Disclaimer:

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, September 23, 2020

Feeding

 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. 


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