All posts by Troy Donovan

How to Keep Honey Bees

For courses in 2018, please click here.

For the third year we are are offering thebee-with-question-marks-300x193 beginning bee course at a great price.  It comes with free mentoring sessions included in the spring and summer. This course is sanctioned by the City of Edmonton.

The 2017 courses are from from 8:30am to 1:30pm on these Saturdays:

Beginning Beekeeper Course (January)

Beginning Beekeeper Course (February)

Beginning Beekeeper Course (March)

Beginning Beekeeper Course (April)

Beginning Beekeeper Course (May)

Topics covered include:

  1. Urban beekeeping rules
  2. Location choices
  3. Installing bees and queens
  4. What to check inside hives
  5. Swarm prevention/creating extra queens
  6. Mentoring opportunities
  7. Wintering/treatments

To sign up please contact by email: for location and course cost.


How to Export 196% more honey with only 13% more colonies…

Prof. Norberto García from Argentina gave an informative presentation at the 80th Annual Alberta Beekeepers Commission AGM & Convention,  regarding the fall of honey prices and adulteration of honey.

Prof. Garcia teaches Apiculture at the UNIVERSIDAD NACIONAL DEL SUR in Bahía Blanca, Argentina. He is also Senior Consultant of NEXCO S.A., the main Argentine honey exporter.

He is the current president of the International Honey Exporters Organization (IHEO) and Member of the Board of Directors of TRUE SOURCE HONEY (U.S.A), representing NEXCO S.A. He also chairs the Working Group on Adulteration of Bee Products of APIMONDIA.

Prof. García has worked intensely during recent years to create awareness on the problems of honey adulteration in different national and international meetings.

Please find below a link to this presentation

Figure 4 is said to be the most telling. How do you increase colony numbers by 13% but increase honey exports by 196%?

The research concludes “…that fraud mechanisms are responsible for the injection of a very important volume of cheap “manufactured” and diluted honeys to the market. The use of adulteration by various means becomes the method by which circumvention can be disguised and market share is increased.”

Northern Alberta Scientists Looking at Bees dying.

Our very own President, Craig Toth got some media attention with his work helping northern Alberta scientists.

CraigToth BK

Why are the bees dying? Northern Alberta scientists are helping find the answer

CarlosCastillo NBDC

The experiment in progress:

Experiment     CraigsYardofBees

If anyone has been to Craig’s beeyard, this should bring back memories:


Honey Birds

Ever heard of a honey bird?  Nasty pieces of work if you ask me because they are all brood parasites that lay one egg in a nest of another species.  Honeyguide nestlings have been known to physically eject their host’s chicks from the nest and they have hooks on their beaks with which they puncture the hosts’ eggs or kill the nestlings.

Honeyguides are named for a remarkable habit seen in one or two species: they guide humans to bee colonies. Once the hive is open and the honey is taken, the bird feeds on the remaining wax and larvae.

They are among the few birds that feed regularly on wax—beeswax in most species.



Do Bees Dream of Electric Flowers?

A new study suggests that bees can store information in long-term memory while they sleep, just like humans do when we dream.

Similar to our circadian rhythm, honeybees sleep between five and eight hours a day. And, in the case of forager bees, this occurs in day-night cycles, with more rest at night when darkness prevents their excursions for pollen and nectar.

Without a good night’s sleep, then, honeybees start to forget the activities that should be second nature to them. And in a study released in 2015, Randolf Menzel and his colleagues from the Free University of Berlin provided a possible explanation as to why this might be.

Fanning Bees

Queen Calendar

To use the attached Queen Calendar you need to input, on the left hand side, the date you grafted and then it auto fills in everything else to tell you what days everything is happening and what you need to do.
There is also a spot on the right for you to input different graft dates just to keep track of everything on one page, although anything you input there won’t actually change anything.

I’ve locked the rest of the work sheet, but if you feel the need to edit, the password is bees.

Hope you like it!

Thanks to Craig Skarsen for sharing this.

Catching Swarms

Catching Swarms        ( Malcolm Connell  May 19th, 2016 )

Most articles on swarms talk about how they looked but not how to catch them. Most beekeepers are contacted unexpectedly through the local grapevine and asked to remove a swarm without seeing how it is done. Equipment needed includes: 1) at least 1 box with frames and  lids to carry bees away. 2) Duct tape, 3) A smoker- including matches, newspaper and potato sack pieces to go in smoker. 4) bow saw to cut down branch with swarm on. 5) garbage bag just in case, 6) rope to tie to branch to pull down a high swarm, 7) nuc sized cardboard box to reach a high swarm, better than a heavy box. Almost every house you remove bees from has a ladder. Before going, ask if the person owns the house, how high swarm is, how big and when it arrived. Swarms usually stay 1-2 days and are docile through overfeeding. Procedure: place box  with few frames under swarm. Shake branch quickly. Close the lid quickly before bees fly out. 90% of situations are not that easy. You may need to saw off a branch or 2 as swarm remnants move about. Once you have hived the largest clump which has the queen in the middle, 80-90% of the bees will be in the box within half an hour. You won’t succeed until the queen is in the box. Sometimes you can smoke the bees down a tree by shooting the smoker about 6 inches above the swarm ,continuously moving it down slowly as they move. You can often see the queen when doing this. Just sitting the hive under the tree with frames and honey and leaving it for a few hours can work, but sometimes the bees just fly off elsewhere. It’s more effective to be proactive.

To get all the bees in the box, close it up except for a small opening. Come back after dark or early next morning and quietly tape up all holes and remove hive to your beeyard. A  lot of bees in a single box will suffocate  within an hour if there are no openings. Stop your hive from swarming by checking every 10 days for swarm cells.Bee  vacuums can be used.   ( submitted by Malcolm,, 780-239-9649c