Saturday, December 14, 2013

Beginning/Intermediate Beekeeping Class will take place in February!

The beekeeping season actually starts in January when we clean up our equipment and prepare it for  spring. Honeybees arrive anytime from the first week to the last week of April. This year, I will be teaching only one class in February. This class is 8 hours split between two Saturdays - 2/15/14 and 2/22/14 from 1-5PM both Saturdays. The cost is $150.00 per family. Location: Monroe Catholic School Multi-Purpose Room. To reserve space in this class, please email me at

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Coming Soon!! Science-Based Art of Alaska, LLC Art Show

Come view some of Fairbanks' finest youth and children's art in a First Friday atmosphere!
December 20, 2013 from 7-9PM at First Presbyterian Church; 547 7th Avenue; Fairbanks, Alaska
Live music and refreshments are free to the public.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Spring 2014 Soar Through the Solar System

Soar Through the Solar System - Taught At Eielson AFB on Thursdays from 2:30 - 4:30PM and on Fridays, 2:30-4:30 PM in Fairbanks
For more specific directions, please email Dawn Cogan at

About Our Teachers

Instructors: Mrs. Cogan & Mrs. Ekblad

This class begins on Jan. 9th at Eielson AFB and Jan. 10th in Fairbanks

For the location, please email us.

Students will learn about our incredible solar system. Every lesson includes a science experiment as well as fine art which is displayed in a student-designed and published book.

Eielson Lesson 1: 1/9/14
FBKS Lesson 1: 1/10/14
Science - Astronomy Discussion & Introduction
Art - Tissue Paper Stained Glass

Eielson Lesson 2: 1/16/14
Lesson 2: 1/17/14
Science - Our Sun Discussion: Make a Solar Eclipse
Art - Design the Sun with Oil Pastels

Lesson 3: 1/23/14
Lesson 3: 1/24/14
Science - Mercury Activity: Craters
Art - Charcoal Rendering of Mercury

Lesson 4:  1/30/14
Lesson 4:  1/31/14
Science - Venus: How Are Radars Used to Study the Planets?
Art - Marbled Tempera paint of Venus

Lesson 5: 2/6/14
Lesson 5: 2/7/14
Science - Earth: Make a Hot Air Balloon & Set it Off!
Art - Pointillism

Lesson 6: 2/13/14
Lesson 6: 2/14/14
Science - Moon Discussion on Gravity & Phases
Art - Batik of the Moon

Lesson 7: 2/20/14
Lesson 7: 2/21/14
Science - Mars - Sculpt a Volcano and Make it Erupt!
Art - Modge-Podge Collage

Lesson 8:  2/27/14
Lesson 8:  2/28/14
Science - Space Rocks
Art - Pastel Chalk

Lesson 9: 3/6/14
Lesson 9: 3/7/14
Science - Jupiter Project: Make a Hurricane Tube!
Art - Water Color

Lesson 10: 3/13/14
Lesson 10: 3/14/14
Science - Saturn Project: Venn Diagram Comparing Jupiter & Saturn/Density Experiment
Art - Color Pencil

Lesson 11: 3/27/14
Lesson 11: 3/28/14
Science - Uranus Experiment: Make Clouds
Art - Pastel Chalk

Lesson 12: 4/3/14
Lesson 12: 4/4/14
Science - Neptune Discussion: Rotation & Revolution
Art - Water Color Salt Weave

Lesson 13: 4/10/14
Lesson 13: 4/11/14
Science - Pluto & the Kuiper Belt - Class Debate & Make Ice Cream!
Art - Collage

Lesson 14: 4/17/14
Lesson 14: 4/18/14
Science& Art - Make Solar System Book Binding in Class & Begin Publishing Book

Lesson 15: 4/24/14
Lesson 15: 4/25/14
Science& Art -  Complete Publishing Solar System Book

Friday, October 25, 2013

Russian through Art and Stories
Make beautiful art as you learn the language "hands-on" style!
  • easily learn many Russian words
  • learn to read this beautiful language
  • debunk the "Russian is soooo hard" myth
  • hear some truly remarkable Russian stories & geography facts
Ages 2 - 202  :)
Classes once a week
Come to just one or come to all!

WHEN: Thursdays, October 24th, 1 - 2:30

WHERE: Fairhill Community Church, 101 City Lights Blvd (thank you, Tammy and folks at Fairhill!)

We ask the parents to stay and take part in - at least - the first class, please.

You don't have to RSVP, we would rather you come and not call then call and not come :)
It is nice to be able to somewhat know how many people you are about to work with though,
so if you can please either call 374-7015 or e-mail

Cost: $5 per student suggested donation, or $10 for a family.
This is a not-for-profit event; all funds go to support our community.
Our first mission is the purchase of Russian children's books for the Noel Wien Public Library!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall Garden Workshop

Ladies and Gentlemen, at long last the Fall Garden workshop!  This Saturday, Oct 26th, from 10-1 at the University Community Presbyterian Church,  3510 College Rd.  Doors open at 9 for registration and light refreshments.  


Pass this along, and come join us!  It's still Fall after all!!!!


Fall Garden Workshop

Saturday, Oct 26, 2013

10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Doors open at 9 am for registration and refreshments


$25 general admission

$10 for current MG members

 (cash or check only; membership forms will be available at the door)


10 am

Interior Fruit Trees and Shrubs – Steve Masterman

Steve sells grafted apple, plum, and pear trees, and is a local expert on 

planting and caring for fruit in Fairbanks


11 am

Intro to Hydroponics – Emily Reiter

Hands-on demonstration of an easy and inexpensive way to grow lettuces and herbs


12 pm

  Starting Perennials from Seed – Tracy Pulido

Tracy owns Chena Lakes Farm in North Pole, and sells hardy perennials 

here and at the Tanana Valley Farmers Market



Sponsored by: 


Master Gardeners of the Tanana Valley

PO Box 72248, Fairbanks, AK 99707-2248

Phone contact:  907-474-2422 or 907-378-0503


Registration at the Door (doors open at 9 am)

Hosted at University Community Presbyterian Church

--Downstairs in multipurpose room--

3510 College Road (across from Gulliver's and College Inn)  

Coffee, tea, and light refreshments provided 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Science-Based Art Classes for Spring, 2014

Classes being offered by Science-Based Art will be posted next week!  Mrs. Cogan will be teaching Creative Essay Writing, High School/Intermediate Art and several Soar Through The Solar System classes. Mrs. Ekblad will be teaching Primary Science and a new writing class.  Dates, times, and syllabi will be posted next week.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Another DOGGONE Art Contest!
Draw a picture of your favorite dog....a real dog, a dog you wish
you had or hope to have someday, a made-up dog...
Any child up to age 18/grade 12 residing in the FNSB.
Art submissions will be reviewed by the Northern Lights Academy Board of Directors and their
representatives. The top 5 in each age category will be displayed at Barnes and Noble on October 12. The Grand Champion for each category will be announced at 2 p.m., October 12, at Barnes and Noble.
All entries must be received by Northern Lights Academy no later than October 2, 2013. You can mail your entries to 181 Carlyle Way, Fairbanks, AK, 99709.
Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 421 Mehar Ave, Fairbanks, AK 99709
All artwork must be on plain white 8.5 x 11 paper. Any medium may be used, but artwork must be at and not 3-D. No framed or matted work will be considered. There are 4 categories: Preschool,
Kindergarten-3rd grade, 4th grade-8th grade, and 9th-12th grade.

The following information must be on the back of the artwork:
Name of artist
Mailing address of student
Grade School name or home school

Thursday, September 5, 2013

If you are not trying to winter-over your honeybees. . .

So now comes the dreadful deed of shop-vacuuming your bees if you don't plan to winter-over.  I put a couple to a few gallons of water in my shop vacuum and take it out next to my hives early in the morning or later evening bec. that's the time when all the bees are at home.  I suck as many bees into the shop vacuum as possible and remove all the hive pieces from the location.  They will be stored for winter.  See the next post for winter storage strategy!  I estimate it takes about 45 min. to shop vacuum one colony.  When I'm finished, I take the lid off the vacuum and stir the honeybee smoothie with a stick to ensure all the bees are dead.  Then I dump them into my compost as they make excellent vermiculite!  WHY DO I KILL MY BEES?  Because I have seen many colonies suffer through 5-6 months of winter without being able to go to the bathroom (Rememer, they need +50* or warmer to fly in order to go poop)  They tend to be weak and sick and even dead anyway by spring.  The Interior of Alaska is a harsh place for honeybees in the winter months.  Some have had success, however. If you have questions about wintering over your bees, you can contact Steve Victors of Wildflower Honey or Steve Petersen of Toklat Apiaries.

Storing Your Equipment for Winter

So, the very best way to store your equipment for winter that I know of is by placing a queen excluder right on top of your bottom board and stacking all your boxes (broods & supers) on top of each other.  Either take the inner cover off or staple screen over the entrance.  Staple screen over the bottom entrance as well.  This set-up will prevent rodents and other insects from entering the hive and destroying all the wax honeycomb that you will need for next season.  To secure the hive you could ratchet strap all the boxes together.  Store this stack outside as the frames could develop mold and/or mildew if you don't.  You can recycle the screen from the box your bees traveled to Alaska in. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

If You Had a Tough or Unsuccessful Season

If you didn't have a good season with your honeybees below are some suggestions.

-Order your bees to arrive later in April
-Be sure your hives are well insulated before hiving your bees
-Order and maintain two or more colonies as your chances of having one of them produce are better
-Be sure your sugar to water ratio is at least 1:1 in the spring
-Don't let your bees go without a water source nearby
-Don't spray chemicals or insecticides near your colonies
- Make sure your queen(s) are strong and their patterns are full (not "spotty") early in the season so if you need to re-queen your hive can still succeed.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

It's Time to Get Your Honey!

Don't leave your honey in your hives any longer unless you want your bees to eat it all! 
We had a hard frost last night so at dusk, I was harvesting everything I could out of my garden.  I harvested all my sweet corn, too!  The lettuce and spinach got covered up with blankets. 
Fall is officially here and Jack Frost is back in town :(.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Amazing Year for Some First-Time Beekeepers!!

Some first-time as well as experienced beekeepers had trouble keeping their bees from freezing to death in April and May.  Others had trouble keeping their bees from swarming in June and July.  Many of my first year students have done exceptional.  Ann Johnson, Pam Nelson, Melissa Shippey, and Will and Jeremy were some of the students who had great queens, fantastic locations, and what I call a "Bee Thumb". . . Ann showed up to my queen caging demo and I found out that she was put on Earth to cage queens!!  She spotted an unmarked Italian queen in my Carniolan hive.  Then she went on to help another new beekeeper cage her queen.  Jeremy and Will have a great location along the Noyes Slough which I was impressed with.  Their bees are on top of a south-facing dirt mound where they come and go with out disturbing anyone in their yard.  Pam Nelson's queen is one I would winter over if I had the proper facilities.  She is checking into sending her bees south to have them wintered. 
Melissa Shippey's bees are near the Botanical Gardens.  They were simply, OVER THE TOP with honey.  Congratulations to all of you who've had such a successful year!!!!! 

Fall Beekeeping Tips

Wintering Bees: If you want to winter over your bees, you can contact either Steve Victors (907)892-6175 or Steve Petersen (907)457-2440.

Robbing Honey: To rob your honey, get a large Rubbermaid tote with a lid (no holes).  Set the tote several to many yards away from your hive(s).  Take one frame at a time and tap it to knock off the majority of the bees.  Then brush the remaining bees off the frame as you are walking away from the hive.  Try to get all the honey frames into the tote with very little to no bees.  Store the tote in cool, dry place.  If you can't extract right away, crack the lid on the tote to keep the honey from fermenting.  Only do this if the bees can't get to the honey.  (i.e. a basement or a garage)

Reduce Your Entrance:  If your hive is nearby, you can put your entrance reducer in at night and take it back out in the AM if it's warm enough.

Extracting Honey: I do have a manual, two-frame extractor I'm renting out for $25 per day.  It comes with a strainer, hot knife, and several scrapers.  To reserve it, just email me at


Buying wax

Science-Based Art is  buying wax for $8 per lb. so if you don't want to deal with processing your wax, let us know!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


We have freshly extracted honey for sale.  We will be at the Farmer's Market today and Saturday and the Downtown Market on Monday afternoon/evening.  If you want to purchase it directly from us, just email us at  The price is $16 per pound and we have various size bottles.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Science-Based Art Classes Begin the Last Week of August!

Read, Write, Publish! (3 spaces left) Mondays 9:30-11:30AM
Soar Through the Solar System (Full) Tuesdays 12-2PM 
Primary Science (Full) Tuesdays 2:30 - 4:30PM
Primary Science (Full) Wednesdays 9:30 - 11:30PM
Creative/Essay Writing (Full) Wednesdays 12-2PM
Intermediate/High School Art (2 spaces left) Fridays 10:30AM-1:30PM
Marine Marvels (Full) Fridays 2-4PM

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Queen Caging Difficulties & Robbing Honey

All of my queens are now caged unless one of them has a distant relative by the name of "Houdini" as I have had atleast one of these in the past.  Two beekeepers have reported their queen flying off when they tried to cage her.  One reported the next day they went back into the hive to find their queen.  So they successfully captured her in her queen cage.  So if your queen flies away, just put everything back together and try again the next day.  Unless she gets eaten by a bird, chances are pretty good she'll find her way back into the hive.  Queens rarely abandon their young!!  One of my queens was unmarked and I thank Ann Johnson for helping me find her.  This particular queen was an Italian that swarmed into one of my queenless, Carniolan hives.  It was difficult to find her but she was on the last frame.  The queen caging demo went great today!  The honeyflow is over now and when it gets cold, the bees will begin eating the honey so start robbing your hives - taking one frame at a time and tapping the bees off, into the hive.  Carry the frame over to a Rubbermaid tote that is a good 20 to 30 feet away from the hive.  Brush any hitchhiking bees off the frames as you walk toward the tote.  Keep the tote covered with a lid and try to keep bees from entering the tote when you lift the lid to place the honey frames inside the tote. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Queen Caging Demonstration

Any of my beekeeping students over the past four years are invited to join me for a queen caging demonstration this Sunday, August 11th at 6PM, weather permitting.  The location is 1709 Carr Ave. in Aurora Subdivision (Across from the Tanana Valley State Fair Grounds).  Turn East on Carr Ave. - 3rd house on the right. (old, 2 story log house with a tan colored shop to the left of the house).

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Successful Colonies" and the Best Corks for Caging Queens, In My Opinion!

Hi Dawn,
Can I ask what you mean by a "successful colonies?" Does this refer to the amount of honey produced or did you actually have whole colonies that died? I have two hives (boxes) with 80% bare foundation frames when I started. I probably still have 8 sides (4 frames total) that are just barely drawn out, from the two boxes. Is this usual or does it indicate a poor producing colony? I have yet to put any super on because of this, and now think I might not need this. I am planning on caging my queen this weekend. Are you going to do any demo? What do you use for the cork - a cork or wax for the queen box? Or can I just do duct tape. Still need to read a bit as this seems so soon!

Hello Marin, I use a piece of wine cork.  I lay a cork down on a cutting board and slice it like a cucumber into about ½ inch width disks.  Then I cut the disks in half.  One of the halves should fit perfectly into the queen cage entrance (hole).  I consider “successful colonies” those that produce anywhere from 5 to 12 gallons of honey.  4 frames left to be drawn-out isn’t bad.  Do you have any honey?  What I would do is put the super boxes on anyway and when you have extracted all your honey, you will put the VERY STICKY FRAMES back into the hives.  Once the bees clean these frames up, they will consolidate all the honey into one smaller area and cap it.  After you rob the very last of the honey, you can feed the bees sugar water and they will draw-out any frames that are bare.  This should all be complete by October at the very latest so that you can wrap up the season by shop vacuuming the bees and storing your equipment in a dry, cold place for next year.  Please don’t hesitate to ask more questions.  Oh, and it will take 21 days before all the eggs and larva are hatched out so in 21 days, we will be into September when there is little to no food for the bees to forage. 

J Dawn


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Only 2 More Weeks Until Science-Based Art Classes Begin!

Read, Write, Publish! (3 spaces left) Mondays 9:30-11:30AM
Soar Through the Solar System (5 spaces left) Tuesdays 12-2PM 
Primary Science (2 spaces left) Tuesdays 2:30 - 4:30PM
Primary Science (Full) Wednesdays 9:30 - 11:30PM
Creative/Essay Writing (Full) Wednesdays 12-2PM
Literature-Based Art (5 spaces left) Thursdays 12PM - 2PM
Intermediate/High School Art (2 spaces left) Fridays 10:30AM-1:30PM

Marine Marvels (Full) Fridays 2-4PM

Monday, August 5, 2013

Honeyflow Suffering from Drought!

Today, I robbed the last of my seven hives.  Despite the beautiful weather, I was very disappointed to find several hives have not been very successful.  Pioneer beekeeper, Charles Gray, suggested this is because the flowers aren't producing as much nectar as usual without the rain they so desperately need.  I will be extracting honey for the next couple days!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Caging Queens

So the date I plan to cage my queens this season is around August 10th depending on the weather.  It looks like I will have four out of seven successful colonies this season.  How are your colonies doing? 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Now Enrolling Students (1st through 12th grades) in Science-Based Art Classes!

Read, Write, Publish! (3 spaces left) Mondays 9:30-11:30AM
Soar Through the Solar System (4 spaces left) Mondays 12-2PM
Human Body (5 spaces left) Tuesdays 12-2PM
Primary Science (Due to Popularity) (2 spaces left) Tuesdays 2:30 - 4:30PM
Primary Science (Full) Wednesdays 9:30 - 11:30PM
Creative/Essay Writing (2 spaces left) Wednesdays 12-2PM
Intermediate/High School Art (2 spaces left) Fridays 10:30AM-1:30PM
Marine Marvels (Full) Fridays 2-4PM
Literature-Based Art (5 spaces left) Thursdays 9:30-11:30AM

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It's Time To Add Honey Supers & Pulling Pollen Frames for Next Season!!

I am adding my supers without the queen excluder now! 
The pollen frames you pull shouldn't have any brood.  They can have some honey in the corners and some empty cells in the center.  If you don't have any frames like this yet, just wait until you do or till the end of the season.  They should be stored in the freezer to keep them from mold or mildew. 


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Labrador Retriever Takes Care of Bees in Beekeeper Suit

Thanks to Ginny Kinney for this Report!!

Bazz is a specially-trained beekeeper. Photo: Josh Kennett A Labrador Retriever named Bazz is assisting a beekeeper in South Australia keeping beehives and bees healthy. Josh Kennett keeps beekhives in Tintinara and wanted an effective way to control American foulbrood, a bee disease that destroys beehives if they are not quarantined. In the United States, apiary dogs successfully sniff out the disease. But Josh had an unusual challenge that his US counterparts do not. He had to figure out a way to protect Bazz from being stung, so he developed a unique suit for his dog. Josh explained to Australian Broadcasting Corporation, why in the US, such suits for their dogs are not necessary. "Their winters are far colder than ours, with snow over the top of beehives," he said. "We don't have that situation here in South Australia. So I've tried to develop a suit the dog can wear and hopefully avoid being stung." Josh said it was a long process to develop the suit, but he finally got a working prototype and has been getting Bazz used to wearing it. Josh said he's proven the concept and Bazz can find the infected hives wearing his protective, one-of-a-kind suit. Listen to Josh's interview with ABC Radio here (MP3 file).

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Queen Esther - The Queen of Hearts!

Last night I had the pleasure of working with the Fussell family out at Eielson Airforce Base.  Their queen, Esther, has managed to rub off a portion of her red dot in the shape of a heart.  I'm going to try to post the picture here on the blog for all to see.  It has been beautiful working with Tom, Anna, Ethan and Seth over the past year.  They took a summer, hands-on, honeybee lab with me last season, then the spring class this year.  Since they are military, they couldn't purchase a hive so they asked if they could rent one.  They have been meticulous at caring for their colony.  It has been great seeing how they faithfully homeschool their boys. Thank you, Anna, for sharing these photos!
Queen Esther - The Queen of Hearts!

Throwing My Bees a Pollen Patty!

I decided to throw my bees a half a pollen patty tomorrow morning as I want to give them a treat and ensure they have everything they need.  When we go on our annual fishing trip, we will throw them another half in-case it rains for more than a couple days at a time. 

Research Finds Insecticide Causes Changes in Honeybee Genes

New research by academics at The University of Nottingham (UK) has shown that exposure to a neonicotinoid insecticide causes changes to the genes of the honeybee.

The study, published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, supports the recent decision taken by the European Commission to temporarily ban three neonicotinoids amid concerns that they could be linked to bee deaths.

There is growing evidence connecting the decline in the honeybee population that pollinates one-third of the food that we eat, and insecticides, but this is the first comprehensive study to look at changes in the activity of honeybee genes linked to one of the recently banned neonicotinoids, imidacloprid.

The study, led by Dr Reinhard Stöger, associate professor in Epigenetics in the University’s School of Biosciences, was conducted under field realistic conditions and showed that a very low exposure of just two parts per billion has an impact on the activity of some of the honeybee genes.

The researchers identified that cells of honeybee larvae had to work harder and increase the activity of genes involved in breaking down toxins, most likely to cope with the insecticide. Genes involved in regulating energy to run cells were also affected. Such changes are known to reduce the lifespan of the most widely studied insect, the common fruit fly, and lower a larva’s probability of surviving to adulthood.

Dr Stöger said: “Although larvae can still grow and develop in the presence of imidacloprid, the stability of the developmental process appears to be compromised. Should the bees be exposed to additional stresses such as pests, disease and bad weather then it is likely to increase the rate of development failure.”

The study was funded by The Co-operative Group, as part of its Plan Bee campaign.

Chris Shearlock, Sustainable Development Manager at The Co-operative, said: “This is a very significant piece of research, which clearly shows clear changes in honeybee gene activity as a result of exposure to a pesticide, which is currently in common use across the UK.

“As part of our Plan Bee campaign launched in 2009 we have adopted a precautionary approach and prohibited the use of six neonicotinoid pesticides, including imidacloprid, on our own-brand fresh and frozen produce and have welcomed the recent approach by the European Commission to temporarily ban three neonicotinoid pesticides as this will allow for research into the impact on both pollinators and agricultural productivity.”

The research paper Transient Exposure to Low Levels of Insecticide Affects Metabolic Networks of Honeybee Larvae is published in PLOS ONE.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Early Honeyflow? I Don't Think So

I spoke with Steve Petersen today and together we agreed there has not been an early honey flow as we had suspected. Recent hive checks have revealed the honey flow will probably be in the mid to latter part of July as normal.  Right now our bees are rather hungry since they are only getting the beginning of the fireweed nectar and pollen and waiting upon the clover to become available. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pulling Pollen Frames for Next Year

Right now is a great time to pull two frames (per colony for next year) out of your hive which have pollen stores.  These will be frames you will start next years bees out with so they get some local pollen and not just the pollen patties.  So if you plan on having two colonies next year, pull four frames with plenty of pollen packed into the cells. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Successful Visits to Student Hives

Yesterday, I ventured out to the Pam Nelson's home to do a bee consultation.  We found that as she suspected, one hive was tremendous in their comb building, brood rearing and resource foraging!  The brood patterns were very full and provided July isn't solid rain, Pam will have great success with this colony.  Her other hive was "slow" and although we saw the queen and lots of evidence of eggs, larva and pupa, her pattern was a bit "spotty" and had I know this earlier, I would have recommended re-queening this colony.  I am officially out of back-up queens so if any of us have trouble with queens, our options are: 1)ship up a new queen from Steve Victors  2) let a queen cell hatch out and hope that you have enough drones on hand to get the mating job done in the first three days of the queens life.  I'm proud of Pam for nurturing her bees through the cold and the heat and now the smoke!  Whew!  What a season we've had!  What we need to do now is pray for 65-75* weather in July with a bit of rain every afternoon or every other day.  This will bring in the best honeyflow we've seen in a few years! Oh, and I believe the early honeyflow has been halted due to the heat and smoke. 
A couple days ago, I visited the Fillion's home out CHSR.  They are running one Russian colony from Steve Petersen and one Italian colony from Steve Victors.  The Russians are colonizing in a top bar hive and the Italians were in a Warre hive.  The top bar was a day or two from swarming and we removed multiple queen cells together.  Cathy said they used battery jacket warmers to keep the bees warm during the freezing spring weather!  What a beautiful location! 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Combining Colonies

So I did another hive check yesterday.  I can tell you that this heat has not been good for our bees!  Don't we live in a place of extremes?  One month we're dealing with freezing temperatures and the next, heat exhaustion.  So out of three colonies at the river, one is queenless all-of-a-sudden.  I am going to combine that one with another colony.  To do so, I will take unprinted newsprint from the News Miner (free rolls that you can get in the AM from their front desk) and cut two sheets to fit over the top of a hive box.  I will place these on top of the strong colony, slice 8 -10 times in the paper with a hive tool or box knife and place the dying colony on the top.  (I'll probably remove one of the supers that is mostly empty of brood and honey so the stack of boxes doesn't get too high.)
Then I will wait until my next hive check to ensure all the paper has been eaten away by the bees and the two colonies have become one.  This allows the healthy bees that are queenless to be slowly introduced to a new family and queen.  This also increases the population of bees for the stronger colony just in time for the honey flow.  I will be glad when the swarm season is over!  Keep removing swarm cells!

Storing Equipment During the Season

One of my favorite students called yesterday to say that she thought she had a swarm.  After some discussion, we decided her bees were robbing from some supers that are in storage.  In order to keep bees off of your equipment that is in "storage" you can put a lid or a piece of plywood on top of the boxes.  The idea is not to allow any insects inside the boxes from the top or bottom so if you have a queen excluder, you can place that underneath the stack of boxes and then cover the top.  Any holes in the boxes will attract robber bees and other insects so you can cover any holes with duct tape.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Currently Enrolling Students for Fall 2013 Science-Based Art Instruction!!

See Class List Below!

Read, Write, Publish! (3 spaces left) Mondays 9:30-11:30AM
Soar Through the Solar System (6 spaces left) Mondays 12-2PM
Human Body (5 spaces left) Tuesdays 12-2PM
Primary Science (Due to Popularity) (5 spaces left) Tuesdays 2:30 - 4:30PM
Primary Science (Full) Wednesdays 9:30 - 11:30PM
Literature-Based Art and Writing (7 spaces left) Time & Date to be announced
Creative/Essay Writing (5 spaces left) Wednesdays 12-2PM
Animal Kingdom (6 spaces left) Thursdays 9:30 - 11:30AM
Intermediate/High School Art (3 spaces left) Fridays 10:30AM-1:30PM
Marine Marvels (2 spaces left) Fridays 2-4PM

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Today I checked two of my colonies to find the beginnings of a VERY early honeyflow.
This is the first time I've seen the swarm season and the honeyflow overlap!!
I removed about 10 swarm cells from each hive.
This weather is awesome and I love, love, love Alaska!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ventilation for Your Honeybees - Adding Honey Supers - Water

Besides doing a hive check every 10-12 days, assisting your bees with ventilation would be very helpful during this hot season!  To do this, simply lift your lid up and place a 10-penny nail diagonally across all four corners of the top box.  Be sure to remove the nails when it cools back off -(say 50-60*).  Those of us who have mostly drawn out comb can add supers now as the honeyflow may be early this season!!  I will not be using a queen excluder this season - no need if I cage the queen 21 days prior to harvesting honey.  Be sure to keep your water source available for your honeybees!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Currently Enrolling Students for Fall 2013 Classes! See Class List Below!

Read, Write, Publish! (3 spaces left) Mondays 9:30-11:30AM
Soar Through the Solar System (6 spaces left) Mondays 12-2PM
Human Body (5 spaces left) Tuesdays 12-2PM
Primary Science (Due to Popularity) (6 spaces left) Tuesdays 2:30 - 4:30PM
Primary Science  (1 space left) Wednesdays 9:30 - 11:30PM
Literature-Based Art and Writing (7 spaces left) Time & Date to be announced
Creative/Essay Writing (5 spaces left) Wednesdays 12-2PM
Animal Kingdom (6 spaces left) Thursdays 9:30 - 11:30AM
Botany (7 spaces left) Thursdays 12-2PM
Intermediate/High School Art (5 spaces left) Fridays 10:30AM-1:30PM
Marine Marvels (2 spaces left) Fridays 2-4PM

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

No Queen Excluder This Year!!!

After talking with a couple pioneer bee keepers, I have decided using a queen excluder is really not necessary.  In fact, it is probably quite counter-productive! You see, the excluder is a barrier to the bees as they rush to store their resources.  If you have used a queen excluder in the past you might remember the bees trying to seal all the holes with wax honeycomb.  They treat it as a ceiling!  Here's what I will be doing this season.  I will add my supers around the end of June with no queen excluder.  The queen will possibly lay eggs in the middle of the lowest super box which only entices the workers to store honey around the edges to insulate the babies.  Approximately 21 days before I wish to harvest honey, I will cage the queen.  The brood that was in the supers will hatch out and the bees will then fill those empty cells with honey.  Wa - la!  The frames will be ready to de-cap, and place in the extractor!

June Beekeeping Tips

June is notorious for swarms!  As long as I know my queen is healthy (plenty of eggs, larva, and pupa in large oval patterns in the center of several frames per hive box) I scrape out any swarm cells. 
After visiting several student hives this past week, I have found anywhere from two to several swarm cells per hive.  If you check your colony every 12 days and do this simple task of ridding your colony of swarm cells, you should have a great season!  When a swarm cell is allowed to fully develop, the queen that chews her way out of that cell tends to fly out of the hive which entices 30-70% of the colony to follow her to a new home.  If she is found by the existing queen before escaping the hive, they will fight, which can cause damage and death to one or possibly even both queens.  For those of you who still find more than four frames with no wax drawn-out yet, you need to keep feeding sugar water as this allows the bees to build much faster than having to obtain all the building resources from foraging flights. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

My First Student Consultation Was Amazing!!

Many people have been emailing with concerns about the slow brood build-up.  A lot of folks with two colonies have said that one is doing much better than the other.  This was the case with Alisa and Mary's colonies.  They asked me to visit their hives yesterday and I was very happy to find both colonies have all four stages of the metamorphosis process!  Their bees have been hard at it to store pollen, make honey in the corners of their frames, build honeycomb and the best part of it all was that both queens were laying full (oval) patterns of brood on as many frames as were available to them.  Great Job Alisa and Mary!!!  You should have a very successful season and your location is perfecto!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Do You Still have More than 3 or 4 Frames with Bare Foundation?

If you look around, you'll see plenty of green grass and trees with leaves but if you live where I live (Alaska's Interior), you won't see any flowers blooming yet (i.e. dandelions, alaska rose, fireweed, apple blossoms, etc.)  Your bees need the nectar from these flowers in order to provide adequate food to their babies, build wax and their food stores.  If you do not have most of your frames covered with wax cells ("drawn-out") and filled with food stores, then you need to keep feeding sugar water to your honeybees!  The ratio is 1:1 which means 1 cup, pint, quart, or gallon of water to 1 cup, pint, quart, or gallon of sugar. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dead Bees At the Entrance

Some beekeepers have noticed and commented about several dead bees at the entrance of the hive.  Remember from class a hand-out "Bees Make Honey, Boxes Don't" (3rd Page) Our bees will only live a maximum of about 45 days now with all the hard work they do.  When they start dying off, the ones inside the hive will be drained of any food stores and swept out the door.  I just give the undertaker a litttle hand and use my bee brush to sweep the dead bees off the entrance for them.  This makes the entrance clear for foraging females who are bringing in the "goods" and they need all the help they can get! Our populations should have already began increasing and should continue to do so until the end of the season.

My First Bee Sting of the Season!

I got my first bee sting yesterday (right in the middle of the top of my head).  I wasn't even bothering the bees!  I was cleaning up an area in front of the hives (about 15 feet away) when a well-trained guard bee spotted me.  I didn't have my suit on so I got to do my first frantic bee dance for the year - shuffling while slapping my head and face, spinning around and just plain pulling my hair out all the while!  I began feeling a burning sensation right smack in the middle of my head and that's when I knew that my dance failed - I had been nailed!!  Our bees are no longer helplessly trapped inside their hives.  They have and will become much more aggressive and defensive of their territory so move slowly, talk sweetly, wear a suit, and carry a big bee brush!!

Art & Children

Here's a link to some wonderful articles about teaching and experiencing art to/with children.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I'm removing my insulation now!!

I am removing my inside and outside insulation now.  Entrance reducers are removed completely for now but if the weather turns cold, I will be placing them back on the bottom board!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Hive Check Update!!!

So I completed a thorough hive check this week.  The first hive check since summer finally arrived!  I found all my colonies in fair to great shape which I believe is a miracle given the "spring" weather we've had.  Some colonies are slow and the reason for this is the cold weather but how I know they are strong is that I see frames with a solid brood pattern (oval shaped) covering 1/2 to 2/3 of the frame on both sides.  Finding all stages of the metamorphosis (eggs, larva, pupa, adult) is another indicator my colonies are thriving and production of brood will rapidly increase as we continue to have warmer temperatures.  Now is a great time to watch our baby bees chew their way out of their cells.  This is so exciting to watch and a great tool for teaching children, family, neighbors and friends.  Because I started out with all drawn-out comb, I'm able to move my bottom brood box on top of the original box probably the beginning of next week.  This will stimulate faster brood build-up.  If you have up to 7 or 8 drawn-out frames with brood you can add a second box (ON THE BOTTOM!)  If you added a second box about two or three weeks ago then I would move it to the top the beginnning of next week.  Our bees are collecting Willow, Alder, and Aspen right now and will soon be foraging Birch, Cottonwood, and Dandelion.  If you have allergies to any of these, now is the time to trap some pollen. However, I won't leave my pollen trap on full time and any colonies I'm trapping will get a pollen patty so as to not starve the colony and especially the brood!  This is my favorite time of the beekeeping season as the weather is good and the bees are beginning to do what they were created to do. Oh, and yesterday I changed my entrance reducer to the middle size entrance. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Change Entrance Reducer Daily If Possible

So, I'm starting to change my entrance reducer when it's 50* everyday.  Then, before it gets below 50* at night, I change it back.  If you can't do this because your hives are at a different location than where you live, just leave the entrance reducer on the smallest side.  It is not yet warm enough at night to allow the larger entrance. 

Moving Hives?

Thanks to Elizabeth Cogan for the following link:
This talks about moving your bee hives.  Thank you, Elizabeth!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Hive Checks, Bee Stings & Supplies from Steve Victors

If anyone needs any beekeeping supplies from Steve Victors, I'm headed down there this next weekend (May 17-19).  His website has a list of supplies at:

I will be picking up some more queens as well.  If you haven't performed a complete hive check - do it!  You need to determine whether your queen is laying eggs.  By now you should find eggs, larva in a variety of stages and pupa (capped brood).  If you do not see any of these stages of brood, you may need a new queen.  They are $25 and I have one extra queen left.

Finally, to keep from getting stung through your bee suit, you can wear a hoodie. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Keep Filling Your Frame Feeders & Insulation

Today I checked three colonies.  My top bar was ready for a new queen so I slow-released a new queen there (by pulling the cork out and replacing it with a marshmallow).  My two-queen hive became a one-queen last Sunday.  I wasn't sure there was still a queen in that hive but to my pleasant surprise this afternoon, I found an unmarked Carniolan queen.  She is so plump and beautiful!  Every frame was full of eggs so I added a second brood box below the existing brood box. My third hive just got a topping off of sugar water.  All three were almost empty so filling feeders will be very important over the next several weeks.

Feeding Your Bees: Now that the weather has warmed up, the bees are using a lot more sugar water so do not let the sugar syrup run out.  Those of you who have bare foundation should keep feeding sugar water to your bees until half or more of your frames are drawn-out (covered with wax honeycomb).  You can imagine how much harder it would be to draw-out the comb without the "easy" sugar water!  If the bees had to draw out the comb with only what they could forage it would be a summer of foraging just to build comb, leaving little supplies for feeding babies. 

Insulation: I hear a rumor that our weather is going to dip down again to around 20*.  It is supposed to rain on Sat. afternoon. I will keep my insulation the same as it's been the past three weeks until temperatures stay around 40* all night.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Queen Laying in Cold Weather

"With the weather the way it is, our queens may still be in winter mode.  Once the daily high does not exceed 40 degrees the bees neither feed well nor have brooding activity.  This is typical of Fall behavior.  I would suspect that this week we should see activity out of the queens.  A good portion of my wintered over colonies are still in winter mode with the proven queens well behind in their brood raising.  It may well be the best bet to wait a couple of days into the better weather pattern that has just started and see if there are eggs being laid before replacing the queen."

In any event, Dawn Cogan should have some queens.  374-8984 

Today's Hive Check Results

So Pam Nelson and Craig Dozier came along for my seven hive checks.  We discovered four Italian colonies and one Carniolan colony which are all doing very well!  They all had strong queens will nice brood patterns.  I expect the pupa to hatch-out in the next week.  My top bar hive is not doing very well and as Steve Victors says, "Top bar hives were invented for tropical climates."  The other troublesome colony is my two-queen.  I will give them both a few more days before I check again to see if the activity has increased at all.  If not, I will combine the two into a Langstroth hive and re-queen them with one queen.  When combining colonies, I will leave one brood box on the bottom board, place a few sheets of newspaper on top of it, and cut a few slices in it.  Then I will put a second brood box on top and dump the top bar bees into the top brood box.  The newspaper allows the two colonies to get acquainted on a more gradual basis. Out of all the colonies, only one had the beginning of a queen cell which I scraped off with my hive tool.  Thank you to McKinley Dozier for spotting the queen cell!!  Now I will write "queen check" on my calendar on 5/17/13 since that is 12 days from now.  I will continue to fee sugar water and pollen patties until the weather warms up considerably.  I got ten new queens on Sat. and five have already gone out as replacements so I only have five left for now.   

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Swarm in the News!!

Hive Check Demo at 3PM!

If you want to do a hive check along side of me today, be at my house at 3PM.  We are going over to Aurora Subdivision first so don't be late!!  The address in Aurora is 1709 Carr in case you are late.  Behind the tan colored shop.  cell: 460-6050

Hive Check Demonstration Today!!

I estimate my hive check will take place around 3PM today!  I will post around 1PM here to confirm.  If you want to come observe, any of my students are welcome!  Please bring your bee suit.  I will be checking 7 hives; four down the street from my home and three in Aurora Subdivision.  Every hive can be different so if you have questions, please come.  If your bees are still alive, which most are, then I believe your colonies will make it.  Keep praying!!  When it gets to 35* or 40* at night it will be time to add another brood box under your existing box.  I will keep filling sugar feeders and not let them run out!

Friday, May 3, 2013

More dead colonies :(

So when I was at Risse's First Friday I met three other local beekeepers who have lost complete colonies due to the cold weather.  Between all three, there were a total of 13 colonies lost.  These were brought up to the Interior by different suppliers so it's highly unlikely it was the bees or the supplier. 
All I can say is pray. . . pray. . . pray for warm weather!!

If it gets to 40* tomorrow, I will be doing a thorough hive check.  Any of my students are welcome to attend if you have questions or want to learn the art of finding eggs and larva.  I estimate it will be between 3 and 5PM.  I will post it about an hour before heading to my bee lot.  The only requirement is that you bring your bee suit. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Email from Stacy Krueger

From: GMAIL <>
Subject: bee's
Date: Sunday, January 1, 2006, 9:41 AM

hi dawn, i was reluctant to check on my bee's since its been really cold here in the bottoms of north pole but did so today any way. i had to check(since hiving) if my queens were out and laying. they were out apparently as i found eggs and larva. i made some interesting observations in that i noticed there is a lot of moisture in the hive,so much so that the pollen patties were molding. also noticed bees congregating at the water pools on the inner cover. one of the most interesting observations is that after i finished checking, refilling feeders and a fresh piece of pollen pattie is that looking at the snow, my equipment, and bee suite, there was bee poop all over the place, as if there were waiting for an invitation to poop. i guess they dont poop in the hive? they also seem, to be active in dragging their dead buddies out of the hive. i also noticed that the bee that did take flight were scattered around the area a short time latter as if they had been thermally shocked and died in flight. any way, hope things are going good for you. and remember, it is what it is. stacy

News Release Regarding Colony Collapse

First Friday at Risse Greenhouse

For the past several spring seasons, Risse Greenhouse has invited our community to a First Friday.  There is live music and plenty of gourmet refreshments. Fine art and handicrafts are on display from local artisans all with a backdrop of fresh flowers and vegetables.  This is a free event, however, there are opportunities to purchase the plants and artwork if one chooses to do so.

Friday, May 3, 2013  5-9PM


More Tips. . .

Right now I am topping off my sugar syrup every 5 days and doing a complete hive check every 10-12 days.  I will check for eggs, larva and get rid of any queen cells as long as I have strong evidence my queen is healthy and doing her job properly.  When I perform my hive check, I never take frames out of the middle of the hive! I always start removing frames from one side and continue checking both sides of the frames (one at a time) being careful to smash as little bees as possible.  All of my movements are slow and methodical.  Because of the cold I don't spend a lot of time holding any one frame out of the hive for very long.  Be sure and read the last update posted earlier tonight!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Hive Checks

I'm not going to waste your time whining about the cold weather we've suffered through. I sleep in a warm house every night! Like you, I'm more concerned about my honeybees!  As soon as it gets to 40* I will be completing my next hive check.  (Normally, I wouldn't do this unless it reached 50*) 
Reality is, this is the first season I've waited so long to check my hives.  Last time I checked, I had 4 out of 5 queens laying eggs.  Since then, I obtained two more colonies of which one is laying eggs and the seventh is in a top bar hive.  My job from here-on-out is to check for eggs, larva, and pupa.  If I don't find any eggs and larva then something has happened to my queen and I will have to re-queen my colony.  I will have more queens on-hand soon so if you suspect your hive is queenless or your queen is not laying properly (full brood patterns and not "spotty") then email me and let me know. 
I still have alot of hope for our beekeeping season.  Some colonies can make it 7 months trapped in their hive so our bees should be able to make it a few weeks provided they have good food supplies.  Surely, spring has got to be just around the corner!!  If you are out of pollen patties I do have some left.  You'll want at least one per hive on hand for the summer - in the case that we have a cold, rainy week.  You can place a pollen patty on top of your frames and the bees keep working.  When I do my hive checks, I don't brush the bees out of the way to see the back of the cells.  Instead, I gently blow air from my mouth onto the bees.  They scurry out of the way, allowing me to see deep into the cells.  By now everyone should have full patterns of eggs and larva on at least a couple frames.  If my frames are nearly all full of eggs, larva and food stores, I need to add another box under the existing box.  This will ensure the queen doesn't run out of space to lay eggs.  I don't really want to add another box until it warms up more but I've already added one medium super box to all of my hives because my queens have been laying since 4/19/13.  The more boxes, the harder the bees have to work to keep thier house warm.  When I complete my hive check, I make sure all the pieces are in their proper place, as one person recently lost an entire colony due to having the entrance reducer in the wrong position.  Also, I keep the small entrances uncovered so the bees get oxygen and good ventilation.  I am not removing any insulation at this time.  I find no need to smoke my bees at this time.  Any questions or comments are welcomed!!  Hang in there and bee careful! :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Empty Sugar Cans!!

I've heard from several beekeepers that hived bees yesterday that the sugar cans were completely empty!  If you have not yet hived your bees, get er done!!  If I were you, I'd wait until the warmest part of the day, when the snow and ice are melting and dripping.  The only source of food your bees have right now is probably what you are feeding them.  Do not spray them before hiving, though, as they can get way too cold and die from hypothermia.  Happy Hiving and I hope to see many of you at the Interior Beekeeper's Club tomorrow night!  Monroe Catholic School (7-9PM)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Free Beekeeper's Club Meeting

Interior Beekeeper's Club Meeting
There will be a Beekeeper's Club meeting on 4/29/13 at Monroe Catholic School multi-purpose room. 7PM This is a question and answer time for anyone who is currently keeping honeybees or plans to do so in the future. There will be some used equipment and pollen patties available for sale. For more information, contact John Strothenke at, Dave Olszowy at or Dawn Cogan at

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Great Bees From Steve Victors Again This Year!!

Today was a great day for hiving bees between 3 and 6PM!!  I got my last two colonies hived today.  Thank you, Shawn Johnston, for showing up and suiting up to help out!  We found eggs and larva in the comb that I hived bees in last Thursday.  Once again, we got fantastic bees from Steve Victors this season!!  My sugar water was almost empty and I'm refilling sugar water every 4 to 5 days now.  Also, since the pollen season will be late due to the cold weather, I'm keeping half a pollen patty in each hive at all times.  I still have some pollen patties left for sale.  Make sure your bees have good ventilation and insulation!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hiving Honeybees In Cold Weather

Honeybees & Cold Weather Tips from Steve Victors with notes from Dawn Cogan:
I have had a number of concerned beekeepers contact me expressing dismay over the extended cold spring weather. The arrival date seems not the best timing this year. The bee delivery dates are picked out in October and early November of the year before. Days are reserved for shaking and filling the packages inCalifornia to catch that window of time between too cold for queen mating and too hot for transporting bees to the airfreight from the field. We try to predict when the willows will be blooming and the weather warm enough to hive the packages on arrival to Alaska. The two windows of time have to line up or overlap just right. Once the dates are set there is not much we can do to change the schedule. 
Each year there seems to be some factor we cannot control that challenges the smooth delivery and easy installation of our packages. In the last four shipments of bees we have had two years of volcanoes and one year of tsunami challenges. This year we have cold and snow that seems to not want to give up. Bees are resilient and beekeepers are resourceful so at least we have that going for us.
Here are some things that you can do to improve your success in early and cold spring.
* Darken the snow in front of the hive helps the bees tell which way is up and will melt the snow faster when it is warm enough to melt. Ashes from the woodstove work well for this. Use a vegetable strainer to sift the ashes over the snow to stretch the supply.
* Hiving:
Warming the equipment:
Bring your hive into the house prior to installing the package to make sure that the components are warm. Bees on a cold bottom board have a harder time moving up to the frames to form a good cluster. Climbing on warm combs can also a help although the combs cool relatively quickly. Don’t waste a lot of time getting the hive carried out and the installation done. Keep in mind that moving a hive is not a difficult thing to do and it is possible to hive right in front of the garage with the bottom entrance screened and move it inside for them to get settled.
* Note from Dawn: Before moving the hive, ratchet strap all the hive components together. I will demonstrate this technique on either 4/13/13 or 4/14/13
* Size of the hive:
Keep in mind that the bees will cover about five frames. Reducing the number and size of the boxes will help out. The use of follower boards (Styrofoam cut to take the place of a frame fitting snugly in the hive) can be employed in a 10 frame hive to reduce the space to a more efficient size for the bees.
* Single box:
Use only one hive body to install the bees this spring.
* Note from Dawn: I will be changing my spring hive to one brood box per colony!!
* Frame of syrup:
If you have drawn comb consider filling the upper portions with sugar syrup by use of a spray bottle. Make the standard honey arch that you see normally in the hive inspections. This will allow the cluster to form with food right into the cluster. Leave the centers of the frames empty for the queen to use as well as the bees to transfer heat through the comb.
* Don’t hive wet:
If you regurally spray the bees during hiving process they will loose heat faster when they are wet. Hive the bees dry with full bellies. To do this spray sugar feed through the package screen and allow the bees to consume the feed before taking them outside. A few good sprays with intervals between for uptake can fill a package in about an hour.
* Heat of the day:
Use the warmest portion of the day to hive the bees.
* Screening the entrances and indoors:
I have hived bees indoors before…. I would not care to repeat the experiment. If you feel that the bees are better off indoors hive outside. Screen the entrances and move them inside. A screen cover under or in place of the inner cover can help you regulate temperatures in the hive.
* Feeders:
Over the cluster:
Bees needing feed in the cold won’t travel far get the feeder as close to the cluster as possible.
Avoid outside or Boardman entrance feeders. Bees will not break cluster to go down to food feeding the bees from directly above the cluster works well just be sure that the feeder does not drip on the bees.
*Two feeders:
A frame feeder as well as a feeder over the cluster may be used to keep the bees from being trapped away from the feeder to the side
Hive top feeders:
Insulation above the feeder will allow the bees to travel up to the feed without moving from the warmth area of the hive.
*Note from Dawn: I will demo this inner and over cluster feeding method on 4/13/13 or 4/14/13.
Conservation of heat will certainly help the bees establish a cluster loose enough for the queen to lay in. Just like a house, the best place for insulation is above the cluster. Insulation pillows using plastic bags with standard insulating materials in them are used in Canada. Reflectix insulation (foil bubble wrap) cut to the size of the inner cover and laid on top of the inner cover works well. Styrofoam is another alternative.
* Heaters:
Heat sources inside or under the hive can help. A small silicon oil pan heater stuck to a piece of metal to dissipate the heat can be used. Heat sources between 25 and 40 watts should be sufficient depending on the size of the space to warm up.
Follower boards rather than outside insulation may be the best method of
adding insulation to the walls of the hive.
* Note from Dawn: As discussed in my classes, I recommend having both the inner, follower boards and the outside insulation. I won't be using any heaters as I don't want to risk over-heating the bees. Bubble wrap insulation is the best choice and we can put extra under the bottom board. One could even build a box and fill it with insulation if necessary.
* Entrance reducers:
Use the smallest entrance to reduce drafts
* Top entrances:
Small top entrances for the dissipation of moisture may help the hive to avoid the damp conditions.
* Holding your package for a warmer time:
Temperatures for holding packages should be around 60 degrees. To tell if the temperature is right, observe the cluster. If there are bees running on the screen it is too hot. A properly cared for package should have a fairly loose cluster hanging quietly. There may be a few bees not involved in the cluster found crawling on the screen or exploring the bottom of the package. Keep the package in the dark or in dim light.
Note from Dawn: If I end up having to keep hives in my garage, I will turn the thermostat down to 59* or 60* and tell my children to "wear layers!"
*Feeding through the package:
You can spray the package twice a day for feed through the screen. Bees that are hungry will have their tongues out through the screen.
*Syrup feeders:
A nut jar or any large jar with a plastic lid can have a number of holes through the lid and placed over the package to feed the bees. To do this the feeder can is removed and a screen is stapled in place over the hole left by the feeder can. An overturned nut jar can be placed on top of the screen and the bees can feed through the screen. Feeder jars can be changed as necessary.
*Note from Dawn: I'm headed back to Alaska today after being in rainy Oregon for several days and Chattanooga, Tennessee for a couple days. I'm making a very strong effort to bring some sweet, southern wind and sunshine back home with me and I plan to give Jack Frost a serious boot when I get there!!!
This is a lot of information I hope that you find at least some of it useful.
Steve Victors