Thursday, January 23, 2014

Winter Emergency Feeding


This method is between just adding dry sugar on the inner cover (not too effective) and boiling down heavy sugar syrup into a candy board (a lot of work).

Place 2" spacer rim on the top hive body.

Place 2 sheets of black and white newspaper directly on top of the frames. This will cover roughly 2/3 of the surface area, leaving 1/3 o f the frames visible. Be sure to keep the newspaper within the spacer rim. If it extends to the outside, it may wick 
moisture into the hive.

Mist the newspaper with a spray bottle of warm water. 
Dump about a third of two pounds of white sugar on the newspaper; mist until sugar begins to clump.  Repeat until all 2 pounds of the sugar has been applied.
Place the inner cover on the rim spacer, and then the top cover, done. 

The reason for the light mist is to get the sugar to clump a bit so the bees don’t carry it out as foreign material.  If the bees are moving around or it is cold out, you could also start in the house, by putting the newspaper on a cookie sheet, then at the end; slide the paper onto the top bars.

Submitted by Bob Sitko

Sugar Slush Feeding
I think this is a little better than dry sugar for feeding in late winter emergency
Use a two gallon zip lock bag. Add four pounds of sugar and 12 ounces (1 ½ cup) of water to the bag. Zip the bag closed and knead the mixture until it is well mixed. Let it set overnight so all the sugar is soaked (nor dissolved).

 In the hive, the bag will end up on top of the inner cover and under the outer cover.

 Place a short stick or corncob through the hole in the inner cover so it touches the top bars and sticks up through the hole about  ½ inch. Cut a 1 inch X through one wall of the bag in the center.

Place the bag on the inner cover with the stick or corn cob in the X. The bees will crawl up the stick and into the bag for the sugar mixture. Put on the outer cover.

The mixture is very stiff so the bees won’t drown and it won’t run out of the bag.

Submitted by Bob Sitko  (From Ted Jantzen’s feeding method)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Russian Bees and More

The Honey Bee Club of Stillwater January meeting was chock full of information and lively discussion.  The main theme of last night's meeting was Russian Bees.  First, though, some important information was shared regarding various activities, announcements, and recipes. This information can be accessed by clicking on the links to your right.  

Please participate!  The U of M Bee Lab is asking all beekeepers throughout MN to help form a color coded map to indicate approximate colony location.  This map will be made public for the education of pesticide applicators and other state agencies.  Please send an email with your colony count and county location to


Keeping Russian bees seems to be a no-brainer to Mary, a beekeeper of 35 years. For good reason.  I think she has convinced many of us to give them a try, or at least to re-queen with a Russian!  So enjoy and...Na zdorovye!

A large and lively crowd was present
Russian bees originated in the Primorsky Krai region of Russia and were imported into the United States in 1997 by the USDA’s Honeybee Breeding, Genetics & Physiology Laboratory in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in response to severe declines in bee populations caused by infestations of parasitic mites. 

Russian bees are:

  • very different than other bees.
  • Extremely adept at dealing with winter losses and varroa mite issues .
  • A little higher in price, although there is no need for chemical treatments and Russians have a better survival rate.
  • In demand!  Sources are more limited so getting an order in early is essential. 
  • Excellent at over-wintering.

    • Normally, Russian hives winter with a small to very small cluster, 3-4 frames, sometimes 2-3 frames. The small clusters can be the size of a grapefruit.
    • frugal with their winter stores-- Many Russian hives will come out of winter with only a two-frame cluster. Fewer bees, less winter store consumption. 
    • Russians take fewer cleansing flights.
    • The last winter bees die a month later than the Italians. 
    • Have a fast spring build up.
    • A strong natural pollen triggers extensive brood development
    • Russian queens will stop laying if there is a pollen or nectar dearth.

  •  A little tricky for queen introduction

    • Introducing a Russian Queen to a non-Russian colony is certainly possible; it just takes a little more time and prep.
    • If the nuc is Russian, introducing a Russian Queen is usually faster.
    • Hand release after 4-5 days and observe as mentioned before.
    • Check in 4-5 days to look for eggs and verify a successful introduction.

  • Tend to swarm more than Carniolans and Italians. 

    • When pollen and nectar become available the queen becomes very active and workers draw out foundation quickly and the queen fills up the frames fast. 
    • Swarming is not delayed while the workers build swarm cells. Russians already have them. 
    • Give them plenty of room.  Add supers immediately after division.
    • Brood cycle is shorter, worker brood hatched in 19 days instead of the 21.

  • Build and maintain supercedure queen cells all season long.

    • Best practice is to leave the queen cells alone, check for eggs. A queen getting ready to swarm will stop laying. 
    • They do not normally allow the new queen to mature unless the hive needs her. 

  • Have evasive queens.

    • There have been several reports that the Russian Queens move away from combs being worked by the beekeeper. 
    •  Trying to find the queen can be a large waste of time--it is usually best to separate the two deeps with a queen excluder. 
    • $1.50 for marked Queen is well worth it!

  •  Have excellent hygienic behavior.

    • Hygienic behavior can have a positive impact on a colony’s ability to control Varroa destructor populations. (69% vs 37%). 
    • Russian colonies showed Varroa mites with missing appendages and bite marks. 
    • Numerous observations of Russian bees grooming themselves and each other have been reported. 
    • Bottom boards—clean even after the long winter months. 
    • No mite treatment required. 

  • Have excellent honey production.
    • have a longer work day.

Characteristics by type and trait:


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Local Beekeeping Ordinances

Here is a great resource regarding local beekeeping ordinances put together by a U of MN law student. 

Now you can see what you are up against!