Idaho Botanical Gardens July/August 2018 Beehive Buzz


As we approach the end of summer things have been abuzz in the foothills above IBG!  When I last left you I mentioned relocating a swarm that was trapped in the foothills to IBG.  They have been added and it has a beautiful queen (pictured above).  For now we are keeping them in a small 5 frame nucleus (nuc) hive until September when I will use it to replace one of queens in the other hives.


Fall is a good time to replace a underperforming or mean queen.  Queen temperament is a genetic marker for honey bees.  When you have a mean or aggressive hive if you replace the queen the temperament of the whole hive will change.  Hives 2 and 3 at IBG will both have their queens replaced this Fall heading into winter.

In July we also harvested about sixty pounds of honey that is currently being sold in the IBG gift shop.  It tastes amazing!  Stop by and get some before it sells out.  I hear in just a few days over 15% of the inventory sold already!

A key to successful beekeeping is thinking three months in advance. This mindset will help you avoid issues in the future.  With that said in August I have started treating the hives with crystallized thyme extract because the mite loads were a little higher than we would like to see for this time of year.  One of the hives had a tested a 6% mite load so we treated all the hives with crystallized thyme extract (Apigaurd) once all honey was removed.  Soon I will start to feed the bees pollen and sugar to get them fat going into winter.  These fat healthy bees will have a greater chance surviving winter and start to boom early spring for next years honey flow!

As always feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

Idaho Botanical Gardens June 2018 Beehive Buzz

Happy June from (in my opinion) the beehives with the best view of Boise!  The three hives are all doing great heading into summer.  Pictured below you will see a red circle around 2 honey supers on hive one!  The bees have been busy and are storing honey that we will be harvesting late summer!  We have had an amazing spring and all beekeepers I am talking to in the Valley are having amazing honey producing years.  We are right in the middle of the honey flow that will last until late July in this valley.

Hives two and three are a little behind hive one.  This is due to them being swarm captures assuming the queen is at least a year old.  They were started about 3-4 weeks behind hive one and older queens tend to slow down laying eggs as they get older.  This fall I will be keeping and eye out for this and consider replacing them before heading into winter.

The blue circle above you will notice is an empty hive stand.  In the upcoming weeks I will be moving a swarm that I caught in the Boise foothills into a five frame nucleus hive.  I will spend the rest of summer using this small hive to help increase populations on the three hives making them all strong going into  winter.  More on this next month!

Finally,  I had a chance to spend the morning with 4 girls participating in the STEM EnGaGE camp IBG hosted in late June.  Two of the girls were able to perform hive inspections with me as I pointed out bees in several stages of development as well as the difference between the drones (male) and worker (female) bees.   Unfortunately it was little chilly and we had no luck seeing the queens.  Maybe next time!


Idaho Botanical Gardens May 2018 Beehive Buzz

Hi everyone!  Let me introduce myself.  My name is Mark Nagel and I am the new volunteer beekeeper at the Garden.  I have been keeping bees for 6 years and am an Oregon State University certified apprentice beekeeper working towards becoming a master beekeeper.  I have several beehives located throughout the valley and also manage the Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club hives located at the Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center in Boise.

May has been a busy month for the three new hives at IBG.  We started with one hive from a package of bees the first weekend of April.  A package of bees is about 3 pounds of bees and a newly mated queen that are placed together in a hive.  This hive has showed great progress harvesting the spring nectar flow leading up to me having to add a honey super this week to start collecting honey!  It is not common for a package of bees to produce honey the first year, but we have had a warm early spring with a lot of nectar and pollen in the Foothills.  It also helped to have previously drawn honey comb to put us ahead of schedule.

The second hive was started from a swarm I caught the last week of April on the Boise Bench.  I gave them a permanent home at IBG the first week of May.  Doing a routine inspection this week the queen has a beautiful laying pattern and hive population is increasing quicker than expected!

Finally, the third hive was completely unexpected.  I came up to install the swarm I had caught into their permanent home and another swarm had moved into the hive we had just set up the week prior to move the new swarm into!  What a great surprise!  This hive is just starting to establish itself and making some good early progress.

Looking forward into June I will be monitoring queen production, hive population, and early season mite counts* as we move into the main nectar flow for our region late June and into July.

Please stay tuned in the upcoming months as I plan on providing monthly updates about the newest members of the garden!  I look forward to discussing bees with you all!  If you have any questions about the IBG hives or beekeeping in general please feel free to reach out to me.

*Mite counts are a way I can track the level of the Varroa Destructor mite.  A parasitic mite that is plaguing the honey bee population.  You can read more about this honey bee issue at:

We still have heat!

Dec 4th and all 3 hives in my back yard are producing heat! Did you know the honey bee is the only insect that keeps its temperature elevated during winter!?

Wow….where did March, April, May, and June go!!??

Well I have now learned the hardest part of setting up a website….is going to be posting to it.

The last 4 months have been a whirlwind.  Beekeeping has been great!  The wet Spring has lead to some amazing flowers and what seems to bee gallons of nectar.  My 4 hives are all doing great!  I have a total of eight honey supers on right now!

I caught 2 swarms this spring.  One of them I combined with a weaker colony of mine and the other one I donated to the Idaho Botanical Garden.

I am also managing the 6 Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club hives at the Jim Hall Foothills Learning Center.  As I hopefully get more time I hope to post more about the neat activities we have going on up there.

In the upcoming weeks stay tuned.  It was finally warm enough that I spun out the beautiful amber honey from the Fall and will be ready to start selling it soon!  This is the good stuff if you have Fall allergies! I will also be posting information about wax, dog paw and nose cream, and lip balm prices.

My 2017 honey harvest is going to start the first week of August so expect to see information and pricing!

Most importantly thank you for being patient with the website.  This business thing is all new and still a hobby!  I appreciate everybody support!



Spring has sprung in Boise!

One of the beekeepers in the Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club keeps track of the first blooms noticed in the Treasure Valley. It is the Silver Maple and it they started to bloom this last week!  Time to get to work!

First Blooms – Treasure Valley

  • 20 Feb 2008 
  • 18 Feb 2009 
  • 31 Jan 2010 
  • 13 Feb 2011 
  • 05 Feb 2012 
  • 23 Feb 2013 
  • 16 Feb 2014 
  • 18 Jan 2015 
  • 05 Feb 2016
  • 16 Feb 2017