July 2022 Newsletter
Hello MHBA Beeks! I hope your hives are thriving and healthy. This week is our monthly mite-check week and we will see how the numbers are fairing. I’m liking the use of drone frames and hope that this continues to prove to be effective in curbing the mite population in my hives.
Lately beekeeping has not been easy for the heat sensitive among us. In recent days my bee suit felt as though I was walking around in my own personal sauna. We’ve had several very hot days already causing our bees to beard on the outside of our hives. Gary talks about it in his management article. These hot weather conditions can potentially contribute to swarming in an overcrowded hive. According to our Swarm Chairman, Bob Sitko, swarm season is in full swing. Bob reports that he’s getting 3-4 calls daily. Alex King is also reporting an uptick in this season’s request for bee removals from buildings and structures. If you would like to volunteer as a swarm chaser please login to our website and visit https://mnbeekeepers.com/get-involved/. Once there, select the tab entitled “Be a Swarm Chaser”. The preparation and process of Swarm Catching is beautifully recounted in member Grace Sheely’s article further on in this newsletter, enjoy!
The MHBA Board is looking forward to seeing you and having your participation in several exciting upcoming events!
Please mark your calendars for the following important dates:
5:45PM Hive Demonstration
7:00 PM - join us in-person or virtually for this month’s speaker: the UMN Bee Lab’s Dr. Marla Spivak will join us to discuss honeybee anatomy.
August 9th* 6:00PM-MHBA Picnic, please see the Picnic flyer in this newsletter for information. Please register if you plan to attend
August 25th- September 5th - Minnesota State Fair - please sign up to volunteer!
October 15th- MHBA BANQUET- a fundraiser for the UMN Bee Lab. Information and registration in this newsletter.
November 15th - MHBA ANNUAL MEETING -please note NEW DATE!
*Note: The MHBA PICNIC will be in place of our August Member Meeting
Please feel free to contact me with questions or constructive feedback!
All the best to you and your bees!
Better Beekeeping Through Education
7/12 @ 7 PM
The Bees Knees: Bee Anatomy for Beekeepers
8/9 @ 6 PM
See the announcement below.
8/25 - 5/9
See volunteer needs below.
9/13 @ 7 PM
James Wolfin with Lawns to Legumes.
10/11 @ 7 PM
Meghan Milbrath with the University of Michigan.
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 Susan Bornstein [email protected]
Management, July 2022
July is the major traditional nectar flow for the twin cities. Basswood, sweet clover, birdsfoot trefoil, White Dutch clover, alfalfa and many other plants are blooming in July.
During the nectar flow, your colonies should always have the equivalent of 2 empty supers on. A strong colony with a good nectar flow can easily fill 2 supers in a week and they need room to store it. They will not fill your supers in your garage or shed. If you have 3 deeps on the divides or packages and they have started to seal honey on the top 2” of the frames in the top deep; they can probably have supers now also. When there is a good nectar flow you need to have plenty of space for the bees to store it or they may plug the brood nest with nectar and decide to swarm.
If you started with packages and new foundation you may be adding a 3rd deep about now or adding supers depending on where your bees are located. When the 3rd box is 80% occupied with bees (not honey) do a full reversal (top box on the bottom - bottom box on the top). Then when the 3rd box has 2” of sealed honey on top you can add a queen excluder and two supers. If after you put the 3rd deep on, the bees filled it with honey so fast you did not get a chance to reverse it then leave it without a reversal. Be sure in the spring to put a pollen patty on those in late February or early March.
We are moving into hot summer weather. Be sure the bees can cool their hive properly. Be sure the entrance reducer is out and they have access to water. On very hot days you will see large numbers of bees hanging on the front of the hive boxes in a "bee beard". This is normal. Bees exit the colony so the bees inside can circulate air to cool the colony. Do not open the top in hopes of helping them, it interferes with the bees ability to circulate air and cool the temperature.
Good news, you can stop doing reversals and looking for swarm cells in parent colonies; except for ones showing signs of swarming. The major part of swarm season has passed and bees will be busy making honey. Bees need empty space in the supers so they have room to put up honey. If not the bees will fill the brood nest with honey and there won't be room for brood. This causes two major problems. 1) the bees will decide to swarm. 2) the bees will not be able to raise a good population of bees for winter.
Some bees may refuse to go through a queen excluder up to the supers. If this is the case spray some sugar syrup on the foundation or if you have it, take some burr comb from between the deep boxes and spread a thin layer of wax over the foundation to attract the bees to go up there and/or remove the excluder for a couple days. When bees start going into the supers return make sure the queen is not up there and return the queen excluder. The bees must go through the queen excluder to get back to the brood nest and they will find it is not so bad after all and will go back and forth. They may not go up because there is not a good nectar flow in the specific area and are still filling the box below the excluder. They will move up when they run out of room to store nectar.
You should also be checking your varroa mite levels with the powder sugar test. There is not a lot you can do right now with the nectar coming in but you need your mite counts to prepare for a treatment when the supers are off. If you have very high levels you may consider removing the supers earlier to get mites under control before your winter bees are raised.
If you want to extract your honey now BE SURE the moisture is below 18.6% BEFORE extracting it. This does not mean it all has to be that low. You may have some uncapped honey that is high but if there is enough capped honey that is low it should all even out.
Reproduction of all or part of this article without the author’s permission is prohibited.
SAVE THE DATE
We are busy, busy bees planning our annual banquet & fundraising auction for 2022! It will be held on October 15th at the Science Museum in St. Paul. All proceeds from the auction will go to the UMN Bee Lab’s Scholarship Fund. So, start saving your bee & honey-related items to donate.
I welcome volunteers to help! Please let me know if you are interested at [email protected].
Watch for registration info in the August newsletter and on Facebook.
- Ginger Reuter, Banquet Committee Chair
LOOKING FOR RAW HONEY?
Wildflower and basswood raw unprocessed honey for sale in 3.5-gallon buckets.
For more information, please call 952-461-4728.
Volunteer Opportunities at the Minnesota State Fair
State Fair Opportunities!
Hi all! Alex King here, Superintendent of the Bee & Honey Exhibit at the MN State Fair.
Here is an exciting opportunity for all MHBA beekeepers at any level!
I am looking for a few Staff Interpreter positions to be filled for the MN State Fair this year. It is a paid position! Duties include: paying attention to volunteers needs, filling in for volunteers when necessary, maintaining the exhibits appearance, helping with the judging of entries, interacting with guests and of course "Other duties as they come up". Ideal candidates will be available daily from Saturday August 20th through Tuesday September 6th, a general knowledge about beekeeping that includes you too NewBees!) and the ability to enjoy working in the lively environment for the fair! If you are interested in applying or would like more information shoot me an email at [email protected] and in the Subject write: State Fair Bee & Honey Exhibit.
Now to bug you about volunteering! And volunteering at the fair is a blast! You'll meet a lot of interesting folks and learn a lot. Only 33% of the slots are covered for our volunteer interpreters. These are 3 hour shifts. You'll sit near an observation hive and answer basic questions from the general fairgoers. Everyone loves the Bee and Honey Exhabit. I will give you free admission to the fair for your volunteer gig and the time flyes by really fast. View available slots here https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0f4ea9af22a5f85-beehoney1
Honey Extraction demos are also volunteer opportunities. this is an important fundraiser for our association and we unfortunately only have volunteers for a total of 4 of the 24 slots on just 3 of the 12 days of the fair! There are four extracting demos each day at 1, 2 , 4 and 5pm and take you approximately 15 - 30 minutes. Once again you get free admission to the fair and the rest of the time is yours to enjoy! Even if you have never extracted honey, we encourage you to sign up! https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0f4ea9af22a5f85-honey1
We're less than 2 months away! I can't wait to see you all at the fair!
Superintendent: MN State Fair Bee & Honey Exhibit
Bee SWARMS and call from BOB
Bob Sitko, our Swarm Chaser Chairman, is MBHA”s unsung hero. He takes calls from the public all day every day and tracks information on metro-wide swarms. Sometimes he gets calls about wasps and bumblebees, a perfect chance to educate the people about the differences and what to do. I am not an expert swarm collector but here is how it goes for me.
Bob calls and gives you a location and the contact person's phone number. It takes about two hours or so of your time to collect the bees. I call the contact person to get a location and ask for a photo to confirm they are honeybees and how high off the ground they are. Then I have a spot ready to set up a hive such that I know where these rogue bees are going to be relocated for a permanent safe residence and take care of them.
The bees may swarm away before I arrive or set up and evaluate the swarm. They have their own plan. I always ask if the contact person knows when the swarm arrived and I call them just before I leave to make sure they are still there. People seem to gather and it is a great time to educate the public about our pollinators. If you see a swarm in action, even if you missed collecting it I hope you find joy in witnessing this SPECIAL natural event. It sounds like a noisy hurricane. If you are near a swarm but not aware of it, you will be thinking “Why am I hearing bees?”. Very rarely have I been stung by collecting a swarm. I usually have my suit tucked in and a baseball cap on to keep my veil away from my face.
Equipment I bring with me: Bee clothing, branch loppers, an 8 or 12 foot ladder, liquor box with all holes and bottom retaped, clear package tape and a bee brush or two. I travel to the site and evaluate if it is safe to collect these bees. Are they too high? Is my ladder going to be stable and tall enough? Do I have an assistant to help you? Does the assistant know their role and do they feel safe? If it is not safe to collect, leave the bees as they will be fine without your help. Your safety is more important than the bees. If the swarm can be collected safely, then I trim branches out of the way to position the ladder. I put a liquor box underneath the swarm so it will fall into the box when brushed off the branch. They usually fall together with a thud. They are docile…..they have nothing to protect, no brood or food and scout bees are looking for a new home for the group. Think of bees that are either punch drunk or heavily ladened with honey to tide them over until they find a new location or I/we collect them. It could be up to three days before the scout bees find a suitable space. Close the liquor box once full of bees; hand the box to someone on the ground. It is impossible to safely walk down a ladder with a full box of bees. Next tape the box with tape that I have already prepared in strips….it is hard to pull off tape with bee gloves. When I get to the place they will be stationed, I open the new hive box, remove 4-5 middle frames and dump and or brush the bees into the hive box and replace the middle frames gently as if installing a package and pray they stay.
Other things can happen: 1) You missed collecting the queen and so the whole process needs another round of collecting. 2) You missed most of the bees but got the queen and so you can put the box on the ground and cut a door on this box and wait a few hours for the bees to all walk into the box with the queen. The bees just outside the entrance of the box will fan their wings the scent of the queen with their butts up in the air to let the other bees know where she is. 3) Another option: with the property owner’s permission, cut the branch. Put the whole branch over the box and hit the branch with a good jolt to let the swarm drop into the box. 4) If I didn't get all the bees, the stragglers may return to their original colony or find another colony to sneak into. 5) The bees reject their new location and swarm away later that day or week. 6) Foundation is a more enticing home for them to entice them to stay rather than new foundation.
Email me if you have questions or better suggestions: [email protected]
I am a MHBA hobby beekeeper member who has kept a couple colonies of bees in Minnetonka for more than a decade. I raise bees for my fruit tree production and gardens. I rarely have a honey harvest. Bees are misunderstood even by their keepers. I hope by collecting swarms that urban beekeepers will be allowed to legally coexist with close neighbors, especially with those allergic and afraid of insects that buzz. Unlike Alex King, I cautiously collect bees. Remodeling homes to collect bees is not in my wheelhouse.
July 12, 2022 at 7pm (CST)
Talk: The Bees Knees: Bee Anatomy for Beekeepers
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.
Thank you to our Community Outreach Coordinator Paula Johnson, for organizing a few MHBA outreach volunteers to a table at beautiful Lake Phalen for WaterFest. June 4th. Thank you Kate Gardner and Bob Hinschberger for volunteering with me. We were quite busy and answered a lot of questions about MHBA and honeybees. It was a beautiful day for people to be out and about. We had lots of visitors of all ages and a few people that wanted to join our association. If you're interested in being one of the volunteers in the community visit our website, click the Get Involved tab then hit the Become a Community Outreach Educator.
If you have any questions about what we have been doing email Paula Johnson at [email protected].
Fresh Wax Scales
I collected a swarm on that 100 degree day June 20th. Thank you Bob Siko for the call. I learned a lot from this finicky group of bees. It didn't want to stay in my swarm box twice, but I finally collected them.
The next day they bearded themselves to the cardboard overhang I used for a sunblock. I noticed fresh scales of wax on my landing strip. I hope you can see the wax pieces in the photo. There must have been something they didn't like about the swarm box frames so I gave them a whole new box of frames by lifting the cardboard and dropping them into their new deep. They finally stayed inside. The queen in this swarm was a virgin queen probably on mating flights. She is now laying eggs and has been for a few days I saw on my June 29th observation.
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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:
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- Renew your membership online with a credit card (preferred).
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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 2022 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]