Friday, June 11, 2021


WHPA Summer Meeting June 12, 2021

Hotel Mead 451 E. Grand Ave. Wisconsin Rapids

Room blocked under Wisconsin Honey Producers Association. Please book your room early to take advantage of reduced rate. Call (800) 843-6323 to make your reservation.

Registration Fee: WHPA members $25, non-members $35 (includes lunch)

Please pre-register online, here. If you have any issues registering online please call Karri Burzynski 715-644-5681.


Friday June 11th 2021

  • 6:30-9:00pm: Social
  • We will be ordering pizza and appetizers and asking those that attend who will be eating to chip in $15 for food. Drinks are on your own.

Saturday June 12th 2021

  • 7:30 a.m. – Registration opens
  • 8:30 a.m. – Welcome WHPA President
  • 8:45 a.m. – Wisconsin Honey Queen Anna Evenson
  • 9:00 a.m. – Dr. Katie Lee: Varroa mite biology and management
  • 10:00 a.m. – ABF Update – Kent Pegorsch
  • 10.00 a.m.  Break
  • 10:15 a.m. – Youth scholarship beekeeping program overview
  • 11:00 a.m. – ABF Honey Queen Jennifer Hinkel
  • 11:15 a.m. – State Update, state inspector
  • 11:45 a.m. – WI State Fair update
  • 12:00 p.m. – Lunch
  • 1:00 p.m. – Dr. Katie Lee: Working for commercial beekeepers with Bee Informed Partnership’s Tech-Transfer Teams
  • 2:00 p.m. –Expert Panel Q & A: “What the Heck Did I Get Myself Into?”
  • 2:30 p.m. – Adjourn
  • 3:30 p.m – L.B. Werks James & Jon Hillemeyer tour begins

Summer Keynote Speaker, Dr. Katie Lee: Katie Lee is a post-doctoral researcher on the Minnesota Agriculture for Pollinators Project (MAPP) led by Dr. Dan Cariveau at the Univ. of Minnesota. The project assesses the benefits of pollinator plantings on both honey bees, wild bees, and natural enemies in southwest Minnesota. Lee leads the honey bee team that looks at how the surrounding percent natural area and pollination plot size affect honey bee health. Her previous research focused on metrics that indicate honey bee colony and queen health. She developed a parasitic V. destructor sampling protocol that is now a nationwide standard. In collaboration with the non-profit organization the Bee Informed Partnership, she founded the Northern California and Upper Midwest honey bee Tech-Transfer Teams that provide services for commercial beekeepers by assessing colony health, sampling for pathogens and parasites, and testing breeding stock for disease resistance behaviors. Lee serves on the board of the American Beekeeping Federation and her long-term goal is to conduct research that generates practical information for beekeepers.

Swarm Catching Fiasco!

Successful story time 😊

On Sunday, 5/30: I was walking my dog, Casey, around 6 p.m. and spotted this swarm about 60 feet away from the home apiary. At the apiary they had a deep with drawn comb available for occupancy but apparently decided not to use it.

The swarm was only about 5' above the ground and looked like a firm shake would drop them into a box.  After taking Casey back to the house I went back to get the swarm and felt that the branch was a little too stout for a good shake.  I decided to cut the branch slowly with a lopper so that it would slowly bend over and into a cardboard box.  Good plan, but the branch snapped and fell, nicking the side of the box and tipping it on its side. About 25% of the bees landed in the box, and the rest landed in the long field grass.  Now what? 

I walked away to think about my next move, and decided it would be best to just leave them alone and maybe they would regroup and eventually decide to move into one of the swarm lures I had in the vicinity.  I went back about 15 minutes later to see what they were up to and noticed several bees on the top of the box fanning, and bees were flying into the box.  The queen was in the box?  Lady Luck must have been in the area.

So I pushed the box down so it made good contact with the ground and shot this short video:

A most amazing thing!  Streams of bees going to their queen.  The majority of these bees had never been out of the hive before swarming and instinctively knew what to do.  When I had collected the majority of the bees I poured them into a deep, and bees immediately started fanning to call their sisters home.  In the meantime the air was filled with bees flying between the deep and the bees in the grass. They were also collecting on the tree. Within one hour there were no more bees in the grass or on the tree!  The only bees in the area, around a dozen, were hovering and flying slowly over the grass. I presume they were emitting a pheromone trail so as to 'leave no bee behind'. Amazing!!

Hope you enjoyed it.


Monday, June 7, 2021


Call it the main honey flow or the main nectar flow, this is the time when the greatest number of nectar and pollen producing plants are blooming, and will continue to bloom heavily until around mid-July.  

Black locust and basswood trees are two of the major producers blooming now, and wild rose, birdsfoot trefoil, clover, and catmint are blooming with them.  

In the next couple of weeks I expect to see acres of raspberry, mint, motherwort, milkweed, and a host of other blossoms. 

The locally adapted honey bees knew when this was going to occur and that's why they started swarming 3 - 4 weeks ago.  The main flow gives them their best chance to have the resources available that they need to reproduce and start new colonies that have a chance of being ready for winter.

The Colony after a Swarm/Split

The "mother" or "source" colony from a swarm may not be queenright for 2 - 3 weeks after the event, and several of my colonies were in that state last weekend.  By next weekend I'm hoping that all of the colonies are queenright, and I'll be out checking.  

Of my 4 queenless splits I found one queen last weekend, and the other 3 appeared to be working on it.  I'm leaving them undisturbed for two weeks so as to not interfere with the process.  Any colonies that aren't queenright by next weekend will get eggs and larvae from donor hives

Brood Break

An advantage of swarming and splitting is that both phenomena create a natural  brood break.  Because there's no bee larvae entering the pupal stage for several weeks the mites can't reproduce, except those that are already in capped cells.  

A really good time for an oxalic acid treatment would be when the last of the capped brood are emerging and the new queen's progeny aren't capped yet because nearly all of the mites would be phoretic.  If only one knew when that window of opportunity was present!  

Food for the Bees

The nectar (and pollen) being brought in now will be used mainly to support the colonies' growth, which will grow to around 40,000 - 60,000 bees (maybe more) by July!  

This is true of first year colonies from packages and nucs, splits, and swarmed colonies.  As the colonies grow, so do the number of foragers. Eventually they'll be able to produce more honey than they need for immediate growth needs.  

Survivors that didn't swarm or weren't split could have a large population and may already be putting on honey, but those would be rare.

Water for Air Conditioning

Foragers are probably bringing in more water than nectar right now in order to cool the hives.  Bees spread the water over the pupal cappings and fan the air to remove heat through evaporation.   

It's a colony's method of air conditioning and they do that to maintain the ~94F required pupal temperature.  

For hives in full sun, more water will be required than for those with afternoon shade.

Single or Double Deep?

I'm debating whether to put a second deep (when they're ready) on two of the swarm colonies that I captured over the past couple of weeks, or just put on a queen excluder and honey supers and see how that goes?  

I think I owe it to myself to at least try it, and I'll undoubtedly learn something from the experience.  There's the risk that a colony in a single deep will expand to the point that it will swarm in July, but perhaps they won't if there's enough space for them in the supers?  

The initial springtime reproductive swarm urge would have passed, and now it would be a matter of congestion.  

First Year HONEY or Not

It's said that one large colony produces more honey than two small colonies, and to not expect honey from a first year colony, but I'm pretty sure that depends on the bees.   

Twice over the past 9 years I have had first year package bees produce 240 lbs. of honey (starting on foundation) while the other package bee colonies, and survivor colonies, produced 35 - 40 lbs. of honey in the same apiary, all in double deeps.  

It wasn't the location, and it wasn't the housing.  Had to be the bees!

Don't run short of Honey frames or Storage jars!

Unassembled medium frames arrived Friday so I'll be getting more honey frames ready. 

Once the season takes off I'll be replacing capped frames (as they become available) with empty frames in the supers and I don't want to run short.  

Last year all of my honey frames were either in the supers, or were "wet" and waiting in the barn to go back into the hives, and I ran out of back-ups.  

I assembled more medium supers and now I'm getting the frames ready.

Hot, dry summers are when the bees produce the most honey, and this season is starting out that way.  

I'll wait a while yet before I order 55 gallon drums, but I did start buying pint and quart jars because of last year's experience when so many people decided to grow their own food and can it.  

I do hope those people continue on doing that, and they should have last years' jars on hand, but I don't want to get caught in that predicament (not enough jars) again!

Club Pressure Washer

Jack has purchased the new club pressure washer for cleaning the extractor, and it's capable of 2,000 psi and should make extractor cleaning a breeze.  

Because we'll be meeting at the Caestecker Library for our June meeting we won't see it at the RMW until July, and I don't think anyone will be extracting before that.  

If you are, contact Jack to pick it up if you want to use it.  And you will want to use it!

Club Hives

The club hives are looking strong (from the outside) and as of yesterday they each have 2 supers.  

Kathy Hayes and I will do an inspection within the next couple of weeks to make sure all is well, and work to correct what might not be.

Next Club Meeting

Our next meeting is June 19 at the Caestecker Library in Green Lake, 9:30 a.m.  

For those that haven't been there, enter through the front door and the stairway down is on the right.  

Some of us will be there early to help direct you, or ask any of the librarians for directions to the meeting room.  

I don't have a topic in mind, so everyone should bring one. :)  

See you then...............Gerard

Friday, May 28, 2021

Strong Colonies

Between swarms and after-swarms a colony can lose 60% of its population, perhaps more. A strong, healthy, overwintered colony is diminished instantly when the swarm(s) takes off. After a colony swarms, we need to inspect the hive to determine the remaining population size in light of the available real estate. Bees constantly patrol the comb to guard against invasions by wax moths, small hive beetles (SHB), wasps, and other pests, and if the bees are spread too thin our hives are likely to become infested with these pests. We may need to condense the population by shaking and/or brushing the bees into one or two hive bodies, and removing any others, until they build back up so they can keep the pests in check.

Wax moths and SHBs are the pests of concern now, wasps won't be a major menace until fall when the goldenrod starts to pass its peak. There are no in-hive treatments for either pest, but strong colonies can keep them in check. Strong is a relative term, and in this case it has to do with the number of frames of bees per hive body. The same colony can be weak if it's in a 20-frame hive, or strong if it's in a 10-frame hive. The more bees per frame, and frames of bees per hive, the better their control of pests. We also want our colonies to have enough room to expand the broodnest and store honey, so it's a matter of staying ahead of the bees with real estate, just not too far ahead.

Wax moths and SHBs will make a mess in a hive, but they aren't a real threat to a colony unless it's weak and suffering from disease. Then they could be the last straw. If you find frames (typically brood frames) with larvae from either of these pests, freezing the frames for a day or two will kill the larvae and the frames can be reused, depending on the extent of the damage. If it's not too bad, the bees will clean them up.

We also need to check our colonies to make sure they're queenright. A colony that has swarmed will have left behind virgin queens about to emerge, and after emergence they need three or four days to mature before they go on their mating flight(s). Upon a successful return to the colony, it will be another several days before they start laying eggs.

Eggs should be present after two weeks following a swarming event (three - four weeks following a split). If not queenright at that time, add a frame with worker eggs, larvae, and capped cells from another colony in case the queen got picked off by a predator. The brood will keep the colony unified, workers will be inhibited from laying, and the bees will have the resources to produce a new queen. Add brood frames weekly until there's a laying queen, or purchase a queen from a local queen producer if you don't want to watch the season pass with no laying queen in the hive and the population dwindling.

These are things we need to watch for throughout the season. We need to maintain strong, queenright colonies, and if a colony isn't thriving it should be requeened, combined with another colony, or euthanized if it is overwhelmingly diseased. We beekeepers need to be as pragmatic as our bees are.

I haven't seen SHBs in my hives, but some years ago I had a small Wax Moth infestation. After I found two frames that looked like the photo above, I inspected the hive and found about a 1/8" gap between part of the upper deep and the lower deep. The wood hadn't been cut straight on the upper deep. That's all it would have taken for a wax moth to gain entry, although they usually come in the entrances at night, But since the damage was right inside of that gap, I figured that was the entryway. The colony was relatively strong and had sequestered the moths to those two frames, which I removed and froze (and replaced the upper deep). Honey bees will kill wax moths but they didn't that time for some reason, instead living side-by-side with them..

Wax moths are important in the natural world because they eat the comb of hives that have died out, eliminating the pathogens and pesticides that the comb contains. They prefer brood comb because of the bits of pollen and pupal casings that are in it, but we don't want them messing up our brood comb and making it unavailable to our bees. The best defense is strong colonies.

Since I don't have any experience with SHBs, I could only repeat what I've heard and read, and who knows of what practical value that would be? I have also seen a number of gadgets available to trap the beetles, but again, I have no experience with them. Hopefully it stays that way, but I know they're around and prefer sandy soil, which I have an abundance of. I expect it won't be long before I will be learning more about them. Any member that has had dealings with the Small Hive Beetle, please share your experiences with us at an upcoming meeting.

I'm hoping the weather will be good for checking hives this weekend as I have several splits that weren't queenright last weekend, and should be by this weekend. I also captured two swarms at my home apiary and I need to see if I can determine which colonies swarmed, and if they need to have some of their furniture put into storage for awhile. I did find a queen in one of my splits and she was humongous, and laying like a machine, with lots of eggs and larvae in a very tight pattern. That's one.

I hope everyone's splits are successful, and that everyone caught some swarms. For me the season is starting out well, and I'm interested in what will be in my apiaries on October 1. And just as interested in what will be in my honey buckets before then.

Happy Beekeeping,


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Guest Blog: Tips for first-time gardeners

There's nothing better than watching your own bees pollinate your flower and/or vegetable gardens. So if you're new to gardening, or just need a refresher, you'll enjoy our latest guest blog from Emma Croft. Happy gardening and beekeeping! And don't forget about the April 17 meeting at Rushford Meadery and Winery. Fun starts at 9:30 and be ready for club hive inspections!

Image via Unsplash

 Gardening for Beginners: How to Start and Maintain Your First Garden

According to Eartheasy, the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of gardening range from stress relief and immune regulation to a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, and dementia. Since vegetable gardening encourages you to consume more fresh fruits and vegetables, backyard gardening can also lead to a healthier diet and lifestyle.

While there are many wonderful benefits of starting your own backyard garden, you may not know where to start if you’re new to this type of activity. Here’s how to begin!

Interested in harvesting honey and helping declining bee populations? Join the East Central Wisconsin Beekeepers Association today!

Plan Your Garden

As you get ready to start your first garden, you’ll first need to determine whether you’d like to plant a vegetable or flower garden — or a combination of the two. Some of the best crops for beginner gardeners include lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, strawberries, onions, and radishes, while several of the easiest flowers to grow include sunflowers, marigolds, impatiens, and sweet peas.

You’ll need to choose a spot in your yard that offers enough sunlight for your garden to flourish. If you’re unsure of your property lines and your budget allows, it’s often worthwhile to hire a property surveyor to identify your property’s boundaries so you can avoid planting on your neighbor’s land.

Gather Your Gardening Supplies

After planning your garden and deciding which types of flowers and vegetables you’re going to plant, it’s time to purchase your plants and gardening supplies. As a beginner gardener, you’ll need a few basic tools and supplies:

      Hand trowel


     Leaf rake

     Watering can and hose

     Hand pruner

     Garden gloves

     Kneeling cushion

     Home soil test kit (to test your soil before planting)

Start Planting

Once you’ve purchased your gardening supplies and gathered your fruits, vegetables, flowers, and seeds, it’s time to start planting! Your flowers, seeds, and transplants should come with basic planting instructions, but you’ll typically need to dig your garden bed, make holes in the soil for your plants, and space each item at least two to three feet apart. And if you’d like to help ailing bee populations in your area, try to plant flowers that bloom at times when bees need the most help.

When you’re done, water your plants and seeds to help them settle into the soil — and cover the garden bed with a layer of mulch shortly after you finish planting. Mulching your garden helps it to retain moisture and suppress weeds, but it’s important to note that not all mulches are created equal. Straw mulch is an excellent option for vegetable gardens, while composted mulch or manure can be used just about anywhere.

Watch Your Garden Flourish

For your plants to grow and flourish, you’ll need to maintain your garden by watering it regularly, weeding it each week, and removing any dried or dead flowers as needed. As a rule, most plants require about an inch or two of water each week during the growing season.

Moreover, it’s usually best to water your garden in the morning if possible, as this will give your plants time to dry before evening. If you’ve been getting a lot of rain in your area or you’re unsure about whether to water your garden, however, simply use your hands to check the soil for moisture. If the soil feels dry and cannot be rolled into a ball, it likely needs to be watered.

A Final Word

Whether you plant vegetables, flowers, or a combination of the two, a backyard garden enhances the look of your yard and improves your overall health and well-being — especially if you take some time out of your week to tend to your garden and give it the care it needs to flourish. However, try not to be discouraged if your first garden isn’t a success. Even if it fails, you can keep on trying until you finally get it right!