Friday, May 25, 2012

New Pollens Available!!!

Have you noticed?  Chokecherry trees are in full-blossom right now so our bees are in seventh heaven!!  They deffinitely no longer need sugar syrup.  If you have not pulled your feeder(s) then do so and replace them with a blank or drawn-out frame. You have probably noticed that with all the rain we've been having, we also have yellow and white pollen floating on top of puddles. The bees may have trouble harvesting pollen from blossoms since most of it has been washed away by the rain.  Surprisingly, though, they can still gather the pollen from puddles.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


For those of you who are interested in visiting my top bar hive.  I am changing the date to Sat. June 2nd at 1PM.  Please let me know if you are still interested in attending by emailing me at


When I checked four of my hives today, I found several swarm cells in each.  Between now and the end of June is a crucial time for destroying swarm cells.  Every ten to 12 days, I will go through my entire hive, one frame at a time, looking for swarm cells or the beginning of queen cells.  Remember, these cells will have the cell opening pointing downward.  When capped, these cells look similar to a small peanut hanging downward off the frame.  Most of the time, queen cells are at the bottom of frames however, they can also be found at the top or in the middle of a frame.  Doing regular hive checks through the month of June is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!! 

Feeding Your Bees is Over!!

Now that May is coming to an end, if you have fed your bees recently, there is no need to feed them any longer.  As soon as they finish what's left of the sugar water, remove the sugar feeder from your hive, clean it up and store it for fall or next spring.  Also, remove your inside insulated frames and replace them with new or drawn-out frames. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Flip Your Reducer!!

Finally, Jack Frost has been kicked out of town.  It appears we will have no more nights below freezing so go ahead and flip your entrance reducer, changing the entrance from .5 inches to two to three inches.  Also, watch for weeds or grass growing up in front of your entrance(s).  To make this a lot easier, you can put a piece of old carpet down on the ground in front of your hive(s) to keep the weeds and grass from growing as it can slow the efficiency of the bees getting in and out of the hive to forage.  Very soon we will be removing our sugar feeders and inside insulated follower boards.    Don't plant any starter plants in the ground until Memorial Day weekend, just in case Jack comes back!!  After soaking your seeds overnight, peas, carrots and beet seed can be planted anytime now.  It's time to get gardening so enjoy!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I will be hosting a free top bar field trip to my bee lot in Aurora Subdivision on Sat. May 26th at 1PM, weather permiting.  Any interested beekeepers may come (wearing a bee suit) to observe my top bar hive.  It's really fascinating and fun!!

Flip Your Entrance Reducer!!

O.K. Folks, I believe Jack Frost has finally begrudgingly left town.  You never know for sure though since a few years ago it snowed on June 1st.  Today I changed my entrance reducer to the two/three inch entrance.  This will allow the bees to come and go much faster and allow for better ventilation during the hottest part of the day.  Also, today I found one queen cell out of 4 hives so I made sure to find my queen and watch her for a few minutes to ensure she looked healthy, then I checked for new eggs and larva in full patterns.  Finally, I scraped the queen cell completely out of the wax comb.  It actually had a queen larva in it so it would have hatched out in about two weeks which would have been horrible since I would have lost about half my colony.  Start looking over each frame carefully for queen cells.  After you have ensured you aren't in need of a new queen, get rid of any queen cells.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Today I did hive checks, discovering all of my queens are very fertile and workers are very happy despite all the cold weather.  Almost every single frame is drawn out to the maximum.  Since I added additional boxes to the bottom of the hives a couple weeks ago, I'm not worried about the queen running out of cells to lay in.  If you have drawn-out comb and have not added another brood box, you should!!  I fed my bees what I think will be their final sugar water today with some Honeybee Healthy (essential oils).  It's always nice to finish the feeding frenzy as it's a lot less work when all you have to do is hive checks every 10-12 days.  I expect our weather will get warmer soon.  Would anyone like to visit my top bar hive to see how it works?  I would like to do it the last week of May.  Any takers? 

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Now is the time to sign up for classes in the fall.  Classes are already filling up so if you would like to reserve your space, please contact me and pay a $50 deposit.  My email is
(All classes are $25 per class or $375per semester)


It's 1030AM on Sat. 5/5/12 and it's almost 50* in the shade in downtown, Fairbanks.  Today will be a great day to do a queen check and fill your sugar feeder(s).  If you do not see eggs and larva, you may need a new queen.  There should be all four stages: Adult, Pupa, Larva and Eggs in the cells.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Now is the time when we start checking for "bee space" so pay attention to how many frames have empty cells for the queen to lay in.  If you have less than four frames with empty cells, then you need to add another brood box BENEATH the current box!!  The new box should have insulated follower boards on the inside and the bubble wrap on the outside.  Keep the sugar feeder in the top box for easy access and filling.  REMEMBER, the box may be very heavy so be careful with your back and lift properly!!  I am limping around because my boxes were really heavy when I added the extra box a week ago.  Do not check your bees unless it is 50* or warmer.  If you fed your bees well in April then they should have plenty of sugar water stored in the cells to make it through this cold snap!  Before long, we will see dandelions and when there's a plentiful supply of those then pull the sugar feeder completely. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ants in your pants?

One student emailed about finding ants in his hive already.  This problem can be solved simply by getting a kiddy pool, filling it up with water and putting foundation blocks in the center of it.  Then set the hive up on the foundation blocks (facing South, of coarse).  The ants will drown in your new moat and if you float twigs, moss or wood in the moat, your bees won't drown and besides, now they have their water source closer than ever!! 

Bitter Cold & Bees. . .

Spring has not completely sprung and Jack Frost is giving us all one last blow before he heads out of town.  I have received some calls with concerns regarding the bees making it through this cold snap. If your hive is properly insulated with follower boards on the inside and hard foam or bubble wrap foam on the outside, your bees should be fine.  Other suggestions are that if you put a blanket over the hive, don't cover the entrances and don't forget to remove the blanket when it warms up during the day.  Bees generate plenty of their own heat.  Also, don't open the hive when it is less than 50* because the brood can get too cold and die off. Remember, the best time to check your hive, in my opinion, is every 10-12 days around the middle of the day.  Another reminder. . . if you are checking the weather and you see a cold snap on its way, throw a piece of pollen patty on top of the frames to give the bees some food while they cannot leave the hive.  Sometimes a cold snap can last a week or so.  A pollen patty ensures the queen will keep laying while the workers are sitting out the storm.  This year the bees have been storing a lot of sugar water so If you've been good about giving your bees sugar water, they will have plenty until our weather warms up again.