Plant poppies for your bees!

For the past few seasons, I’ve been planting poppies for my bees, saving the seeds and planting again. I started with ordinary “bread” poppies from the grocery store baking aisle. They start a bit slow, but then take off quickly. Poppies provide enormous amounts of pollen early in the morning. I’ve seen as many as seven bees on a single flower with pollen sacs loaded almost instantly. I don’t believe poppy flowers provide much nectar, if any. It’s interesting to see the slight changes in the colors of the flowers as pollen from other poppy growers finds its way into my little gene pool. Below, I’m linking a short video of what I do here at home to grow poppies for my bees.

Matt Feldhues, aspiring mite-bomber?

This is similar to the conversation I’ve had many times with people wanting to get into bees. To see where I’ve been the past 3 months, visit me (PA Swarm King) on YouTube:

If you want to be sexy af (and fabulous), grab an Official MBBP t-shirt:

Three different swarm collecting techniques

Today, I employed three different techniques to collect swarms on a miserably windy, chilly, and rainy day. The first was the “Set it, and forget it”, because it was close to home. I just sat the nucleus box right up against the swarm cluster and left the bees to slowly crawl in. I’ll pick them up tomorrow night.

With the second swarm (further from home), I used a bucket, and bumped the majority of the bees into it. Then I slipped a filter bag over the bucket and snapped the ring lid on. Once all the stragglers flew into the top, I cinched the slack up over the top of the bucket and closed it with a rubber band. This is much easier on the bees, as there are no frames swinging around and shifting on the bumpy ride home. Once I got home, I dumped the bees into a hive and opened the filter bag to release the stragglers.

The third swarm was just out of reach, in a tree, so I used the “Bucket on a Pole” method. A very straight forward and popular way to get a swarm down, but the wind made it interesting.

Triple swarm call!

One thing I’ve learned over the past few years of chasing swarms is to never get tunnel vision on a swarm call. Especially during prime swarm season. Always walk around and look up into the trees and at nearby buildings for a beeline. If you find one, you’ve very likely found the source of your swarm. Then, keep looking around for other swarms that the caller did not see. Below is a video of what started out as a call to remove a single swarm. Then, plans changed. Also, always have more than one swarm box setup in your vehicle. I never leave home without at least 5.

Red Pollen on my honeybees?

Red pollen on honeybee

Every March through April the question comes up. “What’s with the red pollen my bees are bringing in?” So I’m writing this post in the hopes that whoever Googles the question will find the answer here. There are several plants that produce red pollen later in the year. But the main plant that produces large amounts of red pollen in spring is purple deadnettle (lamium purpureum). In my area of Pennsylvania, it blooms right after red maple and long before dandelions. Huge blankets of deadnettle grow in farm fields before herbicides are applied, in unmanicured lawns, and along roadsides.

Honeybee on purple deadnettle
Photo by: Levi Collins

First completed colony removal of 2020

A local tree removal company discovered a honeybee colony in a tree they felled. Rather than spray them, thankfully they went to Google and found me. I was at work when they initially called, so while they waited for me to return the call, they called a few other honeybee “rescuers”. They were quoted fees of $400 and $600 USD to come remove the bees. I told them I’d not only take them away for free, but I’ll bring all three of the guys at the job site a jar of honey (with my phone number on each jar, of course). They were very happy with this and assured me they would call me about any future honeybees they run into. I made a short video of the events that day. It got chilly very quickly that day, so I left very few bees behind. Sorry the music is so loud in this video. These bees are bringing in the pollen at home now. Soon they should swarm, and I will be ready.