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, December 26, 2020

Christmas bird count

 We participated in the annual Christmas bird count today. No odd birds at all this year. We were lacking a couple species that we have seen this year but not on the official count day. When you do the count, you count the most birds you see at once. We have literally hundreds of birds coming to the feeders all day. Many birds visit many times.











Red bellied Woodpecker and a Red Breasted Nuthatch

Our count:
5 - Black capped Chickadee
3 - Blue Jays
11 - Cardinal
1 - Coopers Hawk
25 - Goldfinch
4 - House Finch
9 - Junco
2 - Mourning Dove
2 - Nuthatch, White Breasted
2 - Nuthatch, Red Breasted
2 - Pine Sisken
15 - Purple Finch
4 - Downy Woodpecker
2 - Hairy Woodpecker
1 - Red Bellied Woodpecker

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Covered my hives - finally

 I got lazy with the warm temperatures and no snow that we have been enjoying. The cool temperatures are perfect winter weather conditions. Cold enough that bees shouldn't raise anymore brood, but warm enough that the demand on stored food would be minimal. If this winter comes out to be a warm one, colonies that normally would starve, will be thriving. This happened several years ago when it was a warm winter. During that winter, if a hive had 40 lbs of honey, they survived. 

 So I covered my hives yesterday. I did get to my sugar cakes that I made in a previous video. I made 3 cakes. 2 in a plastic pan and 1 in a 2 lb rubber beeswax block mold. The beeswax block mold held together pretty good. The 2 plastic pan sugar blocks did not fair well. I think they were too thin and ended up structurally deficient. The pan cakes broke apart and were still a little damp on the bottom. Hindsight tells me to make the cakes with a wooden frame with a cardboard bottom. Doing it this way, the cakes could be turned over and allow to dry on two sides instead of one.

The sugar broke up in chunks. Still usable but I needed plan B. You can see the sugar brick from my beeswax mold in the center held together quite well.
Wax paper works great for putting sugar on a hive. The bees can chew up the wax paper as they eat the sugar, making it easier for the bees to access
I added a shim to the top of the hive for room to stack up the sugar
This hive was short of stores and may not make it. I put down a sheet of wax paper on top of the cluster.
This hive was also short on stores.
Sugar is placed on top of the wax paper. The sugar could simply be granulated sugar, but I used the sugar chunks and some loose sugar. The bees will be able to get to the sugar easily.
This is what the top of the hive looked like. On top of the top box is a shim, inner cover and moisture board.

I have two hives short on stores in this yard. Notice I have two bricks up on end, now I can remember which hives have the sugar on. Later in winter, I can check these two hives to see if they need more sugar.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

EV's - My Opinion Part 6 Last of the Series

 Disclaimer: I do own Tesla stock, I have a CyberTruck on order. The following post is my opinion, it is not a recommendation or investment advice. I have been following Tesla for a long time and my opinion will reflect that. If you are going to purchase an electric vehicle, do your homework.

 As a beekeeper, I have been trying to be more conscious to our environment. My wife and I put in a big solar array to lower our carbon footprint. Our interest in doing our part to make this world a better place started there. Now we are looking for an electric vehicle to keep on a green track. 

 Tesla is my choice for an electric vehicle. Tesla has been in the EV business since 2003. Elon Musk has been on a crusade to bring the world into a more sustainable energy future. I will have to say, Musk forced the hand of automobile manufacturers. All of a sudden there is a mad dash to bring EV's to market. With new battery tech and new manufacturing techniques, Tesla will soon be able to price their EV's cheaper than gas cars.

 Tesla is years ahead of the competition in battery tech, full self driving, and manufacturing tech. Tesla is the only EV maker that does over the air software updates. Ford wants $150.00 from me to update my maps in my truck, something Tesla does for free. Most Tesla owners have said that their cars are completely different than when they first purchased it, because of the software updates. Volkswagen which is releasing new EV's, is trying to launch Mission T which is to try to catch Tesla by 2024. Even VW is admitting that they are four years behind Tesla right now. VW is one of the biggest automakers in the world. Tesla's stock has benefited from their industry lead,  One stock analyst has Tesla at a share price of $2500.00 a share within three years.

I do believe that the Long Range Model Y with the new 4680 high nickel battery cells will be the best EV in the world. The new battery pack and the aluminum cast front and rear structure will be a better vehicle when compared to the competition. The availability of that EV may start sometime in late summer 2021. I have heard that the new battery will have a fifteen year lifespan and is well over a million mile battery. Tesla has not openly stated this, so they would not fall victim to the Osbourne effect

 The CyberTruck I ordered is supposed to have a 240 volt plug in. In the future, homeowners may be able to plug their CyberTruck and power their home during a power outage. With a 100 kilowatt battery in the CyberTruck, a home could be powered for a couple days, maybe longer with some conservation. If the power outage lasts a while, the truck could be recharged at a supercharger that is not suffering from an outage.

 Tesla is more than a car company. 

Tesla is:

  • A software company, their full self driving, FSD (now a $10,000.00 option) will bring about Robotaxi's. If 500,000 customers buy the FSD option, that is 5 billion dollars for Tesla. Every year this will grow. Imagine calling for a taxi and a car without a driver shows up and takes you to your destination. This may make Tesla trillions. Your own Tesla vehicle could be used as a Robotaxi and could make the owner thousands of dollars a year. This may put Uber and Lyft out of business.
  • Insurance Company, Tesla will soon offer insurance to all it's Tesla owners. Tesla has data on its entire fleet of EV's. This data will give them the ability to offer insurance at a cheaper rate. Now available in California. This insurance business may really impact insurance companies as more Tesla's get on the road.
  • Power Company, Tesla is making micro grids. Micro grids can help make the electric grid more efficient. The Megapack has been installed in Australia and has saved the consumers millions of dollars in a very short time. Elon Musk feels that the energy business will be bigger than the EV business. Having a grid sized storage system will make the electric grid much more efficient and save on energy, especially during peak demands.
  • Solar company, the Tesla solar roof with a powerwall battery storage will give many homeowners an opportunity to be much more electrical independent. Having more and more solar homes contributing to the grid, will be able to lessen our demand on coal. The extra solar power generated during the day could be stored in a Tesla grid sized Megapack.
  • A semi company, Tesla semi is still in the works with production coming in the near future. With full self driving the Tesla semi could disrupt the railroad industry. Imagine a truck leaving California driving to Minnesota without a driver. Sounds scary, can that be pulled off? Maybe driver occupied during inclement weather.
  • Tesla has the best supercharging network. While not widespread in Minnesota at the moment, there are several superchargers in the metro area. Mostly located next to interstates for when traveling. While you are driving down the road, your Tesla EV can tell you where the superchargers are at and can even can tell you how many charging spots are open at the moment.
Tesla is right now in a great place in the market. Tesla has several factories, Fremont California, Shanghai China, Berlin Germany (under construction, open early 2021) and Austin Texas (under construction, open late summer 2021). Tesla just announced a sale of 5 billion dollars in stock. Tesla will now be sitting on 20 billion dollars in cash. The future for Tesla is bright. There will be many EV makers coming on line in the future. I am sure that many will end up going bankrupt. The EV makers will find out soon, that competing with Tesla may be too difficult. There is much more to say about EV's and I have just glossed over a few major points. If you need questions answered, ask an EV owner, they will more than likely be more than happy to answer your questions. Electric Vehicles are not perfect. There is a learning curve on how to use and operate the EV. As time goes on, there will be an EV in your driveway.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Need More Info About EV's? Part 5

 YouTube has many videos of people driving their electric vehicles. Easy to find out what's good and bad, range anxiety, cold weather batteries, charging advice etc. EV drivers are like beekeepers, they are quick to answer questions and readily offer good advice.

If you want more information about Electric Vehicles, here are some links to some channels I watch on YouTube:

Munroe Live Sandy Munro tears down vehicles then tells what is good and bad about them. He has great insight and gives an honest assessment.

Electrek Video's on all things Electric. They also have a podcast.

Cleanerwatt  Video's on electric vehicles a lot on Tesla.

Hyperchange   Mostly Tesla video's. Gali is a Tesla fanboy. He must make a video after he drinks a six pack of Red Bull. The guy really is a talker. 

Tesla Daily  Daily videos and podcasts about Tesla. Any news about Tesla.

Electrified  Electric Vehicle video's mostly Tesla

Torque News  Video's about Tesla, sometimes several a day. 

Casgains Academy videos on the electric vehicle industry

Manufacturers of EV's



Lucid Air 

Nissan Leaf 

General Motors



There are many more EV's out there. Keep looking if these don't answer your questions.



Monday, December 7, 2020

EV's - Reasons to buy an EV Part 4

 In the next five years, probably 40% of new car buyers will be buying an electric car. 

Electric cars are:

  • faster than ICE cars. 
  • cheaper to fuel 
  • no more oil changes, or engine mechanical repairs
  • quieter to drive
  • more environmental friendly
  • Tesla will be offering Full Self Driving soon. Imagine, giving the car and address and the car takes you there. They are running a Beta version right now.
  • Possibly run your Tesla as a robotaxi. They claim Robotaxi could earn a Tesla owner $30,000.00 per year in revenue.




Reasons you should (not) buy an electric car


Sunday, December 6, 2020

About EV's - Types of EV batteries part 3

 There is basically three types of EV battery cells. Cylindrical, Prismatic and pouch cells. Different EV makers use different battery cells in their cars. The battery business is changing so fast, it seems like every week there is new EV and battery news.

Cylindrical cells come in a few different sizes 18650, 21700 and the 4680.  The 18650 is 18mm in diamter and 65mm tall, the 21700 is 21mm in diameter and 70mm tall, the 4680 is 46mm in diameter and 80mm tall. The bigger the battery the more power it can store.  The Cylindrical cells are cheaper to mass produce than pouch or prismatic cells. 

At this time, I only know of maybe 3 EV makers that use the cylindrical cells, Lucid Air, Rivian (a pickup truck coming out next year) and Tesla. It is hard to know for sure because many EV makers have still not produced a vehicle yet.  

General Motors and VW are using pouch cells. Pouch cells are more expensive to produce. 

The battery cells for EV's is changing almost everyday. Deals being made with battery makers LG Chem, CATYL and Panasonic to name a few. 

 Most EV makers are coming on strong with designs and concept vehicles. These same EV makers are all going to run into the same problem of being battery constrained. This means that for most of the EV makers, they may not be able to get batteries for their cars. There are not many EV makers that actually make their own batteries. General Motors is building a battery plant right now for their Ultium battery. Even Tesla who has been in the EV business since 2003 purchases their batteries through their partner Panasonic. Tesla is shifting to in house battery production with their new tabless 4680 High Nickel battery cell. But Tesla has deals with battery makers Panasonic, LG Chem and CATYL.

The demand for raw materials will grow considerably in the next year or two. Lithium, nickel and cobalt to name a few, may be hard to obtain and the price may increase in the short term. The result of this may be that an EV maker with plans to make 100,000 EV's may only be able to deliver 25,000.  

 How are cylindrical, prismatic, and pouch style battery cells different?

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Electric Vehicles - It is all about the battery part 2

 When I talk electric vehicles I do not mean hybrid or any ICE assisted battery vehicle. A true electric vehicle gets all of the energy to power the car exclusively from the battery pack. Battery packs are rated in Kilowatts. The Kilowatts is the total amount of usable energy stored for use in the car. Something to be clear of, some electric manufacturers are better at using their battery pack efficiencies. An example of this, a 100 KW battery pack, while one manufacturer gets 250 miles of range, another manufacturer may get over 300 miles of range.

 Overall efficiencies can come from battery chemistry, software and the drive unit transmission.

Battery Chemistry: There are several different battery chemistries used in a EV battery. All of the battery chemistries work, the difference is performance, type of battery and cost.

Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) LFP batteries can have a high cycle life, but are less energy dense than other Lithium Ion batteries. LFP batteries hold a smaller charge, they are reliable and relativity inexpensive. The downside is the LFP battery will give a lower miles of range. Probably in the low 200 miles of range.

Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) probably the most popular battery chemistry. Many EV makers are trying to reduce or eliminate Cobalt from their battery chemistries because of the accusations of labor abuse at the Cobalt mines in Africa. Long cycle life and higher energy density of the battery. Battery range of this battery chemistry is usually in the 250 - low 300's miles of range.

High Nickel - This is a new chemistry that Tesla has come up with. The chemistry in the new 4680 battery cell has a higher energy density. Tesla will be putting these new cells in some of their EV's soon. Tesla has really not stated specs on this battery chemistry because the battery is not in vehicles at the moment. This high nickel battery chemistry, (which has been developed under Tesla's secret Roadrunner project) has a range of around 350 mile plus. The High Nickel cells are a breakthrough technology that will be 50% cheaper to build when compared to NMC cells. The Rumor is that the new CyberTruck will have the high nickle battery cells and will have a range of 500 plus miles.

I am sorry for much of this content being about Tesla, but Tesla is the largest EV maker in the world and most of the chatter out there in the EV world is about Tesla.

In September of 2020, Tesla had their much hyped battery day. Tesla talked about their new 4680 battery cells. This video is from Sandy Munroe as he gives his opinion on Tesla's new battery cell.



Tuesday, December 1, 2020

A Short Series About Electric Vehicles

 During the month of December, there is not much happening in the hive. Right now beekeepers should have covered their hives and wished the bees good luck for the coming winter. 

 So I am going to take a different turn over the next couple weeks. The subject will be about the coming worldwide change to Electric Vehicles (EV's). Many people scoff at the idea of EV's. That the EV market is a trend that will go away. This series of posts will explore most of the information about EV's and will give the reader a good idea what is out there and what is coming. I will be offering my opinion and be posting YouTube videos to give some clarity on the subject. 

Disclaimer: I do own Tesla stock and I have a Cybertruck on order. What I am going to talk about is not investment advice but purely good solid information to become  more informed about EV's.

Electric Vehicles started out over 100 years ago, then through innovation, the internal combustion engine (ICE) became the technology of choice for transportation. 

This video is from Munroe Live. Sandy Munroe has a business of improving manufacturing processes. Companies will bring a product to Munroe and they will tear the product down completely and then offer opinion on how to improve the product. The improvements could be material choices, manufacturing techniques or engineering changes. Munroe will take apart an automobile and completely tear it down to the last bolt. Then they will offer and opinion on the complete build of the automobile. Munroe is savvy on all manufacturing processes from old technology to new cutting edge technology. 

Some definitions of jargon used in the video   EV=electric vehicle, ICE=internal combustion engine vehicle, OEM=original equipment manufacturer like Ford, General Motors or Toyota for example, Model 3 or Model Y=Tesla car models.

         The Past, Present and Future of EV's

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Making Creamed Honey

  This is the time of year that I make creamed honey for my holiday gifts. The creamed honey takes about two weeks to set properly. So getting it done by Thanksgiving, usually is enough time to set, by mid December. I usually make plain and cinnamon flavors. To make cinnamon, I use powdered cinnamon. No all powdered cinnamon tastes great with honey. Being we probably can't get a taste sample of cinnamon with COVID, but I usually use a Vietnamese cinnamon. The mixture is 1/8th cup of cinnamon per 10 lbs of honey. Usually I will mix in my seed first into the warm honey. I take a bowl of honey and mix in the cinnamon powder. This gets the cinnamon wet. When it appears that the cinnamon is saturated with the honey, I then mix the cinnamon mixture into the pail of honey. Stir the cinnamon in so it gets spread throughout the honey mixture.

                   Making Creamed Honey

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Starlink - New Satellite High Speed Internet


       A Starlink dish is about the size of a large pizza

 SpaceX is rolling out Beta Testing on its Starlink high speed satellite internet service. Starlink will be a constellation of around 40,000 satellites located in low earth orbit. A SpaceX rocket mission can take 60 satellites at a time and deploy them. The satellites then will get to their proper location. 

The satellites will make high speed internet available for most of the entire planet. Right now Starlink consists of about 800 satellites. Currently, Starlink service is being offered in the northern US and recently part of Canada. Minnesota and Wisconsin are part of this service area. Best part about Starlink is that it will offer high speed internet to rural areas that have little to no high speed internet service. Starlink may not work in high density urban area's. Many beekeepers live in rural areas and could benefit from this service.

This service right now is beta testing, so at the moment it is not perfect. I did a speed test of my Centurylink DSL internet. I get 11 Mbps download and 0.7 Mbps upload speeds. Starlink users are reporting download speeds of 100 - 160 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps. This is quite a difference. As time goes on I expect to see Starlink have a pretty much steady number with most participants getting the same speeds. Some internet service providers will throttle some of their higher users of data stream. The providers slow down the stream. Starlink at this time, their capacity is so large, they do not see throttling in their future.

 You can go to Starlink's website https://www.starlink.com/ and sign up for information. I signed up two months ago. I recently was sent an email from Starlink stating that Starlink is being offered in my area and I could get the service. My friend who lives north of Grand Rapids way out in the sticks signed up and has received his dish on Friday. He will be setting it up this week. 

I do have a fiber optic cable running in my ditch. I have not been offered any fiber service. There is a guy about a mile from me who put up a huge house. He paid $145,000.00 to run fiber optic cable from the main line to his home (about one mile).  I think he should have waited for Starlink.

Right now Starlink costs $500.00 for the equipment and $99.00 a month for the service. This price could go down as the system expands. 

There are quite a few YouTube videos about Starlink. Here is a short video that shows the equipment and internet speeds. Plus compares speed with his Hughs Net satellite system.

60 satellites deploying from the Falcon 9 rocket


Monday, November 9, 2020

Winter is coming back

 I just saw the weather, winter storm watch for tonight. 4 - 7 inches possible for Washington County. It may go east, that would be fine with me. Why would I push the snow onto my neighbors from Wisconsin? Because I have not finished my bee work yet. It got warm here recently and it has been a little too warm for an effective Oxalic Acid treatment. Plus I wanted to give the hives a few more days for any left over brood to hatch out. 

 My plan was to finish the treatment when our temperature become more seasonal. I have my battery charged for vaporizing Oxalic Acid. So I am ready. Now the plan is to treat on Wednesday, high of 45, looks like that is the day. I will be getting the treatments done and covering my hives and my last winter work will be done.

 I have been invited to do a Zoom meeting for the Stillwater Bee Club next Tuesday. Topic is wintering, maybe discussion on some creamed honey. Could be that I am the only one left who hasn't completed their wintering, so my topic may be a moot point. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Solar Update

 The shorter days are starting to show up on our daily Kilowatt collecting. In June we were getting 105 to 116 Kilowatts per sunny day. Now in November, shorter days but the nice blue sunny sky we have had these last few days, has moved the Kilowatts to 60 - 65 KW per day. Which is still very good. That is twice what a normal house in the upper Midwest would use (30 kw per day).

 November and December are usually the cloudiest months of the year. So we are happy to be experiencing the sunshine. You can see in the pics here how the snow affected my garage and solar ground mount.

We had a 7 inch snowfall. Solar panels don't work when they are snow covered. You can see my solar panels on the roof of my garage. I did brush them off with a ladder and a long brush meant for solar panels. Then it took another four days for the snow to totally melt off the panels.
This is my ground mount solar array. I can change the tilt angle of the solar panels from season to season. When the snow storm hit, the panels were in their fall/spring angle of about 37 degrees. This pic was taken right after the snow storm. Most of the snow didn't even stick to the panels. If a person had a fixed, non adjustable solar panel array, this would be the desired angle to have year round.

Here I have the solar panels at the winter angle of about 61 degrees for our Latitude. At this steep angle, unless it is a very sticky snowfall, I do not think the snow can stick to the panels at all.

Here are our solar numbers for October. 1.41 MegaWatts or 1410 Kilowatts.

Monday, November 2, 2020

60's all week, Oxalic Acid, Do I Feed?

 This upcoming week the temperatures will be in the 60's for highs. If there is some unfinished bee work to do, now is the time to finish.

 Oxalic Acid treatments should be applied. Either the dribble or Vaporizer method work fine. Try to put these treatments on when it is around 40 degrees at the time of treatment. At that temperature, the bees are clustered and the treatments work much better than if applied when it is 60 degrees out. 

Feeding: Don't feed for the sake of feeding. If your bees have enough winter stores, do not feeding the bees syrup. When the bees take down syrup, the colony will be stimulated and egg laying may start again. If a beekeeper feeds all week, there may be a big patch of fresh eggs laid. Now the hive will have brood in the colony probably into December. The bees have to keep the brood warm and will consume part of their winter stores to achieve this. Plus, by having brood in the colony, mites will move into the brood, increasing the mite numbers in the colony.

 If you have to feed, do an oxalic acid treatment first, to knock down the existing mite population. Then feed as rapidly as possible. Best to use ProSweet so the bees don't have to dehumidify the syrup. 

When the chores are done, cover the hives with a winter wrap and wish them luck for the upcoming winter.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

warmer weather coming

 The weather is coming back to more normal temperatures. This will be a great time to treat the bees with oxalic acid. I firmly believe that this late mite treatment is an important step for winter survival of a colony. By treating with oxalic acid will make the hive as mite free as possible going into winter. If colony is mite free the odds of wintering improves by quite a bit. I have two video's about how to use and apply oxalic acid a couple of posts ago.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Time to Winterize the bees?

 While we have experienced a bout of winter weather, putting winter covers on is not paramount at this time. While it is on the cool side, the bees can handle 30 degree weather with no stress. The future weather still has a warmup in the future, of into the forties. I am holding off on covering my hives until I do my Oxalic Acid treatment. I would like it to be 40 degrees out to make my treatment. But having said that, it would not be negative to cover the hives and finish any winter prep. The bees will not take any more syrup at these cool temperatures. 

Here are a couple video's of using different types of winter covers:

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Oxalic Acid EPA Label

 Here is a link through Bee Culture Magazine about Using Oxalic Acid for fall Varroa mite treatment.


The link below is to the EPA Label about Oxalic Acid.

Oxalic Acid EPA Label

The EPA Label states how to properly use Oxalic Acid for the treatment of Varroa mites on Honey Bees. The label lists all the hazards in using the product and the use of the proper PPE. The one thing that is murkey is the dosage. Being it is scientific and not used for baking a cake, all of the mixtures are by weight or by metric volumes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The weather is turning a corner brrr, time for the last mite treatment

 The weather looks like it is turning colder, maybe for the duration. Feeding colonies will becoming much harder to do. The bees maybe reluctant to take down syrup when it gets cold. The bees do not like to ingest cold syrup. It may work to put warm syrup on the hive during the warmest part of the day. The bees may take it down, but as the syrup cools, the bees may stop taking the syrup down.

 October is the time of year to treat hives with Oxalic Acid for a last varroa mite treatment. Oxalic acid is used this time of year when there is no brood in the colony. The lack of brood in a colony, give the varroa mite no place to hide and any Varroa in the hive are located on the bodies of the bees. With no capped brood to hide in, the Varroa mites are easily killed by the Oxalic acid treatment. Beekeepers who have fed late into fall, may still have a couple frames of brood in their colonies, making Oxalic treatments less effective. 

Oxalic acid should be done when the outside temperature is 40 degrees at the time of treatment. It can warm up later in the day, but at the time of treatment it should be forty degrees. Here is a couple videos on how I treat my bees with the dribble method and using a vaporizer.

Dribble Method
Vaporizer method

Friday, October 2, 2020

Where are we in the bee season

October 2nd today. Time is slipping away to finish our bee work. By now you should have treated for mites and fed the bees to get the hive heavy for winter. 

In a perfect world, right now the top box on the hive should have eight full frames of honey and one partially filled frame located about in the center of the top box. The box below the top box should have four full frames of honey. If your hive has this much honey, that should be ample food stores for the winter. 

 If your hive does not have that much honey in the top box, but your lower box is heavy with honey, the honey needs to be put on top of the hive. Bees do not move down to get honey in winter. A hive can starve even though the bottom box is full of honey.

 The weather will be perfect for feeding starting on Sunday. You can feed to top off the hive if the bees need it. Use a hive top feeder or several pails to get the feed in.

Three feeder pails can fit in a deep for feeding large quantities of syrup quickly.

Entrance reducers should be in right now at their biggest opening. Mice will start moving in with the cooler weather. 

Nothing else to do at the moment. Looking ahead, Oxalic Acid treatments should be applied in late October when it is 40 degrees at the time of treatment. Oxalic Acid works best when the hive is broodless. Winter covers can go on anytime after Halloween.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


 If your hive needs feeding you have to do so now. The weather is changing next week with highs in the 50's. When it cools off the bees don't take the syrup down very well. If you have a colony that is light today, there may not be another opportunity like the present to get they colony fed up before it stays cold for the duration. 

Hive top feeders with ProSweet is the best way to feed your colony syrup in the fall.

Friday, September 18, 2020

New Floor In Honey House

We extracted all our honey, cleaned off all the equipment and the floor. Then we brought in a high pressure hot water power washer to a total floor clean up. Dried the place out for a few days with a dehumidifier. Then Tom from Nature's Nectar LLC came over and prepped the floor, then applied an epoxy coating on the floor. It turned out great. Tom also has a painting business and he does all interior, exterior painting and staining and garage floors. Now we will be ready for next years honey season.

The floors turned out great. I will put in the trench grates when the floor is ready to use. I will wait 48 hours with the door open and a big fan running before I reoccupy the honey house.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Time to finish


 Goldenrod is waning, Asters are blooming. Asters are the last show in town. But for most of us the nectar flow is over. If you haven't treated for mites do so now. Not treating for mites will more than likely lead to a dead colony by springtime. For some of us, if you haven't treated for mites yet, the bees could be so damaged they may not make it to January. 

Winter Food stores. Right now a hive should have 8 full frames of honey and one partial frame of honey in the top brood box. The box underneath the top box should have about 4 frames of honey. If your hive has this much honey, it should be ample for the winter food stores. If feeding is needed get the feeders on now. Hive top feeders are the best feeders for fall and I highly recommend them. As long as the temperatures are in the upper 60's and low 70's the bees will readily take down syrup. But as the fall turns cooler, the bees will be reluctant to take down syrup, so get the feeding done now.

If you are done treating for mites, entrance reducers can be put in the hive entrance at the widest opening. This can help to prevent robbing. The weather is cooling down for the near term, and even a couple days in the low 70's will not spur any overheating of the colony.

Looking ahead, Oxalic Acid mite treatments happen in late October when hives become broodless. Winter covers are put on colonies anytime after October 31st.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Cold Weather Making It Hard On Beekeepers

 Brrrrr. I heard that today from my beeyard. Unseasonably cold for the short term 

Beekeepers need to get their work done. By now supers should have been removed and bees should have been treated for mites. Right?

If you haven't done these chores it is time. When it is cold out, bee escapes work great to remove bees out of the supers. Honey Robber does not work as well when the temperatures drop into the 60's. Get the honey off now and extract the supers.

Mite treatments need to be done now if you haven"t done it yet. As time goes on high Varroa counts can damage the bees. This damage can make the bees not survive the winter. So this week mite treatments such as Formic Acid can be applied to the hives. ApiVar can also be  used. Follow the directions on the container. 

Robbing and mice will becoming an issue. Entrance reducers could be put in the hive if it has been treated for mites. If you are treating for mites with Formic Acid, the entrance has to be left fully open. 

If you are on top of the mites and the honey is extracted, making sure the hive has enough food for the winter. Right now a hive should have eight full frames of honey and one partially filled frame in the top brood box. The partially filled frame should be located near the center of the top box. This partially filled frame helps the bees transition from the lower brood box and move up to the upper brood box. The bees don't like to move up on frozen honey. The partially filled frame is easy for the bees to occupy. The brood box below the top brood box should have about four frames of honey in it. This amount of honey in these two brood boxes should be more than ample food supply for the winter.

Feeding needs to be finished as fast as possible. We don't want to feed and let it to drag out into October. Feeding stimulates the hive and the queen will continue to lay. By getting the feeding done quickly. The queen can stop laying sooner. The last mite treatment of the year is done in late October. For this mite treatment to work the best, is to have the hive as brood fee as possible. By feeding into October, there may be brood in the colony into November.

 We are coming to the end of our bee season, time to finish up the chores.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Changed the Solar Angle to Fall Position

 We changed our solar angle today on our MT Solar ground mount, from 17 degrees to 37 degrees. This new angle should be the optimum angle until late October. The days are getting shorter and the sun is getting lower in the sky. To get the strongest solar power, being able to change the solar angle gets the most out of your solar system. Changing the solar angle on this type of a ground mount takes about 45 seconds. It is almost effortless. A solar system that is fixed and does not tilt or adjust,  still works well and the solar panels are permanently set to around 37 degrees, depending on your latitude.

We started in late April at 17 degrees
We now have the solar panels at 37 degrees. I use an angle finder to set the solar angle. This time I put a mark with a paint stick. Red for Summer, Green for Spring and Fall, White for Winter. It will be easier to find the angle with the marks.
Even the Baldface Hornets want a solar system.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Get the Identification First

A guy called me today about the honeybees coming in and out of his siding and wanted me to come and get them. These are Yellow Jackets.

Whenever I get a call like this, the first thing I do is tell the caller to text me a picture of the bee. I tell them I need a close picture of the insect. He did send me four pretty good pictures. Usually the majority of the calls I get are going to be yellow jackets or sometimes bumble bees when they are going into siding. Honeybees prefer a higher entry point like a roof fascia board or the top part of a column. Honeybees need a cavity of at least 15 liters of space or it is unlikely the honeybees will move into it. Yellowjackets and Bumble bees will move into smaller openings like an old mouse nest in the ground or a small void created by a rotting stump or decaying vegetation.

  • When you get the call because you are the bee expert. Have some simple rules of what you need to have before you go look at the "honeybee problem". 
  • Get a picture sent to you of the bees or the swarm. 
  • If it is bumble bees, I tell them that they are an endangered species and if they are not bothering them to let them be. When the first hard freeze happens the bumblebees are usually dead, then caulk the opening in the siding.
  • If it is not honeybees and you are not involved, don't give direct advise on what they should do. Be a little vague. Like, "I have heard some homeowners go out and get a can of wasp and hornet spray, then they follow the directions on the can". This keeps you out of the legal side that you told them a course of action. Always suggest to follow the manufacturers recommendations not the beekeepers.

I don't take bees out of buildings. I think a beekeepers could get sucked up into a building controversy if the homeowner feels you did damage to the structure and will want you to fix the structure at your expense. Short of a swarm in a tree or bush, that is the limit to my desire to get involved.


Sunday, August 23, 2020

We know Goldenrod nectar is coming in, the sniff test


Goldenrod is coming in right now. One of my friends is in the Northwest Metro and the other lives near Forest Lake. They both could smell the Goldenrod nectar odor of wet sweat socks in the bee yard. The odor goes away when the Goldenrod nectar ripens into honey.

I have been texting with my beekeeper friends, our comments:

 Ooooo, the goldenrod nectar is arriving in my bee yard! Smells like my socks out here!


You got me curious Dan. I just went out and walked around my hives and oh, yeah definitely golden rod coming in.

I will have to do my sniff test in my bee yard.

Goldenrod nectar is coming in and may be in your bee hive right now. During a good goldenrod flow, a hive can put up a super or two of Goldenrod honey. 


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Getting ready for winter

 OK beekeepers, winter preparations are under way. This is the to do list.

  • Pull and Extract honey
  • Treat for mites ASAP
  • Feed your bees
  •  Entrance reducers go in if robbing is a problem or if the temperatures start cooling off. 

This is a list of what not to do

  • Do not feed pollen to the bees
  • Do not feed late
  • Do not wait to treat for mites

 Mite treatments need to get done as soon as possible. If you are doing mite counts and only seeing one or two mites in a sample, you need to treat. If you don't treat, your next mite sample in mid September will have 10 mites in the sample. The hive population falls this time of year, but the mite population explodes. Get in front of the mites not behind. Damage to your bees will be happening soon and the hive may not be able to recover.

 Do not feed pollen to your bees. Bees this time of year will start to shift gears and start to make Winter Bees. Winter Bees have a different physiology than summer bees. Winter Bees have the ability to store more fat. It is this phenomena that helps the bees survive the rigors of winter. It is the scarcity of pollen that makes the bees shift to producing Winter Bees. If you feed pollen to your bees, there will no dearth in pollen. Maybe there will be no winter bees in your hive and the bees set to winter will not be prepared for the onslaught of cold weather. Plus with pollen on the hive, the bees may make too many bees and the bees will starve by eating all their winter stores too quickly.

 Feeding, I like having a hive heavy with honey going into winter. I think it helps the bees get through winter with less stress on the hive. But with fall feeding, you do not want to feed for a month. The feeding should be done quickly. Longer and later feeding leads to more mites in the hive. Longer feeding keeps brood in the hive longer. Late brood in the hive, makes for ineffective Oxalic Acid treatments in late October. Get the hive topped off and filled with honey. To do this, multiple feeders should be employed. If you fed your bees with jars with holes in the lids, don't use them. Fall feeding is like feeding the Conehead family. Give the bee family mass quantities of syrup. My favorite feeder for fall feeding is a hive top feeder. It holds four gallons of syrup. The bees can empty if in about four days. The other way to feed is multiple feeder pails placed directly on the frames top bars. This is three gallons of syrup and the bees will empty the pails in about three days. In the fall I like using ProSweet bee syrup. ProSweet is similar to honey, the bees do not have to dehumidify it. The bees take down the ProSweet and put the syrup in the comb and they are done. 2:1 Sugar syrup on the other hand, the bees take it down, then have to turn it to honey and lower the humidity. More work on their part. With ProSweet if you give the bees four gallons of syrup, that will be the equivalent of about 45 lbs of honey. Now if you give the bees four gallons for 2:1 sugar syrup, after the bees dehumidify the sugar syrup and turn it to honey, you may end up with 36 lbs of honey. Quite a difference and more work for the beekeeper. 

 The bee season is changing quickly, beekeepers need to get after it to get the hives ready for winter.


Friday, August 21, 2020

Pulling honey using a couple different methods

 This is a couple ways to pull your honey off the hive. Using a brush and Honey Robber.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Extractor Rental and cheap extractors

 Nature's Nectar LLC does rent extractors. Rented by the day. Call them for more info. 

New beekeepers who buy cheap extractors find out that the cheap extractors break very easy. Spare parts are not easy to obtain. Buying local from a local bee supply dealer is something to think about. Warranty issues are done locally. If you need to send your extractor to get it fixed, the shipping costs add up quickly.

Extracting Honey, the basics


Sunday, August 9, 2020

My nectar flow and mite treatments

 I still have a nectar flow going in my area. It may not be much, but the bees are still bring it in. Usually this time of year the nectar flow has ended and the bees start robbing. When robbing starts, bees usually start flying into my barn and garage. The bees are drawn to odors of my nucs or any frames that have had beeswax on them. I will try to get out to my beeyard for an odor test to see if there is Golderod nectar coming in.  

For many of us, the nectar flow is over with and may not start up again. Mite treatments should be on everyone's mind as we head into the latter part of August. If you did a mite check and saw you had only one or two mites, by the time early September comes around, the next test may show you a mite count of over 10. This time of year the hive population will get smaller. This will lead to the mite population getting bigger. So if you haven't treated for mites yet, it is time to figure out a plan. 

 There are a few options for mite treatments. Formic Acid (Formic Pro or Mite Away Quick Strips), ApiVar Strips or ApiGuard. Oxalic Acid is ineffective this time of year. Oxalic acid is a late October treatment. You can purchase these mite treatments at your local bee supply store. The local supplier can explain how to use the products.

Here are some YouTube manufacturers links for these products:

Formic Pro: https://youtu.be/mImTswyYGfE 

Mite Away Quick Strips: https://youtu.be/upagtCH8rvc

ApiVar Strips: https://youtu.be/slmtDdgc-OI

ApiGuard:  https://youtu.be/3RGSp3VEeAg 


Sunday, August 2, 2020

New Solar System + Solar Update For July

A fellow beekeeper put up a new 14.5 KWH solar system at their home. It consists of 42 panels. They originally wanted 48 panels, but Xcel told them that may exceed their feed wiring capacity to their house. This is because the main wire near their house was  installed in 1937 and never has been upgraded by the utility.
 Their new system is just coming online this week I think. Everything is done, they are just waiting for Xcel to set their meter. The 14.5 KWH solar system set them back $52,000.00. They will be getting a federal tax credit of about $13,500.00. So their out of pocket will be $38,500.00. They will probably have that all paid off in 10-12 years. Most solar panels have a life of 25 years minimum, with a performance of still over 90% after 25 years. The size of their system will probably cover 90% of their yearly utility bill (gas and electric). Any credit from Xcel can be used against the utility bill.
 They had All Energy Solar. install the solar system.They were very pleased with their contractor. Click on the pictures for full size.

They went with a ground mount solar system. This ground mount is fixed. It will not be able to change the panel angle. Usually fixed solar systems are set at about 37 degrees at our latitude. The advantage with the ground mount is that the solar panels are easy to remove snow and to keep clean. The panels are located in full sun so they will collect the maximum solar power available.
Our solar update for the month of July.
 So far this year it has been a very good year for solar. Our July solar was 2.42 megawatts or 2420 kilowatts. The average home in the U.S. uses about 900 kilowatts per month. So we made more than 2-1/2 times what a normal home would use. We will get a credit on our Xcel bill for July. Solar does work well in MN and WI.

Friday, July 31, 2020

My Mite Treatment Plan

 I always treat for mites in late summer, usually in August. Waiting until September to treat for mites may be too late. The bees can be severely damaged by mites at that point and the odds for winter survival may be much less.
 I like to use Formic Acid for a mite treatment in August. Formic Acid called Formic Pro or Mite Away Quick Strips. Formic Acid is considered an organic treatment and honey supers can remain on the hive during treatment.
 This may be very helpful this year. With the high humidity we have had, honey in the supers may have a high moisture content. By leaving the honey on the hive longer, there may be a better opportunity for the bees to lower the water content of the honey on the hive.
 Also, we have had great moisture this year. Goldenrod tends to produce a better nectar flow when there is adequate moisture after July 1st. A good Goldenrod nectar flow may give beekeepers the opportunity of another super or two of honey.
 Using Formic Acid in the summer, we are always looking for a proper time to use it. The daily temperatures have to be under 85 degrees for the first three days the Formic Acid is on the hive. So watching the weather is critical to find the proper time to use it. Next week looks great for using Formic acid. Highs in the upper 70's. The hive populations are high, so the bees will be able to deal with the vapors of the Formic Acid.
 I have purchased my Formic Pro and I will be putting it on the hives on Monday.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Refractometer for testing water content in honey

Refractometer, used for measuring water content of honey. Refractometers are job specific. Example, for testing honey, you need a refractometer meant for honey. Don't purchase the wrong one.
Refractometer readout.
We have had a humid summer. Looking forward a week, the dew points are supposed to drop and be much more pleasant. But the past month has given us many humid days and nights. The high humidity may have brought stored honey in honey supers on our hives, to a high level of water content.
 To be considered U.S. Grade A honey, the honey has to have a water content of 18.6% or less. When honey has a water content of above 18.6%, the honey will ferment with time.
 So a beekeeper needs to find out what the moisture level of the honey is, then take the appropriate actions to ultimately have U.S. Grade A honey.
 The upcoming week with the lower dew points will help to lower the moisture content of stored honey even on the hive. Frames of honey that is capped with beeswax may not be grade A honey. The moisture content may be too high. But the good thing is, the wax capped frames are hygroscopic. If something is hygroscopic, the substance can pick up or give up moisture relating to the relative humidity. This means during a time of low humidity the frames of honey can lose water content and bring the honey down to a lower level.
 There are many types of Refractometers, and they are specific to their industry. Refractometrs are used for measuring machine tool coolant and glycol levels in heating and cooling systems for example.
 Beekeepers need a Refractometer that is used for honey. If you look at the pic above the measured scale says Honey moisture. Many times beekeepers see a "good deal" on a refractometer and end up buying the wrong one.
 Refractometers can be purchased from a bee supply store. They range in price from around $75.00 to $475.00. Or you could bring a sample of honey to Nature's Nectar LLC and they will test your honey for free. When you bring a sample, in a container, fill the container with the honey sample. Putting a thimble full of honey in a quart canning jar will give you a false reading, because the honey sample just absorbed any humidity that was in the jar. A full jar of honey works great, the sample used, can fit on a couple of toothpicks.
 Testing frames of honey before you extract is many times inaccurate. The moisture content on honey frames can be all over the place. You can check different places on the same frame and come up with a different reading.
 The safest way to get your honey right, with the proper moisture content, is to put the full honey supers in a room with a dehumidifier for a week before you extract. Getting the humidity in the room down to 40% is the desired level to have. Removing the high moisture from honey before the frames are extracted is easier to do than after the honey if extracted.
 When extracting, the safe bet is to extract the mostly capped frames of honey first, then extract any uncapped frames separately. Usually uncapped honey can have a higher moisture content, but not all the time. Sometimes the only reason the honey was not capped, is that the nectar flow ended and the frames were never filled. The honey could be grade A.
 Moisture in honey can be a big issue, knowing what the moisture content will give a beekeeper an idea where they stand.
 I will put a video on in the future on how to lower moisture levels in honey.  

Monday, July 20, 2020

Nectar Flow Update

Do you still have a nectar flow? I have heard some beekeepers saying that their nectar flow has slowed.
 This is the time of year when nectar flows get spotty. For some beekeepers the nectar flow is over, other beekeepers still may be getting a nectar flow. Nectar flows are like real estate, location, location, location.
 As the nectar flow slows, we would like to fill the boxes we have on our hives. So adding more supers can slow down a bit. At this timing of the nectar flow, I usually make sure I have one mostly empty super at a time on the hive. I will go in and do a quick visual on the capped frames on my supers. If the outside frames of my supers are not capped, I usually will move these empty or uncapped outside frames to the center of the supers. This make the bees more inclined to fill the frames, if there is nectar available.
 Check the supers weekly, if the top box is filling up, then add another super. Nothing happening, check again in a week.
 The one thing I haven't talked about yet, is moisture content of the honey on the hive. The upper Midwest has experienced quite a few humid days. This could affect the moisture content of your honey. To be Grade A honey, the moisture content has to be 18.6% water content or less. During humid summers, high moisture honey is more common. High moisture honey will ferment over time.
Leaving honey on the hive is usually the best way to get the moisture down if the weather improves. Or, if the honey has to come off, the honey should be put in a room with a dehumidifier. A properly dehumidified space can lower the water content of honey before the honey is extracted. An air conditioned space in not adequate to dehumidify frames of honey. I use a commercial sized dehumidifier in my honey house. I try to get the humidity down to 40% in the room. I also run a fan. I leave the honey at least a week before extracting.
 If you have hive beetle in your hives, leaving them for more than three days off the hive, can get any beetles in the supers to start laying eggs on the honey frames. In a short time, the frames can have beetle larvae hatched out and damaging your honey. Having a room at 40% humidity, can help stop this from happening.
 As we come to the end of July, mite treatments should be on the minds of beekeepers. I believe that mite treatments should be put on the hives in early August. Waiting too long to treat your hives for mites, can result in poor overwintering results. Formic Acid is considered an organic treatment for Varroa mites. So it can be used anytime on a hive. Supers can be on while treating with Formic Acid. When Formic Acid is put on the hive, the first three days that it is on the hive, the daily temperatures have to be no greater than 85 degrees. So if you are going to treat with Formic Acid, keeping an eye on the weather for a window to put on the mite treatment is critical. If a window of perfect weather happens, a beekeeper needs to be ready to treat. Sometimes during a hot summer, there may only be one or two opportunities during August to use Formic Acid. So be prepared and watch the weather. Formic Acid is sold under two brand names, Formic Pro or Mite Away Quick Strips. Formic Pro has a long shelf life on any unused product, Mite Away Quick strips should be used during the season they are purchased, their shelf life is only a few months. Never use expired Formic Acid strips.

Friday, July 10, 2020

The Nectar Flow

Our hill is covered with Bee Balm. The Butterflies and the Bumble Bees are in nectar nirvana.

I think tight now we are in peak honey flow. Summer flowers are coming out more and more. I saw spotted knapweed blooming on Hwy 36 today. The white sweet clover has about another week left in it then it should start to wane.
Spotted Knapweed, a noxious weed. But the honey tastes buttery
The nectar flow is really hitting on all cylinders. I can only say, stay ahead of the bees and keep stacking on supers.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Honey For Sale

Wendy and I are still in the honey business. Five gallon pails of honey go for $178.00. Right now I have some pails of Goldenrod honey available. Call us if you are interested.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The nectar flow

I have been having a great nectar flow. I have four supers on most of my hives and I may be putting on more.
 Right now I think we are at near peak nectar flow. More and more flowers are blooming. Perennial summer flowers are starting to bloom. The hot weather is also helping the nectar flow.
 Today a surprise thunderstorm gave us an 1-1/2" of rain. So moisture is not an issue in Washington County at the moment. But we have had ample moisture anyway, so moisture should not be an issue at the moment. I think they are still dry in the Harris/Pine City area.
 Aside from that, everyone should be experiencing a nectar flow right now. If the hive has a good population, the bees should be filling the top brood box and into the supers with nectar.
 If the bees are not putting nectar into the supers but are filling the brood area with nectar, and there is no brood, your bees may have swarmed and if you did not remove any capped queen cells in the last two to three weeks, there should be a new queen laying soon. You may have to move some frames to another hive to get some relatively empty frames, to give the queen some room to start laying.
 If your bees are still in one or two deeps and they are not drawing out much comb. You could have had some queen issues along the way. The hive may not have many foragers yet. You may have to feed the bees some sugar water right now for the bees to draw out comb.
 Some strategy's to use for supers:
  • If you are running out of supers, use a deep for a honey super
  • Hives getting too tall? Take full supers and put them on top of colonies that are not producing. Move the supers bees and all. This will give the weak hive an increase in bees. (Don't worry about fighting. Smoke the bees a little and they will be fine. House bees in supers are 12 - 17 days old and easily accept other bees.)  The bees will take care of the honey. Do not take off supers and store them off the hive somewhere. The honey will absorb the high humidity that we are experiencing and will cause the honey to eventually ferment. 
  • New supers and nothing happening? Remove the queen excluder until the bees start making some comb on a couple frames then put the excluder back in.
  • Put new undrawn supers on top of the top brood box, then drawn supers on top of them. Drawn supers can be just stacked on top of the hive as needed.
  • Supers go on two at a time during the early part of the nectar flow.
The nectar flow should stay on track for awhile. Nectar flows are unpredictable and beekeepers are never sure how much honey is going to come into the hive. But staying ahead of the bees with empty frames can kick in the bees hoarding instinct. When bees have space in front of them, the bees will try harder to fill that space. If the honey space is full, the bees may stop collecting. I always like to pull off a partially filled top super at the end of the nectar flow instead of one packed full. I know with the partially filled super, I got all the nectar that the hive could produce.
 Keep ahead of the bees, the nectar is flowing, it will be a great thing if every super gets honey in the frames.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Solar Production for the month of June

 This is our solar production for the month of June. June is the month with the highest solar production of the year. This month was our highest monthly production since we put in our solar system. 2500 KWh (2.5 MWh) is almost three times what an average home in the U.S. uses per month (800 - 900 KWh). I publish this monthly solar update to prove to people that solar works.
 We have 50 solar panels for a 16.5 KWh system. So for an average, each panel made 50 KWh over the course of a month.
 If you ran a smaller system, with similar panels, you could figure out a possible solar output for the month of June using these numbers. But it all depends on how much sun per day and angle of the panels. The production of solar power can vary by many factors.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

My Nectar Flow and Adding Supers

 I am having a great nectar flow in my beeyard at my house. I checked my eight hives here today. Six of the eight needed supers. I have all the supers I own on the hives right now. I wanted to put two more supers on all the hives that needed them, but I need to get some more supers from Nature's Nectar LLC. The hives will get more supers later in the week.
 The hot weather will get the nectar flowing all this week. Keep ahead of the bees. It is still June, if the weather gives us some more rain, this nectar flow may turn into something big.
 I have stopped looking for swarm cells. When the supers start getting heavy, that is the limit. Usually the swarming behavior wanes during a good nectar flow. It never goes away, but neither does a sore back.
Good population of house bees storing nectar and making wax. New white comb is being built on all the frames. With the big population and warm weather, the bees are occupying all of the frames. Doing the business of bringing nectar from the field bees at the hive entrance. The house bees will bring the raw nectar and put it into the comb. The house bees will dehumidify the nectar ripening it into honey. Then cap the full cells of honey with beeswax. Quite a lot of work for bees that are 12 - 17 days old.

When adding new frames and foundation, always put the new box closest to the brood boxes or on top of the queen excluder
the new box of frames is on top of the queen excluder, the super which was quite heavy but not finished yet, goes on top.

Another strategy: Put new undrawn frames in the center of a box with drawn frames

Or, put one frame of drawn comb in the center of the new frames

The beeyard is getting taller. I ran out of supers. The hives should all have one more super on top.

Friday, June 26, 2020

hot weather

We will be having some hot days over the next five to seven days. The hot days are very beneficial for nectar production. Bees can forage earlier and longer during these days. Warm days and warm nights make the Basswood flow.
  Make sure you are checking your supers once a week. If there is a good nectar flow and your hive has a good population, the bees can draw out fill and cap a super in a week. A hive with supers with drawn comb can fill and cap 1-1/2 supers in a week. This is why we need to put supers on two at a time during the first three weeks of the main nectar flow.
 Stay ahead of the bees, this is how you get more honey. If the hive gets full of honey and the supers are not being put on ahead of the bees. The bees will stop collecting nectar.
 The next month is the payoff month. Everything beekeepers have done to manage their colonies is happening now.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Nectar Flow

Basswood tree in bloom. When the flowers open up, the pungent odor of the nectar fills the air.

Little white flowers on the Basswood tree. Notice the light lime colored leaves. When these light lime green leaves open that exposes the flower heads. My Basswood trees this year do not have any of these as of yet.

 I think most of us are experiencing a nectar flow. It may or may not be intense.
 I talked to a beekeeper that lives near me north of Stillwater, he has one super being capped and was adding another super that had foundation. He wanted to know the best way to put it on the hive. I suggested that the undrawn new foundation should go on top of the queen excluder and his box of honey that is being capped be put on top. He could also take one frame from the top super and switch it to the bottom box to bait the bees into the new box of frames.
 Basswood trees have been blooming in St Paul and in Stillwater that I have observed. My Basswood trees have not dropped any seed pods and at the time of this post, I do not believe that my Basswood trees are going to produce anything this year. I am not sure if this is just at my place or if this will be widespread. Basswood nectar is what usually gives beekeepers large crops of honey. Without a good Basswood flow our honey crops tend to be on the smaller amounts. Sometimes Basswood flows can be localized and sporadic. Too early to tell yet. 
 White Sweet Clover (WSC) is beginning to bloom. I did see some blooming WSC on the 694 freeway. Roadways and cities usually are area's that bloom first so soon WSC should be blooming everywhere.
 Don't fret yet. Sometimes the main nectar flow starts with a trickle, then turns to a torrent very quickly.
 I think another week should tell the tale of how this flow will develop. I am hoping to see the nectar gate will lift up fully.
 My supers in one yard were getting nectar into the boxes. I am going to check them in a day or two and give another report, so stay tuned.