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

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Added two more hives to my apiary

This spring I added 2 more hives.  One was from a 3 lb package of bees from Mann Lake.  The other was from a divide of one of the hives I over wintered.  When a hive survives the winter the population in the hive grows quickly once the weather gets better.  Right about the time the apple blossoms bloom you want to divide the hive into two hives.  We checked for at lest 10 frames of brood in the overwintered hive and then figured out where  queen was.  We took half the frames and put them in a new hive and left the other frames and the queen in the old hive.  Then I left them for a day.  The foraging bees fly out of the new hive and go back to their original hive.  This is good because those are the bees that might not like a new queen and might kill her.  After waiting the day I added a new marked queen that my dad picked up from Nature's Nectar in Stillwater.  After 5 days we came back to see if they had released her and they did.  We waited another week to check for eggs and there were eggs and small larvae and that is how you know she was accepted.

Now that I have 4 hives it is getting hard to tell what hive is what.  I decided to number the hives from 1 to 4. Hive 1 is the hive closest to the house and is my first hive.  Hive 2 is the next closest, then hive 3, and hive 4.

Hive 2 over-wintered ok.  That was my best hive last year.  When I checked the hive later this spring, it wasn't doing very good.  The queen was still there but the brood pattern was spotty.  I think the queen is failing.  There are only about 2 frames of bees in this hive and I don't think it will be enough for them to make it.  If they die off maybe I can catch a swarm.

The package of bees is doing well.  Here is a link to a YouTube video of the package of bees when I picked them up: 

Catching up from late winter

Sorry I am posting this late.  I'm catching up to present time.

Coming out to check on the bees to see how they did over the winter.

Prying off the moisture board to peek on the bees.

The hive stands were a good idea.  Kept the snow from covering the entrances.
I checked to see if my bees were alive and survived the winter both hives survived the long winter. I also shoveled out the hives a bit there were a lot of dead bees at the entrance. both hives lived and I am planing to expand to four hives.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Two new hives and a nuc

We put the new bee equipment together today.  I buy the not assembled and not painted stuff because it is cheaper and I want to paint it like my other hives.  When we put them together we use water to wet the wood at the joints and then a little bit of premium wood glue.  Then we put the pieces together and use two big wood clamps to hold it together.  We use a builders square to make sure that the hive boxes are square and then I nail them together.

We got 3 deeps instead of 2 like I had last year because the U of M class said that 3 work better in Minnesota.  I should have enough equipment now that I won't have to buy more unless I expand.  I now have 4 complete hives.  I plan to winter 2 of the 4 hives and the other ones will just be used to make honey.  I may change my mind and try to winter all 4.  I will also have to expand my bee yard because I'm adding 2 more hives.  There is a lot of snow here still and I can't do that until it warms up more.  I can't divide the 2 hives I have until sometime in May anyway.

Here are the two new hives.  They have 3 deeps and 2 supers.
New hives

I also got a Nuc for Christmas.  It is not the kind that babies use.  It is used for selling bees to other beekeepers.  I'm going to try to catch a swarm with it.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

March 8th check-up

Yesterday we went to Nature's Nectar to get some more bee equipment.  I bought enough equipment for two more hives.  Dad and I went to the University of Minnesota's Beekeeping in Northern Climates - Year 2 class a couple weeks ago and we learned that we will need to divide the colony in early May.  If we don't divide them, they may swarm.  I'm going to use the new equipment to do the divide.  If all goes well I should have 4 hives when we are done.  Here is how I'm planning to do it.

We also bought pollen patties.  We will put them on the hives to give them pollen until it is warm enough and there is pollen to get.  We also got two new feeder pails so we can feed the bees if they are out of their honey.  

Dad checked on the bees again this morning and they are still alive.  Tomorrow it is going to be 40 F out and the bees should come out some tomorrow.

Here is a picture of me at the U of M bee class.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 1st update

Came up to clear out the driveway and check on Zander's bees.  It is March 1st, it was -24 degrees Fahrenheit last night, -7 degrees now.  Going down to -21 tonight.  Got stuck in the driveway.  Left the shovel in the shed.  Only 3 foot drifts 15 feet out from the shed.  Got my cardio in by leaping through the snow to dig the door open.  Got the shovel out and then shoveled the car out of the drift I drove it into.  Then I brought out the tractor with the snow blower and got that stuck in the snow 3 times.  So ya, I'm about done with this winter.  I think the bees are about done with the winter.  Next week it is supposed to warm up to a whopping 20 degrees.  Heatwave a coming!

Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure:
The bee yard on March 1st.  -7 degrees.

Shoveling out to the bee yard to check to see if they are still alive.
Closeup of the bee hives.  A few dead ones outside the hive.

Are the bees still alive?  Yep.  Both hives are still alive.  Saw a bee through the top hole on of the hive on the right.  Didn't see any bees in the hive on the left.  I was able to hear them inside the hive keeping their cluster warm.  They just need to make it another couple weeks then hopefully it will be warm enough that they can get out and get some pollen off the willow trees.

January Apiary Update

We took a couple of picture back in January of the apiary.  It was about 25 degrees Fahrenheit out that day and a couple of bees flew out of the hive.  When it warms up they leave the hive for evacuation flights (they don't do their business in the hive).  Some make it back and some don't.

Bees that didn't make it back to the hive.
This bee didn't make it.  Frozen in the snow. 
Frozen bee
This bee flew out while we were in the bee yard and it couldn't make it back to the hive.  We picked it up and put it by the entrance to the hive and it crawled back in.
Time to go back in the hive.