The Buzz: Spring 2021

Menu

Hivelights: A Spring of Struggles
Beeyard Basics: Getting Ahead of the Swarms
Buzzworthy: Don’t Miss Out
Combing Soon: New Internship Program
Sweet Beesus: Recipes Dripping with Goodness
Video: A Gift From My Mom

Hivelights: A Spring of Struggles

Happy Mother’s Day! Today is the perfect day to send my first quarterly newsletter to celebrate my beautiful queen bees, the fascinating mothers to thousands and thousands of daughters and sons. 

As you know, our Manitoba winters are unpredictable and this year was no exception. The extreme warm temperatures caused my hives to heat up so much that the bees poured out the front entrances. My fear was that the extra warmth inside the hives would signal the queens to start laying. If that happened, they would use up their winter food stores to feed the brood.  

Fools spring made us think that warm weather was here to stay, but second winter arrived with barely a warning. Since then it has felt like the longest spring in history. The low overnight temperatures kept the blossoms from providing the bees with much needed natural resources to give them the boost they’ve been waiting for. 

Since mid-March, I have worked hard to maintain the health of the hives. Needless to say, it has been a spring of struggles! The majority of my hives and nucs have come through the other side looking strong and healthy, with a few exceptions. 

I have to admit there have been some sleepless nights, mostly because I am a worry wart when it comes to my hives. I love my bees and do my very best to keep them healthy and happy. 

Last week, I heard my late mentor Ted’s voice say to me, “Rebecca, you have done your best, now let the bees take it from here. They know what they are doing more than any of us.” You must imagine that being said to me in a German accent with gentle, kind tone. 

So that’s what I will do next! Here’s to a wonderful summer full of buzzing happy bees!

Beeyard Basics: Getting Ahead of the Swarms

As beekeepers, one of our biggest tasks is to responsibly manage swarms in the beeyard. Swarming happens when a hive is overcrowded or it wants to reproduce. It is the natural way for bees to increase their numbers and essential to the survival of their species.

If you have a colony that has become restless and intends to swarm, it means you have a strong and healthy hive. ‘Swarming’ is when the old queen and some of the bees leave to start a new colony, leaving behind queen cells for the birth of a new mother in the original hive.

If swarming is imminent in your hive, it is best to split the colony to recreate the swarming process in your apiary. This allows you to work with the bees, rather than against them, and benefits everyone.

There are a few ways to go about splitting a hive, so be sure to read up on the various methods before choosing the right option for your situation.

If you know your hive intends to swarm, you’ve likely seen swarm cells along the bottom of the frames. These are new queens getting ready to emerge. You can choose to let the bees raise their own queen by leaving one or two of these cells in the original hive or you can purchase a mated queen from a local beekeeper to install in the hive. Be forewarned, the bees prefer their own process once they have created queen cells and they may not take too well to a new queen.

Whatever you choose to do about a queen, the first step to establish a new nuc is to prepare the equipment. Have a five-frame nuc box and three frames of drawn comb ready to give the new hive a good start. This is where you will move the old queen, along with some bees, brood and food. You will need to move this nuc box five kilometres away, so have a plan ready for where you will take them once the split is complete.

In the original hive, check each frame to find the queen, look for swarm cells and mark a few frames as either capped brood, open brood or food. This way you know which frame is which when you are ready to do the split.

Now it’s time to do the split. Move the queen, along with a frame of capped brood (and bees) and a frame of food (and bees) into the new nuc box you have prepared. Make sure to cut off all swarm cells, looking very carefully to find every last one. Add three frames of drawn comb (or two if you have a four-frame nuc box) and move it five kilometres away, so the bees don’t drift back to their original hive.

Back in the original box, if you have a mated queen to install , cut all swarm cells off, again being careful to not miss a single one. If you are allowing the hive to raise its own queen, leave one or two of the best looking cells for a new queen to emerge. Now add two frames of drawn comb to replace the frames you took out for the new nuc.

If you’re installing a new queen, insert her in-between two of the middle frames and check back three days later to make sure the bees have released her. Then look again in another week or so to see how she is laying. If the hive is raising their own queen, check to make sure she has emerged and again at a later date to see if she has mated well and is laying.

I’ve given you the bare minimum information and there is a lot more to this process! It is complicated. So do some further reading from sources you trust or talk to your mentor about your options.

A word of warning:
Always be sure to look at location when learning from other sources. What we do here in Manitoba is different from what is done in Florida or North Carolina!

Buzzworthy: Don’t Miss Out


Get on the waitlist for the first summer harvest – straight from our hives to your table! This first batch goes like wildfire and sells out every year. Add your name to the list today to make sure you don’t miss out!

Silky-smooth creamed and flavoured honey is also coming soon. The waitlist has already started, so get your orders in. Choose from creamed, lemon or cinnamon — with a few new surprises on the way. Stay tuned to find out more!

To place your orders, simply send an email to prairiesweethearthoney@gmail.com

Combing Soon: New Internship Program

I’m excited to announce my new internship program, providing hands-on learning opportunities in the bee yard in exchange for work requirements.

The commitment is for eight days during a four-month period. One day a month is dedicated to your learning and training in the beeyard and one day per month is work related to Prairie Sweetheart Honey.

The program is almost full, but if you are interested in more information or would like to be added to the waitlist, please send an email to prairiesweethearthoney@gmail.com.

Sweet Beesus: Recipes Dripping with Goodness 

Chocolate Protein Balls

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup of Prairie Sweetheart Honey
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons flax seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • Whatever else you want to toss in – hemp hearts, sunflower seeds, other seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon of chocolate flavoured protein powder (or not)

Stir all ingredients together, cover bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Scoop chilled mixture into balls. Keep cold until serving.

Warning: These will be gobbled up very quickly, so I suggest you triple the recipe!

A Gift from My Mom

Mother’s Day isn’t always easy for those of us who have experienced loss. Nothing replaces the listening ear and unconditional love of a mother. I miss my mom every, single, day — but especially on certain days, like today.

I was lucky to have a mom who was bigger than life. She had time for everyone and made each person she knew feel so special. She embraced us all and filled our lives with laughter and kindness.

I am forever grateful to Dwight @i1creative for producing this amazing video that explains how my mom is a huge part of my bees.

Thank you to my mom – for showing me how to be a great mom who fully enjoys every minute I have with my AMAZING kids. Best and most important thing I’ll ever do.

Enjoy the video.

5 Comments

  1. Cindy
    May 9, 2021

    Absolutely beautiful video Rebecca 💜🌼💜
    Now if I see a bee ~ I know my mom is with me .
    Thank you for sharing xo

    Reply
  2. Kim Crawford
    May 9, 2021

    ….Hello R!!!!…just want to say I how much I enjoyed your newsletter..very informative and totally expressed from your heart..I look forward to the next one !!!…Your backyard neighbor…K

    Reply
  3. Christie Klassen
    May 10, 2021

    A bee-utiful tribute!

    Reply
  4. Loretta
    May 10, 2021

    Awesome video Rebecca. It was very moving. I admire your zest for life.

    Reply
  5. Loretta
    May 10, 2021

    Awesome video Rebecca. It was very moving. I admire your zest for life.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top