Remember that the "Cletus Calendar" page will tell you what you should be doing this month, and the "Archive" page contains all of the previous months of the "Newsletter and Cletus Calendar".

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Your host---For Sale--Bee Talk---Days Gone By 

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For those of you who live within fifty miles of Lone Star Farms, take advantage of "Lone Star Farms Apiary Inspection Service." Contact Dennis for details.

If you belong to a beekeeping club and would like me to come teach one of the class topics that are listed on the class page, please have your president contact me. The four hour class would have to be held on a Saturday and there is a fifteen person minimum. Education is key to successful beekeeping management. Thanks


It has recently been brought to my attention that the membership join page was not working. If you folks discover something not working on our club site, please bring it to my attention so I can get it fixed quickly. If you tried to register and couldn't, please try now. I had the page fixed. Thanks

If have purchased one or both of my beekeeping books and have enjoyed them, please go to Amazon and write a positive review for me. I would appreciate you taking the five minutes to do so.


Bee Talk

Hi Dennis,

I have a question about smoking the bees.  I have used burlap bags for years.  I looked at a video some time back and he was using pine needles.  At the local hardware store, they have cypress mulch, cedar mulch and pine bark mulch.  I am wondering if I could use any of these. Julie  

Hello Julie,

Using pine needles is not a good idea because they create a lot of embers when they burn. When you squeeze the bellows the embers come out and scorch the bees’ wings.

I have been using cypress mulch with great success for years. I buy it by the bag from the nursery. Then, I cut up one inch by one inch pieces of wood from scrap lumber and add these to the mulch. These pieces make good coals which will burn longer in the smoker when mixed with the cypress mulch. It produces a lot of cool smoke. I don't recommend using any cedar for burning in the smoker. Cedar is a natural insect repellent.



Hey Dennis,

When I received my three pound package of bees over the weekend, I had a hard time removing the syrup can. It was very hard to pry up from the package and remove. Is there an easier way to remove this can? Frank

Hello Frank,

I remember in my early years going through the same trouble. Finally, I discovered that all I had to do was to turn the package cage upside down and the can would slide out on its own.



Hi Dennis,

Is anyone producing foundation that doesn’t have chemicals from pesticides in it?  There ought to be. Clean wax and a natural variety of cell sizes. I have another question. I have read somewhere that the smaller cell (4.9mm) foundation when used in the hive instead of the standard 5.4mm foundation will reduce the number of mites a hive will have. Is this true? Tim

Hello Tim,

Youare correct in your thoughts about chemicals in the foundation. Because there are so few chemical-free beekeepers around today, the foundation manufactures do not get in enough chemical-free wax from the beekeepers. Until we can convince other beekeepers to go chemical-free, we will be stuck with the current foundation available to us. Some day we will change the tide. That is another reason for getting as many beekeepers as possible to get on board with going chemical-free in their hives.

There have been many scientific studies over the years about cell size. There is no proven data to date that I am aware of that confirms the smaller 4.9mm reduces mite loads in the hive. Most of the mites (approx. 80%) are found in the drone brood which is much larger than the 4.9mm size you are talking about. It’s true that the smaller the cell, the lower the mite level in each cell will be. However, there will be more cells on a standard frame which in my mind balances out the number of mites per frame. The reason we use the standard cell size (5.4mm) that we do, is because it works. There have been many hive types and cell sizes developed over the years and yet most beekeepers return to the standard Langstroth hive and the 5.4 size cell. If it's not broken, don't try to fix it.



Hey Dennis,

There are so many different types of feeders on the market today, how do I know which one to use? Paula

Hello Paula,

That’s a good question. It is easy to get confused. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of preference for the beekeeper. I will judge feeders from my perspective here at Lone Star Farms.

First off, I would never recommend using a division-board feeder. Prior to the beetle invasion, (Not to be confused with the singing group “The Beatles” back in the mid 1960’s) this type of feeder would have been OK to use except that it was a pain to fill-up. You had to remove a frame and insert the feeder in its place. Then, you would end up drowning a lot of bees when you filled the feeder up. When you were finished feeding, you would have to remove the feeder and replace it with a frame. If you live in an area that has a beetle problem, the beetle population will be higher in a hive that has this type of feeder inside it. The beetles like to hide inside this feeder where the bees have a hard time catching them. When there is sugar water inside the feeder, the beetles have a nice supply of food. They wait for a chance to dash out and lay a few eggs on the nearby comb and then they dash back to the safety of the feeder.

The “board-man” feeder is a good feeder if you only want to feed in small amounts. It consists of a one quart jar. The lid has several holes punched in it to allow the bees to insert their tongues and drink the sugar water from the jar. This feeder is designed to sit on the outside landing board of the hive. It is best to place the jar over to one side of the landing board then make an entrance reducer that will fit from the feeder over to the other end of the landing board leaving only about a two inch opening for the bees to come and go. This set-up will prevent any bees that don’t belong in the hive from slipping inside the hive next to the feeder and begin robbing the sugar water. The smell of the sweet liquid would be overwhelming to a hungry bee and it could cause a robbing problem.

The “top feeder” is an easy feeder to use. There are several positive aspects about using this type of a feeder. The feeder is used by removing the hive top. Place the feeder on top of the frames. Fill the feeder (It holes approximately one gallon of liquid.) and then place the hive top back on. (You may have to place an empty hive body on top of the feeder to weight the edges of the feeder down. Then put the hive top on.) It is an easy feeder to use and it provides a lot of liquid food at one time for the bees. The biggest down-side to this feeder is that it can harbor hive beetles just like the division-board feeder can. You need to make sure that the hive is slightly sloped to the front. If the hive is sitting level, there will be some sugar water in the middle of the feeder that the bees will not be able to reach. This sugar water will get real thick and begin to mildew. Another issue that I have found with this feeder is that because it is designed with such a large open surface area, the smell of the sugar water will attract bees from the other hives or area and they will constantly attempt to penetrate the hives defenses.

The feeder that I have come to use over the years was not designed to be a bee feeder at all. I use a “quail” waterier. It was designed to water quail. It looks the same as a chicken waterier except that the reservoir is not as wide or deep. The waterier comes in a one quart or one gallon size. I prefer the one gallon size because I don’t have to fill it up as often. The bees don’t drown in the reservoir. I remove the hive top then place an empty brood box on top of the hive. I then place the quail waterier down on top of the frames and then place the hive top back on. That’s it. There is not a very big surface area exposing the sugar water smell to any would be robber bees. This type of waterier can’t leak and the bees can’t drown. You could use an inverted one gallon glass jar with holes in the lid but those have a tendency to leak faster than the bees can drink it. If it leaked, that would certainly cause a robbing situation.



Days Gone By