Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Yogi and Boo Boo Are Not Invited

A hearty bunch slogged through the rain to talk bees and bear fencing on June 16, 2014.  Missing our meeting reporter, Marcie, --we did not think to take any pictures.

Paul L. and Kathy F. and the other Warner Nature Center Apiary staff hosted us at their locale.  I think around 2011, Warner started working on a honey bee education initiative. Paul built the observation hive and I'm guessing he and others trained the staff. Like all of us, they got the 'bug' so to speak and soon wanted more.  It took a few fundraising efforts and lots of volunteer efforts to get an apiary up an running. Luckily, they had already met the resident bear so prepared ahead of time for his/her advances.  Paul constructed the apiary fence with a few extra tweaks. Its on a timer to cycle off during daytime student programming and has a red light, like a dark room, to tell you when its on. Access is creatively made using a springtype grip on the end of each cable run and undoing its eye and hook system. I'll add a picture if we get one.


Reminder of the June 20th deadline for discounted rooms for the MN Honey Producers Conference in St. Cloud from some young beek in the room.

Reception of samples of the Canadian Bee Periodical Hivelights to our library. The magazine is put out by the Canadian Honey Council four times a year. Past issues are available online and there is an enewsletter you can sign-up for.

Donation from John B. of his extra honey containers. (most were regifted to Warner Nature Center for their honey sale supported bee education initiatives)

Kathy F. noted Mann Lake has partnered with Warner for the next five years to support their Apiary and they want name suggestions for the People Hive aka Apiary Observation Room. (like how I snuck that in)

David W. donated bee periodicals to our club library.

Forgotten Announcements

Mike M. wanted to share A Star Trib article Food companies work with farmers on sustainability 

Bob S. donated Robbing the Bees by Holley Bishop to our club library. While I'm at it he has donated a handful of other books too. Most of them are being read by somebody. If they show up in the bin they are yours to borrow.

A welcome to new members.  We'll have you introduce yourself next meeting.


Paul L. showed the club a grizzly bear fence experiment. Our Minnesota black bears might be more reserved but I don't know. I've heard meeting your neighbors, let alone confronting them about their vittles, is not done here. Here's the link: Nols Bear Fence Test

Bob S. alerted us to the very fine info available from the MN DNR Wildlife Damage Program on Bear fencing. Construction Details for Bear Fence and
Yes, there are two links and its somewhat redundant. You pay taxes every year, you get multiple pdfs. I'm pretty sure all 50 states have their own version of these as well.

Brady and Yogi bear showed the electric fence he has put in. Its power was trenched off the house. He recommends deep ground rods backfilled with moisture absorbing soil if you're at a sandy site and to peruse Fleetfarms electric fencing displays to make sure you come home with all the parts. He used this polywire:
and this AC energizer:

Adrian talked a bit about planning your location so you can maximize the expense and not to forget about the best gate location. (a bit self referential) He showed us his solar energizer which was recommended on beesource. He also recommends that polywire above.

Some chicken person busted in to tell us about Premier One ready to go portable roll out electric fencing with poles embedded. It might be this: Crazy Chicken People. Somewhere Bob S. also mentioned the flashing light fence option. Don't move near me if you are considering that one.


Kathy F. and Paul L. ended the night with a tour of Warner's observation hive, electric fenced apiary, apiary observation room and way too organized beeshed. Those not dressed in giant baggies asked intelligent questions.

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! No, It's Super Swarm Collector!

Swarming is a big concern for many beekeepers.  First, who wants to lose their bees?  Secondly, some of us live in more city-type environs with close neighbors and REALLY don't want them to swarm, as one can never be too sure about how one's neighbors will feel about that.  Particularly, as our very own Bob Sitko pointed out At the last gathering of the Honey Bee Club of Stillwater,  honeybees are not too fussy where they swarm, it kinda depends on how fit the queen is to travel.  Here are some of the more interesting swarm destinations:

We talked in the last meeting about how to prevent your hives from swarming, and a real easy way to split your hives is the Overnight Split.


An excellent method of splitting spring colonies which is fast, avoids looking for the old queen, and ends with all young bees which easily accept a new queen.

1 – Place an upside down outer cover and empty hive body next to the hive to be split (the parent).
2 – Open the parent hive and remove 5 frames of brood, one frame at a time, shaking (and brushing) the bees back into the parent.
3 – Place the now bee-less brood frames into the middle of the empty hive body, sealed brood in the center, open brood next to them.
4 – Remove two combs of pollen; shake off all the bees, and place them next to the open brood , one on each side.
5 – Repeat with two frames of honey, removed from the parent, shaken, and placed out side of the pollen frames.
6 – Place the inner cover on the split to conserve heat.
7 – Any brood remaining in the parent colony should be moved to the center and empty frames given on each side.
8 – Put an excluder on top of the parent colony, the new split on top of the excluder, outer cover and you are done.

Here is how it works: Overnight, the bees (mostly nurse bees) move up to cover and care for the brood while the queen remains below the excluder. The following morning, move the split to a new stand and give them a new queen using the slow release method.
Bob Sitko


Beekeepers are always looking for a Free-Bee.  Swarms are a sweet deal, not only because of the next-to-nothing cash outlay, but they are all set to draw comb and make honey.  

You don't even need a telephone booth to turn into SUPER SWARM COLLECTOR.  Impress everyone that passes your way by being fully prepared with these items:
  • Bee Suit and Veil
  • Box of some sort
    • Ultimately, this box would be equipped with 3 frames of foundation, 3 frames of dark, drawn comb, and some lemon grass oil as a lure.  
The Ultimate Swarm Collection Set-Up

Or just suck 'em in with this "Bee Vac"
Super Nerd, or Super Beekeeper?

  • Pole Net
    Pole net made from feed bag and electrical conduit.

  • Bee Brush
  • Pruner/Lopper/Folding saw
  • Scoop fashioned from a milk jug
  • Duct tape (A life necessity) 
And remember, Don't Smoke and Don't Spray when collecting a swarm!  (That is, no smoker or sugar spray).


Pretend that you've collected that swarm, they are spinning honey like crazy.  You will want to re-queen at some point.  You need to find the old queen, and if she isn't marked, it's harder than finding Waldo, so you may want to mark her.  

marking tube
Plastic doodad that traps queen on foundation

We've heard of the queen "fainting" when being held in order to mark her.  Since this is the 21st Century, most queens have abandoned their corsets, but are prone to hypoxia when too much pressure is put on her abdomen.  Bob showed us some cool thingamajigs that make handling the queen unnecessary while marking her.  

Bob uses Tester's Model Airplane Paint.  Don't forget to let they paint dry before you release her, or you'll have a real mess.  

Until next time………...