Category Archives: Beekeeping

6 tips for handling bees

how to handle your beehive

When I got started with beekeeping, I had spent a year prior to bringing my bees home, just researching and doing my homework.  My dear sister-in-law, who had watched over a hive in her youth, was by my side, and we were so brave and confident in our abilities to tame the stinging bees with our sweet song and beauty,… Read more »

How To Set Up Your First Beehive

how to set up your 1st beehive

Imagine you’re sitting at a four-way intersection, a red stop light hanging above you, while the hum of buzzing comes from a pair of rectangular wooden boxes strapped into the passenger’s seat next to you. The Nuc boxes–or nucleus colonies–contain more than 10,000 bees each.  Bees cling to, and crawl across the wire mesh stapled over the openings that prevents… Read more »

Winter beekeeping: Checking your hives

What’s a beekeeper to do during the winter?  Those–like me–who hold such passion and adoration for their honeybees–for whom there is no better feeling in all the world than watching these busy girls coming and going, carrying pollen and nectar to the hive; for whom opening the hive, viewing the larvae-grubs in their cells, or finding the Queen amidst her… Read more »

Kirk Webster at MSBA

kirk webster at msba

I’d never heard of Kirk Webster until earlier this summer when I was talking shop with a friend, who is also a beekeeper.  He happened to bring up the notion of ordering some of Kirk’s Queens for the purpose of installing hygienic genes into his colonies to help in the fight against varroa–which made perfect sense to me.  Of course… Read more »

Honey pricing & marketing management at MSBA

deborah delaney at msba

At the Maine State Beekeepers’ annual convention, Deborah Delaney took the floor for a second time that day to present a talk that was entitled: “Honey Pricing & Marketing Risk Management Education for Honey Producers”. Deborah told the crowd about yet another aspect of her research which involves scientifically identifying how to improve marketing of locally produced honey, which would… Read more »

Sustainable beekeeping at the state beekeepers’ conference

deborah delaney ude scientist at msba

I love the assortment of people who are drawn to beekeeping.  Young and old, eccentric and conservative, financially solvent–and bootstrappers like me–those who make do with less.  People from all over the state come together for the annual Maine State Beekeepers’ conference to join together in the spirit of learning; to bask in the feeling of community generated by a… Read more »

The Power of Dark Honey

dark fall honey

For many beekeepers–in this part of Maine at least–this year’s season was a bit of a struggle.  A spell of hot sweltering days meant that flowers were not producing adequate nectar supplies, which was then followed by a period of rainy days that kept bees cooped up inside their hives, eating honey stores.  I know several of our local beekeepers… Read more »

How and why to do mite-tests in your apiary

varroa mite on honeybee

Recently I went around to the various Runamuk apiaries to perform my annual mite-tests, and while the 12 colonies under my care have struggled to produce surplus honey, I am happy to say that compared to last year when mite problems ran rampant throughout the state–and even my own hives–this year mites have posed less of a problem. While I… Read more »

3 reasons to go foundationless in your Langstroth beehive

3 reasons to go foundationless in your langstroth beehive

When I first began keeping bees, I managed my hives in the mainstream fashion.  I fed them sugar-syrup, I painted my boxes, and I used foundation in my frames.  As I’ve learned more about bees and how to take care of them, some of my methods have changed.  I’m much more reluctant to feed my bees sugar, I stopped painting… Read more »

How and why to make your own apiary splits & nucs

how to make your own apiary splits and nucs

Swarming is a natural tendency for bees in the spring and early summer, and making splits and nucs is just another part of good management of your hives.  Whether you want to grow your apiary, or just insure against winter hive losses, making your own splits and nucs is an ideal way to grow or maintain your apiary.  It’s easy… Read more »

Home gardeners beware of pesticides in potting soils & nursery plants

This past Tuesday at the monthly meeting of the Somerset Beekeepers, we hosted Gary Fish from the Maine Board of Pesticide Control to talk with us about “Pesticides and Pollinators”.  We are a small group, so I’m always grateful that any knowledgeable speaker should come to Skowhegan to share their knowledge with us, and I know that our beekeepers are… Read more »

Splits & nuc-making workshop at the Runamuk Apiary

I am excited to announce that Runamuk will be hosting it’s first-ever workshop! Sunday, May 19th 11am – 3pm Splits & Nuc-Making Workshop This Sunday I will be leading local beekeepers to the Runamuk apiary at Medicine Hill for a workshop on how to make splits and nucleus colonies (otherwise known as “Nucs”).  My only regret is that the workshop… Read more »

3 trees that offer early season food sources for Maine bees

The early spring season is a very difficult time for bees and beekeepers.  When the temperatures start warming the bees begin increasing activity, rearing brood, and flying on warm sunny days.  This is a tricky time for bees because there is not much available to feed the growing population.  Many beekeepers feed sugar-syrup or candy, to supplement the bees’ food… Read more »

Feeding bees pollen-patties in early spring

feeding bees in early spring

The sky is clear, and brilliantly blue the day after a big Nor’easter.  Here in central Maine, where the Runamuk Acres Farm and Apiary is located, the roads are still covered with packed snow, and road crews work to clean them up after the snowstorm.  But I make my rounds to our 2 out-lying apiaries, to check on the hives,… Read more »

What are the benefits of using beeswax?

what are the benefits of beeswax

  Since man first began robbing bee-trees for honey, beeswax has been a highly prized commodity treasured for it’s many uses and healthful benefits.  Beeswax is utilitarian, medicinal, and beautifying. Beeswax through the ages Both ancient Egyptians and Persians used beeswax when embalming the dead.  When they conquered Corsica in 181 BC, the Romans demanded beeswax as tribute.  And in… Read more »

Feeding bees non-GMO sugar

feeding your bees non-gmo sugar

There are a good number of beekeepers who object to feeding bees sugar.  And I completely understand their objections.  Sugar is essentially the equivalent of feeding your bees a steady diet of twinkies.  It causes a number of health issues.  Add to that the fact that mainstream sugar is produced from genetically modified sugar beets, which have been proven through… Read more »

Winter management of the beehives

I miss my bees during the winter.  The long cold and snowy months when a beekeeper can’t go out to play with her bees are hard for me. But yesterday was a gorgeous January day–sunny and relatively warm (for January), and I was feeling energized after helping a local prune her beautiful apple tree.  So I trudged through the snow… Read more »

Basic beekeeping with the Somerset Beekeepers

kennebec-somerset open-hive

It’s getting to be that time of year again–the Somerset Beekeepers are planning their annual bee-school for the communities of Somerset County, here in Maine.  And I’m thrilled to be teaching the course again. As president of the Somerset Beekeepers it is my duty and privilege to teach new beekeepers the basics.  To be able to connect with people, to… Read more »

Good news for next years’ honey

This has been an exciting year for the Runamuk apiary, we were able to expand from two to six hives throughout the summer.  My new-found partnership with Medicine Hill in Starks gave me the chance to increase the number of colonies, and I seized the opportunity with both hands.  And I am pleased to announce that next year we will… Read more »

How to get started keeping bees

how to keep bees

Keeping bees is a fascinating and rewarding hobby.  For many people, once they get started they are quickly infected with what is known as “Bee-fever” and there is no turning back.  Some beekeepers are content with a single or a pair of hives in the backyard, others can’t help but grow their little apiary year after year. If you’re think… Read more »

Monsanto claims commitment to the honeybee industry

The last speaker of the day at MSBA’s annual conference was Jerry Hayes–the beekeeper who is now working for Monsanto. I couldn’t help but notice that a number of people left before Hayes got up to speak, and I happened to overhear one pair of gentlemen heatedly discussing Monsanto as they walked past me, so I am sure their departure… Read more »

Maine beekeepers converge on Portland

tony jadczak

I was downright giddy as I left the house just as the sun was coming up Saturday morning. The only vehicles on the road seemed to belong to men dressed in hunter orange, and I imagine that my excitement at going to my first-ever beekeeper’s conference surpassed their’s at a prospective day of hunting. It took me two hours to… Read more »