FAQs

I think there might be something wrong with my Bees. Where can I send them to be tested?
You can find a list of labs that can test your bees, sometimes at reduced cost due to support from Project Apis m (APm). Download this PDF file for a listing of labs, types of testing, and contact information.

Does Mann Lake sell bees?
Mann Lake offers bees for our local area once a year, to be picked up at our offices in Hackensack Minnesota. We also have a network of Authorized Dealers, some of whom supply package bees. Suppliers of queens and packaged bees in the United States can be found by clicking here. It is best to make contact with your bee supplier during the early winter months to assure a place on the list. During some years, shortages occur and bees are supplied on a first come, first served basis.

What equipment do I need to get started?
We suggest the Mann Lake Deluxe Beekeeping Starter Kit (see pages 4-5). This is the superior Starter Kit for the new beekeeper with everything you need to establish your first colony and the quality protective clothing and tools you will use as your apiary expands. Featuring one of the best all-around educational books the Back Yard Beekeeper, you’ll be outfitted with the equipment and knowledge you will need to begin your fascinating adventure in the world of the honeybee. The kit contains a two deep hive body with frames and foundation (the main living area for the bees where the queen lays her eggs), two supers with frames and foundation, a bottom board with entrance reducer and a telescoping cover with inner cover. This kit comes completely assembled and ready to prime and paint. Also included Cotton/Poly Coverall With Elastic At Cuffs And Foot Openings (sizes SM, M, L, XL, XXL), Zipper Veil, Mesh Helmet, Leather Gloves, bee brush, queen excluder a stainless steel smoker, smoker fuel, 10″ hive tool, Pro-Feeder w/Float, bee brush, queen excluder and a book “The Beekeeper’s Handbook”. Along the way in your first season, you will also need another deep hive for an additional brood chamber. A good way to go is the 9 5/8″ Deep Hive Kit (see page 10) or 6 5/8″ Super Kit (see pages 10-11). It is also wise to use a queen excluder between the top brood box and the honey super. This will keep the queen from laying her eggs in the surplus honey. The first year you won’t take the honey from the hive, but leave it for the bees to consume over the winter months. Don’t forget to medicate your bees!

What is the difference between a groove top frame and a wedge top frame?
The groove or wedge in the frame refers to the top bar. A grooved top bar has a groove for inserting your foundation. It is generally used with plastic foundation such as Rite-Cell ®. Wedge top frames look similar, however, they have a piece of wood next to the groove that you would break off to install your wax foundation. The wedge piece is removed and your wax foundation is put in place. The wedge is then re-inserted and nailed in place. The purpose of the wedge is to give support to your wax foundation. Wax foundation will also need support from wire, support pins, or both. If you are using wired foundation with hook, the hook is placed so it goes around the wedge piece like a hanger on a rod.

What are the advantages of Rite-Cell® Foundation over other foundations?
Rite-Cell® Foundation is the plastic core foundation with the cell structure embedded into the plastic. It requires no pinning or reinforcement of any kind and can be easily inserted into an assembled frame with grooved top and bottom bars. The cell structure is deeper than other cell embedded plastic foundations leading to less drone comb. The cells of our foundation are more defined and textured, which we have found to be more appealing to the bees. The Duragilt foundation has a smooth center core, which is then coated with wax. The cell structure is in the wax only and not in the plastic. If the wax gets damaged or chewed down, the bees are not likely to draw out the smooth plastic core. Pure wax foundations require time-consuming reinforcement and are prone to wax moth damage and chew down by the bees. With Rite-Cell®, if wax moths enter and damage your hive, one would only need to scrape off the damage and reinsert the frames into the hive.

What advantage does Waxed Rite-Cell® have over
Unwaxed Rite-Cell®?
The bees are attracted to the scent of the beeswax that is sprayed on the Waxed Rite-Cell® and they tend to draw it out quicker than the unwaxed. Unwaxed is generally purchased by the commercial beekeepers because of the cost savings when buying in volume. Bees will draw out the unwaxed, it usually just takes a little longer.

What are the different grades of wood for hive bodies and supers?
Select – This grade is made of select lumber, which only allows for small, tight knots.
Commercial – This is the most common grade requested by our customers and what is used in all of our kits. This grade is functionally sound with an allowance for small visual defects. Tight knots are permitted.
Budget – Loose knots and milling defects are permitted, as are cracks. All budget material is sold “as is.”

How many nails required to assemble a:

Hivebody?
44 – 7D Nails
Frame (groove)?
4 – 1 ¼” Nails
4 – ¾” Nails
Frame (wedge)?
4 – 1 ¼” Nails
4 – ¾” Nails
2 – 5/8″ Nails

What can be used as smoker fuel?
Commonly used are plain burlap bags cut into strips. Other items that can be used are dried sumac heads, decayed wood, wood shavings, corncobs, dry pine needles. Some people use twine, however, the twine cannot have been treated with any preservative to prevent rotting. Newspaper should not be used as sole fuel because ash is too big and can burn the bees, use as a starter only.

Today, the easiest way to go is Smoker Fuel from Mann Lake (HD-550). This great product is inexpensive and extremely easy to use. Made of raw, short cotton fibers and cottonseed husk, it is available in 1/2 pound packages and is easily started.

We have another option for those of you looking for smoker fuel. This clean burning Wood Pellet Smoker Fuel (HD-552) is especially handy for in the bee yard. Convenient to use, just take what you need for your trip to the bee yard with a spare handful in your pocket for replenishment if needed.

The Mann Lake KwikStart Smoker Pellets (HD-554) are simple to use by lighting with a flame, blow it out and watch the smoke roll (if using to start your other smoker fuel, leave the flame going for fast fire starting action)! These can be used alone for checking a hive or two, or used as a starter for any other smoker fuel. Takes the work out of starting your smoker!

Can I use mothballs instead of Para-Moth® for wax moth control?
Mothballs that can be purchased in many grocery and discount stores should not be used in storing beekeeping supplies. Mothballs can contain a substance called napthalene that leave a residue on the equipment that will kill your bees. Para-Moth® (DC-131) does not contain napthalene, therefore it will not leave the residue. Para-Moth® should never be put into a hive when bees occupy it, and equipment stored with Para-Moth® should be completely aired out before being occupied by bees.

Can I use menthol cough drops instead of Mite-A-Thol®?
No. While they may smell the same, they are not made the same. Menthol cough drops have a sugar base so they will melt in your mouth. Mite-A-Thol ® (DC-250) is 99.9% pure, food and pharmaceutical grade menthol which evaporates when placed in the warm hive. The bees then breathe the vapors. The menthol cough drops would not evaporate and create the vapors that would take care of the tracheal mites.

What is the difference between Apistan and CheckMite+ ?
Because Apistan (DC-665) was the only product approved by our government for the treatment of varroa mites for over 10 years, the mites have shown significant resistance to fluvalinate, the active ingredient. The resistance became such a problem that the EPA has granted the option to use CheckMite+ ™ (DC-810) in any state that has requested it. CheckMite+ ™contains a chemical called coumaphos. When used according to package directions, efficacy is approximately 97%. Many researchers are currently saying that CheckMite+ ™ should be used as the sole treatment product for approximately 3 years and then beekeepers should begin rotating CheckMite+ ™ with another method of treatment, primarily Apistan ™, until other treatments become available.

Can I leave strips in the hive all winter?
No. As always, anyone using any pesticide should follow the package directions. Apistan ™(DC-665) instructions indicate a treatment period of 42 – 56 days and CheckMite+ (DC-810) has a varroa treatment of 42 – 45 days. When using a spring treatment. Both strips are to be removed 14 days prior to the honey flow. If the strips are left in the hive for more than the recommended time, it will encourage the varroa mites to become resistant to the only effective medications we have.

Can I reuse my strips?
Again the answer is no. Both CheckMite+ (DC-810) and Apistan ™ (DC-665) are contact pesticides, which means the bees must come into contact with the strips in order to have contact with the active ingredient. The amount of medication in the strip is sufficient for only one treatment period. As the bees touch that strip during the 42 – 45 or 42 – 56 day treatment period the amount of chemical in that strip is reduced. If the strips are reused, there will not be an adequate amount of active ingredient left in the strip to properly medicate. Reusing the strips, like leaving them in all winter, will encourage resistance by administering a sub-lethal dose of medication.

Why doesn’t Mann Lake Ltd. sell essential oils?
For the safety of beekeepers, bees and the purity of honey, Mann Lake sells only items that have been thoroughly tested and then approved for use in beehives by the US government. At the present time, no essential oil treatments have been approved for mite control.

When do I need to feed my bees sugar syrup?
In late fall and early spring when there is no natural nectar available, you will want to supplement in order to keep your colony from the danger of starving due to the lack of stores. Sugar syrup is also used when feeding medications such as Fumidil B. When you are installing a new package or hiving a swarm, you will feed to medicate and to stimulate the bees wax glands to draw out the new foundation.

How do I mix sugar syrup?
The following proportions are mixed by volume depending on the season.
1:1, sugar to water for spring feeding
2:1, sugar to water for fall feeding
1:2, sugar to water to stimulate brood rearing ( to simulate a light nectar flow, make only 2 holes in the lid of the entrance feeder so bees will only receive small amounts at a time).

When mixing to feed medication, follow the package directions on the medication container.

What is the average life span of a honeybee?
There are 3 different kinds of honeybees found in a hive. The queen, who is responsible for laying eggs and colony morale, has an average life span of 2 – 3 years. Most queens however, live shorter spans of time due to the re-queening of hives by beekeepers. Drones are the male bees whose sole purpose is to mate with the queen. Drones are born throughout the active season of the hive so their life span depends on when they were born. If a drone successfully mates a queen, he will die in the act. If he is unsuccessful, and doesn’t die from old age, he will be evicted from the hive at the end of the season to die of starvation. Worker bees have an average life span of 4 – 5 weeks during the summer months when they are most active. Their life span depends on the amount of work done. She will actually work herself to death. In the fall and winter, workers will live for several months because they are less active.

How many honeybees are in a typical hive?
A strong, healthy hive would be home to approximately 40 – 45 thousand bees.

Why do I need to feed my bees?
In order to rear brood, a hive must have a source of carbohydrates (nectar, honey, or sugar syrup) and a source of protein (pollen). They must have both of these feed sources to begin brood rearing. In the early spring, before the natural pollen flow begins, it is wise to feed patties and sugar syrup to begin building the population of the hive. The goal of every beekeeper raising a honey crop is to have the largest number of bees possible in the hive when the nectar flow starts, early brood rearing is the key to achieving optimal numbers. Bee-Pro® can be fed in patty form by mixing with sugar syrup if it is too cold to fly or if the weather is nice and the bees can be out flying it can be fed dry in the bee yard. For your convenience, we have several types of patties (pages 49-54) available as a complete brood rearing food.