Sunday, November 29, 2015

Beekeeping Talk and Gadgets

An amazing bunch of curious, smart and inventive beekeepers gathered together at our last meeting to discuss the latest news and to share ideas and home-made gadgets.  


The U of MN Beekeeping for Northern Climates classes continue to be very popular with the November Year 1 class drawing some 210 people.  You may still be able to register for the Year 1 Class and the Year 2 class that will be in February.  

The U of MN has updated their disease and pest booklet, and you can download it here.  They have lowered the threshold for treating mites.  Jim for Nature's Nectar reports of European Foulbrood around the state.  

The U of MN Bee and Pollinator Research Lab is fundraising with a Paver Campaign.  For $250 you can immortalize yourself and support this important research lab.  


Bob showed us his stainless steel entrance reducer.  It's a beauty with slots that the bees can get through and the mice can't.  I used one this fall on a hive that I could not fit the regular entrance reducer. I just shut off about half of the holes to reduce cold winter winds with duct tape (what else?). Bob is selling these for $5.

Laurie shared her "flow hive" with the club.
Flow Hive Frame
The theory is that the bees fill the cells with honey, they are capped and then the beekeeper inserts a lever to "open" the cells so the honey flows out.  It will be interesting to get Laurie's report after she uses the flow hive.  A few questions raised about the flow hive were "how do you know the moisture level of the honey?" and "how does it work when gunked up with propolis?".  Stay tuned, we shall see!


There was of talk on vaporizing oxalic acid with home made gadgets.
Steve's vaporizer
Liz's method

Steve made one based on this video.  Liz made one, the general consensus was that her customized charcoal briquette heater (gets up to 600 degrees) was perhaps a little scary.  Here is her video. 

A safer and easier method may be to visit Jim at Nature's Nectar.  

A treatment-free way to reduce your mite load is through brood break.   Here is the "gold standard" in splitting from Mel Disselkoen using nucs.  I use the "walk away split" to achieve a brood break, and to avoid spending money on a new queen.  You will sacrifice some honey for the season from that hive, but you should end up with a strong colony that will build up fast.

  • Split a strong colony, and let the queenless split make its own queen.  
    • You can use a nuc for this.  Make sure you have a frame of eggs and two frames of brood, capped and uncapped, and a couple frames of pollen and honey.  Remember brood in the center.  Have loads of nurse bees covering the frames.  Give them some sugar water, and leave it alone for 4 weeks.  When you check back, you should see eggs.
    • It is important to have 2 weeks of 70 degree days before doing a walk-away-split.  This is to ensure drones are present.

Attention turned to wax melting. Adrian's shared his "Presto Pot" method.

Wax is melted in the Presto pot, then strained through old sweatshirts.  The wax comes out clean and yellow.  This is a good method because it is self contained and can be done in an outdoor building.  Remember, wax is extremely flammable, so it is best to avoid using your stovetop and oven.  I prefer the solar melter method.  The solar melter is limited because you need sunny, warm days to melt wax, but it works great with very little fuss.  I put my wax on top of a strong paper towel that is held to the top of a small bucket with a rubber band.  The bucket has a bit of water in the bottom.  The wax melts, and you remove it from the water and compost the paper towel.  No matter what kind of brown, burr wax you put in there, it comes out a beautiful bright yellow color.

What happens when you extract your honey and find that the water content is over 18.6%?  Quick make mead!  Or, you can use Tom's Bucket Honey Dryer!  Utilizing an aquarium air pump, some PVC with brass fasteners, and a fan, Tom showed us how we can make our own "honey volcano" to dry out your honey to an acceptable level.

Thank you for another great meeting and looking forward!
December 20th join us to hear Crystal Boyd from the MN Department of Natural Resources.  
January 2016 meeting Pesticides: What Beekeepers Need to Know
March 8 2016 People For Pollinators education day