We celebrated the end of June and beginning of July by doing a lot of fishing and kayaking down a few of the many rivers that the Park Rapids area offers.

If you are looking for a smooth, relaxing, non-populated float with clear water and a sandy bottom, get in at the Shell City Campground and get off at the Hwy. 13 bridge, north of Huntersville. This is where a car – or bike for the more athletic – should be staged.

This is the first time since we started our beekeeping business that we have been able to take so much recreational time. It feels amazing.

Yes, we may make a little less honey per hive than in past years, but, so far, we think that having the time to enjoy life and go fishing may be worth the trade off.

Actually, we may have found the secret to having the best of both worlds: a great honey crop and free time in July!

This is what we did differently. In the past, we fought and struggled to battle swarming. We wanted our hives to be at peak population, so when the nectar flow turned on we would smash the honey crop. We really had no choice because we did not have a reservoir of honey.

However, this year, we entered the season with the security of knowing that even if we didn’t make any honey we had enough honey in barrels from last year to cover our grocery store and private account orders.

This gave us the freedom to focus on making customer nucs (smaller, five-rame starter hives) and splits (new hives) for ourselves from overwintered hives.

In general, one overwintered hive can produce two to three nucs and still be left with plenty of brood and bees for the honey flow. By doing this, we are simulating the feeling of swarming for the hive. This allowed us to not have to deal with much swarming as we removed the impulse by removing the surplus brood in order to make the nucs. The hives we took from are now filling up three to four supers of honey, and we still have a few weeks left of the honey flow.

Here’s what’s up next for us. Besides adding more supers to hives, as needed, fishing as much as possible and watching the bees make honey, we are taking mite samples and beginning to prepare our honey house for extraction season.

We are seeing about one to two mites per 300 bees. Those numbers are acceptable during this time of the year.

After we pull honey in August, we will be giving them a mite treatment to get them back down to none or one mite by winter.

And, as always, music is a big part of our lives. We listen when we are out in the bee yards, driving between locations, doing woodworking tasks, cleaning, and doing pretty much anything. These are artists that we are listening to a lot this summer: Dua Saleh (album: “Rosetta”), a local Minnesota hip hop artist. The songs are intense. We also recommend Anna Von Hausswolf (album: “Dead Magic”). If you happen to spot us driving around checking on basswood tree blooms, you may also see us belting out her song “Track of Time.”


Watch a video by Bolton Bees about checking mites by visiting


Travis Bolton is a 2001 Park Rapids High School graduate. Chiara’s interest in honeybees began on the Tibetan Plateau, where she lived for five years. The couple has a honey house in Menahga and hives in Sebeka, Akeley, Midway and around the Twin Cities. Bolton Bees can be reached at www.boltonbees.com or boltonbees@gmail.com.