Sunday, March 3, 2013

Beekeeping Basics - Three Rivers Park District

We attended the first of two workshops of the Beekeeping Basics class held at Gale Woods Farm on Saturday, March 2nd.  The class was taught by Dan Palmer and was held by the Three Rivers Park District.  The class ran from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and we came away with some good information about beekeeping.   Here is a picture of Zander handing back a nearly filled honey super frame back to the instructor. 
Zander with an almost filled honey super frame
The first half of the class was done lecture style and the second half was a hands on workshop where we had the opportunity to build 3 deep hives (pre-cut from Nature's Nectar/Mann Lake LTD).   The timing was perfect for this lesson as Zander is planning to build his un-assembled hive bodies on Sunday (today).  We learned that when assembling the hives you don't need to use much glue because it expands and will naturally fill the gaps.  In addition we found out that it is advised to spray the wood with water first to allow the glue to soak and adhere better.

The instructor brought in one of his complete hives (3 deeps + several supers) from last year that didn't make it through the winter.  By looking at the hives we guessed that the colony had lost it's queen and had tried to produce another one to replace it but were unsuccessful and without the queen the colony died off.  

Here were some additional take-aways from the class:
  • Queen cells tend to be located near the bottom of the frames.  They should be knocked off when you/if you find them provided your queen is doing well.
  • There is some debate about whether you should use 2 or 3 deeps when raising bees in Minnesota.  The 3rd deep will give the bees additional food stores and potentially help them weather the harsh Minnesota winters.
  • You can paint the insides of the hives in linseed oil to help preserve the wood.  Zander is planning to just leave them unfinished.
  • If you have some beeswax left over from previous seasons, you can melt a little beeswax over new frames and paint in on them to give the bees a head start. 
  • Zander is planning on placing one of the hives in the Hinckley, MN area and the instructor highly recommended using an electric fence to keep bears out of the apiary.  So it looks like we are going to be spending some more money on a fence.