July 2023 Newsletter
23 July Management
July is the traditional major nectar flow for the Twin Cities area. You should see basswood, sweet clover, birdsfoot trefoil, white Dutch clover, alfalfa, and many others in bloom.
During the honey flow, your colonies with supers should always have the equivalent of two empty supers on them. A strong colony with a good nectar flow can easily fill two supers in a week. Make sure they have room to store it. They will not fill supers in your garage or shed. If you have three 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.
Since we are moving into hot weather, be sure the bees can cool their hive. Be sure the entrance reducer is out and they have access to water. On very hot days you may see large numbers of bees hanging on the front of the box. This is normal, some of the bees move out so they can circulate air to better cool the hive. Do not open the top in hopes of helping them cool the hive. You will only mess up their ability to circulate air within the colony.
If you started with packages and new foundation you may be adding your third box about now or you may be adding supers depending on the area you have your bees. When the third box is 80% occupied (not full of honey) then do a full reversal: top box on the bottom - bottom box on the top. Then when the third box has 2” of sealed honey on top you can add a queen excluder and supers. If after you put the third deep on, the bees filled it over 1/3 with honey so fast you did not get a chance to reverse it then just leave it. Be sure in the spring to get a pollen patty on them in late February or early March.
Good news, you should be able to stop reversals and check for swarm cells in the parents now except in colonies that have shown signs of swarming. The major swarm season is past and the bees should be busy making honey. You need empty space in the supers so they have a place to put the honey. If not, the bees will fill the brood nest with honey and there will be no 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 colonies may refuse to go into the supers through the queen excluder. When this happens, spray some sugar syrup in the supers, take some burr comb from the colony below, and spread it on the foundation in the supers to attract them up there and/or remove the excluder for a couple of days. When they start going into the supers put the queen excluder back on making sure the queen is not in the supers. Once they must go through the queen excluder to get back to the brood nest, they will find it is not so bad and will go back and forth. They may be not going up there because there is not enough of a nectar flow that they need the space.
You should also be checking your varroa mite levels with the powder sugar test. There is not a lot you can do about it right now but you need this information so you can plan for your attack on them when the supers come off. If you have very high levels you may consider removing the supers earlier to get the mites under control before your winter bees are raised. If you treat, be sure to read the label for the product you are using. Pay particular attention to the requirements regarding supers on the colony and the temperature.
You may want to extract honey now if you do not have more supers to add and do not want to buy more or your colony is getting too high (a nice problem to have) or you want seasonal honey. If you extract your honey now, BE SURE the moisture is below 18.6% BEFORE extracting it. This does not mean it all has to be 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.
Now is a good time to help a weak colony. If you have a weak colony, you can boost them with a couple of frames of bees and brood from a strong colony. Use a frame of mostly sealed brood and be sure the queen is not on it. You should leave the bees on the frame with the brood.
Reproduction of all or part of this article without the author’s permission is prohibited.
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.
Better Beekeeping Through Education
Learn about entering our fabulous honey into the State Fair!
Tuesday, July 11th, 7:00 PM
In-Person: Borlaug Hall, Room 335
Via Zoom: Meeting Link
Tuesday, July 11th, 5:45 PM
In-Person: Research Apiary
Click here for directions.
Why do bees have sticky hair?
Because they use a honeycomb…
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. I encourgae 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.
Field Trip To Adrian Quiney's Apiary
Thank you MHBA member Adrian Quiney for opening up your apiary on a Wednesday evening for MHBA members to see what you've been up to this summer. We, Brandon Haskin, Dave Povonly, Michael Fry, Vera Clarke, Willie Gabbard, Gayle Dramon, and I really appreciated you sharing your experience and knowledge with us from the many different nucleus colony beekeepers that you've been following and making your individual apiary an open book so to say. The Cavity Compromise is making more sense now.
The field trip started in Adrian's garage where he showed and taught us about some of the equipment and gadgets he uses for all seasons raising and wintering his bees in nucs.
Then onto the apiary and watched how he managed his colonies. He was grateful for our questions and happy to share how his theories made good sense for using the bees' abilities to make a treatment-free apiary successful.
I really enjoyed a few new ideas; the queen motel he uses with three compartments. I've used one with four and it gets a bit tight in there. He trims off the honey around the top edge of a frame and gives it back to the bees to recycle, making it easier to lift frames in and out for future observations, I learned many other things too numerous to write about. If you're switching to nucs I highly recommend his book The Cavity Compromise.
Here is a comment from one of your fellow members Willie Gabbard who was on the field trip. "I really felt welcomed! I've read Adrian's book twice, but seeing him manipulate his hives in person really brought the sustainable techniques to life and I was able to better understand his methods. I'm glad I got to see a portion of his Dutch drone brood mite trapping method and he got me excited to try it myself. The discussion we had as a group about the importance of hygienic stock was a valuable dialog. I hope more beekeepers see the value in VSH, mite biters, and other mite-resistant honeybee stock as an asset to become sustainable and less dependent on non-local bees. Adrian strives to give information and confidence to the backyard beekeeper so he/she can breed their own locally adapted stock. I'm impressed with his efforts and look forward to learning more."
Here's a little photo story of the field trip.
All photos are credit to Terry McDaniel.
So much to watch and learn from our members.
A nice looking frame drone eggs.
A gadget to help block the winter wind over an entrance hole.
A three compartment queen motel.
Adrian sliced off the thick part of the capped honey to make it easier to work with.
Checking in on a three compartment queen motel.
He uses either feedbags or other very flexible plastics such as greenhouse material as an inner cover which stops the bees chewing on the styrofoam that he uses as an outer cover for the nucs year round."
Beautiful frame of brood and honey.
Left to right: Willie Gabbard, Mera Clarke, Michael Fry, Brandon Haskin, Gayle Dramon, Tom LaMay, and Adrian Quiney.
Photo story of June's observation with its members by Terry McDaniel.
Remember To Update Beehives on BeeCheck
If you move your hives to find new nectar sources or to provide pollination services, update your apiary locations on the BeeCheck/FieldWatch map so pesticide applicators can take precautions when spraying in these areas. Applicators can select your apiary’s pin on the map to obtain your contact information. They can then inform you of a planned pesticide spray, giving you time to screen, cover, or move your hives to prevent pesticide exposure.
If you move your hives, it is important to update their location on BeeCheck. It is best to update hive locations as soon as possible. As a guide, California requires beekeepers to update hive locations within 72 hours of moving hives.
BeeCheck is a free, voluntary online registry available for any size beekeeper, hobby or commercial.
Information about using BeeCheck is available on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website. A free app is available that allows apiary locations to be mapped in the field using your phone’s GPS.
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]