulate foam. This foam can be troublesome when bottling the last bit of honey.
 When pouring the last few jars of honey, large amounts of foam will go into the bottles. It can be many bottles end up with a large amount of foam. This results in unattractive honey.
 What can be done to stop this foam issue? A beekeeper can skim the foam off. That can be very time consuming, messy and wasteful of good honey.
 What works well, is to use Cling wrap or Saran wrap. Tear a sheet off and lay it on the foam, on top of the honey surface. You may have to tap the wrap down so it is in contact with the foam. Have a trash container next to you. Peel the wrap back, most of the foam will be on the wrap. It is not perfect, but it does seem to get rid of 90% of the foam as the wrap comes off the surface of the honey.
This is my 300 lb honey bottler. On top of the honey, floats a layer of foam. I have laid Cling Wrap on top of the foam. 

Peeling back the wrap, you can see the foam cling to the wrap.

Peeling back the wrap shows a much less foam. The amount of honey being wasted is very small.

The result of the Cling Wrap. Almost foam free.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Last Call For Feeding

This looks like maybe the last weekend for feeding. Bees will take the feed down on warm days. As it cools off, the bees become more reluctant to take down syrup if the syrup gets cold. Plus, the feed is usually up on the top brood box. This time of year the bees cluster under the top brood box. As it stays cold the bees will stay in cluster and not move to the top of the hive to retrieve syrup.
Get the feeding done now. The clock is ticking.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Treating with Oxalic Acid

One of the last bee work to do is treating your colonies with Oxalic Acid. Even if you had low mite counts into October, in my opinion this last treatment of Oxalic Acid is critical for winter survival. Hopefully your bees are now becoming broodless as the hive shuts down brood rearing. Late feeding may keep brood in the colony for a while yet.
 To get the best treatment, beekeepers need a broodless hive. With no brood in the hive, all of the mites in the hive are riding on the bees. A treatment of Oxalic Acid during this broodless time, yields the best results. When there is brood in the hive, most of the mites are in the capped brood cells and the Oxalic Acid treatment is less effective.
 Oxalic Acid treatments happen in late October.
 The treatment is applied when it is a temperature of 40 degrees at the time of application.
The temperatures can warm up later in the day, but at the time of treatment, we want the temperature to be 40 degrees.
 The reason for this is, the bees are clustered to a tight ball of bees when it is 40 degrees. The bees can easily be treated with the main cluster easily accessible. If it is warmer then 40 degrees, the cluster loosens up and it is harder to get all the bees treated properly.
 There are two methods of treating with Oxalic Acid, the dribble method and using a vaporizer.
 Do not use a bug fogger. A varroa vaporizer has been engineered for the treatment with Oxalic acid, a bug fogger has not been designed for mite treatments. The bug fogger does not have a way to measure proper dosing. With a fogger you could be killing your bees with to much Oxalic acid or you could be killing your bees with an ineffective treatment. Both scenarios are, your killing your bees.
 Here are two videos of treating with Oxalic acid.  Double click on the videos for full screen.

Dribble method, you are squirting the Oxalic Acid directly on the bees.

Using a vaporizer

Friday, October 11, 2019

Deformed Wing Virus

Deformed Wing Virus. Plus you can see the Varroa mites on the bee.
This is an article about Deformed Wing Virus or DWV. This article explains the importance of treating colonies before winter bees are being produced. By having low mite levels by around August 1st helps prevent the transmission of DWV into winter bees. By treating colonies later in the season, the mite level drops significantly, but there is a possibility that DWV is still a factor that leads to the colony's demise later in winter.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Bears are active

Bears are still active. This beekeeper had a bear get through his electric fence. The beekeeper did see that the bear was trying to tunnel under the fence. Some how the bear got bored with that and must have just taken the hit, to get to the pot of gold.
Who needs an uncapper when you have claws

Friday, October 4, 2019

National Solar Tour

This weekend is the National Solar tour. This is a great opportunity to go and look at homeowners solar system. You can talk to the homeowner about solar and look at their systems.
 Most solar owners will give you an honest assessment of their solar projects, what they did right, what they did wrong. Costs of their systems and their results on the electric bills.
 The best part of all of this, is that no salesman will be present.
https://www.nationalsolartour.org/map/ You can search for a Minnesota or Wisconsin map.
 We are hosting a solar tour at our home if anyone is interested:

A brief respite with warmer temperatures

Warmer temperatures are moving in for early next week. Last minute feeding can be done if needed.
 Too early for Oxalic Acid treatments. Late October is your best bet for proper treatment.
In my opinion I think all beekeepers should be treating with Oxalic Acid. If your hives have been running low mite counts, a treatment of Oxalic Acid in late October will clean up and extra mites. This will keep a colony healthier and will help the colony deal with the rigors of winter.
 Entrance reducers should be in right now.
Winter covers can be put on anytime after Nov 1st.