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How to Use Apivar Strips

I'm always baffled by beekeepers who don't know what to do about varroa mites. It's as if some people think it's a mysterious plague with no cure. There are quite a few ways to get rid of a varroa mite infestation! It really is quite simple.

About Apivar Strips

This blog post is about Apivar strips. Apivar strips are quite possibly the easiest mite treatment you can get. They require no tools and there's only two things you have to do - put them in and take them out. 

They use a synthetic chemical called amitraz and this really zeroes out your mite levels in the hive. However, in some areas this chemical has been overused and varroa mites resistant to amitraz have developed. In these areas, apivar is not very effective.

Amitraz is a synthetic chemical and quite toxic to humans, so use caution when working with it.

Will it work in your hives?

There's only 1 way to know for sure, use them and see what happens. Do a mite test, first, to see what your hive's...

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How to Use Bitter Almond Oil to get Bees Out of a Super (Without Needing a Fume Board)

There are lots of tricks the beekeeper has to saving time. This is one of my favorites. When I worked for an apiary with 4,000 hives, it was run by just 7 beekeepers. A trick I learned from them is to use bitter almond oil to get bees out of a honey super so you can harvest the honey. 

When using bitter almond oil to clear out a super, it's recommended that you use a fume board or breeze board to disperse the scent throughout the hive. However, I really hate buying equipment that I will only use once in awhile, nor do I have the room to store all of this stuff, so I try to use what I have laying around whenever possible. This makes for some "interesting" beekeeping on my part, but, hey, I find it fun :) 

 

In the YouTube video above, I show you my experience using bitter almond oil without a fume board or breeze board. First I try using a smoker to billow the scent into the super. This is recommended on Fischer's instructions as an...

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How Beekeeping Changes Through the Seasons

When you inspect a hive, you're usually checking the temper, space, activity, brood, and laying pattern. But there are additional duties you should be doing or at least keeping an eye out for depending on the season as well. 

I created a chart to help you understand what these seasonal tasks are and when they should be done. Thank Angela for this guide! She is a student and asked about the seasonal tasks beekeepers do. 

Beekeeping tasks through the seasons

Click here to download our In the Seasons Beekeeping Guide for free.

 

When using this guide, use the temperature range for each season as your main guide for when your duties will be changing. What month it is is not as important. Keep in mind, beekeeping is not an exact science. Some years you have a rainy spring and some years it's warm in March! You have to listen to your bees and notice what's going on in your environment. You do this by observing what's blooming, how active the bees are, what the queen is doing and the outside...

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My Top Small Hive Beetle Traps & How to Use Them

The small hive beetle is a pest found within the beehive. It is not as destructive as the varroa mite, but is something the beekeeper should be aware of. The most important thing the beekeeper can do to prevent an infestation is keep varroa mite levels low. A strong hive with few mites can defend themselves against beetles. This is not just my opinion, but something I learned from working at a commercial apiary with 4,000 hives. They lost over 75% of their hives to the small hive beetle and now hardly ever lose a hive to beetles. The only thing they do differently is treat for mites.

It is ok to see a few beetles scurrying around your hive. You should only be alarmed if you see a lot of beetles in the hive (not just under the lid but on the frames) especially walking around the comb in the center of the hive. However, most beekeepers hate seeing these guys in the hive and want to trap as many as they can, whether it's necessary or not. If you live somewhere with a cold...

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U.S. Beekeeping Associations According to State

Here's a list of state bee clubs as well as local beekeeping associations according to state.

If you can't find a local club in our list below, here are some additional ways you can find a local bee association:
  • Search on google for "[your county] bee association" as well as other nicknames and descriptions for your area. Some associations are named after their county, town, city or area of the state (like the Northern Jersey Bee Association). 
  • Search facebook for your local bee association. A lot of associations are moving to facebook instead of having a website.
  • Go to beesource.com, Women in Beekeeping facebook group or other Facebook groups with a lot of members and ask if anyone in your county knows of a local bee club. The Women in Beekeeping Facebook group is very active and has over 20,000 members. 
  • Ask the person at the honey table at your local farmer's market if they know of a local bee association.
  • In the list below, I have also...
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Harvesting from the Flow Hive Using a Long Tube & Other Tips

When you watch the Flow Hive video, everything looks perfect. The honey flows right into the jar. No bees fly into the honey. The honey doesn't go too fast or too slow. It looks magical. But then you do it and things don't go as smoothly.

I harvested from the flow hive this Summer and had some issues. Now if your hive is small, like in the flow videos, and is just one brood box with one honey super on top, you might not need this tutorial. But if you live somewhere cold and you need more than one super on your beehive or your hive is FULL like ours and bursting with bees, I hope you watch our video. I'm going to show you how to use a long tube when harvesting from the flow hive so that you don't have to stand there and wait for the honey to pour into jars. 

 

Flow Hive Harvest Tip #1 - Use a long tube and connect it to a 2.5 or 5 gallon bucket. Don't use individual jars unless you're opening just 1 frame. 

Attach a 1-3/8" tube to the tube that comes with the flow...

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How to Store Your Empty Frames of Comb Over Winter

You extracted some honey and now have a bunch of beautiful, drawn out comb. Ideally, you would store it until next Spring/Summer, but how can you do that without it getting attacked by insects and rodents?

For those of you who live in a place with a cold winter, you won't have to worry too much about insects attacking your comb, you just need to keep it safe from animals (mostly mice). Those of you in warm climates will have a tougher time with this because a lot of insects are going to want to eat the comb and it's a lot harder to keep them away.

TIP!

A way to keep the amount of frames you have to store down to a minimum is to do 2 smaller honey harvests instead of 1 big one. The bees will reuse the comb from the first harvest and you'll have fewer frames of comb to store over winter.

My #1 way to store drawn out comb in warm and cold climates is in a chest freezer or refrigerator. Here's why:

  • The gasket seal on chest freezers and refrigerators will keep out...
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How to Make a Solar Wax Melter Out of a Cooler. Takes 10 Minutes. No Tools Needed!

There are different ways to make a solar wax melter. The way I did it is probably the easiest and the fastest way to make one. That's why I chose this design, after all. I have an 18 month old child running around trying to throw his toys into the toilet. I don't have the time to build even the simplest of things. Here in Hawaii, we gets lots of sun and this design works great. However, I also include a few ways to make yours work better if you don't get as much sun.

Here's how you can make a solar wax melter in under 10 minutes

 

Materials:

  • cooler without a lid (or hinge) over the opening
  • piece of glass or thick plexiglass that is large enough to cover the top of the cooler
  • 2 clamps tall enough to hold the glass over the cooler or heavy rocks to put on the corners
  • #8 hardware cloth OR a strainer
  • aluminum pan large enough to cover the bottom of the cooler

 

A few things to mention about the materials. I used a styrofoam cooler because it was the...

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Beekeeping in the Summer Heat - Bearding, Robbing, Dearth & Hurricanes

Summer is a busy time for the bees. As a beekeeper, you may see the bees doing a variety of things that you're not used to - robbing, bearding, gathering water. I'm going to explain what all of these things are and what you can do, as a beekeeper, to help your bees. First, I just want to alleviate any concerns you may have because although the bees don't love it when it's over 100F out or when other bees are robbing them, this is very normal and something that happens every year. The bees have learned how to deal with these issues, for the most part, all on their own. As a beekeeper, there are some things you can do to help, but often beekeepers do too much and do more harm than good. So please don't try to solve all of your bees' problems for them. Trust that they have the equipment and knowledge needed to help themselves a lot of the time. 

What the Beekeeper Does in the Summer Time

In the Summer time or whenever there are a lot of flowers blooming and the bees are busy...

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What to do with old, dark comb

When bees secrete beeswax, it's white. As bees walk over the comb and fill it up with nectar and pollen, the wax turns various shades of orange and yellow. I can always tell the difference between my Spring and Summer honey because the Summer honey is bright yellow and so is the comb. It's almost neon, it's so bright. As the comb is in the hive even longer and especially in the brood section, then wax turns brown. This is mostly from propolis. Propolis is plant sap and super sticky and usually various shades of dark brown or a reddish brown. It stains not only wax but also clothing. It's why my white bee suit has brown stains all over it.

Why you want to remove old, dark comb from the hive

It's good practice to take out frames of comb that are a very dark brown because these frames are older and can harbor diseases. A good time to do this is in the Fall before you close up the hive for Winter or in the early Spring when the queen has just started...

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