Sunday, April 26, 2015

Late April update

My bees didn't make it over the winter this year so I had to buy some more bees.  I bought 4 - 2 lb packages of Italian bees and they came in on April 11th.  We picked up the bees and drove up to Hinckley to install the bees.
Explaining how to install packages to Girl Scouts and a First Year Beekeeper
My mom was having her Girl Scout Troop up to our cabin for a campout.  Some of the Girl Scouts were interested in seeing how the bees were installed and we had some extra veils. Dad's friend also came along because he is getting bees this year too.  I hived all 4 packages of bees and then we went to Dad's friends place to hive two more of his pacakges.  It was a busy day.  I think the bees were happy to have a new home.

Dumping in a package of bees

Installing more bees

You guessed it, more bees.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Potato Hug 

I will be selling at the potato hug in AFSA High School. 1/2 pound bottles are  $3.50 and 1 pound bottles are $6.00. If you can't make it to the potato hug but still want honey let me know.  There will also be other vendors there.  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lots of honey!!

This week I checked the bees to see if supers needed to be added. I did not have to add any supers to the hives this week, but hive four is starting to cap lots of honey and will probably need one next weekend.  We have 4 supers on this hive.  You can usually get 30+ pounds of honey from one super.  Hive two has almost no bees and no queen.  It has been a failing hive all spring.  This was the best hive last year and we think the queen overworked herself last summer.  Hive 1 and 3 are working on filling but, at this time don't have any large amounts of honey we can take.

With hive 4 capping honey I will have some frames to pull for my August 9th Extraction Demo.  You are welcome to come see my hives and how honey is extracted starting at 1 pm at our Cabin in Hinckley, MN. See my Extraction Weekend blog post for more details.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Extraction Weekend


I have had lots of requests to see the bees and how I extract the honey.  I am having a hive demonstration/extraction on Saturday, August 9th starting at 1 pm at our Cabin in Hinckley, MN (where I keep the bees).  Come see how a bee hive works and how the honey is extracted. We will have a screen tent up for viewing the hives.  Viewing will be weather dependent.  I can't open the hives if it is raining.  We will however, extract rain or shine.  You are welcome to come for the day or bring a tent for the weekend.   RSVP to for a detailed directions and so, we know how many to expect.

July 20 Inspection

Colony #1

Here is a picture of some larvae in the first colony.  We didn't see the queen but we did see brood, larvae and eggs.  The larvae are the "C" shaped ones in the cell.  The eggs look like little pieces of rice.  You can also see 1st instar larvae in this picture.  These are the ones you would graft if you were going to try to raise your own queens.  They are the really small larvae that are slightly "C" shaped.
Larvae  and eggs.
Once I saw the eggs I decided to close up the colony because I know the queen is there.  This is good because this was the new queen that dad got from the Queen Rearing class he took at the University of Minnesota.  She should be a good queen!

Colony 2
This colony isn't doing very good at all.  There is only one frame with bees on it.  There is a queen but there was very little eggs or larvae.  I don't think this hive is going to make it much longer.

Colony 3
They only have one deep but there is brood, eggs, and larvae.  We also saw the queen and they are doing better.

Colony 4
This colony is really doing well.  When I checked the supers I found eggs and capped brood.  That means that somehow the queen got up into the supers.  It wasn't a big deal but it did make for a lot of work.  I took off all four supers and stacked them up.  I didn't see the queen in them so I put the queen excluder on them and then started looking in the 3 deep boxes for eggs.   There was capped brood down in the 3 deep boxes but no eggs.  So we thought the queen must be somewhere in the 4 supers.  We finally found the queen in the second super.  I let her walk out onto one of the frames in the deep boxes and then we put the excluder back on top of the 3 deep boxes.  We put 2 queen excluders on just in case there was a problem with one of them.  I think the queen must have been on one of the excluders when we checked last time and then she moved to the other side of it or I flipped it.

Capped brood between 2 deeps

Checking to see how much honey has been capped yet.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Update on the Bees

I just got back from the last of the three Summer camps I was signed up for and thought it would be a good time to update my blog.  

Heading off to summer camp

Here is what has been happening with my bees:

I expanded from 2 to 4 colonies this year.  Both of the colonies I overwintered made it.  Now that I have 4 colonies it is harder to remember what I'm doing with each one and keep track of what I need to do.  I decided to number my colonies so I can keep better track.  I numbered them 1 to 4.  Colonies 1 and 2 are the two that made it through the winter.  Colony # 3 is a new colony I created by dividing Colony 1 and buying a new Queen for it.  Colony #4 is the new colony from the 3 lb package of bees I got from Mann Lake.  Dad helped me expand the bee yard so we could fit the two additional colonies of bees and keep the bears out.

Colony 1 Update
The colony made it through the winter.  Last year it didn't do as well as colony #2 so I wasn't sure if it would make it.  The bees in this colony didn't produce much surplus honey but they made enough to get them through the winter.  They really grew fast this spring and it became my best hive.  Because it grew so well, my dad and I made a divide from it in early May.   You divide a colony to keep them from swarming.  Bees swarm when they are doing well and when they run out of space in their colony.  It is how they naturally reproduce.  I want to keep them from swarming because when they swarm about half of the bees and the queen will leave the colony.  The original colony makes a new queen and then it continues to grow.  The problem with swarming is that it takes time to raise a new queen and when you loose a lot of bees they can't make honey as fast.  If I let them swarm I will end up with less honey in the end.  

I think I did the divide a week or two before I should have.  I guess you are supposed to divide about the time that the apple tree blossoms start coming out.  I think it would have worked better if I had waited a little longer because I didn't have at least 8 full frames of bees when I divided them like you are supposed to.

Can you find the queen in this picture?

Colony 2 Update
This was my strongest colony last year and I was able to get about 6 supers worth of honey from them to sell.  The colony also made it through the winter.  This colony has not done well this year and it might die off.  As of Sunday, July 13th it was down to a little over 1 frame of bees and that probably won't be enough to keep them going.  The queen in this colony I think failed.  She just stopped laying eggs and the other workers in the colony didn't figure that out quick enough to raise a new queen.  In late June when I checked on them I couldn't find the queen.  It was just a bunch of worker bees.  I moved a frame with a couple of queen cells on it from Colony 1 to hopefully replace the queen they lost.  On the July 13th checkup there is now a new queen in the colony and hopefully she will be able to get them going again.  Hopefully they can build up enough that I could combine them with a stronger colony later this year.
Me showing the bees in colony 2 to one of Cole's friends

Colony 3 Update
This colony came from the divide I made from colony 1.  It has a new queen we got from Nature's Nectar.  As of July 13th, it is still in a single deep box and has about 4-5 full frames of bees in it.  It isn't growing as fast as I would like it to.  Hopefully the queen in that colony will get busy and make a lot more bees.  It is doing about the same as the 2nd colony I had last year where it wasn't doing well and then it just took off.  If that doesn't happen I might add some more frames of brood from colony #4 to kick start them.

Working on colony 3

Colony 4 Update
This is a new colony from a 3 lb package of Italian bees I got from Mann Lake mid-May.  They are really doing good.  The colony has 3 deep boxes and 4 supers on it.  It has lots and lots of bees and they are bringing in lots of nectar.

Checking out colony 4