May 2023 Newsletter

President's Hive

After some welcome delays due to the wet weather out in California, packages have been arriving at vendors all over the state. Whether you are installing your very first or your 101st package, there is always some excitement about the potential you have right there in your hands! For everyone with overwintered colonies, we get to watch with anticipation as they grow ever larger, and decide if or when we will be splitting them. Despite all the cold and wet weather we have been having, swarm season will soon be upon us and with it, those routine checks for swarm cells in all of our hives. Many of you are signed up on our Swarm Chaser list and eagerly await a phone call from Bob Sitko letting you know about some nearby “Free Bees!”, if you aren’t signed up and are interested, check out the “Get Involved” tab on our website and find “Be a Swarm Chaser” on the menu to get signed up.Our upcoming May member meeting will be a bit different than the last couple months, we will be having no guest speaker and will be having a pizza party to celebrate splitting our hives instead. Following the hive demo, we will have pizza available right there at the bee lab. Please bring a chair or a blanket and enjoy our May splits pizza picnic!Every summer seems to fly by as we busy ourselves with our bees. We have some excellent speakers coming up in June and July. August will be our annual picnic just prior to the State Fair. It’s always nice to take a step back during the hustle and bustle and celebrate all the little things that we love about our shared hobby and how that brings us all together. As we are beckoned to begin bumping boxes brimming with buzzing bees, take a break to breathe before becoming baffled by a ballad of blatant buggy banter. ~ 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 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.

Quintin Holmberg


Better Beekeeping Through Education

Next Meeting
Pizza Party
Join us for our May pizza party!

Tuesday, May 9th, 7:00 PM

In-Person: Bee Lab @ 1634 Gortner Ave, St. Paul MN
(Masks Recommended)
No Zoom for this meeting

Hive Demo
Tuesday, May 9th, 5:45 PM
In-Person: Research Apiary
(Veils Required)

Click here for directions.

Upcoming Events

Join us for our May pizza party!
Garett Slater
Drones and their role within the hive
Jim Kloek

Learn about entering our fabulous honey into the State Fair!
6:00 - 9:00
Annual Picnic

April Meeting Follow-up

For those of you who are interested in more information about the topic of pollinators and pesticides, please visit the following websites:
U of M Krischik Pollinator Conservation
U of M Krischik Greenhouse, nursery, turf, landscape IPM

2023 Annual Picnic Save the Date!

Please mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 8, 2023, at 6:00 pm, for our MHBA Picnic at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. This is a great opportunity to socialize and network with other members. A training session for State Fair honey extraction volunteers will be at 7:00 pm. More information and details will be provided in future newsletters.

Hive Management

23 May Management

It is April 23 as I write. It is just above freezing and the snow has not all melted. I think this year the season is somewhat behind. Of course, I have had that thought before and somehow everything caught up. Same thing I wrote last year. I hope this is not the new normal.

Remember to make your management decisions based on what's going on with your bees and the weather and not the calendar. Let me start with packages. I think it is a blessing the packages came later this year. Remember,  if it is too cold to take frames out (should be >50°F or 10°C) and check your hives you still need to check to make sure they have syrup and pollen patty available to them. You can do this even if it is freezing since you only have to lift the cover quickly to add the food.

You should have brood emerging four weeks after hiving your packages. Up until then, you may notice your colony dwindle. That is normal because some older bees are dying that were in the package and there are no replacements yet from their current queen.

A week after hiving you want to verify that your queen is OK. Even if it is not 50°F or 10°C but is at least 40°F or 4°C you may have to risk taking out a frame. You will not have to see eggs. There should be older larvae, you can lift the frame and look quickly and put it back. If you wait 10 days you may see sealed brood which can be seen without removing the frame by looking down the space between the frames.

Check to see if they need more pollen substitute and keep the feeder filled and they will have a good supply of food. Even if they are bringing in pollen you need to have a pollen patty on unless they have a lot of stored pollen.

When inspecting the feeder pail be sure to smell it to make sure it is fresh. The one advantage of the cool weather is the syrup does not go bad as fast, but if it smells bad or is moldy clean the pail and replace the syrup.

When the first box is at least 80% full of bees, meaning that you see bees on eight of the ten frames, then add the second box. To do this, move a frame with nectar only, from the bottom box up to the center of the new box. This helps to draw the bees up into the second box. Evenly space out the nine remaining frames in the first box so bees don't build comb between the frames.

For wintered colonies; as soon as the weather warms up, nights consistently above 40°F or 4°C, you can do reversals, clean the bottom boards and reverse the entrance reducer. At that time, you can do a partial or modified reversal. Be sure not to separate the brood at this time.

For your review, I did an extensive description of the reversals in my management article in the May newsletter The most important thing is not to break up the brood nest.

The divide happens usually during the fruit tree bloom, typically May 15 in the twin city metro area. This year may be a little later but keep an eye on the environment. Dividing a colony happens when there are at least eight frames of brood. Find the queen or do the trick with a queen excluder so you know which box she is in. The trick is described in the Beekeeping in Northern Climates manual on page 57. ( divide should have four to five frames of brood and all of the nurse bees on those frames, plus a frame or two of nectar and pollen. The parent colony should be left with at least four frames of brood and the old queen. If you have more than eight frames of brood, leave the extra in the parent colony. Let the divide set for 12-24 hours so the old bees fly back to the parent colony before you install the new queen. Put a feeder with light syrup on the divide to help them accept the new queen more readily. Introduce the queen using the slow-release method. The queen should have come in a cage with queen candy, (not a marshmallow).

The queen in the parent colony is laying eggs so be sure the top box contains at least a couple of empty frames for her to lay eggs into. Also, be sure you have two honey supers on the parent colony after the divide to provide extra room for the old bees that are coming back to their original hive. If you plan to winter the parent colony, add a third deep instead of supers.

A quick reminder about leaving frames out of the box during inspections. It is convenient and safer for the bees if you leave a frame out of the box while you manipulate the remaining frames. The frame that is out can be set on the end with the frame rest (not the bottom of the frame) leaning against the hive, set in a frame holder, or put in an empty box.

It is best to take a frame of honey out instead of a frame of brood, especially larvae. Several things can injure or kill them. Sunlight in hot weather can overheat them and even melt the wax. The wind can desiccate (dry out) the larvae and kill them. Dropping or accidentally kicking a frame can smash the larvae and pupae and kill them. If you must keep a brood frame out, then keep it in the shade and protected from wind and feet.

When you are inspecting your bees be sure to check the brood carefully and look for signs of disease. For new beekeepers, look at the brood frames every time you inspect a hive. You do not have to look at every single frame, look at a couple so you know what healthy brood looks like. If you see something unusual it may be a disease you are not familiar with so it's important to ask for help.

Test wintered colonies for varroa mites with the powder sugar test. Treat SOON if you have more than one mite per hundred bees. Look at the label for the treatment you are using to know how far in advance you must treat before adding supers and temperature restrictions. Test for varroa again after treatment to be sure your treatment worked. For a poster on the powder sugar test for varroa go to You should continue to test monthlyBe aware that a higher percentage of mites may be in the brood in early spring.

Finally, I encourage you to take part in the BIP winter loss survey. I wish they would change the name because you should enter your information even if you did not have any losses. If only those that lose colonies report the data will be biased. Visit to enter your success/loss in the survey! From there you can also see the results of the survey.


Reproduction of all or part of this article without the author’s permission is prohibited. 


Wildflower and basswood raw unprocessed honey for sale in 3.5-gallon buckets.

For more information, please call 952-461-4728

"The Cavity Compromise"
by Adrian Quiney now available on Amazon, in person ($19), or by mail ($24) contact the author at [email protected]

Your Classified Here

Did you know your membership allows you to place classified ads in the MHBA Newsletter?

Click here for details.

The Bees Knees


Beekeeper Wanted - Scandia

I have been contacted by a property owner in Scandia that is offering up their property to host some hives in exchange for some honey. The property is approximately 120 acres of clover pasture with permanent water sources available in the form of several small ponds. If you are interested please reach out to me at [email protected] and I can get you in touch with the owners.

Simplkomb cassettes

State Fair Volunteers Needed

I know for most people the Minnesota State Fair seems a ways off still but, as the Superintendent of the Bee & Honey Exhibit I love to start lining up volunteers as early as possible. I have 3 unique volunteer opportunities, but I am also looking for additional judges for our Apicultural Artwork competitions as well as additional paid employees to work the exhibit hall during the fair (and before the fair during setup), if you are interested in judging or employment, please contact me at [email protected] for more info.

The first of the volunteer opportunities is on behalf of the MN State Fair, As an Interpretive Volunteer you will be seated prominently near an observation hive in the center of the exhibit, while fair goers bombard you with every single question under the sun! Don’t worry! There is a guard rail to protect you! Even if this is your first year keeping bees, we make sure you will have everything you need to be successful in this endeavor! The shifts are 3 hours long, but as anyone who has volunteered before can tell you, the time absolutely flies by. All volunteers get free admission to the fair on their volunteer day. A great way to not only spread the love of your hobby but save some money as well! Don’t hesitate to sign up early. The slots fill fast and you can always switch your dates and times around up until a few weeks prior to the fair. For more info on the Interpretive Volunteers follow this link:


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.


Online Resources

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.

More Announcements

Membership Renewal
There are three ways to renew your membership today!

  1. Renew your membership online with a credit card (preferred).
  2. Mail the membership renewal form to our treasurer at the address provided
  3. 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:

Newsletter Submissions
The MHBA newsletter welcomes articles, photos, recipes, etc. from members. Please send them to the editor:
[email protected]

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.

MHBA Board

Position Member
President Alex King
Vice President Kate Winsor
Secretary Kate Gardner
Treasurer Bill Thompson
Past President Susan Bornstein
Technology Committee Quintin Holmberg
Alex King
Gary Reuter
Membership Steve Buck
Newsletter Editor Quintin Holmberg
Stacy Anderson
Bob Hinschberger
Quintin Holmberg
Jonathan Kvasnik
Katie Lee, PhD. (appointed)
Terry McDaniel
Betty Mortensen
Christine Shoemaker
Gary Reuter
Sarah Staten
Karen Voy

Get Involved

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]