March 2023 Newsletter
Thank you to everyone that spent your Valentine’s day and turned up in person at our new venue or online to hear from Ian Steppler. A perspective from the commercial side of the industry is always interesting to hear. I’m sure more than a few of us cringed at the thoughts of pinching a queen, but there were certainly many other take-aways from his talk. Many members of the club are advocates for the use of Nucs in the bee yard and Ian’s presentation made that easy to see why, it provides a low cost sustainable way to keep your bees going year after year. If you want to see more about Ian Steppler’s Beekeeping operation, check him out Youtube @aCanadianBeekeepersBlog https://www.youtube.com/@aCanadianBeekeepersBlog
Coming up this month we have Dr. Marla Spivak from right here at the U of M. She will be telling us all about how the U breeds bees for increased resistance to Varroa mites. It’s an absolutely fascinating topic and is one of many avenues that researchers are taking to combat this insidious pest. Please join us on March 14 at 7pm in Room 335 in Borlaug Hall, our new venue. We hold the doors until 7pm, but we will put a sign up with a number you can text if you are running late. Of course I always encourage everyone to arrive 15 minutes early to spend even more time socializing with other local beekeepers!
Mother nature has been teasing us with bits of warm weather here and there. I know that first bit of sun makes me start wanting to plant my garden EVEN with several feet of snow on the ground. While that doesn’t typically work out so well, we can use this time to plan and get ready so we can make the most of what we never seem to have enough of, free time on nice days!
The MN Board of Water and Soil Resources has a great website with tons of information about pollinator plantings to help not only your honeybees, but all pollinators in your neighborhood https://bwsr.state.mn.us/l2l . They also provide links to the Lawns to Legumes program which offers grants to help offset the cost of upgrading your yard. While the spring grants are already awarded for the year, you can still enter to be selected for a fall grant or future years as well. It is a great program to look into.
If you used the couple bits of warm weather we had to take a peek at your bees, you may have found them to be doing well, or, in some cases, not so well. If you lost a hive, have a hive that looks on its last legs, or possibly want to expand your apiary, now is the time to get bees on order! They will start arriving at most suppliers in early April. We have a number of great local businesses that sell both packages and nucs and choose to support our organization by advertising in our newsletter. So check out their ads farther along and don’t hesitate to support them!
May your March dreams be of bountiful buzzing bees bouncing between beautiful blooms!
~ 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 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
New Ideas and Progress on Breeding Honey Bees for Resistance to Varroa
Join us for our May pizza party!
Drones and their role within the hive
Learn about entering our fabulous honey into the State Fair!
March 23 Management
As I write this (February 23) there is a winter storm in progress with temperatures in the teens and snow falling and blowing and drifting. But I feel confident the bees are doing well.
I am confident that spring will arrive and allow us to go out and check on the bees. It is important to the bees that we be patient and not even open the cover until it is above freezing.
The first inspection is just to see if the bees are alive and provide them with a pollen patty. It is safe to open the lid above 32ºF (0ºC). Look in quickly and put in a pollen patty. Give them a 4 - 8 oz. pollen patty. When you put the pollen patty in, slide it in from the side until it is against the cluster. If the cluster is not above the top frames, then put the pollen patty between the two top boxes next to the cluster. The pollen patty must be in contact with the cluster for them to be able to use it. Do not take out or disturb the frames. I do not feel comfortable removing frames until the temp is up to 50ºF (10ºC).
Check honey stores. If you left the bees enough honey last fall, they will be ok. If they have 2 full frames (or 4 half full frames) they should be fine. Just because the bees are in the top box does not mean they are out of honey. By looking down between the frames you should be able to see if the frames have honey in them (see page 44 in Beekeeping in Northern Climates second edition).
If the colony is starving (not enough honey to last until your next inspection), then you have to feed them even though it is not ideal. The best feed at this time of year is frames of honey. If you had a colony that died with honey left, you can use it after you verify the colony did not die from the bacterial disease American foulbrood (AFB). Add any honey frames to the edge of the cluster. Do not put a cold frame of honey into the cluster of bees. You do not want to separate any of the brood this time of year and putting a cold frame of honey in the cluster takes a lot of heat from them. If I must feed honey, I like to add a box with honey to the top so the bees can move up naturally.
If you do not have any frames of honey, put dry sugar between the inner cover and the moisture board or a candy patty on top of the frames. You can also feed 2:1 heavy syrup in a gravity feed pail on top of the inner cover. The bees will not be able to access syrup in other types of feeders. Remember to only add sugar to the colony if absolutely necessary. Incoming sucrose can trigger the bees to start raising brood early. The bees need to keep the cluster warmer when brood is present using more honey. They also have less space to store honey inside the cluster and will not leave the brood to move to more honey. So, feeding sugar is bad for them if they do not need it.
A couple weeks after your first inspection, go back and do the same thing again. Check the feed and give more pollen substitute if the bees ate most of the first one. If the first one is still there but moldy, remove it and give them a fresh piece.
If they are dead, close up the boxes so mice and/or bees cannot get in. Of course, you do not want the mice to go in and destroy combs. You also do not want other bees robbing any honey when they start flying. If the colony died from a disease such as AFB, robbing bees can pick up disease spores with the honey and bring the disease back to their hive. Once you know the colony did not die from AFB, you can use the equipment and honey for a new package or divide. You can also use the honey to feed a live colony that made it through winter without enough food reserves.
Clean out any dead out equipment before it starts to thaw. The longer you wait, the more unpleasant it will be. When cleaning out dead bees, just brush away any bees between the frames. Do not try to get dead bees out of the cells. You will do more damage than good. Replace any frames that look bad (see page 53 in Beekeeping in Northern Climates second edition for the “ick” test). Try to replace frames every 3-5 years.
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]
USED EQUIPMENT FOR SALE
100 Illinois honey supers with 9 drawn out frames. Good condition.
For more information call 952-461-4728.
University of Minnesota Bee Squad Programs for 2023
Bee Squad Mentoring Apiary
Whether you are a new beekeeper starting out with your first package, or an experienced beekeeper planning to expand your apiary, each year of beekeeping holds new challenges. Stay up to date with recommendations on seasonal management with expert beekeepers from the University of MN Bee Squad. We offer a wide variety of in-person apiary workshops, as well as online classes.
Mentoring Apiary website: z.umn.edu/MentoringApiary2023
Registration for In-Person Mentoring Apiary classes: z.umn.edu/ApiaryWorkshops2023
Online Mentoring Apiary classes: z.umn.edu/OnlineMA2023
New for 2023: Beekeeping in Northern Climates Workbook and Mentoring Program
Beekeeping in Northern Climates Workbook
In collaboration with Minnesota beekeepers, the Bee Squad is developing new tools for hobby beekeepers to support their beekeeping journeys. We need beekeepers to test out these new tools and give us feedback on what helped them and what needs improvement!
The Beekeeping in Northern Climates Workbook is an in-apiary companion to the Beekeeping in Northern Climates (BINC) Manual (free download for the manual: beelab.umn.edu/manuals). The workbook is intended to support new-ish and intermediate hobby beekeepers. While the manual provides in-depth information and how-to about beekeeping through the season, the workbook provides important reminders and space for guided note taking.
Virtual Mentoring Program
Mentees in the virtual program will receive a printed copy of the BINC Workbook. As mentees manage their hives throughout the season, they will send copies of completed workbook pages for Bee Squad mentors to review. Mentees will correspond via email and monthly live Zoom sessions (April - November) with Bee Squad mentors to get seasonal management updates and answers to their beekeeping questions. Cost $75
Hybrid Mentoring Program
In addition to using the BINC Workbook and virtual mentoring tools, mentees in the hybrid program will work one-on-one with a Bee Squad Mentor and schedule four in-person home visits at their own apiary (April - October). Bee Squad mentors will provide guidance on beekeeping techniques, demonstrate hive health tools, and assist with mite management plans. Mentees in the hybrid program are expected to manage their hives independently between mentoring visits and use the BINC Workbook for note taking. This program is only available to beekeepers in the Twin Cities Metro area. Cost $500
Youth Scholarship Program
The Youth Scholarship program was started in 2007 and, including this year, we have had 64 youths that have started beekeeping. In this program we provide the bees, equipment, UofM class, and a mentor.
This year we have 5 Youth Scholarship recipients. They are Elias Kimbell, Cyprian Meyer, Kelly Gallagher, Finley Anderson Newton and Maya Garcia
The MHBA budget provides funds for 2 scholarships each year. Through the generous donations of the following, we can have more. Those making donations are Miller Manufacturing (Little Giant), Natures Nectar, University of Minnesota, Mann Lake, Gary Reuter. Thanks to those that have donated.
We are looking for mentors for the youth in the following areas; Mahtomedi, West St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Minneapolis (south) and Little Canada. If you are interested, please go on MNBeekeepers.com and go to “Get Involved” and fill out the form. If you have questions email [email protected].
The Power of Networking
On a Myers & Briggs scale, I'm an INTJ. What's that you say? Well, that is an introvert to the degree that not only will I actively avoid group social interaction, I feel zero remorse in doing so. Please do not take offense. It's not personal. Groups of people do not charge me like it does 70% of the population. Quite the opposite, actually.
Why am I telling you this? Over the last couple of decades, I've come to learn the power of networking. One of the earliest examples of this education is this club we all belong to. Had I not gotten over my INTJ inclinations and gone to meetings, I would have never met Bill Myers who was my first mentor and helped me get my first packages up and going in that first, very cold spring. Nor would I have learned so much from Adrian Quiney and Yuuki Metread. While they are always willing to answer anyone's questions, only through the face-to-face contact we had at meetings did I get to know them well enough to form a more professional relationship. Last to mention is Betty & Warren Mortensen whom I sat around with at one of the social events that were put on prior to the pandemic. I have no doubt Betty was key in getting my name added to the list of candidates for Board Director.
I'm sure you know where this is going by now. Zoom. I love Zoom (what INTJ would not). I also hate Zoom. If everything was Zoom when I started in this hobby, I would not be the beekeeper I am today because I would not have the network I have today. I suspect I would not be a beekeeper at all.
So, recently I've made the commitment to attend the meetings whenever I can (sometimes I have to travel so I can't - I love Zoom). If this INTJ can do it, so can most of you. Give it some thought.
Listen to the bees and let them guide you.
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]