August 2023 Newsletter
2023 August Management
This month is our MHBA picnic so we will not have a hive demo as we will all be at the MN Fairgrounds for the picnic Tuesday August 8th.
August is MITES, Mites and mites. Specifically varroa mites.
Hopefully you have been doing monthly varroa checks throughout the season. If not you need to do one now so you know what your varroa mite situation is. I know you must remove the supers to get a brood frame, but this is important information. To get an accurate reading you must get the bee sample from a brood frame. If your mite levels are below 2 per 100 bees, you can relax for a bit (still check again as soon as the supers are off). If your mite levels are above 2 per 100 bees consider removing the supers and extracting as soon as possible (for sure by the end of the August) and treat for the mites. You need to control the mites before your winter bees are raised.
The bees raised at the end of the season are the ones that need to live through this winter. During the summer workers only live 6 weeks. To get through winter they will need to live 6 months. The bees raised in fall are physiologically different to make this possible. We know that a bee that was fed upon during pupation by varroa mites will have a 10-15% shorter lifespan. There are an average of thirty days in a month, times 6 months (normal lifespan) times 15% (amount lifespan is shortened) equals the number of days less a bee lives if it had mites in the cell with it.
(30x6x.15=27) This means the bee that had a varroa mite in the cell will only live about 5 months. This is a cause of weak colonies in the spring.
The next issue with varroa is the vectoring (transferring) of viruses from bee to bee. The more mites in a colony the higher the transfer rate. This spread of virus and resulting death of the bee is a cause of the late fall early winter death from varroa.
You will need to make sure your honey is below 18.6% moisture before extracting. If at least 80% of the frames are capped it should be ok. If possible, test with a refractometer. If you want some honey tested by a refractometer, bring at least a teaspoon of honey to the picnic. Remember you are looking for an average less than 18.6%. This means even if some is 20% if there is enough at 17% to balance it out it will be fine. This assumes you mix it all together when you extract.
Even if the honey was dry enough when you removed it from the bees; the method of storage of the supers before extraction is important. If you have it in a humid environment, it will absorb moisture from the air. Therefore, if you are not extracting immediately, be sure to store it in a warm, less than 75 degrees fahrenheit and less than 50% humidity room. Keep it warm because it is much easier to get the honey extracted from the frames. If it is high moisture, you can dry it in the frames by circulating warm dry air through the super. If you have the potential of small hive beetles in your hives do not store supers for more than three days before extracting. The small hive beetles will lay eggs and hatch in 3 days. These larvae will destroy honey and the comb. All things considered I think it is best to keep the supers on the colony until you are ready to extract.
Now is the time to start to consider whether the bees have enough honey for winter. If you keep the bees in three deeps the top box should be full of honey and you are good. If you have your bees in two deeps they will need to get the top box full of honey for the winter. Hopefully it is not full now because they need the brood space to get a good population of winter bees. Remove the supers in mid-August and hope for a good fall flow for them to fill the top deep or you will need to feed 2:1 sugar syrup.
After taking care of the mites, August is the time to get entries ready for the State Fair competition. If you want to enter in any class you must pre-register so do that early, the deadline August 10th. Register for anything you think you may want to enter. There is no penalty if something goes wrong and you don’t bring that entry in.
Reproduction of all or part of this article without the author’s permission is prohibited.
Better Beekeeping Through Education
Tuesday, August 8th, 6:00 PM
Minnesota State Fairgrounds
No Hive Demo This Month
(Veils not Required)
Why do bees have sticky hair?
Because they use a honeycomb…
At our September member meeting, our speaker Peggy DeSanto will be giving away insulation sets for winterizing beehives. She is doing this for research purposes. If you would like a set, please send Peggy an email at [email protected]. Please be advised that she will be following up with you next spring via email.
"The Cavity Compromise"
by Adrian Quiney now available on Amazon, in person ($19), or by mail ($24) contact the author at [email protected]
I was extracting larvae out of a green frame to see where the varroa were hanging out. I noticed them in the younger larvae. Those darn parasites! -- Terry McDaniel
State Fair Volunteers Needed
August is right around the corner, and with it, the Minnesota State Fair! Here are 3 exciting volunteer opportunities that give you the ability to score free admission tickets for every day each of you volunteer, which means you can eat three extra pronto pups with the saved cash!
The first of the three is on behalf of the Minnesota State Fair. As an Interpretive Volunteer, you have a seat near an observation hive in front of the honey island. Fair goers are curious about honey bees and they ask you simple basic questions. If this is your first year of beekeeping, we make sure you will have everything you need to be a successful interpreter! It's a great way to spread your love of honey bees. The shifts are three hours and previous volunteers say the time absolutely flys by. You are encourged you to sign up early, the slots fill up fast. 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 demonstrating how to extract honey. 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. It takes two volunteers per day. Even if you have never extracted honey before, we teach everyone how to demonstrate this at our members picnic, August 8th. For more info on volunteering for 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 judges 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, click here.
Minnesota Honey Farm on National Register of Historic Places
A few weeks ago I went on a little road trip to Janesville MN to visit Larry and Jan Hofmann to see the amazing progress on the restoration of their family owned honey house and property. The Hofmann Apiaries. In 2013 the Waseca County Historical Society secured a legacy grant to place their property on the National Register of Historic Places. The only one in the country with that distinction and it's right here in Minnesota. And what a gem it is!
I was grateful that Jim was able to take a break from his work to give me a tour of the honey house and Jan gave me the tour of the wax shed and the rest of the property and gardens.
There was plenty of room to store honey supers in the upper part, a great room to spin the honey with huge tanks for it, a seperate building for wax rendering, interesting hand-made tools Larry's dad made and so many artifacts from the early days of beekeeping.
It was a pig farm but a swarm landed on the property and that's where the story began. There are too many to write about here but if I had a large honey operation this would be a dreamy place to run it.
I highly recommend going to the open house on August 19th. Please carpool if you can. I'd be there in a second but I have a class reunion in WI I will be attending that day.
The restored honey house is amazing inside as well.
A scale Larry's dad made to weigh a colony.
The honey tank.
Lots of room up here where the honey supers were stored after the harvest.
Larry had a big hand in the restoration of the elevator.
Take a walk on the path through the beautiful native prairie restoration behind the honey house.
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.
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Stay tuned for no-cost Community-based beekeeping classes & events in the new calendar:
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The MHBA newsletter welcomes articles, photos, recipes, etc. from members. Please send them to the editor:
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.
|Katie Lee, PhD. (appointed)
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]