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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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.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Varroa on an untreated overwintered colony of bees UPDATED

 My friends overwintered bees died. He treated them but never did a mite check to see if the treatment worked. Possibly the bees came out of winter with a high mite count. Even though he treated for Varroa, the hive still died. The treatment  probably was too late to save the bees. He went to look at them a week ago and all of the bees were gone. This is a symptom of Varroa. One week the bees look great, the next week there are no bees in the hive. Sometimes there is a small cluster of bees with the queen left.
 If you have an overwintered hive and you have not done a mite check, I strongly urge  you to do so now. It might even be too late to save some of them. But by mid July, untreated overwintered colonies may be empty of bees.
 One of the only mite treatments that can be used during a nectar flow is Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) or Formic Pro. Both of these treatments are Formic Acid. They cannot be put on if the daily temperatures exceed 85 degrees F. during the first three days they are on. But the honey supers can be on when using this type of mite treatment. MAQS is a seven day treatment, Formic Pro is a fourteen day treatment. When you put formic on, you should not have messed with your bees for three days. Meaning, if you looked at your bees, pulled some frames, did a mite check etc. The hive should be closed up and the formic should be put on three days later. If you put the formic on immediately after you dug into the hive, jumbling up the bees, you can have a greater mortality to the bees.

Monday, June 15, 2020

What is happening now in the hive

We have now crossed mid June today. Flowering plants are starting to be seen in large numbers. Yellow Sweet Clover is blooming all around the metro area.
White Sweet Clover, this is one of our main nectar plants

Yellow Sweet Clover, this plant is not our main nectar plant. 



 Yellow Sweet Clover is not our best nectar plant in the eastern part of MN and WI. Yellow Sweet Clover seems to produce more nectar in drier environments, like western MN and the Dakota's, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.
 White sweet clover will be blooming soon. I do see it growing in the ditches.
I would think in the next 10 days the main nectar flow will be coming on strong.
 If your hive hasn't finished drawing out the last deep box, it probably will be too late to do a reversal. If your top box is very heavy with honey, DO NOT do a reversal. This box will be the hives winter stores. If the hive's top box is pretty much finished and the box is not full of honey you can do a reversal.
 Everyone should be putting on their honey supers now. If the honey supers are all foundation, I usually put the supers on without a queen excluder at first. Check the supers every four days, once there is some comb being built and some nectar in the cells, then put your queen excluder on.
 Supers go on two at a time. If you have drawn out supers, just set them on top of the queen excluder.
 As supers fill up, drawn out supers can just be stacked on top of the supers that are partially full or full. Stay ahead of the bees. When the second super is getting honey on a few frames, it is time to add two more supers. Stay ahead of the bees in the first half of the honey season. When it gets to be around July 21st or so, the honey may be slowing down a bit and the supers may not fill up as fast.
 When putting on supers with undrawn foundation, these new frames have to placed just above the queen excluder. If you place new frames on top of other already drawn supers, sometimes the bees won't touch them.
 The queen excluder debate: Some beekeepers call queen excluders honey excluders. Some beekeepers say when they put on queen excluders they never get any honey. The truth of the matter is, many times when this has happened to a beekeeper, the reason no honey goes into the supers is because their hive has swarmed and they don't realize this has happened. I know a commercial beekeeper who runs 5,000 hives. He has queen excluders on every hive. I can honestly say that if he would get more honey without queen excluders he would not use excluders. He has to clean the excluders every year, this costs him money to do this, so he does see value in using excluders.  So he does use them and has huge honey crops most years. This is his livelihood. So he will use whatever works best for him.  
 Get your supers on. Our hard work of starting the bees and doing all the management is about to pay off. The honey flow is about to start any time now. As Basil Furgala said, you can't make honey if your supers are in your garage.