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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Monday, March 30, 2020

Bees will be arriving one day early. Monday - Tuesday pickup.

I updated this at 6:30 pm Saturday. The first delivery of bees will be here early. The first delivery of bees will be available for pickup starting Monday morning. Please follow the pickup schedule posted below.

Bee Pick up Schedule for 2020: ****READ THIS WHOLE POST!****

The FIRST pick up is SOLD OUT.  We have some extra bees on the second pick up, so if you need bees, call ASAP to 651-242-2233 to place your order.  If you mail in the order you will be too late.  We will discontinue taking bee orders on April 1st for the second delivery.

Arrival dates for the first and second pick up are APRIL 6th – First Delivery and around April 10th - Second Delivery.  Please note, these could be subject to change.  Check this blog every day because the date can still change.  

Check the blog before coming to pick up.  The bees are scheduled to arrive sometime on these days. The arrival time is not known so please watch the blog for an announcement that we are ready to distribute packages. No bees will be distributed prior to announcement on blog. Do not come here before it is announced that the bees are ready to pick up. You will be asked to leave.  You are not allowed to park on the road and wait.

ADHERE TO THE PICK-UP SCHEDULE.  Due to COVID-19 we will have fewer workers on site, so it is even more important to follow the pickup schedule.  Please do not call and request to come at another time frame.  I know this maybe inconvenient, but we all need to work together to keep each other safe and keep this as seamless as possible.  This schedule is to keep traffic at a minimum and in doing so, there will be less people on site. 

UPON PICK UP DO NOT GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE.  Give us your name, and we will place your bees in the vehicle for you.  This is for everyone’s safety.  Prepare ahead of time, legibly write the name of the person whose order is being picked up with black sharpie on a piece of paper and put it on your window.  This way, you can keep your window rolled up.  You can also write what additional items you are purchasing.  Do not hand cash or check to the people loading bees and product into your vehicle.  We have a separate crew designated to handle the money that will not be handling the product.  They will come to you.
The following will be items available for purchase when you pick up your bees.  These are cash and check only.  We will not accept credit cards.  If you use cash, BRING THE EXACT AMOUNT OF CASH so currency doesn’t need to be returned to you.  This is an additional safety measure so please comply.  These prices include sales tax so you can prepare prior to pick up.
$7.00 - 1 Gallon Feeder Pail
$6.00 – Feeder pail insulation
$5.00 – Queen Cage Holder
$9.00 – 2 pack pollen patties
$30.00 – 10 pack pollen patties
$80.00 – 40lb pollen patties
$35.00 – 2.5 gal Pro-Sweet
$55.00 – 5 gal Pro-Sweet

Pickup time will go by the first initial of your last name:  This year the alphabet will be spread out in TWO days.  This is due to Covid-19 as we will have fewer workers on site.

FIRST PICK UP Monday April 6th & SECOND PICK UP April 11th - Pick up Schedule:

L       7:30 – 8:30
M      8:30 – 9:30
N-O   9:30 – 10:30
P       10:30 – 11:30
CREW LUNCH 11:30-12:30
R      12:30 - 1:30
S       1:30 - 2:30
T-V   2:30 - 3:30
W-Z  3:30 – 4:30
Open Time (If the schedule is not possible) 4:30 – 7pm

FIRST PICK UP Tuesday April  7th & SECOND PICK UP April 12th - Pick up Schedule:

A       7:30 – 8:30
B        8:30 – 9:30
C        9:30 – 10:30
D-E    10:30 – 11:30
CREW LUNCH 11:30-12:30
F-G    12:30 - 1:30
H      1:30 - 2:30
I-J     2:30 - 3:30
K      3:30 – 4:30
Open Time (If the schedule is not possible) 4:30 – 7pm

The OAKDALE Store is CLOSED during bee pick up.  If you need equipment, please plan ahead and get those items picked up before the store is closed.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Nature's Nectar LLC - First Delivery of Bees, Updated Again

Make a sign for your window on bee pickup day. We can get it ready for you easier. The price of all the items will be coming very soon

 Nature's Nectar LLC called to tell me that their first delivery of bees will be coming in sometime in the first week of April. Dates are not solid as of this morning. More information will be published later today or tomorrow morning.
 The second delivery of bees may follow soon after the first delivery.
Because of the COVID-19 we are trying to minimize exposure to our customers and our workers. When you pickup:
  • Stay in your car
  • Make a paper up written with a dark marker with your name and what else you want to purchase. Be ready to hold this up so we can see it.
  • Have exact cash or check with you. We would rather not have to give change back.
  • Make sure your vehicle is empty and cleaned out so the bees go in the vehicle quickly

Friday, March 27, 2020

What I should be doing with my bees

 Right now the overwintered colonies are on their spring time build up. Not a huge amount of work to do today. But pretty soon our workload will be increasing.
In the short term winter covers can still be on. We will have a warm day it looks like on Monday. But then it cools off a bit. I look at the extended forecast and I think by April 10th the winter covers could be removed.
 We should now be starting weekly inspections. We will be looking at food stores. If a hive has three frames of honey in the same box the bees are in, that should be enough food for easily two weeks. Usually a lift of the box will tell us by the weight of the box, if the hive needs to be fed or not.
 Pollen patties should be checked weekly to see if more are needed. Beekeepers need to stay on top of the pollen patties. We don't want the patties to run out before placing another one on the hive.
 On Monday it is supposed to be warm out. A hive could be knocked down and we can do some spring cleaning. When breaking down a colony in the spring, do not put a box up on end. If there is a breeze, the wind can whistle through the box. The brood may get chilled and die. So keep the brood boxes parallel to the ground. I usually turn my telescoping cover upside down and put a brood box across the wooden edges of the cover while I am working on the hive.  
  The bottom board may be full of debris, when the hive is broke down, bring a box out with you, clean of the bottom board into the debris box. The dead bees have a lot of nitrogen in their carcasses. Dumping them in the bee yard will give the weeds more energy to grow and may attract critters. Dump the debris away from the beeyard.
  Total food assessment can be done at this time. Each box can be judged for weight. A frame or two of honey can be moved to the box where the bees are if needed. But, don't give the bees too many frames of honey. The queen should have five or six of relatively empty frames to lay on. There will be some minor nectar flows going on before the dandelions bloom, so the bees will bring in some nectar. There will not be enough nectar coming in to sustain a strong colony. So watch the food stores. Feed syrup if needed, do not over feed.
 If the overwintered colony is strong a reversal could be done at this time. If the colony is weak, it maybe too early to reverse. A reversal will give the bees an opportunity to expand their brood nest.
Reverse like this:
On a three deep colony, boxes are numbered.
Existing              Reversed
1    top                      3 bottom
2    middle                1 top
3    bottom                2 middle
Two deep reversal is simple:
1                               2
2                               1
Keep a pollen patty on the box where the bees are, you can put a 1/2 a pollen patty on the top box after the reversal.
The winter cover can go back on for the short term.
Colonies are building, doing reversals and keeping pollen on will increase hive populations. This will bring give us a strong colony when we can do a divide. Divides usually happen in May, or when we have eight frames of brood and bees. 
 Last remark, beekeepers cannot do a walk away split reliably in MN or WI until early June. Drone populations are not large enough for proper mating until around June 10th.
 Trying to make your own queen in the month of May is usually a waste of good brood.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Package Bees - Order now

If you need package bees you need to order NOW. Do not send in anymore mail orders. Call them directly. 651-242-2233

Treating for Mites this time of year

Apivar comes in a foil pack. 10 strips to a pack.

Some beekeepers are thinking mite treatment as we are coming into spring. Normally overwintered colonies should be treated for mites before spring divides happen in May.
 Right now it is too cold for using Formic Acid. Plus, when using Formic Acid in the spring, care is needed that the Formic Acid is not applied to a weak colony. Look at and follow the directions from the manufacturer whenever using any mite treatment.
 This time of year, Apivar mite treatment can be applied to any colony. Apivar can be used in cool spring temperatures and will not harm the colony. Apivar is a 42 day treatment. If you are planning spring divides, Apivar should be put on the hive sometime in the next week. This puts the mite treatment being finished by mid May. Perfect timing for doing a divide.
 The strips are put into the brood box where the bees are. Being it is cool, the strips have to be located in the main cluster of bees. If this cluster moves later during the treatment, the strips may have to be re-positioned. Once the foil package is opened, the strips are active and need to be used.
Apivar FAQ
Here is a YouTube video from the manufacturer:

Monday, March 23, 2020

Installing Package Bees

Here is a couple video's of installing package bees. The first one is with wooden package bee cages. The second one is using plastic package bee cages. Some beekeepers may be getting their bees in wooden cages. Nature's Nectar LLC will be getting their bees in plastic cages. The only difference between the two cages is how the bees are removed from the cage. Double click on video for full screen.
Because of the lack of bee meetings, if you have any questions about these video's please comment on their YouTube page and I will answer your questions.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Bee Delivery Update from Nature's Nectar LLC

With the breaking news of COVID-19 constantly developing, I wanted to reach out and provide an update about the bee pick up and how we are approaching the situation at Nature’s Nectar, LLC.  Together, we are facing a truly unprecedented situation. The global coronavirus pandemic is affecting our families, our businesses, our communities, and our way of life.
First and foremost, our hearts go out to anyone who's been impacted by the virus, either directly or indirectly. Our thoughts are especially with those who are sick, to whom we extend our heartfelt wishes for a full recovery. And we're truly inspired by the selfless healthcare workers around the world who are on the front lines working tirelessly to care for people in need.
In regard to the Bee pick up.  At this time, we do not have the pick-up dates.  We will communicate that information as soon as it’s available.  Some things to make note of when you come on site for bee pick up.
·      YOU DO NOT NEED TO GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE.  Give us your name, and we will place your bees in the vehicle for you. 
·      ADHERE TO THE PICK-UP SCHEDULE.  We create this schedule to keep traffic at a minimum and in doing so, there will be less people on site.  Again, do not get out of your vehicle.
·      BEE PICK UP LOCATION: 14185 Square Lake Trail, N. Stillwater, MN 55082
The following will be items available for purchase when you pick up your bees.  These are cash and check only.  If you use cash, please try to bring the exact amount so currency doesn’t need to be exchanged.  These prices include sales tax so you can prepare prior to pick up.
$7.00 - 1 Gallon Feeder Pail
$6.00 – Feeder pail insulation
$5.00 – Queen Cage Holder
$9.00 – 2 pack pollen patties
$30.00 – 10 pack pollen patties
$80.00 – 40lb pollen patties
$35.00 – 2.5 gal Pro-Sweet
$55.00 – 5 gal Pro-Sweet

We have an amazing group of volunteers that assist us with the bee pick up.  We want to reassure you that we are taking steps to protect the health and safety of our volunteers, you our customers and the community we serve.

Our store in Oakdale will continue to be open to serve our customers.  We will be wearing masks and gloves to protect our customers and ourselves.  Please consider taking precautions as well if you decide to come into the store. 

Thank you for your continued support.  We appreciate you very much!

Tom & Jessica Minser

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Insulated five frame nuc box

 I took a five frame nuc box and put follower boards on the sides of the hive box. I then insulated the gap in the follower boards with foam. The nuc box now has a better R-value.
 Springtime, the weather is cool. Package bees will be coming in a little over two weeks. I plan to put mine in these insulated nuc boxes. A three lb package of bees will fit perfectly in this hive. The bees will take up the majority of room in this smaller hive box.
 Knowing the life cycle of the honeybee, one can conclude that, the package of bees will not be increasing in size for about 28 - 30 days.
 By putting the bees in a smaller hive box, the bees should be able to keep the hive warmer, than if the package bees were in 10 frame equipment.
 After about 28 days, it should be around May 1st. The weather should be warmer by then and I will be able to move the bees into 10 frame equipment.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

New Queen Cage Holder

This is a new way to put a queen cage into a hive. The cage holder safely holds the cage preventing the cage from falling to the bottom board. Nature's Nectar LLC has these in stock, $4.50 each,  5 - for $20.00.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Pussy Willows are starting to emerge

Pussy Willows starting to emerge
I was walking down the Browns Creek Trail in Stillwater on Sunday. I know where a stand of Pussy Willows are located. So I always give them an eyeball as I walk down the trail. A pollen source coming soon. Another sign spring is coming. 

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Happy March - Time for some Beekeeping

This is an old picture, but feeding pollen is still the same. Putting the pollen patty right on the bees. I put this patty on and right away the bees are going after it. Leave the wax paper on both sides of the patty. The wax paper help keep the pollen patty fresh and moist. The bees will chew through the wax paper and the paper will end up on the bottom board.

March is coming in like a lamb. No Lion at the moment. Now is the time to do some chores. March average high goes from 34 degrees on March 1st to 49 degrees on March 31st. Sunset goes from around 6 pm to 7:38 pm.
  • Check bees look for alive or dead. If you don't see them on top and you think they are dead, lift up the top brood box. The bees may not have moved up yet and can be down deep in the hive. There is still time to order package bees but that window is getting smaller everyday.
  • Open up the hive, do not pull frames or breakdown the hive. Unless the hive is dead. If the hive is dead, clean up any dead bees that are loose or in a cluster. Try to establish a reason for the hive's demise. Learn from this and change your wintering habits to get better wintering success. Clean off the bottom board in the dead hive. Close up the dead hive. Make the dead hive bee tight so the honey does not get robbed out before new bees come.
  • If the hive is alive, check for food stores. I usually like to feed the bees one pail of syrup no matter what. The bees will take down the syrup and put the syrup around their brood. If the weather goes south, the bees will have ample stores where they need it most. A pail of syrup, if the bees take it down, will give the bees 10 days to two weeks of food. A word of caution, do not feed pail after pail of syrup. The bees will take the syrup down a plug up the hive with syrup. The queen will have no place to lay eggs and the bees population will suffer.
  • Time to add a pollen patty. The pollen patty has to placed right where the bees are. I put the patty right on top of the cluster. If the patty is placed away from the cluster, the bees may not touch the patty and the bees population will suffer. If the bees are occupying two brood boxes. I place pollen patties on the top bars on the top box and on the top bars of the box below. Check on the patties every 7-10 days, replace as needed. A strong overwintered colony may eat up four patties in the spring. I usually keep pollen on until May. Then put another patty on right after the fruit bloom , usually by May 20th. Pollen is cheap and is necessary for hive population expansion. Pollen is what helps turn a colony to a hive that can be split in May.
  • Too early to pull off winter covers.
  • Look at the hives population. If the overwintered colony has two frames of bees, it is probably too weak to make it. You could try to nurse it along, but consider moving the bees into a five frame nuc box. The bees can keep this smaller box warmer. Plus you can wrap the nuc with 2" Styrofoam for greater insulation. If you have a couple other hives alive, a frame of brood can be added to a weak hive in April to give the weak colony a boost.
One of my simple pleasures is the first time I open a colony of bees in early March. There is nothing more satisfying when you remove the inner cover and the bees are covering the top of the top brood box. The bees are buzzing, the noise of the hive, the odor of the hive. A welcome start to my new season of being a beekeeper.