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, June 21, 2017

Nectar in the Hive and Queen Excluders

When the bees start filling the hive with nectar, they usually will fill the brood area with honey first. There still is plenty of brood and eggs in the brood box, but the bees pack in the brood area first. As more nectar comes in, and there is no where left to put honey, it is at that point, the bees move into the supers.
 For the bees, it is about survival. They will fill their living area first, so there is honey for the future survival of the colony.
 Beekeepers always blame queen excluders for their problems with honey not being stored in their supers. This really is not the case. I know a commercial beekeepers who runs 9000 colonies. He uses queen excluders on all his hives. He sees value is using excluders. Most beekeepers with more than a couple hives use honey robber with fume boards to remove their supers. Honey Robber is a odor repellent and makes bees leave the supers quickly.
  If any brood gets laid in a super, the bees will not leave the brood no matter what is used. This make supers harder to remove and more labor is required to get the bees out of the supers as the bees have to be brushed off the frames by hand. If the excluders were causing him to get less honey, I am sure he would not use them.
 Colonies with new supers and bare foundation, I usually suggest that queen excluders are left out until there is a little wax and nectar on a frame or two in the supers. At that time I would put in the excluder.
 On my hives with drawn comb, I put the supers on top of the excluder and the bees move up into the supers when they are ready.
 Excluders don't cause swarming. Lack of management by the beekeeper causes swarming. Beekeepers should still be on the seven day checking for swarm cell schedule. If this schedule is not followed, the bees may swarm.
If you are not getting any honey in your supers after a week or two of the start of the nectar flow, your hive may have swarmed or you are in a poor nectar area.
 When a hive swarms the field bees leave. These are the same bees that will bring honey to the hive. If the field bees leave in a swarm, there are not enough field bees to produce excess honey and the hive is unlikely to have any honey in the supers.
 How do you know if this has happened? If you look in the brood box and see no eggs or young larvae, probably some queen cells the hive probably has swarmed. Do not remove the swarm cells at this point, this will be your new queen. The bees may fill the brood area solid with honey as the brood hatches out.
 Honey is coming in, hopefully you should see a a few full supers soon.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Nectar Flow

Birds Foot Trefoil

White Dutch Sweet Clover
I think it is safe to say that everyone in the metro area is experiencing
 a nectar flow.
 I was out in my back bee yard and noticed my Catalpa Trees flowering. Catalpa Trees have very large leaves and produce large bean pods. The flowering usually means the timing is right for the start of the nectar flow. The Catalpa trees don't really secrete nectar, and I have never seen the bees work the Catalpa flowers. But, the timing of their bloom usually coincides with the early part of the main nectar flow.
 I added supers on my hive by the Catalpa's yesterday and noticed the top deep box was solid honey.
 I have White Dutch Clover and Birds Foot Trefoil blooming in large numbers near my bee yard.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Upcoming week perfect for MAQS treatments

The next week will be perfect weather for Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) mite treatment. The temperatures will be in the mid to upper 70's.
 If you have done a mite check or just want to treat to knock down the existing mite levels, this is the time.
 Hives that started with package bees will have mites starting to creep up in numbers from when the package was hived. A single strip of MAQS now will knock down the mite levels until about August, when a full treatment should be applied.
 Overwintered colonies that were not treated for mites in the spring, should consider a full treatment of MAQS now before the mite population starts causing damage to the bees.
 MAQS can be used during a nectar flow when supers are on the hive.
I had this video on a couple weeks ago but a refresher is always a good.

Monday, June 12, 2017

What is happening in the hive and the nectar flow

 Have You Seen This?
White Sweet Clover
 Hives are still building up and should be nearing their peak populations in the next couple weeks for most of us. There are some beekeepers with some lagging hives, like a couple of mine. But they will be looking much better soon.
 Swarming is still happening, keep checking for swarm cells. Once the nectar flow starts coming in heavy, that should give the bees other ideas other than swarming.
 The nectar flow in Stillwater isn't real strong yet, but that should be changing soon.
 I haven't seen any white sweet clover blooming yet around my place yet. Alsike clover is blooming in my lawn and back in my field near my hives. I have seen the bees working it.
 This rain we have just received was a god send. The lawns were just starting to get a little brown. But now with the rain yesterday and today, plants will be green and robust.
  I think bees make more honey when it is a little dry than a little wet. But, brown and crispy is a little too far and puts most nectar flows to a dead stop.
 Most of the first cutting of hay has been harvested. I was getting a little Alfalfa nectar coming in until it was cut. Alfalfa gives more nectar after the first cut. The second cutting of hay, is usually early to mid July.  So I have to be patient.
 My wife's garden is coming in very nice. The bumblebees have been working some of the plants.
Nectar plants to look for: White Sweet Clover, Bird's Foot Trefoil, Basswood/Linden trees (around July 1st), White Dutch Sweet Clover. See some flowers? Are the bees working it? Find out what it is.
 The nectar flow is coming, very soon,  to a hive near you.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Upcoming Heat

The next three days will be very hot. The heat can bring out swarming in a hive. So make sure the entrance reducers are out and the slide is out on screen bottom boards. When it is very warm, it is normal to see bearding in front of the hive. It does not mean it is a sign of swarming. Bearding is just the bees trying to keep cool. The hive is hot so let's sit out on the porch type of thing.
 Mite tests should be done on colonies soon. A beekeeper should know where they are for mite loads. Some beekeepers just treat for mites without testing.       The only mite treatments that can be put on now with supers on is Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS). Some beekeepers put one strip in for a knock down effect on the mites. Then do a full treatment of two strips in mid August. Having low mite levels is the key to bee longevity.
Hive populations should be getting big now, so get the supers on to get a big honey crop.

MN Honey Producers Convention


The MN Honey Producers are having their annual convention July 13 - 15th in Walker, MN, at the Northern Lights Casino. 
There are some great speakers on the agenda this year. Dr. Meghan Milbrath whose post of Why Did My Bees Die explained to many beekeepers what they are doing wrong with their bees.
There will be a customer appreciation day at Mann Lake LTD. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Scott County Beekeepers

A new bee club is starting up in Prior Lake area.
 We are meeting on the third Tuesday of each month 6:45pm.  At the Prior Lake City Hall.  If you would like to post this info on your blog that would be great.  I
could be a contact if someone wanted more information.

Thanks again.  We hope to be a good support to one another and keep our bees healthy and happy.

Deb Hoger
for more info: