Bee Packages Ordered! (April 23, 2011)

I am convinced that Spring is on the way.  The two plus feet of new fallen snow is not what convinced me either:)  It’s not even that the days are getting longer.  We just ordered our bee packages for pick up sometime near the end of April.  The job of deciding on what type of bees we wanted this year again rested on Marisa’s shoulders.  She is the one who started this bee keeping hobby for us and since she studied it the most, we rely on her good judgement to make a well thought out  decision.   It’s probably alot to rely on one so young at the age of 17 but Fred encourages all of the children to start something they enjoy.

This spring we will have (8)  3 pound packages of Italian bees and (8)   3 pound packages of  Minnesota Hygienic.  These will be added to our other Italian bees.  Each of the packages were ordered and paid for at Nature’s Nectar in Stillwater, MN.   The reason we switched to this seller is because we have to drive to pick them up and it is at least 2 hours closer!  The supplier on that end gets the bees from the same place as Mann Lake Ltd though, who also has good healthy bees.   Each of the packages cost $79.00 per package plus $5.00 per package deposit on the bee boxes.  The money will be refunded next year when we pick up packages again or when we get in that area again.

The Italian bees did so well this year that we wanted to add more of them.  It is a very popular breed and is very hearty, docile and a great  honey producer.   They are good comb producers and the large brood that they produce makes for fast colony growth.  The maintain a large winter colony which requires large stores of food.  They winter well in cold climates and have some good disease tolerance.

The Minnesota Hygienic bees she chose mainly because of their disease resistance.  They detect disease or mite infested brood and quickly remove them from the hive.  They also withstand the Minnesota cold winters.  If anyone is interested in this particular breed you can do some research online before deciding to try them.  We will report here how they do later on in the season.

The bees are still alive and we think they are running a bit low on honey.  Next year we are going to leave them even more honey because our winters are so long and frigid.  We hope they can hold out until the weather warms up.  One thing about bees,  as with farm livestock, you never stop learning and that makes it an interesting challenge.

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About Callens Honey Farm

We live on a small family farm located in S.W. Minnesota, near the South Dakota border. The source of our honey is from white and red clover. The honey appears as liquid gold in color. Our honey is extracted using a hand cranked centrifugal force extractor. Then the honey is screened once into a holding container from which we later fill the small honey bottles. We do not heat treat the honey nor add any other ingredients. Pure and natural is our Minnesota honey! What could taste better?
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6 Responses to Bee Packages Ordered! (April 23, 2011)

  1. Mary says:

    I’m glad your bees are still alive! Andrew can’t find any local bees, I don’t know if it’s too late in the season or what, but our bees are probably coming from Ca again. Though this time he’s going to get a local queen and throne her into our colonies. See if that will produce a more adaptable brood.

    Good luck with everything guys!

    • Thanks Mary,
      Our bees will be coming from California. The ones we have now also came from there and seemed very healthy when they came in. They continue to be healthy even in the cold.
      I wouldn’t be afraid of buying them. It looks like they may have had a disease earlier
      in the season by the photos on your blog since it looked as if the honey had not been consumed at all.
      Did you have any signs of mites?
      Good luck and keep on trying!

  2. Andrew says:

    Their deaths are still a bit of a mystery to me.. There was quite a bit of honey left in both hives–we harvested nearly 5 gal. and still have quite a bit left in comb to feed the newbees.

    They had consumed some of it. The one hive was tightly clustered towards the bottom of the hive as you would expect, but failed to move up to their stores. Perhaps it was a cold snap of weather at the wrong time that prevented their travel and they starved.

    The other colony was very spread out through the hive; not a good way to handle the cold. I’ve learned that it could have been Tracheal mites. I treated with an Oxalic Acid dribble to knock back the Varroa that seemed to be getting out of hand back in fall. The treatment seemed to be pretty effective. I don’t think condensation was too much of an issue unless it had evaporated by the time I checked them, as the hives didn’t seem terribly damp.

    Oh well.. This year I will be requeening with some cold-hearty Russians in July. We’ll see how they do!

    Hope your buggers make it to spring. Did you guys wrap the hives or anything?

    • Andrew,
      We did not wrap our hives this year but last week Fred put straw bales around them, but not too close. Keep on
      trying and know that we are always learning. That is what makes it so interesting.
      How far are you from Hackensack MN? Mann Lake ltd is located there and their bees are very good. More than likely you
      had some kind of disease which is going to be a battle.
      Stick with it:)

      • Andrew says:

        Yeah, a wind break is a real good idea. I might build something this year..

        They sure didn’t seem diseased before winter. No signs of it on the bees or on their comb, larva, etc. And they built up well. I’m just hoping that some cold-hearty genes are the answer.

      • It has been 40 degrees below zero here and we were surprised any bees could survive! (That was with wind chill factor.)
        Are there local bee suppliers up there Andrew?
        You might consider feeding the bees a product called Honey B Healthy. Marisa fed this
        in the spring and fall because it boosts the immune system among other things:) You can google information on it.
        Also did you check for moisture in the boxes? If there is condensation in the box there is not enough ventilation.
        Don’t ever feel badly about how things go because I think all beekeepers struggle with trying to keep the bees alive.
        It is a great challenge, and an expensive one too. But the joys and benefits of raising honey is worth it.

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