Beekeeping in Northern Climate Video Series
The following videos were produced by the University of Minnesota’s Department of Entomology Bee Lab and UMN Extension. Starring lead UMN Bee Lab apiculture technician, Gary Reuter, they are intended to be instructive and entertaining vignettes on a variety of beekeeping topics. Each video covers a single topic, and you do not have to watch them in any special order. In their entirety, they are a lesson on how to keep bees in cold climates such as Minnesota. Videos produced by Deacon Warner: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hiving Bees in Rain and Sleet
One way to get started in beekeeping is to purchase a package of bees. A package is a screened box containing a queen bee and 7,000-10,000 worker bees. We order the packages from a beekeeping supplier in January and pick them up at the supplier in spring. In Minnesota, we prefer to put the bees into their new home (beekeeping equipment, or hive) in mid- to late April. Sometimes in mid-April it is still snowing, which was the case when this video was made.
Looking into a New Colony
Every good beekeeper needs a good smoker. A smoker is an essential tool in beekeeping because it calms the bees allowing the beekeeper to inspect the colony without getting stung (or at least without getting too many stings). Sometimes lighting a smoker is a challenge. In this video Gary Reuter shows what materials to use and how to light a smoker.
Looking into a New Colony
After hiving a new package of bees it is important to check to see how the bees are doing. In this video Gary Reuter opens the colony that he hived in the snow two weeks earlier (see Hiving Bees in Rain and Sleet). It is amazing to see all work the bees have accomplished in two short weeks: they have constructed wax combs, and the queen is busy laying eggs. As no flowers are in bloom yet in Minnesota, the bees are consuming and storing the sugar syrup and pollen substitutes we provided them.
Looking at a Frame
The wooden frames in a bee box contain wax combs with hexagonally shaped cells. The cells in a colony can contain honey, pollen, eggs, larvae or pupae. In this video we go through a colony, remove frames, and help figure out what you are seeing.
Adding a Brood Box
As a new colony grows, it will room for expansion. An important part of beekeeping is learning to anticipate when a colony will require a new brood box. Gary Reuter shows how to determine when and how to add an additional brood box to a growing colony in Minnesota.
Adding a Second Super
In cold climates, it is important to ensure the bees have sufficient stores of winter honey before we add honey supers (additional boxes) for our own harvest. In this video, Gary Reuter shows how to add a second honey super to colony in the middle of summer.
Working Bees Without Gloves
Many beekeepers wear gloves when working with their bees. We think wearing gloves is a good idea for new beekeepers, but with time and experience, we think beekeepers should learn to handle bees without wearing gloves. Why? Gary Reuter doffs his gloves and explains why wearing gloves can get in the way.
A Few Words about Comb
Gary Reuter looks at a series of frames containing different types of comb and discusses how to tell if a comb is good or bad, and how to replace combs if needed.
On Frames and Foundation
There are many different kinds of frames and foundation for use in Langstroth bee hives. Gary Reuter looks at some of the options available and discusses their features.
Finding the Queen
On occasion (or just because you want to show her to a friend) a beekeeper needs to find the queen in a colony. When a colony has 40,000 bees, one particular bee, the queen, can seem like looking for a needle in a haystack. Here, Gary Reuter shows some hints on how to do a systematic search for your queen bee.