Thursday, January 8, 2015

Where I order my honeybees. . .

I finally found a great source for honeybees! After ordering honeybees from three different suppliers over a five year period, I discovered Steve Victors in Big Lake Alaska! The bees he gets from Sacramento, CA are wonderful. There are only a handful of dead bees when the packages arrive and the time they are actually in the boxes is minimal (no more than two to three days). My first supplier got out of the business due to allergic reactions. My second supplier kept getting bees with mites and my third supplier couldn't get the bees to Fairbanks without a quarter to a third of them dead. I have ordered bees from Steve for four seasons now and am very happy with the quality and health of his colonies. To order from Steve Victors, click on the following link:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Now registering for the March, 2015 Beekeeping Class!

Beekeeping Classes with Science-Based Art

Science-Based Art
Instructor: Dawn Cogan 

To register, email Dawn at

Cost: $150 per family

Sat. 3/14/15 1-5PM & 3/15/15 2-6PM (4 hrs. each day for a total of 8 hrs.) Monroe Catholic School 

• What is beekeeping? How much honey will I get? How much will this all cost me?
• Equipment necessary to keep bees in Alaska
• Biology and races of honeybees
• Members of the hive and their duties
• Where can I get bee equipment? Should I get new, used or build my own?
• Getting equipment ready for arrival of bees.
• Insulation, feeding bees properly
• What to do when the bees arrive
• Is my queen marked? (queen marking tool)
• Management of honeybee colonies in Alaska, the beekeepers calendar
• Running 2-Queen Hives
• Swarming and how to prevent it
• Honeybee diseases
• Extracting your Alaska honey
• What to do at the end of the season/Wintering Over
• Storing your equipment
• Beeswax candle making

Saturday, September 20, 2014

End of the Season Tips

I haven't posted in a while because I've been busy with student teaching, extracting and bottling honey, not to mention going to the market the past few Saturdays. This was really a terrible year overall. It started out great but when the rain stayed most of the summer, on nice days, our bees foraged for miles to find all the pollen and nectar washed away. Next year has got to be better! For  rookie beekeepers, just count it a building year when your bees were bought to build comb for next years bees.

We got about 17 gallons (204 lbs.) of honey from 7 colonies. I was expecting about 70 gallons (870 lbs.)
If you are not wintering over your bees it is time to shop-vac them!

Killing Bees:
What I do, after all the sticky frames that I've extracted are "cleaned up" by my bees, is put water in my shop vac on a cold morning or evening. The cold keeps the bees from flying away from their cluster so it's easier to suck more of them into the vacuum in a shorter amount of time. If it's warm they will be flying all around and you won't get them all. This Sunday is the day I will do this dreadful deed and it puts a depressing spin on my day. For hives that are not close to power I just bring a small generator. After the bees are dead in the shop-vac, I dump them into my compost. If you don't clean them out of the shop vac the first night just cover the end of the vacuum hose with duct tape to ensure none fly back out.

Storing Your Equipment:
I store my equipment outside on top of a queen excluder to keep the mice from getting into my boxes and eating the comb. I also take the inner lid off the hive to keep other insects out of the hive.
Equipment that is stored inside has the potential to get mildew and mold. You can either clean up your hives now or wait until Jan. when its dark and cold and you need an indoor project. That's what we do. We put on some good tunes, drag the hives into the garage and clean everything up with our hive tools. We never use soap or cleaners of any kind. We just scrape off wax where it shouldn't exist.

Do you have questions? Email me any questions at

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Do you need an extractor brought up from the lower 48's???

Steve & Donna Victors are making a trip down to the states to pick up their new trailer. If anyone needs beekeeping supplies, contact them.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Honey Extractor For Rent

I have a much better extractor to rent out this year than last year!
Includes a hot knife, two decapping forks, and strainer.
Cost: $25 per day

You will need to have a food grade bucket to set the strainer on. A gated bucket is actually best and I won't be able to include that this year.

Happy Honey Harvesting!!

Robbing Hives for Honey

Any time now is a great time to rob frames that have both sides "capped" which looks like a thin layer of virgin wax (white) over the top of cells loaded with honey. What I do is check to make sure there is no eggs, larvae, or pupae in the cells and if not then I hold the frame over the open hie and use my bee brush to brush all the bees off of both sides of the frame. I walk about 10 yards away from my hive and place the frame inside a covered Rubbermaid tote. I take every frame that is "capped" and if I extract frames that are uncapped, my honey will crystallize much sooner than usual.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Queen Caging Success!

Yesterday was my queen-caging demonstration and it went very well. With the help of Jill and Carl Addington and Pat and Tom Lyngholm we caged one queen in a top bar hive and five queens in Langstroth hives. One of the Langstroth queens was unmarked because she appeared during a hive check about a month ago in the same hive as the original, marked queen. I separated the two queens with a queen excluder and made sure they each had plenty of space to lay eggs. It worked! Both queens were laying full frames of brood in the same hive separated by a queen excluder. The worker bees were working for both queens. I will wait 21 days until I harvest the last of our honey so that all the bees will have hatched out. This way, I won't have eggs and larva in my honey. If you aren't planning on wintering over your honeybees, I wouldn't wait any longer to cage my queens. The reason we keep them alive is so the workers won't try as hard to make another queen because the pheromones from their queen are still alive and well.