Creating a Monarch Waystation

Snow is covering the ground here, and the bees are all clustered around their respective queens keeping them warm for the winter.  Just before the really cold weather hit, Doug installed quilt boxes and inserted winter patties into each hive.  Quilt boxes contain burlap and wood shavings that can absorb condensation.  Moisture is a killer of bees in the winter.  The bee cluster stays about 80 degrees F, and moisture can condense on the inner cover of the hive.  The quilt box catches the condensation instead of letting it drip back onto the bees.  Most of our bees have lots of stored honey, but the winter patties are an extra source of nutrition just in case they need it.  Since the bees are all snuggled in for the winter, I decided to write about what I have been doing to transform my flower garden into a monarch waystation. Continue reading

Halloween without Bees Would be Scary

My social media feed is currently full with pictures of friends helping their kids carve jack-o-lanterns.  I have fond childhood memories of sitting on the kitchen floor and carving jack-o-lanterns.  Mom put newspaper down in an attempt to keep the pumpkin carnage off her cabinets and counter tops.  Dad did the knife work and tried to faithfully carve out the designs my brother and I drew on the pumpkins with a marker.  I was allowed to “scoop out the guts” which is what we called the seeds and stringy inside flesh.  Who doesn’t love a happy jack-o-lantern on the front porch in October?  Pumpkins have come to symbolize fall, but this fall tradition would not be possible without bees. Continue reading

Humorous Encounters Teaching Kids about Bees

One of my favorite things to do is to teach kids about honey bees.  Our local bee club makes outreach a priority, and we receive many requests each year to give presentations at schools, scout meetings, and church groups.  I have had the opportunity to participate in many of those outreach events and all I can say is, “God bless all of you public school teachers!”  Keeping a group of young kids focused on what you are trying to teach is about as easy as getting a honey bee that flew up your pant leg to go back down.  (By the way, it is impossible to get a honey bee to go back down your pant leg.  That’s why it is a good idea wrap something around your pants legs to keep the bees out when you are working the hives.  One of my fellow beekeepers calls it the Honey Bee Hoedown when a bee flies up a person’s pants.)  In this week’s post, I thought I would give you a flavor of what it is like to teach a classroom full of kids about bees. Continue reading

Bee Chemotherapy – Part II

Have you noticed that whenever things don’t work out the way people want people frequently say, “Well, at least I learned a lot.”  “I learned a lot,” is a nice code phrase that lets people know that things didn’t go well at all but you are either choosing to be optimistic or you don’t want to share your problems with the world.  In Part I, I discussed how Doug and I were treating our bees with formic acid to lower the varroa mite levels.  In case you were wondering how things went with the treatment, all I can say is:  “Well, at least we learned a lot.” Continue reading

Bee Chemotherapy – Part I

All our bees are currently undergoing the beekeeping equivalent of chemotherapy.  In a previous post, I wrote about how our bees are infected with varroa mites.  (If you missed the post, you can reach it by clicking here.)  This week we treated  our eight hives with formic acid.  If you think beekeeping is all about singing sweetly to your bees while you happily collect honey, you would be wrong.  Sometimes beekeeping means you put on chemically resistant gloves and place acid inside your hives in the name of integrated pest management. Continue reading