Honey Flow

honey-flowHoney Flow

Don’t the words just sound like they’re meant to be together? Honey Flow. Yummy. If you’ve been talking to me lately, you know that I won’t shut up about the honey flow. So what is it?

The summer honey flow is Continue reading

Bee Bearding — it’s a real thing.

bearding copyJuly is a great month to be a bee. This is the time of year that beekeepers refer to as the honeyflow. This is when flowers are in full bloom, nectar is abundant and the air is full of the sweet aroma of summer. 

Bees will make dozens of trips into the urban jungle each day, visiting their favorite nectar sources. They will deposit the nectar in the wax comb where it will eventually become honey. They will also tell their sisters where they found the nectar, enticing them to join in on the bounty.

July is also hot. Hotter than a billy goat in a pepper patch. When the humidity rises with the temperature, bees will instinctively ventilate their hive. Incredibly, they line up in front of their hive entrance and beat their wings, creating a powerful breeze that flows through the stacks of honeycomb.

To improve ventilation on particularly hot days, thousands of bees will step outside the hive to create more room and to reduce heat build-up. This is called bearding. It is a natural and normal thing for bees to do. It does not indicate overcrowding or swarming, though it can look alarming the first time you notice it.

If you see bees covering your hive on a hot day, think cool thoughts and watch them do what they do best: make honey.

Early Pollen, and other thoughts

pollen beeIt’s good to be a bee in May. Temps are warming up, the queen is laying eggs, and even though you may not see a lot of blooms, the bees are finding them. During the early evenings, you may notice bees like the one in this picture with little dots of yellow and gold on their hind legs. Honeybees are equipped with pollen baskets on these appendages.

Pollen is extremely important for bees in the early spring. Pollen is their protein source. It gives them strength and is also what they feed the developing larvae. Without pollen, their sisters-to-be will perish.

Take a few moments on a nice day to get close to the hive entrance and watch as bees laden with pollen return home. It is fascinating to see the different hues of yellow, gold and orange pollen that they find.

Thank you 2013 Hive Hosts

honey-bee-backyard-hiveSeven inches of snow, sleet, ice pellets and rain is on the way. Temperatures hover in the 30s. We haven’t seen the sun in days. But dag’gammit, the new honey bee hive hosts have bee hives in their backyards! Thanks to everyone who decided to host a hive this year. I know the permit process is a long and arduous task. Your love of honey bees saw you through, and now you’re hosting your very own hive. A thousand thank yous, and tens of thousands of thank yous from all the honey bees that have a place to live!

Cheers,
Skinny Jake & Kerstin

Out like a lion

march-honeybeesI’ve been wondering when this would happen: a long, drawn-out, cold and bitter end of winter. Weather has been merciful to me since I began beekeeping. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. March is going out like a lion.

Late winter/early spring is a crucial time for honeybees in northern climes. They have reached the end of their honey stores and have the added challenge of keeping early brood warm.

If the weather is average, beekeepers can easily supplement the bees with extra honey or pollen patties. This year the cold north wind and late season snow has made it difficult to get into the hives. Of our 20 hives, I suspect half will survive. I’ve ordered packages of carniolans to supplement our lost hives and am excited to install them in April.

I’ve been working with some wonderful Minneapolitans this winter who are willing to host hives in their backyards. The permit process has been going since January. As each hive finds a new backyard home, Minneapolis becomes more of an awesome urban jungle.