Beekeeping Feed

a new season of beekeeping








This morning I installed a nucleus colony of honeybees!   I am happy to be embarking on a new season of beekeeping.  I am learning a little more each year - and most of all enjoying the experience.  

I had some frames with capped honey that I saved in my deep freezer to put in with this new hive.   I also saved the honey lined plastic foundation from my honey harvest that the bees gravitated to right away.

With a yard full of dandelions and apple blossoms and a forest rich with blueberry blossoms, I know they have some nectar to seek out along with a variety of pollen sources.

Now we have chickens, pigs, a planted garden and honeybees.  A perfect way to start my summer break!

Garden notes 5/11 -a photographic garden journal

I am going to try to record, document and share snapshots of our garden this year.


Here's our starting point!   Not too exciting, but I am happy to be digging in the dirt again.


We have a little garden neighbor - our angora bunny, who has been dubbed "Checker."  He was hopping all around today, excited with a little company (the mama digging in the dirt and four crazy kids in the backyard playing on the swing set).IMG_9460

We still have our girls.  I am still waiting on a hatch in my kindergarten classroom.  But we will be holding steady with this batch of layers this year.


I have two nucs of bees on order, but right now they are somewhere warmer than here - which is just fine.  I am eager to plant, but as  it is currently snowing, I am content keeping all of our seedlings indoors.

Cheers to the start of a new garden season!


::with gratitude to the bees - an unexpected honey harvest::



A couple of weeks ago I checked in on my bees and determined one of the two hives that I tried to overwinter was still buzzing.  Yesterday, checked in with intentions of adding a pollen patty (protein source) and I found that the small cluster of bees that made it through the winter had since perished.   

This hive was strong going into the winter and even now had quite a surplus of honey.  I decided to take three frames of honey for an early spring harvest, saving a couple of full frames for the for the new bees that I will be starting over with later this spring.  

6a01053643b439970b017616aaff75970c-500wiThis was a fun learning experience that resulted in a yield of wonderful raw honey from my very own hives…and a very sticky kitchen.


I used the "crush and strain" method to harvest my honey, using materials and supplies I had on hand - learning as I was going along.IMG_9181





I also rendered the wax to use for lip balm and lotion bar recipes.







Even though I will be starting over this spring, I am happy with my unexpected harvest, and I am eager to embark on another season of beekeeping.


::hanging in there


 my two hives bundled up for the winter


 a brave honeybee peeking out of the second entrance that I drilled in the hive

A took a visit to my two beehives that I am trying to overwinter this past weekend and I was pleasantly surprised,  both colonies were buzzing!  I even saw some bees flying about taking some cleansing flights, which was pretty neat to see.

Things are looking promising so far!

wrapping things up.






The bees are all wrapped up.

It has been an interesting year of beekeeping.  This year I started with two strong nucleus colonies and these hives are going into the winter stronger than any others that I have tried to overwinter before.

In my experiences I have learned that the odds are not exactly stacked in your favor attempting to keep bees in Northern Minnesota. It is now October 11 and already we have winter coats, boots, mittens and hats in use and ready for action in our crowded entryway. We have had several days of morning frost and even some snow flurries. So closing up the hives for the winter has been on my to-do list.  

Right now I have about 9 full frames of honey in the second deep super in each hive. (The bottom super is the brood chamber, where the queen lays eggs.)  This year I did not harvest any honey. I am just hoping that these hives make it through the winter.  I am trying something a little different to insulate the hives from our harsh winter weather. I purchased a Bee Cozy winter wrap for each hive. They will offer more protection and insulation than the tar paper that I have been putting on in years past. They pretty much just slip on over two supers.  I put them on the hives earlier in the week.  I also changed the orientation of the entrance reducer and drilled a second winter entrance. In the whole process I was stung once, which was not too bad considering how much I was disturbing the bees on a chilly afternoon.

Today I made a candy board for each of the hives as a winter supplementary food source if the bees need it. My plan now is to leave them alone, and if they don't make it through cold snap(s) of -40 below zero in December or January, I just might harvest the honey in the winter. Time will tell, but for now they are all wrapped up.

With this hobby of beekeeping I have learned so much, and I still have so much to learn!