Saturday, June 23, 2018


Here is the second You Tube video on varroa mites that I promised to provide last week.  Varroa mites are your biggest enemy to being a successful beekeeper.

Friday, June 22, 2018


The summer solstice has just occurred; providing us with the maximum amount of daylight.  What does this mean in the world of beekeeping?

The long days provide the bees the maximum of time for nectar gathering.  Mother nature has made this coincide with the blooming of alfalfa, clovers, and numerous other nectar producing plants. 

Hives populations are nearing their maximum as the bees were using the pollen and nectar for raising brood.  For a short time, the population will remain at its maximum before beginning a decline in mid-August.   In response to the shortening days the queen will soon begin reducing her egg laying.  

Varroa populations are also increasing because of the abundance of brood in the hive.  At this time the majority of mites are hidden inside brood cells parasitizing the brood.   With the honey supers on the hive the only ways of controlling the mites is use of formic acid treatments or drone brood removal, which require partial disassembly of the hive; not a task relished by the beekeeper. 

Some beekeepers indicate that the summer solstice is the cutoff date for naturally starting new hives in northern climates.  At this point there is insufficient time and food resources for a new hive to build to a sufficient size to survive the winter.   There are techniques to work around this rule, but are labor intensive on the part of the beekeeper.   

Recently there has been interest in overwintering nucs.   However, even here the varroa problem intervenes.  Without effective varroa control these nucs will be doomed in winter.  Well, that’s my lead in for reminding you to watch the webinar on “Making a plan for Varroa” at 7PM EST ( ^ PM CST) next Tuesday, June 26th.    Log in to the webinar at  The webinar is hosted by Michigan State University’s Meghan Milbrath.   

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


This month's meeting will be at the Rushford Meadery and Winery.  Usual time of 9:30AM.  The address of the meadery is shown on the club calender.

The meadery is the location of the two club hives and the club extractor.

The meeting will consist of our usual business meeting, a tour on the extractor and how to schedule time for its use.  We will also inspect the club hives if weather permits.  In conjunction with our recent theme on controlling varroa mites we will show how to monitor mite levels utilizing either a screened bottom board or sugar shake.  Pam and Gerard have already treated the hives for mites so hopefully we won't detect any, but we will go through the process.

Finally the meadery owners will host a mead/wine tasting.  Their excellent products will be for sale.

Saturday, June 16, 2018


Megan Milbrath, a beekeeper associated with Michigan State University, is making three YouTube videos concerning the varroa mites problem.  Here is a link to the first video.  As the other two are released I will pass them on to you.


Just like humans our bees are affected by the heat.  This weekend the temperatures will be in the 90's!  The bees work to cool their hives by bringing in water and by fanning at the hive entrance.  The water, when it evaporates, removes heat from the hive.  Therefore a water source, either natural or artificial,  should be available within a few hundred feet of the hive.  Also make sure the entrance reducer is removed.

Another method the bees use to limit heat within the hive is by bearding on the front of the hive.  Bearding usually occurs on hot afternoons and evenings.  By morning the bees will usually all be back in the hive.  Bearding is normal behavior and NOT a sign of imminent swarming.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Here are two links to articles with information about bee flight.  NOTE: The second article states it will add cookies to your computer.  Don't open this article if you don't want them.

Mid-June Checks

The honey flow has started in central Wisconsin.  But don't let up on your every other week inspections of your hives.  Overwintered hives should be putting honey into the honey supers.  New package hives are still building their populations.  It takes a full two months after package installation for the bee population to reach a point where the package will be large enough to bring in surplus nectar.

Another thing to be on the outlook for is American Foul Brood.  The Natures Nectar blogsite is reporting a few instances of infected hives in Minnesota.   Follow this link to read about it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

June Apiary Check by beekeeper Fred

June is a high activity time in the apiary.  There are many task that a beekeeper needs to accomplish if he/she wants to maximize the return on their investment of time and money.  

Hives started with package bees or nucs need to be regularly inspected to verify they are queenright.  Failure to do so can have dire consequences.  For myself, I had two packages go queenless.  I noticed both in time.  One accepted the new queen and is on its way to full recovery.  The second did not accept the replacement queen.  Unfortunately, I was distracted by other tasks and this hive ended up with laying workers.  I am currently trying to remedy the situation.  Hives with laying workers are a good subject for a separate article. 

Package hives should by now have had the second brood chamber installed.  The hive population at this point should have recovered or surpassed the 10,000 bee level (the original 3 pound package population).  By the end of June the population should grow to the 30,000 to 40,000 range.   A queen excluder and honey super could be added at anytime although a package hive will probably not make use of it yet.  But also remember these items will need to be removed and replaced when you are verifying the colony is queenright. 

In May I installed screened bottom boards on six (6) hives.  Periodically I remove the witness boards and count mites.   Both the overwintered and package hives had mites.   I am experimenting with treatments of both oxalic acid vapor and Oxalic acid alcohol fog.   As expected it took three (3) weekly treatments of oxalic acid vapor before the mite drop stopped.  I am now waiting to see how quickly mites reappear.   Unfortunately, the hive I was performing the oxalic acid alcohol fog test on went queenless and I must repeat that test. (I don't think it was related to the mite treatment)  At any rate I will be recording mite drops on these six hives throughout the summer. 

I am beginning to see trefoil, staghorn sumac and clover in bloom.  This is the start of the main honey flow in central Wisconsin which will run through mid-July.   In my strongest overwintered hives the bees have only filled one or two frames.  I suspect this was from the black locust bloom, which is now complete.    The honey flow to be several weeks slower than previous years. 

As a queen raiser I have also been very busy grafting larvae and setting up nucs for queen mating.  Here is a photo of my latest attempt.  27 out of 30 queen cells were capped!  For me that’s outstanding.  This batch of cells are scheduled to emerge on about June 10th.   Ideally, the cells should get placed into mating nucs prior to then, so the queens can emerge in a hive.    If they emerge while still in the incubator, this causes another set of tasks.  So this weekend promises to be a busy time.  Oh yeah, I also promised to man the ECWBA booth at Walleye Weekend at the same time.   Might be a long day.

 To the uninitiated queen raisers sell ripe cells (one to two days prior to emergence), virgin queens and mated queens.  The price of each is proportional the risk undertaken by the buyer.   Roughly $10 for a cell, $20 for a virgin queen and $30 for a mated queen.  


1)      Verify my hives are queenright every other week.

2)      Monitor the honey supers and add more if needed.

3)      I will be treating the new package hives with a ½ dose of formic acid (Formic Pro).  I treated the overwintered hives with a ½ dose last month. 

4)      Inspect the witness boards on hives with screened bottom boards. 
5) If you want to increase your apiary hive count any new hive should be started no later than June 21st.  This provides them time to grow their population and store honey for the winter.  You will not get a honey crop from these new hives.  

Friday, June 1, 2018


Here is a new twist on mite control; refrigerating the hives to induce a brood break.  A 3 week brood break is needed to allow all brood and mites to emerge and then easily be treated.  Hmm? Couldn't caging the queen for 3 weeks accomplish the same thing?