Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ceracell Beekeeping Supplies "New Top Hive Feeder"

If you have ever used a top hive bee feeder, you probably already know they have their pro's & con's. Depending on the style of top hive feeder, some have floats that don't fully stop drowning issues and others allow access to syrup through a screened middle middle sections. The problem with feeding through the middle is that when the syrup level drops, it recedes to the lowest side of the hive making it inaccessible for the bees. Then days later the remaining syrup begins to mold leaving the feeder in need of a good cleaning before it can be re-used.

Ceracell Beekeeping Supplies in New Zealand took a good long look into these problems and redesigned the feeder. The new design feature 100% virgin plastic, access to syrup in all 4 corners and the middle, plus it hold 2.5 gallons of syrup. In the winter months, it can be used to feed dry sugar, like the mountain camp method. Just remove the middle and corner covers so the bees can reach the sugar.

I am proud to say that after working with Ceracell and testing out the feeder it is now available in the USA. The current US distributor is working hard to keep the price low but bare in mind that shipping from New Zealand is very expensive.

Purchase Feeder Here:

My Top Feeder video

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Honey Bee Alcohol Mite Wash

Over the years of beekeeping varroa mites have always been a problem. The first few years I did nothing to the colony to help them with their mite population. That resulted in dead colonies over winter. I quickly learned that by treat in August my colonies would have enough time to raise healthy bees for winter. My overwintering success rate jump dramatically but still I did not know what the mite population was. Were my bees infested or did they have any varroa hygiene sensitivity of any king? This year I was convinced by a fellow beekeeper read an article by Randy Oliver of Scientific about mites counts and ways to check them. Not long after reading this article I gave it a try. It was not hard, it only took a few minutes per hive. I learned that some of my colonies manage mites very well with any assistance from me. They averaged 1.6 mites per hundred. My worst out of 20 colonies was 4 per hundred.

To do this test you will need a few items.

1. Rubbing Alcohol
2. 2 Mason Jar (lids will need modified, link here)
3. 1/2 cup measure cup
4. Large bowl or tub (white is best)
5. Water

NOTE: Rubbing alcohol is very flammable so keep it away from your smoker at all times.

Step 1

First go into your colony and find the queen, set her frame to the side for her protection. Then look for a frame of brood in mixed stages (open and close cells). After the frame is found shake it over your large bowl. Then quickly shake the bees into the corner or edge of bowl and scoop up a 1/2 cup and pour them into the mason jar. Place the lid on the jar before any escape. Dump the remaining bees in the bowl back into the hive and close it up.

Step 2
A 1/2 cup of bees is approximately 300 bees, which we now have contained in the mason jar. Now pour rubbing alcohol through the screened lid until the bees are all floating, screw on the top jar and shake, shake, shake. The shaking will dislodge the mites from the bees.

Step 3
Pour the alcohol into the bowl and watch for mites. After the jar has emptied you can better the results of the test by washing the bees a few more times but with water. The bees and mites are dead so alcohol is not needed anymore. I like to wash them 3 additional times to make sure I have all the mites for my mite count.

Step 4

After you get your mite count you need to do some math to figure the mite population. For this example lets say I found 12 mites.

12 Mites divided by 300 bees (what we had in jar)= 0.4 x 100 = 4%   or 4 mites per hundred bees

Remember before doing this test you will need to modify a mason jar lid scroll down about half way and you will find how to modify it.

Or you can purchase a jar with the modified lid

This population chart shows the growth curve of mite over bees in Aug.- Sept.. A colony with this heavy of a mite load would most likely not survive winter without some kind of a treatment.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Honey Bee Healthy Recipe

This is a homemade version of Honey B Healthy which is much cheaper to make than to buy. It is added to the bees feed to encourage feeding. However studies show it can increase robbing because surrounding bees are attracted by the smell. I recommend when using to not have hives open any longer than necessary. 
*  5 cups water
*  2 1/2 pounds of sugar
*  1/8 teaspoon lecithin granules (used as emulsifier)
*  15 drops spearmint oil
*  15 drops lemongrass oil

Bring water to a boil and mix in sugar until dissolved. Once dissolved remove from heat. Then immediately add lecithin and essential oils. Stirring until everything is well mixed. The aroma is very strong and and will attract bees. Use caution to not leave container open around bees. Let cool before use.

After cooling store in a mason jar. To use add 4 teaspoons per gallon of 1:1 sugar syrup. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Queen Rearing Calendar

This queen rearing calendar has a feature that most do not. It's self generating! You simply enter your planned grafting date and the calendar lays out the dates with all the steps. It's easy. The calendar is setup for using a cell starter but gives you lots of information regardless the method used to raise your queens. Download yours and give it a try.

Download Now!

Friday, February 13, 2015

DIY Bee Hive Entry Disc

Are you ready to upgrade your bee hive entrance reducers?  Well I created this pattern for anyone how wants to make their own. All you'll need is a few tools and some kind of material to make the disc from. 1/4" plywood works good or some plastic sheeting.

TIP: After cutting out your disc several can be drilled at once by stacking them to save time. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Queen Rearing With A Cell Starter (Kit)

Are you ready to try your hand at raising your own queen bees? With the average price of a single
queen being $25 each. Having the ability to raise your own queen bees can save you lots of money. Plus there is a major benefit to being able to raise queens from survival stock. These are the colonies that live through winter
and are great stock to graft from. Imagine being able to pick out traits you like from different survival colonies. Such as: colony temperament, large full laying patterns and high honey yields. So why would you not want to learn queen rearing?

There are several ways to raise queens honey bees. This method works regardless of the number you're wanting to raise. From the backyard beekeeper raising a few queens each year to the full timer raising hundreds at a time. This system always offers high queen cell acceptance and finishing results. Giving the beekeeper the queens they need and many more.

NOTE: A strong double deep hive works best for this procedure. Since it makes transferring frames around easiest.

                                            Kit includes: 2 E-books, 1 Downloadable Video Tutorial                                                                                                                                          (everything shown below)

Building A Cell Starter Start To Finish   
 This e-book will guide you through all the steps to build your own with just a few tools.
                               *Supply list
                               *Simple building instructions
                               *Detailed drawings with dimensions
                               *Easily attaches to a standard 5 frame nuc

Queen Rearing With A Cell Starter  
  This e-book will guide you through the full process of raising your own queens.
                              *Setting up cell starter and finisher colony
                              *Day by day steps to follow during process
                              *Detailed instructions and pictures
                              *Easy guide for first time grafters
                              *Setting up mating nucs

Video Tutorial (MP4 format)
 Some people including myself learn faster when they can see something done vs reading instructions. This detailed video includes the full process from beginning to end of raising queens.

Buy your kit today for only

E-books come through email along with a downloadable link to video. Also included is a link to watch video online without any downloading if that option is easier. All links and downloads will only work for purchaser.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Langstroth Bee Hive Plans

If you decide to build your own equipment Pine is commonly used. Just make sure you paint them with a good exterior paint. Or you can stain them and use a exterior polyurethane. Just keep in mind exterior paints hold up better than exterior polyurethanes.   

Cypress and Cedar lumber are great exterior lumbers but you pay a little more for them. Avoid using heavy dense lumber like Oak. They may seem like a good idea until you have to carry/ lift them very much. Let the bees add the weight to the boxes..

(To print right click on image and select PRINT)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Observation Hive & Winter

I started keeping bees in my observation hive in the fall of 2013 and since then have learned a great deal about them. I have also learned the differences between keeping bee outside in a standard bee hive versus the observation hive. The elements outside play a huge part on outdoor colonies as where a observation hive is inside a structure such as a home or office where something like the temperature is controlled. Understanding these differences will help you maintain a observation hive.

Basic Understanding
Bees will begin to cluster around 55 degrees(F) this is where they form a ball around each other and food to keep each other warm. The bees on the outside of the cluster will work their flight muscles to generate heat. After a period of time the outside layer of bees will move towards the center of the cluster and a new group of bees will heat the cluster. This is how everyone stays warm.

During long cold periods bees may eat all of the food in the clustered area and be unable to move due to the cold so they die. I have seen this time and time again. These colonies maybe as close as 1 inch from a food source and they starve.

Bees need energy to work these flight muscles that keep them warm. During warmer winters I have witnessed the bees over eating and running themselves out of food. In this case it's up to the beekeeper to do a emergency winter feeding before they run out. This is done by feeding fondant or even dry sugar. If feeding is not done the colony will die from starvation.

A Different Side
So as you can see there are great factors at play with a outdoor colonies. A lot of which can be controlled in a indoor environment. With  observation hive feeding during winter is greatly different. I feed my bees sugar syrup as needed during fall/winter and the colony is able to store the food in the comb and eat it as needed. Where outdoor colonies can not move to syrup feeders because they are in full cluster.

On the down side of feeding in a observation hive the more they eat the more they need to defecate. Bees will usually wait for a slightly warmer day to do this. During the winter of 2013 we where hammered by extreme cold from the Polor Vortex as of much of the U.S.. This kept the bees trapped inside and not able to defecate. By the end of March I was starting to see signs of Nosema. I did not treat I let the bees manage the issue which lead to a real slow spring build up. This fall (2014) I did some research on Nosema and found Nozevit. Nozevit is a organically approved treatment for Nosema. It is fed to the bees in their syrup and it's supposed to prevent Nosema and boost colony build up come spring. So I am anxious to see if I can tell a major difference once spring arrives.

Feeding Protein Patties
I like to feed my Langstroth colonies pollen patties for a source of protein. Protein is used in a hive to raise more brood. This is a problem in a observation hive unless you are prepared to take the colony outdoors each time to install a patty. Which here in Ohio is not a option during winter. Bees seem to ignore these patties if they are not close to the brood frames. This is where the problem come into play. How do you feed a patty to bees in a observation hive? Can it be done without releasing bees into the home or office?

I have experimented feeding chucks of patties in a small enclosure on the side of my hive but like I mentioned before. They seem to ignore it. There will be a few bees working it but not like expected. This something that I need to address. Or you should keep in mind if your decide to build your own observation hive.

Build Your Own Observation Hive

Winter is a great time to build a observation hive. Below is direction to build a hive similar to mine.

To see my Observation Hive video go here

Saturday, November 15, 2014

How Honey Bees Communicate Part 1 Test

Did you know honey bees produce a pheromone when they swarm? These pheromones act as a chemical message to other bees. In this short series you will learn how honey bees communicate with each other. Learn about the different pheromone producing glands and when they are used.

Test yourself! At the end of this video you can take this short test to see how much information you learned.

 *Already watched video then START HERE*

Now if your ready, grab a sheet of paper and answer these questions. Lets see what you remember or maybe already knew.

1. When bees swarm they use which gland to keep them grouped together?

A. Tarsal
B. Venom
C. Nasonov
D. Nectar

2. The first stage of the Alarm pheromone comes from?

A. Venom Sac
B. Mandibular Gland
C. Pollen Basket
D. Fanning

3. The Nasonov gland is located on the bees _________.

A. Head
B. Wings
C. Butt
D. Feet

4. The population ratio of forager and nurse bees is controlled by ________?

A. Queen pheromone
B. Forager pheromone
C. Worker bees
D. Brood

5.  Which pheromone is found on flower bees are foraging?

A. Alarm
B. Nasonov
C. Footprint
D Foraging

Click Here For Answers

How Honeybees Communicate Test Answers

Well now it's time to see how you did. Here are the answers.

1. C
2. B
3. C
4. B
5. C

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Treating Mites With Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS)

If you have kept bees for very long than you know about the Varroa mite. This pest returns to the hive on foraging bees that are working the flowers. To give you an idea of the size comparison if we were the bee the mite would be the size of a rabbit. Now think some bees have several mites on them. After it gets it's free ride into the hive it's goal is to enter into the cell with a young egg of a honeybee preferably a drone egg. This is where it will feed and lay eggs over the next few days. So by it feeding on the bees it weakens them infesting them with pathogens and viruses. Which completely destroys the colony especially during winter months.

To better understand the Varroa Mites life cycle click here

The best option if I were to choose is to raise bees that have good hygienic behavior. These bees would manage the mites themselves by keeping each other clean and removing infected brood. But this is not always an option.

 No one likes to use strong chemicals in their hive or even around the colony. So I use Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) for mite control.  Plus you can treat with honey supers on and they are not affected. This option has been found to be certified organic with the active ingredient being formic acid. Ideally you want to treat in the spring and pre-fall. It's best if the colony can raise 2 full batches of brood before the cold weather forces clustering. That way you are sure to have strong healthy bees for winter.

The Facts About Formic Acid

Proper Way to Place Strips On Hive
Formic Acid naturally occurs in a hive at 1-5 parts per million (ppm). Honeybees are comfortable at 40 ppm and higher. However Formic Acid is toxic to varroa mites at 20 ppm. From the research I found the bees will hold it around 40 ppm for 3-4 days. Before dropping it back to 1-5 ppm (normal) about a week later.The bees are able to drop the ppm by fanning and increases the ventilation in the colony.

Beekeeper have been concerned for years about treatments contaminating the wax in the hive. Formic acid is not lipophilic, so it can not absorb into the wax. This acid is natures defense chemical with it being the defense of some plants such as stinging nettles and insects such as ants. Some birds will carry ants on them because they keeps the mites off them.

Colonies Response

 In most cases the treatment goes without issues. But in some cases I have witnessed bees bearding outside the hive after treatment. This has been a rare site though my bee yard during treatment but have seen it happen. As long as they have proper ventilation you should not attempt to adjust treatment let the bees manage it. Some colonies may have some egg and brood loss at the start of treatment others do not.

Any queen cells found before or after time of treatment should be left alone for queen to emerge and mate.

 MAQS Corrosive Behavior

Formic acid is corrosive to metal. So make sure you do not lay them on the hive lids while opening a colony. Also if you use metal excluders make sure the strips are not touching. I recommend using plastic excluders with treatment but a spacer will allow room for the MAQS and a metal excluder without any corrosive activity.

As you can see in the picture I use metal excluders. They have wood running through them which works to keep the strips from touching the metal. This seems to work fine. It's the physical contact of the strips to metal that is corrosive.

                                                  Watch My Full Demonstration In This Video

Before treating, I do recommend a mite count to see where the mite level is. Learn to do a alcohol mite wash here

Info source:

MAQS Facts

National Organic Program Regulation

Treating Mites With Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS)

If you have kept bees for very long than you know about the Varroa mite. This pest returns to the hive on foraging bees that are working th...

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