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! :)