Winter Feeding – BeeCakes

Keeping your bees alive and healthy during the winter is a very important and sometimes challenging task.  One very effective method of feeding is putting sugar directly on the top-bars of the top box of the hive.  When the cluster is in direct contact with sugar (even solid sugar), it is very difficult for them to starve.  Below I have outlined a recipe I have found to be very useful in keeping my bees healthy and happy during the winter.  In order to make Bee Cakes, you will need the following:

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Free Bees!

An easy $100 swarm.

If you are interested in collecting swarms – now is the time.  I just got a call from Midstate pest control -(877) 526-4222 – looking for someone to collect a swarm for a customer of theirs – Midstate does not deal with honey bees apparently.  I personally don’t usually have time to drop everything and go get  swarms at this time of year, but you might.   Midstate said that they get lots of these calls in the spring, and pass them on to anyone who contacts them with an interest in catching swarms.  Other pest control companies probably have the same deal.  

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Splitting Honey Bee Hives for Increase

This article was originally published on Feb 20, 2014 but contains seasonally relevant information.

Like every other living thing our bees have the ability to make more bees. But instead of allowing our colonies to multiply many beekeepers spend hundreds of dollars to buy bees to replace the 1/3 of our colonies which we KNOW from statistics are going to die every year.

This article was originally published on Feb 20, 2014 but contains seasonally relevant information.

Like every other living thing our bees have the ability to make more bees. But instead of allowing our colonies to multiply many beekeepers spend hundreds of dollars to buy bees to replace the 1/3 of our colonies which we KNOW from statistics are going to die every year.

When Good Bees go Bad

This article was originally posted in June 2011, but contains seasonally relevant information.

Whenever there isn’t a good flow on (like now and throughout the rest of the summer) strong honey bee hives will often rob weak hives – if it gets bad enough they will completely decimate the hive that is being robbed.

This is the best video that I could find that actually showed robbing going on. Notice 2 things 1) The robber bees are climbing up the hive to get some extra elevation before they take off – this is typical in a robbing frenzy. 2) Groups of bees wrestling on the landing board, and falling off the front in clumps – those distinguish a robbing frenzy from orientation or swarming.

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Time to treat for Varroa Mites

After you have harvested honey or determined that you will not be harvesting honey – it is now time (July) to treat your bees for Varroa mites.  If you have not yet obtained your treatments you need to order them right away.

For what it is worth I personally plan to use Apiguard at this time of year – because it is hot, and Apivar works better in hot weather while some other treatments become harmful at high temps.  But any of these will work if used correctly.

One word of caution – Stinky treatments like Apiguard, and Mite-away-quick-strips produce smelly fumes.  Hives need proper amounts of ventilation and must have a strong enough population to fan and ventilate the hives.  Not enough ventilation or not enough bees to fan can result in absconding (apiguard) or queen death (Miteaway) – an interuption in brood production or some brood death is not unusual or cause for alarm.

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Emergency Feeding – Don’t let your Bees Starve!

If you have any suspicion whatsoever that your bees might be low on food - or even if they have food but the cluster might not be able to get to it. You can insure that your bees don't starve by "mountain camp" feeding. It is very easy, doesn't require any special equipment, and doesn't require digging around in the hive - you can even do it when it is pretty cold. There is no reason to let your bees starve.

If you have any suspicion whatsoever that your bees might be low on food - or even if they have food but the cluster might not be able to get to it. You can insure that your bees don't starve by "mountain camp" feeding. It is very easy, doesn't require any special equipment, and doesn't require digging around in the hive - you can even do it when it is pretty cold. There is no reason to let your bees starve.