April 2023 Newsletter

President's Hive

Warm weather continues to tease us, but as sure as the days get longer, we will see the sun eventually. Thanks to everyone that attended our March meeting, we had a stellar turnout with over 90 people between in person attendees and those who joined us on Zoom.

For our upcoming member meeting on April 11th, we will be hearing from another U of M local speaker Vera Krischik. Her research focuses around pesticides and she will be talking to us about her latest research on Neonicotinoid pesticides and the effects of mosquito abatement around pollinators. We frequently hear questions about both of these topics so this is definitely a speaker you will want to hear!

Prior to our 7 pm member meeting we will be having our first hive demo of the season at the Gortner bee lab at 5:45 pm, veils are required in the bee lab yard and there will be no zoom component for the hive demos this year. We encourage new beekeepers to attend hive demos, as they are an excellent source of “hands-on” education.

For our May meeting we will bring back a tradition that we unfortunately had to put on hold these past few years due to the pandemic. Our May Splits Pizza Party is primarily a social event, the 5:45 hive demo and the 7pm meeting will not have a guest speaker, but we will have food! We encourage everyone to attend and get to meet other members of the association. We are asking for a “soft RSVP” for this meeting on May 9th. Please let us know how many we can expect from your party via this link.

I know for most people, the Minnesota State Fair seems a ways off still, but as the Superintendent of the Bee & Honey Exhibit I love to start lining up volunteers as early as possible. I have 3 unique volunteer opportunities, but I am also looking for additional judges for our Apicultural Artwork competitions as well as additional paid employees to work the exhibit hall during the fair as well as setup before the fair. If you are interested in judging or employment, please contact me for more info.

There are several volunteer opportunities on behalf of the MN State Fair. As an Interpretive Volunteer you will be seated prominently near an observation hive in the center of the exhibit, while fair goers bombard you with every single question under the sun! Don’t worry, they are basic questions and everyone is curious about honey bees! There is a guard rail to protect you! Even if this is your first year keeping bees, we make sure you will have everything you need to be a successful interpreter! The shifts are 3 hours long, previous volunteers say the time absolutely flys by. Every volunteer gets free admission to the fair the day they volunteer. A great way to not only spread the love of honey bees, but save some money as well! Don’t hesitate to sign up early, the slots fill fast, and you can always switch your dates and times around up until a few weeks prior to the fair. For more info on the Interpretive Volunteers click here.

The second volunteer opportunity is on behalf of the MN Hobby Beekeepers Association. These volunteers will be doing live honey extraction demos every day of the fair. The extraction demos take roughly 15 minutes and occur 4 times a day at 1pm, 2pm, 4pm and 5pm. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy at the fair. We look for two volunteers for each day and all volunteers receive free admission to the fair. Even if you have never extracted honey before, we teach everyone how to demonstrate this at our member picnic in August. For more info on volunteering for our extraction demos click here to sign up.

The third volunteer opportunity lets you see “how the sausage gets made” at the State Fair. Bee-Hind the Scenes! There are a variety of volunteer options both prior to the fair and after the fair. Duties may include intaking entries for the various competitions, assisting during judging of honey, food, or artwork, and setting up the exhibit hall prior to the fair. For more information on these opportunities including a detailed run-down of each day.

As I finish writing this article and April approaches, assess the availability of alvearies in your apiary, as an assortment of Apis Mellifera may soon arrive to apiarists in your area.

~ Alex King

Banquet Chair Needed

We are in need of a Banquet Chair to lead our Annual Banquet efforts. The Annual Banquet is an event where we directly raise funds for the Bee Lab.  The Banquet has become a tradition of our association and, as a first-time attendee last year, I can attest that it is worth the effort.

You will not be alone in these efforts. The whole of the Board of Directors will be here to support you and assist in the implementation of the arrangements you make.

Please contact Alex King at [email protected] for details.

Quintin Holmberg


Better Beekeeping Through Education

Next Meeting
Vera Krischik
Neonicotinoid research and mosquito abatement around pollinators.

Tuesday, April 11th, 7:00 PM
Hybrid meeting:
In-Person: Borlaug Hall, Room 335
(Masks Recommended)
Via Zoom: Meeting Link

Hive Demo
Tuesday, April 11th, 5:45 PM
In-Person: Research Apiary
(Veils Required)

Click here for directions.

Upcoming Events

Vera Krischik
Neonicotinoid research and mosquito abatement around pollinators.
Join us for our May pizza party!
Garett Slater
Drones and their role within the hive
Jim Kloek

Learn about entering our fabulous honey into the State Fair!
6:00 - 9:00
Annual Picnic

Hive Management

April 23 Management

Spring is here at least according to the calendar. This is an exciting time with the bees. Don’t listen to the calendar, rather listen to the bees and watch the weather.

First, the wintered colonies. This is the time to add a pollen patty. Be sure the patty is next to the cluster so the bees can access the patty during the cold weather. Add more as they use it and replace it if it dries out or gets moldy. Do not feed sugar unless they are starving, it is best to add frames of honey if you have it. Two frames of honey will last the colony for a while. When the weather gets warmer, the bees will leave the cluster and bring honey in from the outer frames.

On days when it is above freezing it is safe to open the lid and put in a pollen patty. Do not remove frames or do reversals unless it is above 50°F (10°C).

Don’t be in a hurry to take winter covers off. It is too early for that. I leave the covers on at least until the end of April. The bees will be fine even if we get a “hot” day, say 50ºF (10°C) .

Perform inspections every 7-10 days. The goal is to be sure the bees have enough honey and give them a pollen patty if they finished the previous one. You need to have some pollen substitute on each colony even if there is stored pollen or maybe have brought in pollen from nature. REMEMBER the bees need to eat pollen to activate their glands that produce brood food so they can feed their larvae. If they run out of pollen the brood will die. It can still get cold, even freeze, or rain for a few days, which will prevent bees from flying out to collect pollen.

It is time to do a partial reversal when the temperature stays above 40ºF (4.5°C) at night and the bees have at least 4 frames of brood in the top box. A partial reversal is reversing the position of the top two boxes. Clean the bottom board if it is above 50ºF (10°C). Put the entrance reducer back in with the larger hole facing down. Be sure to look between the frames and shake out any dead bees that are stuck between the frames. Do not try to get the dead bees out of the cells. You can damage the comb and make more work for the bees. They will have to rebuild the damaged comb, Let them clean out the dead bees on their own. Remember to keep the pollen patty touching the cluster. This may mean putting it between the two top boxes after a reversal.

If your colony is strong enough that the bees are halfway or more down into the middle box, do a modified reversal instead of a partial reversal. For this, put the middle box on the bottom, the top box in the middle and the bottom box on top. This keeps the brood nest together.

If you are hiving packages, hopefully they come in mid-April. If we have cold and snow (what are the chances?) at packaging time, see my website scroll down to “Hiving a package if it is cold '' pdf for more information.

If you are hiving packages and forget how to install them , then see the “Beekeeping in Northern Climates''  manual or the sheet "Hiving a package” on my website the poster 157b  on the Bee Lab website. Keep the bees supplied with sugar syrup and pollen substitute until natural nectar and pollen are stored in the comb.

If you are hiving a package on drawn comb frames from a dead out, start out in one box as you did with foundation. Provide one or two frames of honey on each side and the center filled with frames of drawn comb. If the frames have some honey and pollen in them, that is good, but most of the frames should be empty. Even with any honey frames, I recommend that you provide 1:1 sugar syrup and pollen substitute for the first couple weeks on a new package.

Remember you are going to divide wintered colonies around May 15 so you should have a queen ordered.

Best of luck.

Reproduction of all or part of this article without the author’s permission is prohibited.


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Remember to mark your hives on BeeCheck.

It is that time of year to again to use BeeCheck to mark the locations of your hives on the FieldWatch map so pesticide applicators can take precautions when spraying in these areas. Selecting a pin on the map brings up the beekeepers contact information so applicators can inform them of a planned spray, and hives can be screened, covered, or moved.

BeeCheck is a free, voluntary online registry available for any size beekeeper, hobby or commercial. Beekeepers can choose to have their hives only appear on the map for registered pesticide applicators and not for the general public, if theft or vandalism is a concern.

You must be registered on BeeCheck to be eligible for compensation through the MDA's Bee Kill investigation program.

Annual Renewal. If your hives were registered last year, they must be renewed annually to keep the map up to date. Renewal notices are sent to beekeepers to remind them to renew and update their accounts. Be sure to update your contact information so that applicators can contact you before spraying.

More detailed instructions about using BeeCheck are available through the “Resources” link on the FieldWatch page. See, User Guide: How to Register Your Crops and Beehives in FieldWatch. A “How to” BeeCheck video is available on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website.

There is also a link at the bottom of the “Resources” page to download a free phone app that allows hives to be registered and mapped from your mobile device.

If further assistance is needed, contact Larry VanLieshout, FieldWatch Data Steward, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, 651-201-6115, [email protected].


Weblinks referenced.:

BeeCheck - https://beecheck.org/

FieldWatch map - https://mn.driftwatch.org/map

FieldWatch Resources - http://fieldwatch.com/resources/

User Guide: How to Register Your Crops and Beehives in FieldWatch - https://fieldwatch.com/media/User%20Guide_How%20to%20Register%20Crops%20and%20BeeHives%20in%20FieldWatch%202017.pdf

MDA FieldWatch Information -  www.mda.state.mn.us/plants-insects/fieldwatch

MDA Bee Kill Investigation information - https://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants-insects/bee-kills


BIP Survey

Save the date L&MS1024_1

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Email a photo to Gary Reuter at [email protected] before noon on the day of the member's meeting so he can project it on the screen during “Ask the Expert.” We will all learn from you what you see in your hive.


Online Resources

Please visit our website!
We continue to make updates and changes to our website. Recently, we reorganized the Education page.
Stay tuned for no-cost Community-based beekeeping classes & events in the new calendar:
If you are offering a class/event, you may submit the details to have it listed on our website:

Join Us On Facebook
Join our members only Facebook group:
This is a place for members to ask questions, share answers, share photos and videos, and socialize online.

MHBA Board Minutes
Please check the website for the latest, approved Board meeting minutes.

More Announcements

Membership Renewal
There are three ways to renew your membership today!

  1. Renew your membership online with a credit card (preferred).
  2. Mail the membership renewal form to our treasurer at the address provided
  3. Renew in person by bringing your completed form and check to the next meeting.

Our Renewal Form can be found at our Become a Member page:

Newsletter Submissions
The MHBA newsletter welcomes articles, photos, recipes, etc. from members. Please send them to the editor:
[email protected]

If an article is a reprint from another source, permission must be gained if required. The due date for newsletter submission is the 25th of the month for the next month's newsletter.

MHBA Board

Position Member
President Alex King
Vice President Kate Winsor
Secretary Kate Gardner
Treasurer Bill Thompson
Past President Susan Bornstein
Technology Committee Quintin Holmberg
Alex King
Gary Reuter
Membership Steve Buck
Newsletter Editor Quintin Holmberg
Stacy Anderson
Bob Hinschberger
Quintin Holmberg
Jonathan Kvasnik
Katie Lee, PhD. (appointed)
Terry McDaniel
Betty Mortensen
Christine Shoemaker
Gary Reuter
Sarah Staten
Karen Voy

Get Involved

Make 2023 the year to get more involved in your club! To become a Community Outreach volunteer or a Swarm Chaser please complete and submit the appropriate form by visiting:

NOTE: The contents of this Newsletter are the sole property of the Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association (MHBA). NO REPUBLICATION OR USE in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, by any other person or entity without the prior express written permission from MHBA’s Board of Directors is permitted. MHBA may be contacted at [email protected]