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!