May 2024 Newsletter

President’s Hive

Last month, I posted some interesting facts about honey bees. Here are some amazing facts about bee anatomy:

  1. Honey bees have 170 odorant receptors and have a sense of smell 50 times more powerful than a dog.
  2. Honey bees’ antennae have more than 300 taste receptors.
  3. Honey bee brains are about the size of a sesame seed.
  4. Honey bees cannot see red light but can see ultraviolet light. This enables them to see intricate ultraviolet light patterns on flower petals that humans cannot see!
  5. Bees have 2 stomachs – one for eating, and one for storing nectar and processing it into honey.

Here are some important things to know for this month:

May Member Meeting - May Splits (Divides) and Pizza Party

ATTENTION! This month, our member meeting looks very different. There will be NO MEETING in Borlaug Hall. Instead, we will meet at the Bee Lab. Beginning at 5:45 PM at the Bee Lab, we will be learning how to split our overwintered hives and then have a pizza party, starting around 7:00 PM. So that we know approximately how much pizza to order, please RSVP HERE. Directions to the Bee Lab can be found elsewhere in this newsletter. 

Save the Date - August Picnic
The annual picnic is scheduled for Tuesday, August 13th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

World Bee Day
World Bee Day is celebrated on May 20. On this day Anton Janša, the pioneer of beekeeping, was born in 1734. The purpose of the international day is to acknowledge the role of bees and other pollinators for the ecosystem. For more information visit

Members Only Facebook Page
All members are invited to join our private Facebook page. There are a few steps that you need to take in order to join. The page is a welcoming space for questions and sharing.

Library Materials
Don’t forget to return your borrowed materials from our library!

Kate Winsor
MHBA President

World Bee Day is celebrated on May 20th.

Better Beekeeping Through Education

Next Meeting

May Splits Demo and Pizza Party
Tuesday, May 14th, 2024
Bee Lab Apiary

Hive Demo - 5:45 PM

Pizza Party - 7 PM
Please bring a water bottle or cup for lemonade and a lawn chair
There is no Zoom this month
Click here for directions.

Upcoming Events

May Splits Demo and Pizza Party

Dr. Katie Lee
New Beekeeping in Northern Climates guidebook

Quintin Holmberg
Winter Prep Pattern


Annual Picnic

May 2024 Management

May is a very exciting time for beekeepers. Packages are going well, nucs are arriving and wintered colonies are ready to divide. 

Starting with packages. Packages are probably still in one deep. If is has been a month since you hived your package you should see brood emerging and the queen will lay in the newly emptied cells. The colony population should start to grow. 

Once you have verified that the queen is laying you really don’t have to disturb the colony. Check to see if they need more pollen substitute and keep the feeder filled and they will be fine. Even if they are bringing in pollen you should have a pollen patty on unless they have a lot of stored pollen. 

When checking the feeder be sure to smell it to make sure it is OK. 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% being used (you see bees on 8 of the 11 seams between the frames) add a second box. Move a frame (with nectar but no brood) from the bottom box to the center of the new box to draw the bees up. Evenly space out the 9 remaining frames in the first box. 

For your 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 to not separate the brood. 

In the May 2020 newsletter, I did an extensive description of the reversals. If you need a refresher, go to the website, and look up 2020 May newsletter for the Management. It is most important not to break up the brood nest.

The divide is usually at the time of fruit tree bloom (typically May 15 in the MN Ttwin city metro area). Remember we do the divide if we have at least 8 frames of brood. Find the queen or do the trick with queen excluder so you know which box she is in. The trick is described in the Beekeeping in Northern Climates Third Edition manual (page 91). ( divide should have 4-5 frames of brood and all of the bees on those frames plus a frame or 2 of nectar and pollen also with the bees. The parent colony should be left with at least 4 frames of brood and the old queen. If you have more than 8 frames of brood, leave the extra in the parent colony. Let the divide set for 12-24 hours so the old bees will fly back to the parent colony before you install the new queen. Have a feeder with light (1:1) sugar syrup on the divide to help them accept the new queen more readily. Introduce your queen using the slow-release method. The queen should have come in a cage with queen candy (not a marshmallow). 5-7 days later check to be sure the queen was released from the cage. Check to see if she is laying. Remove the feeder and add a second deep box. Move a frame up like you did with the package. In this case move a frame down to replace the one removed so you still have 9 frames in that box. 

The parent colony has a queen that is laying so be sure the top box (of two boxes) contains at least a couple empty frames for her to lay eggs into. Also be sure you put two honey supers on the parent colony after you make the divide to provide extra room for all those old bees that are coming back. If you plan to winter the parent colony add a 3rd deep instead of the supers. 

A quick reminder about leaving frames out of the box. It is convenient for you 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 (not bottom) leaning against the hive or set in a frame holder or put in an empty box. It is best to leaved out a frame of honey but if it is a frame with brood (especially larvae) be aware of things that will injure or kill it. First is sunlight which in hot weather can overheat it and even melt the wax. Second is the wind which can desiccate (dry out) the larvae and kill it. Third is kicking it, that will smash the larvae and pupae and kill it. So, refrain from keeping a brood frame out of the hive, if you must keep a brood frame out then keep it in the shade and protected from wind and feet. 

When you are visiting your bees be sure to check the brood carefully and look for signs of disease. For new beekeepers, be sure to look at brood every time you go in the hive. You do not have to look at every frame but look at least a couple frames of brood. This gets you used to looking at healthy brood. If you see something different you may not know what the disease is if you get one but, you should know that it is not healthy and get help. 

You should also test wintered colonies for varroa mites with the powder sugar test. Treat SOON if you have more than 3 mites per hundred bees. Be sure to look at the label for the treatment you are using so you know how far in advance you must treat before adding supers and temperature concerns. 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 than normal may be in the brood in early spring. 

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


5 frame nucs - $170
Carniolan and Italian
Healthy strong varroa treated bees! Pick up around mid May in Prior lake.
     952 212 6853, Viktor

3 wood nuc hives for sale
Michael Palmer style, one new, 2 very lightly. 10-frame, medium boxes, 4 levels high.  $75 each
Twin Cities, 816-645-4421

Pro-sweet liquid feed $85/5-gallon pail
Max,  (626) 629-8483 [email protected].
Pick up in St Louis Park, or can deliver in the twin cities area for $5 more.

Your Classified Here

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

Click here for details.


A thank you note from Dr. Marla Spivak


The 2023-2024 U.S. Beekeeping Survey is Live!

From the ABJ ...

Spring has sprung in most parts of the country, which means it’s time to take the pulse of the beekeeping industry by recording managed honey bee colony losses and beekeeping practices across the United States. Results of colony loss and management surveys are important in many ways, from helping to raise awareness and resources for beekeeping, to setting research directions within our great network of land-grant universities.

Because the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) is no longer administering an annual survey, Auburn University, in partnership with the Apiary Inspectors of America, has created a survey that continues long-term monitoring of key aspects of the U.S. beekeeping industry by complementing BIP’s efforts over the past 15+ years.

Please contribute as a Citizen Scientist to this monitoring effort before midnight on May 31. All U.S. beekeepers aged 18 and over — from backyard hobbyists to those running multi-state commercial operations — are invited to participate. The survey will take 15-30 minutes to complete.


2024 Annual Picnic Save the Date!

Please mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 13, 2024, 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.

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 Kate Winsor
Vice President Bill Thompson
Secretary Michelle Maas
Treasurer Bob Hinschberger
Peg DeSanto
Willie Gabbard
Quintin Holmberg
Charlie Kundinger
Katie Lee, PhD. (appointed)
Karen Voy
Betty Mortensen
Liz Pepin
Noel Pollen
Gary Reuter
Christine Shoemaker
Membership Steve Buck
Newsletter Editor Quintin Holmberg
Technology Committee Quintin Holmberg
Gary Reuter
Librarian Gail Dramen
Outreach Susan Bornstein
Ask Buzz JoAnne Sabin
Swarm Chasers Bob Sitko
Hospitality Mark & Cathy Lee
Banquet Jessica Minser

Get Involved

Make 2024 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]