Kopp's Crops is a family-run business specializing in maple syrup, honey and fresh vegetables. We are located 45 miles north of Minneapolis in Bradford Township on our 65 acre farm.

*Now Selling at the Cambridge-Isanti Farmers Market!*

Local Orders: For pickup in Isanti, Cambridge, Brooklyn Park or Arden Hills, please email koppscrops@gmail.com or call 763-772-7057 to place your order and arrange payment & pickup. Available products are listed in the shopping cart below.

Outside the Twin Cities: Please use the online shopping cart below. USPS shipping charges will be calculated at checkout.

For questions, please email us at koppscrops@gmail.com


Monday, July 11, 2011

The Great Bee Fake-Out

Last night we went to check on the bees, and found one hive almost ready to swarm, meaning that our queen had her little bee bags packed and was ready to kiss our hive goodbye, take roughly half the worker bees and settle a new colony.  Sometimes bees swarm because the hive is too “hot” or crowded.  Other bees are gypsies at heart – they just naturally want to swarm. And though the queen may rule the hive, it’s the workers who decide when she should lead them on a swarm.  The worker bees won’t swarm until a new queen is ready to take over the hive, and they can turn any egg into a future queen just by feeding it a protein called royal jelly.  In the hive we saw, there were eggs in eight queen cells, and they were all fully enclosed or capped.  That’s a lot of potential queens to duke it out for Head Honcho of the Honey Hive when they chew their way out of their cells in a few days.
The capped queen cells were the first sign that a swarm was evident.  The second indicator was the queen herself – when Jason found her, she was newly svelte and lean.  When the workers are really ready to go, they stop feeding their queen to put her on a crash diet, so she stops laying eggs and actually slims down enough to get airborne.  Normally those pampered royalty are so pleasantly plump that they can’t fly. 
But we’re selfish – we didn’t want to lose half our hive and the honey they would produce.  And we just so happened to have a vacant hive box in our beehive neighborhood (sadly, a previous colony of bees had been unable to pay their mortgage on time, so we had to foreclose on them).  But there was no way of knowing whether our nomadic queen would colonize in the empty hive or take her entourage to someone else’s property.  So we engaged in a little bee psychology and faked a swarm.  Jason found the queen, took her and half the colony to the empty hive, and basically made them all think it was their idea all along to colonize there.  In a couple of days, we’ll smush all the queen cells in before they hatch in the old hive, then reintroduce the remaining bees into the new hive.  If we just let the two half-colonies live apart, neither hive will produce enough honey for human consumption.  But if all goes well with the great bee fake-out, our reunited colony will produce plenty of what we affectionately refer to as “The Nectar of the Kopps.”