February 2023 Newsletter
The MHBA Board has some exciting news! One topic of discussion at our board meeting this January was whether or not the current room in Ruttan hall was meeting our needs. We considered several other rooms around the University. We weighed the pros and cons of each room, some were larger, some smaller, some had better access. The locked doors issue will be ongoing no matter what we choose. Ultimately we settled on Borlaug Hall, Room 335. This building is closer to the bee lab, about half the distance of Ruttan Hall, so less of a walk after the hive demos. The space itself is similar in size to Ruttan Hall. The entrance is easier to see so it will be easier to hold the doors open until the meetings start, and parking is available in the S106 parking lot directly in front of Borlaug Hall. Our February meeting will still be in the hybrid format. The keynote speaker is Ian Steppler who hosts a Youtube channel “A Canadian Beekeeper’s Blog”. Whether you attend online or come to check out our new meeting room on campus, we hope you spend your Valentine’s day with us. Bring your date along!
We have been lucky to have a relatively mild winter up to this point, although the snow may seem excessive, it helps provide natural insulation for our bee hives. Some of the warmer days we had recently were excellent opportunities to take a look at your hives. While you won’t want to open them at this time of year, you will be able to see your bees taking cleansing flights on sunny days. Dead bees on fresh snow in front of your hive after a warm spell is a surefire sign that they are still alive and well. February will likely be cold like it has been in the past and it will put your bees to the test, if they aren’t dead from mites yet, the remaining tests are excessive moisture and cold, and starvation, but as February fades away into March, you will have chances to supplement their food if they need it.
As we go into what is typically the coldest part of our winter, it’s best not to dwell in despair on the dark days. Spring is just around the corner, and the sun will eventually return, bringing with it warm days, warm feelings, and all the beauty of nature we’ve grown to hold so dear.
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 club 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.
Better Beekeeping Through Education
The MHBA is seeking a Hospitality Chair. We hope to eventually return to providing refreshments at our meetings, however we are in need of a Hospitality Chair!
- Preparing coffee and lemonade for in person meetings.
- Monthly securing member volunteers to provide treats such as cookies and bars
- Organizing cups, napkins, paper plates and supplies as needed.
Interested? Please contact Alex King. [email protected]
I feel like the weather so far this year has been good for the bees. A lot of snow to provide insulation and few, deep cold periods. I do not know how my bees are doing. Those of you that have been around for a while know I don’t look at them until late February or early March. If there is a problem, there is nothing I can do about it now anyway. If you left them in proper shape last fall, they should be in good shape now.
There is really nothing to do with the colonies right now. I know you are getting anxious and you miss the bees but it is best to just let them be bees. Please resist the urge to go and open them up. If you just have to go check then listen in or use the heat-sensing camera.
Consider the behavior of the bees. They are clustering in a “ball” to survive. The bees in the inside are the heaters and the outer shell is the insulation. If you open the colony and disturb the insulation you have messed with their ability to survive. Yes, they will regroup but the insulating bees are cold comatose and will likely not get back to the cluster. In addition, a lot of heat is lost while the insulation is disturbed. Think about going to a human’s house (don’t try this at home) and throw a rock through a window and see what reaction you get. This is an analogy of disturbing the shell of the bee cluster. It can be fixed but there is damage and a lot of heat loss.
If you see some dead bees in the snow around the hive 2-50 feet away, this is normal. They are bees that decided to come out and fly for whatever reason, usually to defecate (I was told I should not say poop) and it was colder than they thought. Bees are not able to keep their body temperature up if it is too cold. This is common and not be something to be concerned about.
Refrain from adding sucrose to your bees at this time. Adding candy boards, winter patties or dry sugar this time should only be done if they absolutely need it. If they have a couple frames of honey, they are OK. Adding sucrose will stimulate excess brood rearing. The extra brood requires them to make more heat, thus use more honey. In addition, the brood takes up space in the cluster that could be used for honey storage and if it gets cold and they cannot move the cluster (which they won’t do because they won't abandon the brood) they can starve even with honey outside the cluster.
Toward the end of February or the first of March give them a pollen patty (6-8 oz). This is especially important if you did not do a full reversal last spring/summer. Do this on a day that is above 45ºF. When you add the pollen patty be sure it is in contact with the cluster so they can get to it on cold days. If the bees are up between the frames and the inner cover, you can put it up there. If the cluster is between 2 boxes, do not put it between the cluster and divide the cluster. This will make it harder for the bees to regulate temperature. Place it off to one side but in contact with the cluster between the 2 boxes.
If the bees are dead, block the holes in the boxes to keep mice and robbers out. Bring it inside to clean it out or wait until warmer weather. When cleaning in cold weather the wax comb is easily damaged.
Reproduction of all or part of this article without the author’s permission is prohibited.
5 Frame Nucs
Carniolan and Italian queens. Healthy, strong, varroa-treated bees! Pick up in Prior lake, mid-May. No prepayment required! 952 212 6853, Viktor
"The Cavity Compromise"
by Adrian Quiney now available on Amazon, in person ($19), or by mail ($24) contact the author at [email protected]
All in good shape. Everything you need to have a great year.
LOOKING FOR RAW HONEY?
Wildflower and basswood raw unprocessed honey for sale in 3.5-gallon buckets.
For more information, please call
Winter Pollinator Fun
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.
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.
There are three ways to renew your membership today!
- Renew your membership online with a credit card (preferred).
- Mail the membership renewal form to our treasurer at the address provided
- 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:
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]