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The worst thing about the spring equinox

The very worst thing about the spring equinox is its proximity to the summer solstice. In just three short months we will begin the inexorable slide into winter. In just ninety days, the hours of daylight will begin to diminish and we beekeepers will begin thinking about overwintering our colonies. Again. It seems like that’s […] Read more

winter hive check: what to look for

When you check your winter hives, what do you look for? How often? Should you open them? Should you use a checklist? What if something is wrong? The answer for me is simple: I get nervous as a cat if I don’t check my hives at least once a week all winter long. But “check” […] Read more

The mites are the same old mites

Each time I think I’ve written my very last post on varroa, something else comes up. This time, it was a question about how to treat for mites now that we know mites eat fat bodies instead of hemolymph. Based on what I’ve read, I would say that if you are following current best practices […] Read more

Overwintering honey bees in single deep hives

For the second year in a row, I’m overwintering my bees in single-deep hives. After years of running double deeps, and three years with triple deeps, I went to singles beginning about sixteen months ago. My decision was prompted by Thomas Seeley’s discussions of single deeps and the fact that very large colonies seem to […] Read more

When to feed pollen substitute to honey bees

Right now, many northern beekeepers are asking when they should begin to feed pollen substitute, as if it’s a necessary step. But pollen substitute is an option you don’t always need. If you determine your bees need it, then “right now” is the best answer. If they don’t need it, don’t give it to them. […] Read more

A Montana bee house from a Dutch design

Earlier this year, on March 24, I posted a story about 74-year-old Dutch beekeeper Evert Jan van Tongeren. In that story, Evert Jan shared the history of the Lorsch Bee Blessing, invoked to make swarms return home. He also included some photos of his bee house and the ban mask that wards off evil spirits. […] Read more

The ultimate guide to overwintering success

Honey bees are masters at overwintering. But for the most part, our modern-day honey bees find themselves living in man-made structures that are not like the homes they would have built for themselves. To compensate for the difference, a beekeeper often has to tweak the hives to prepare the bees for long periods of confinement. […] Read more