Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lesson 159: Will Your Bees Die From You Being TOO “Natural”? www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

Drawn Comb

Are you so “natural” in your beekeeping practices that you are actually killing bees? Hi, we are David and Sheri Burns. We operate Long Lane Honey Bee Farms located in east central Illinois. In today’s lesson, I want to discuss the dangers in how being too natural could be the cause of colonies dying in the winter.

There is the reality that the increased number of new and inexperienced beekeepers may be contributing to the increase in numbers of winter losses. This may be especially true with the number of new beekeepers who opt not to use chemicals against mites but also fail to use any non-chemical methods either. In other words, being so natural as to do nothing is not good.  For example, as humans we know that washing our hands can help prevent the transfer of viruses. We’d never tell our children to stop washing their hands before they eat so that they can be more natural. Let’s talk more…

Before I continue, let me share that I’m excited about our website revamp. We are making our website so that the main front page is filled with tons of practical beekeeping tips, tricks and other helpful information. If you need to quickly go to our online store, you’ll see our Quick Help links on the left hand side. You can jump right into our online store which is opened 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Here are a few examples from our website:

How to remove bees from the honey super so you can harvest the honey.

How to make creamed honey.

Which is better a nuc or a 3 lb package of bees?

How to prevent swarming.

You are currently reading our blog/lessons. Enjoy these lessons but be sure to go to: www.honeybeesonline.com for more information and beekeeping supplies.

Lee We had great visit from Lee and Wei from the University of Illinois. Lellen Solter is an insect pathologist and is doing work on nosema, looking into competition between microsporidian species for host tissues, taxonomy of microsporidia, molecular relationships between closely related microsporidia, physiological effects of microsporidia on insect hosts, host specificity of microsporidia, disease in beneficial insects (bumble bees, honey bees, predators of hemlock woolly adelgid) and microbial control of the gypsy moth. Wei-Fone Huang is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist and recently published his work: Nosema Ceranae Escapes Fumagillin Control in Honey Bees.

Lee and her husband took one of our Beginning Beekeeping courses earlier in the year and started a few hives. It was great to chat with them about the negative effect that Fumagillin may be having on honey bees.

We have hive kits with 2015 packages available online now.

Finally, A Beekeeping Class Specifically Addressing How To Get Bees Through The Winter.

wraphive We have worked hard over the last 8 years to flood the internet with trusted, reliable and thorough beekeeping information. Beekeepers lose countless hives due to a lack of education. Specifically, many beekeepers are uninformed about best winter practices. The winter of 2013-2014 was very hard on honey bees. Thus, a lot of colonies perish in the north each winter.

We are working to curtail these loses by offering free online beekeeping information, on site classes and more. 

Maybe you lost some colonies. It can be confusing trying to figure out why your bees died. They may have had plenty of stored honey yet still died. Maybe they had a great queen and were very populated but still died. Join me for an extensive 6 hour course on common reasons why bees die in the winter and what you can do to improve your hive's chances of survival. This class will cover topics such as: fall preparation, mouse protection, mite reduction, wind blocks, wrapping hives, heating lamps, winter feeding, insulation, moving hives into buildings or shelters, the biology of fat bodies, the timing of a new queen, pros and cons of double walled hives, dynamics of both Langstroth and top bar hives in the winter, the winter cluster and more.

wraphive3 Our Saturday class (Sept. 6th 2014 9am-3pm) has only two seats remaining, BUT we have added an additional class the next day to accommodate the additional interest.

You need to do all you can to fortify your colonies to be ready for another long and hard winter. Even “natural” beekeepers must take the necessary steps to ensure honey bees kept in domesticated equipment (this includes top bar hives and traditional Langstroth hives) are in great shape going into winter.

The price of this class could possibly save you the cost of several packages next year. Click on the Saturday or Sunday class links below:

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Saturday Sept 6, 9am-3pm central time (Two seats left)

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Sunday Sept 7, Noon-6pm central time.(Just placed online with 15 seats available)

At these classes we will actually evaluate several hives and determine why they may or may not overwinter well. We will also show how to manipulate frames for maximum food distribution during the winter. We will also build wind breaks, wrap hives, place on Winter-Bee-Kinds and more. This is a “must take” class for the serious beekeeper who is tired of replacing bees every spring.

The Eastern Apicultural Society Conference will be held at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. I’ll be taking in the most recent scientific discoveries as well as assisting with certifying future master beekeepers. If you are a new beekeeper or very experienced this is a great conference to attend. Consider attending by clicking here. I’ll be there Monday through Friday. If we’ve never met, but you see me, please introduce yourself.

HiveTalk While I’m at EAS, Jon Zawislak and I will be doing a live HIVE TALK podcast. We will be broadcasting Thursday morning, July 31 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. If you’d like to watch or be on the air with us, email me (beekeeper.burns@gmail.com) so I can let you know where we will be. Don’t worry, if you are not there, you can still join us and ask questions on air. The number to call is: 1-724-444-7444. When you call in you'll be asked to enter our SHOW ID which is: 129777 followed by the # sign. Then the automated system will ask you for your Pin number which is 1 followed by the # sign. At that point, you'll be on the show with us so you can ask your questions. You will be muted unless you press * 8 on your phone and that will allow us to unmute you so you can ask your question. Call in around 10 minutes prior to broadcast, at 10:50 a.m. eastern time.  If you want to just listen from your computer, go to: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/129777

If you use a smart phone you can add the Podcast App and have our shows sent to your mobile device every time we produce a new one. Just go to iTunes and search for Hive Talk, scroll down to podcast and you'll find us there.

Or listen to our past episodes by clicking here or by copying the link below and pasting it into  your internet browser.

http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/talkCast.jsp?masterId=129777&cmd=tc

Okay students, time for class. LESSON 159: Will Your Hive Die From You Being TOO Natural?

Generally most of us want to be as natural as possible. We don’t like the thought of pesticides on our fruit and vegetables. We don’t want antibiotics or growth hormones in our milk or meat. I even roast my own organic coffee beans. It just sounds better, even though I know that the bean is surrounded by the fleshly part of the seed which is thrown away. The bean is soaked in boiling water, fermented, dried, then I roast it at over 400 degrees (F). It’s hard to believe at that point that the bean would have any chemical residue. But, I still drink organic coffee.

Natural beekeeping is huge. The idea of dumping chemicals in a hive where honey is eventually harvested should concern us. We would all prefer honey from a colony that has never been exposed to any chemicals at all. Beekeepers raise justifiable concerns over farm chemicals such as neonicotinoids and imidacloprids. These are not just used by farmers but found in flea collars and yard sprays and many commonly used household pest control products. The impact that our chemical filled environment is having on the decline of honey bees is being pursued more aggressively, even by the White House.

Big chemical companies aside, what about going all natural as a beekeeper? Is this good for bees? If all natural means not using harsh chemicals in the hive, then natural sounds good to me. But if going natural means doing nothing at all and expecting the bees to flourish, then you might be surprised to find out that “natural” killed your bees. Doing nothing is harmful to bees. 

This approach might work if we did not have things like varroa mites, small hive beetles, nosema and viruses. Occasionally, we meet the human extraordinaire. You know, the person who never exercised, ate bad food, smoked and consumed too much alcohol, bacon and eggs every morning and lived healthy into their 90s. Same is true with colonies. Occasionally there is the extraordinary hive that we never do anything to and they are perfectly healthy in every way. This is not the norm.

Being “natural” should not be confused with being cheap and lazy. Sometimes we just don’t want to take time to inspect the hive again. So we conclude that we are going to let nature take its course. Sometimes we are being cheap. We don’t want to buy a new queen or a beetle trap or green drone comb to trap varroa mites. So we conclude that we are being natural.

treepropolis We need to realize that honey bees need our help. We have removed them from their natural habitat and placed them into our domesticated hive equipment. It’s not bad, but it’s just not a tree. Here’s a tree I removed bees from and as you can see it is sealed with propolis. Propolis acts as part of the colony’s immune system, killing dangerous pathogens such as viruses in the hive. The rough wall of the cavity inside a tree is covered with propolis by the colony.

I am currently experimenting with coating propolis inside hives like that of a tree to see if bees do better. If the inside of a colony was not so smooth, bees would smooth it out with propolis. My point is that when we remove bees from their natural habitat and place them into Langstroths or top bar hives we must still provide proper management techniques to simulate as much of their natural habitat as possible.

But even then, this is not enough because even hives in trees die from varroa mites transmitting viruses throughout the hive. We can talk about how cold and bad the winters are but wait! The reality is that not all colonies died. What did those surviving colonies have that the dead colonies didn’t have? If you had 10 colonies and 8 died but two didn’t, it begs the question, “What do those 2 surviving colonies have that the other 8 did not?”

It is nearly impossible to analyze a dead colony and discover what happen. But it is very possible to examine a surviving colony and draw some concrete conclusion. This is very important. If you kept detailed records of your hives that survived winter, then you can look back over your findings and discover answers as to what these hives had that the dead ones did not. Pollen, honey, mite loads (viruses), populations, age of queen, location, amount of propolis in the hive, etc., all can provide data to help us find keys to overwintering colonies more effectively.

But if all you are doing is nothing, being natural, then you really do not have any information. Minimally, you should be logging information about your natural approach to help you determine your level of success or failure. No one buys a new dog and refuses to feed it or water it and hopes it will naturally survive. If you pull ticks off your dog why wouldn’t you pull mites from your bees?  Even organic gardens are watered and weeds are pulled.

There is a difference between natural beekeeping and hands off beekeeping. The two are not the same. What should you do now?

1. Reduce you mite load! This is a must. If you do nothing, viruses will overtake your colony this winter.

2. Provide food for your bees. They need protein (pollen) and honey. Between now and fall, your bees need to be well fed. But many beekeepers do nothing and during the late summer and early fall bees weaken from a lack of nutrition. We re now entering into the period of dearth coupled with honey being harvested from hives. They go into winter hungry and weak. At the Heartland Apicultural Society conference someone told me that their friend had 10 hives and she put our Winter-Bee-Kind on 9 of her 10 colonies. The only one that perished was the one without the Winter-Bee-Kind. More than just food, our system provides top insulation to reduce excessive condensation and provides an upper vent for bees to defecate out side the hive more often during the winter. 

3. Re-queen. If your queen is more than 2 years old, she is likely to fail you during the winter. You cannot buy new queens next spring in time to save your colony. Re-queen within then next few months.

4. Simulate a colony’s natural habitat as much as possible. Coat the inside with propolis. Use screen bottom boards to simulate the distance between the bottom of the comb and the base of the tree cavity so that mites can fall out of the nest area.

 

THE TAKEAWAY

Be a natural beekeeper but not at the neglect of meeting your bees’ needs.  Bees need your help in fighting off varroa mites and small hive beetles just to name a few. Rather than spend your time looking for a better queen or a better package or nuc provider, focus on becoming a better beekeeper. At our overwintering class we will talk in more detail about these things and more such as how to simulate the thicker wall of a tree in your Langstroth hive.

Also, Jon and I will be speak on the subject of this lesson on our next HIVE TALK at EAS next week.

That’s all for this week, enjoy your weekend and bee good to your bees,

David and Sheri Burns
www.honeybeesonline.com
217-427-2678
M-Thu 10am-4pm central time
Fri 10am-Noon
Sat By appointment

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lesson 158: When Can You Take A Honey Super Off Or When Should You Leave It For The Bees? www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

Giant City Lodge

Hey, I got beat at a game of checkers!  Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We are David and Sheri Burns here to help you enjoy being a beekeeper. And if you are thinking about becoming a beekeeper you are at the perfect place. Today I will give some pointers in determining when to take the honey super off and when to leave it. But before our lesson…

Christian is our youngest. He’ll be 7 in September. I spoke at the Heartland Apicultural Society Beekeeping Conference at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale,, Illinois last week. I rode my motorcycle down on Wednesday and Christian and Sheri joined me on Thursday. We stayed at the Giant City State Park in one of their cabins. This has been a vacation spot for our family since the 80’s.  Here’s a picture of Christian playing a game of checkers with me at the Giant City Lodge.

On Thursday morning I started up my Harley, loaded up my thumb drive with my workshop’s presentations and rode through the beautiful Shawnee National Forest. It was awesome. Winding roads, giant cliffs, unique specialty shops soothed my soul. Bees are equally soothing to me. Bees have always had that effect on me, depleting me of stress and helping me keep life in proper perspective.

 Christian Bees I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Life if very complex, mixed with happiness (new hive is doing great) and sadness (favorite hive died). Life is mixed with pain (ouch a bee stung me) and comfort (the taste of honey on warm, buttered bread). How we view the world is made up of what we believe to be true. What we believe is our daily driving force. How we respond to events and circumstances is determined by how we view the world. Some people are negative and always feel like the victim. While others, in worse situations, are generally positive and seek to encourage others. My world view is based on my belief in Christ. I desire to fulfill the Golden Rule found in the Gospel of Matthew 7:1, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." Pastor Langstroth invented the hive used in beekeeping today. He found comfort in his bees. When you read his books, you get the feel that Rev Langstroth was gifted, bringing something into beekeeping that was beyond himself…Bee Space, and a hive where frames could be taken out, inspected and placed back without damage to the comb or death to the bees. I’m a junkie of his writings.

Honey bees show up in our science, art, music, marriage (honeymoon), and even in our language. We use terms like: bee line, mind your own beeswax, she has a bee in her bonnet. Bees put the fun in biology, botany, math and more. I digress….

Beekeeping swing You get the idea, right? Sheri and I love bees and beekeeping. We are passionate about it. It’s fun, enjoyable and brings a lot of peace into our lives. We have an old swing that hangs from the oldest tree on our farm. It’s an old maple tree that we tap and enjoy making our own maple syrup. Sheri and I enjoy this dear swing almost every evening. From our swing we can see and hear some of our hives. We’ve had swarms land in this tree. I’m not sure who this strikes a chord with, but could bees be just what you need? I enjoy watching my bees work hard all day, pollinating my garden and my neighbors’ gardens and fruit trees. Here they come bringing back nectar that will become honey on my table and to our customers. We know the same joy we receive from being beekeepers can be enjoy by others. That’s why we are passionate about helping more and more people become beekeepers.

Beekeeping Store Sheri and I are living the dream in many ways. Helping new beginners enjoy beekeeping really turns our crank! Every year we reach thousands of new beginners through our podcasts, websites, beekeeping classes and our online lessons. Every order we receive gives us the freedom to continue living off of beekeeping, experimenting with keeping bees healthy and sharing what we know FREELY with others. We get excited when we receive your order. My phone sounds a special ringtone when you place an order. It’s not just about the money, but about another person who is keeping bees and needs some equipment from us. It gives me hope that one day I might meet this customer and we’ll become friends. This happened just today. A couple was driving from up Wisconsin down to Kentucky and have been following this blog for years and just wanted to stop by. Unfortunately we close at noon on Friday, but as I drove into our Long Lane, they were sitting at the end and we had a great talk. I encouraged them to stop back in on their way back up north. From our blog they knew about Seth and Christian and even knew that I once lived in Ohio.

I guess what I’m saying is we ARE NOT a big beekeeping company. If we were beer we’d be a micro brewery. Years ago we made a decision not to become another huge beekeeping company, but to be a place where people can come, talk, touch and feel. A place where you can show up and sit in our swing, pet our dogs, watch Christian play and maybe look in a hive with me. We are more like the place that blows our own glassware or spins our own pottery. Many of you tell us that you chose to buy from us because you prefer to buy from a small family business. Thank you, it means a lot to us. Visit Our Store Online. I look forward to you making my phone go off with your order ;)

Speaking of placing an order and before our lesson today I have an important announcement about 2015 package bees which are available now. Last year, so many new beginners missed out on the short window of opportunity to buy packages. This year, we are offering a special for those of you wishing to secure your packages now. We are offering a hive with bees. This means you can now order your hive and bees and have your hive and bees secure before the 2015 rush begins. Single packages without hives, mainly for existing beekeepers, will go on sale in Nov. or Dec. We are offering two options online now:

EBS1 1) EARLY BIRD SPECIAL

Last year many new beekeepers didn't get to start because everyone sold out of bees in the winter. We sold out in about 30 days. This year we are making a special EARLY BIRD OFFER, so that new beginners can secure a hive and a 3lb package of bees with a mated queen. This kit contains a starter hive which includes a screen bottom board, one deep hive body with 10 wooden frame and foundation, an inner cover and a top cover. This starter hive allows you to add additional boxes to your hive only as needed. This kit also includes a 3 lb package of bees with a mated queen. Bees must be picked up only here at our farm.  FREE SHIPPING OF WOODENARE HIVE WITHIN US, except Hawaii and Alaska. Bees can be picked up at our specified date in the spring, date to be determined, but probably late April or early May. The hive (woodenware without bees) will ship within 2 weeks of purchase. This is your way of making sure you are ready in the spring before all the bees are gone. Click here for more information.

EBS2

2) EARLY BIRD SPECIAL WITH EQUIPMENT

This is the same as above only it includes the following equipment: Frame Puller, Frame Hanger, Bee Brush, Smoker, Smoker fuel, Hive Tool and Bee Brush. We do NOT include protective gear in this kit because some prefer suits while others would rather have a hat and veil. So protective gear is sold separately. Bees are not shipped but picked up only.  FREE SHIPPING OF WOODENARE HIVE WITHIN US, except Hawaii and Alaska. Bees can be picked up at our location at our specified date in the spring, date to be determined, but probably late April or early May. The hive (woodenware without bees) will ship within 2 weeks of purchase. This is your way of making sure you are ready in the spring before all the bees are gone. Click here for more information.

We’ve added so much material to our main website: www.honeybeesonline.com

Please visit our site and scroll down on the front page through all the useful beekeeping information. It will help us if you can place a link to our sight from your site or your club’s website. Also sign up for our constant contact newsletter.  Thousands receive our newsletter to learn more about bees.

Sign Up Now

Winterhives Finally, why not come and see us at our next class, “Getting My Hives Through The Winter” on Saturday September 6, 9am-3pm here at our honey bee farm. Learn about fall preparation, mouse protection, mite reduction, wind blocks, wrapping hives, heating lights, winter feeding, insulation, moving hives into buildings or shelters, the biology of fat bodies, the timing of a new fall queen, pros and cons of double walled hives, dynamics of both Langstroth and top bar hives in the winter, the winter cluster and more. Click here for more information.

LESSON 158: When Can You Take A Honey Super Off Or When Should You Leave It For The Bees?

Beekeepers throughout the country are flipping a coin trying to decide whether to remove the honey super on their hive or leave it on for winter. It is a tough call. So often I am asked that question. Often people feel pressured because they are afraid if they leave the full honey super on much longer, the bees will go up and transfer the honey down into the brood area. Think about what I just said. Isn’t that shocking. Steal their honey before they store it for winter??

When deciding to remove a honey super full of honey or to leave it consider these points:

1) Do they have plenty of honey for winter? In Illinois a hive needs 60-80 lbs of honey to make it through the winter. They often do have that much in their two deep hive bodies. When they do, take off the excess. You don’t have to. You can leave the honey super on all winter. But be sure to remove the queen excluder if you have it under your honey super.

2) Will they be able to gather up enough additional nectar to reach 60-80 lbs of honey before the first frost if you take it all?

3) Can you wait and harvest it in the spring? I’ve harvested honey coming out of winter because the bees didn’t need a super they over wintered with. So I removed it. Sometimes I’ve harvested honey out of the deep hive bodies in early spring to give room for brood.

Do not steal their honey unless you can verify that there is enough honey stored in the nest area, the two deep hive bodies. Err on the side of being generous to your bees. They need pollen too. Check out our Burns Bees Feeding System for summer and fall.

That’s all for now. Sheri is out in California again. This time she drove Seth’s car out for him. Seth and Leah will be getting married in less than one month. Sheri has really enjoyed the road trip along Historic Route 66 again. We did that back in March when Seth returned from his deployment in Afghanistan. With their approaching wedding and move out to Twenty-nine Palms, Ca, Seth is capitalizing on his mom’s visit to ready up their house. They found a nice place off base to live. Seth has two more years in the marines and one more deployment…of all places…the Middle East. Sheri will be flying back home on Sunday.

Be safe and live the dream!

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
217-427-2678

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

HIVE TALK TIME CORRECTION

Hive Talk is starting at 10am Central Time in just a few minutes. In one place in my previous blog I said from 9-10am but Hive talk is from 10am central time. Thanks

LESSON 157: How To Get Honey Supers Drawn Out Faster www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

DavidSheri

Greetings from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms also known as www.honeybeesonline.com 

Today I want to share some simple tips to help you increase your chances to get your honey super foundation pulled out so you can get more honey production.

Before today’s lesson, we need your help. Today, Jon Zawislak and I will be hosting another special addition of Hive Talk, and we’d love for you to call in and ask a question between 9am-10am central time. So set your alarm to join us in a hour. Here’s how:

Call in to ask your questions. The number to call is: 1-724-444-7444. When you call in you'll be asked to enter our SHOW ID which is: 129777 followed by the # sign. Then the automated system will ask you for your Pin number which is 1 followed by the # sign. At that point, you'll be on the show with us so you can ask your questions. You will be muted unless you press * 8 on your phone and that will allow us to unmute you so you can ask your question. Call in around 10 minutes prior to broadcast, at 9:50 a.m. central time. The show starts this coming Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. central time. If you want to just listen from your computer, go to: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/129777

If you use a smart phone you can add the Podcast App and have our shows sent to your mobile device every time we produce a new one. Just go to iTunes and search for Hive Talk, scroll down to podcast and you'll find us there.

Or listen to our past episodes by clicking here or by copying the link below and pasting it into  your internet browser.

http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/talkCast.jsp?masterId=129777&cmd=tc

LESSON 157: How To Get Honey Supers Drawn Out Faster

Soon, honey flows will diminish. I have another 3-4 weeks of strong nectar flows. Now is the time to have every super on the hive to maximize your hive’s honey production. It’s a good year and we are working hard to keep up with honey super orders. A strong hive needs two or three honey supers this time of year. But when you place a new honey super on your hive, the comb is not draw out. It’s important to speed this process up. Here’s what helps me.

1. Apply additional wax to each frame. Some people heat wax and then brush it on the foundation. I just take a big ball of wax and rub it on cold.

2. Spray each frame with sugar water with a little bit of honey-b-healthy mixed in. This will draw the bees onto the foundation.

3. The next step is something that I do, but it might be a bit risky for some. I place a brand new super between my two deep bodies. By doing this, I’m placing additional space in the middle of the brood nest to accelerate the comb being drawn out. Why is this risky? If you leave it there too long, the queen will fill it with brood. I watch it every 5 days to see how much is drawn out and if the queen is filling it up with eggs. If you want to really be creative, you can exclude your queen, using a queen excluder, to the lower deep hive body. This will slow her laying down by limiting her space and this will reduce potential varroa mite reproduction somewhat. After 5 days, you can evaluate the hive and decide if they have draw out enough combs on your super to move it up to the top, above the second deep. If not wait another 5 days. Only do this IF you have your full number of populations.

4. Finally, the biggest mistake most beginners make is the put the queen excluder below a new super for undrawn foundation. This usually limits easy access into the super and increases the time it takes to draw out the comb.

Put on as many supers as you think your bees will fill up. I like to err on the side of having too many on rather than not enough.

Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. Remember to check out our complete website at: www.honeybeesonline.com and if you can provide a link to our site from your site we always appreciate that.

Call us in an hour at our radio number above and ask your questions. See you later.

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
www.honeybeesonline.com
217-427-2678 M-Thu 10am-4pm central time Fri 10-Noon

Saturday, July 5, 2014

LESSON 156: Tips On How To Catch A Swarm www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

DS

We are still in swarm season, a time when bees multiply by sending out 60% of their colony with the old queen to establish a new colony. Back home, the colony raises a new queen to build back up the population. Today, I want to share some tips on how to catch and retain a swarm.

Hi, we are David and Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. Next year will mark our 10 year anniversary in the beekeeping business. Some of you reading this lesson have been loyal customers since way back then. Thank you. For those of you joining us fairly recent, welcome.

Last week we just finished up another queen rearing class. Our students were from the Chicago area, North Carolina, Ohio, and Indiana.

I’ll be speaking at the Heartland Apicultural Society (HAS) Conference July 10-12, 2014, at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. This conference is open to everyone interested in beekeeping, including beginners. Regional & national vendors, as well as experts in the field of beekeeping, will be present. Hope to see you there. Click here for  more information.  Then July 28-Aug. 1 I’ll be at the Eastern Apicultural Society meeting at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky assisting with the testing of future master beekeepers. The EAS is a great conference. Consider attending by clicking here.

We are keeping busy on the farm, teaching classes, attending conferences, removing bees from houses, speaking about bees and building equipment. I’ve heard from several states that a summer dearth has set in. A dearth is a period during the season when there is no longer a strong nectar flow. Bees usually get by on floral sources here and there. But large colonies with a large amount of young larvae will begin to suffer from the lack of incoming nectar and pollen. Nurse bees must consume pollen and nectar in order to produce royal jelly which is fed to all larvae for the first 3 days. Without royal jelly, larvae die from starvation. Therefore we are busying making our Burns Bees Feeding System to help bees receive sufficient protein and carbohydrates during a dearth.

Good nutrition is an essential part of keeping bees healthy. Bees deal with many challenges today and better nutrition in the summer and fall can give a colony a better chance this winter. By the way, I am offering a class on how to prepare your hives for winter. Click here for more information or go to: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/servlet/Detail?no=315 We still 6 seats available.

NYPhoto5 A quick word about our classes. Recently, someone told us that they attended a bee class in another state but they were unable to really learn as much due to the overwhelming size of the class. We purposely keep our classes small for a better learning environment. Our class sizes are limited and kept small so each student can be well trained. For example, that’s why we offer multiple classes on the same subject throughout the year rather than just offering one big class per year. Our students have told us how much they enjoy the smaller, more personable classes. If our Overwinter Class reaches capacity soon, we will offer an additional class in September. Imagine spending the entire day learning about fall preparation, mouse protection, mite reduction, wind blocks, wrapping hives, heating lamps, winter feeding, insulation, moving hives into buildings or shelters, the biology of fat bodies, the timing of a new fall queen, pros and cons of double walled hives, dynamics of both Langstroth and top bar hives in the winter, the winter cluster and more.To see our full list of 2014 classes still remaining click here.

Classes The weather has been really nice around the farm. We’ve had great “bee” weather. Our bees are foraging heavy every single day and expanding rapidly. Here in central Illinois our Dutch clover (Trifolium repens) has really popped this year. I do not remember seeing this much yard clover, not only at our farm, but in towns and other areas. Bees love yard clover. It makes it very difficult for me to keep our area mowed because I hate to mow clover with bees on it. But, for clover to bloom again, it does need mowed every few weeks. So I try to mow after foraging hours.

Honey Super I see rookie beekeepers making a big mistake this time of the year…NOT KEEPING ENOUGH HONEY SUPERS ON! Put more honey supers on. If your hive is strong, you should have two or three honey supers on this time of the year. Give them space and encourage them to fill up supers. To order more honey supers click here. Our honey supers come completely assembled and painted with wooden frames and foundation. Don’t miss this year’s honey crop!

Finally, we have a special Hive Talk Show coming up this Tuesday at 10 a.m. central time. Jon Zawislak and myself will be on the air to take your calls and answer your questions. Or you just might want to tune in and listen. Here’s how.

Call in to ask your questions. The number to call is: 1-724-444-7444. When you call in you'll be asked to enter our SHOW ID which is: 129777 followed by the # sign. Then the automated system will ask you for your Pin number which is 1 followed by the # sign. At that point, you'll be on the show with us so you can ask your questions. You will be muted unless you press * 8 on your phone and that will allow us to unmute you so you can ask your question. Call in around 10 minutes prior to broadcast, at 9:50 a.m. central time. The show starts this coming Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. central time. If you want to just listen from your computer, go to: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/129777

If you use a smart phone you can add the Podcast App and have our shows sent to your mobile device every time we produce a new one. Just go to iTunes and search for Hive Talk, scroll down to podcast and you'll find us there.

Or listen to our past episodes by clicking here or by copying the link below and pasting it into  your internet browser.

http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/talkCast.jsp?masterId=129777&cmd=tc

LESSON 157: Tips On How To Catch A Swarm

Swarm on ladder Hives are still swarming in our area. Catching a swarm seems simple enough. Take some empty equipment and set it under the branch where the bees are hanging from and shake them into the hive and go home. Well, sometimes it does go that well. But most of the time it involves more than I just described. So let me share some tips on how to hive a swarm.

First, make sure you have equipment on hand to put the swarm in. Every week someone calls in needing equipment yesterday because they caught a swarm. They didn’t have a hive to put it in so they put it in some sort of unacceptable container, like a 5 gallon bucket or a cardboard box. When you put swarm in a lacking container there is a good probability the colony will leave soon. It is either too hot, or they need more room.

5 Frame Nuc1One of our hottest selling items is a 5 frame nuc. We’ve sold so many of these this year. These make a very nice way to capture a swarm. They are small enough to conveniently lift and carry.  I’ve learned to always have one in my car or truck. I’ve actually noticed swarms hanging from roads signs while traveling. If you have equipment with you, you can stop and retrieve the swarm.  Our 5 frame nuc box is made up of a real screen bottom board which provides ventilation to your captured swarm while you drive them home. It’s also made of real 1” pine (3/4 inch actual size). Also includes an inner cover and telescoping top cover with metal. It’s just like a real hive only made for 5 frames which are included. It measures 9” across. It is also perfect to take for presentations instead of a full size hive. This nuc is painted and fully assembled and includes 5 frames and foundation. Click here for more information.

 

EmergencySwarm If your swarm is gigantic, you may want to consider our Emergency Swarm Hive. This is a screen bottom board, 1 Deep Hive Body, 10 frames and foundation, inner cover and top cover. Also comes with a tie down strap to keep the top on securely and a piece of screen to hold the bees in during the transportation.

Having available equipment is essential in being able to retain a swarm. I spray the frames with sugar water mixed with Honey-B-Healthy. The lemongrass odor helps attracts the swarm into the new hive.

Secondly, be very careful when climbing trees or ladders. Sometimes it is not worth the risk. But when you can safely retrieve the swarm wear a hat and veil and any other necessary protective clothing. Most swarms are not very defensive but bees are bees.

Thirdly, shake!  When you shake the branch, the bees will fall and fly. Most of the bees will fall into your hive, hopefully including the queen, but others will take flight and land back on the branch near where the queen still is or where she was. So you may have to shake the branch several more times. Once the majority of the bees are in the nuc or hive, place the lid on and carry the hive to your new location.

Swarm1 Thirdly, do not be surprised if the swarm swarms again. Sometimes scouts from the swarm have already picked out a new place to direct the swarm to. As soon as they get organized, they can swarm again. Here’s a few things you can do to help keep the swarm. If you have another colony, pull out a frame of open brood with bees on it and place it into the swarm box. The frame of brood might help the swarm to feel obligated to feed and care for the brood and not leave. I do not worry about transferring the bees on the frame from one hive into another. Usually the bees on the open brood are 6-12 day old bees carrying for the open brood and get along fine in a different hive.

Do not be disappointed if your swarm colony replaces their queen. This is not uncommon for colonies that have recently swarmed. You’ll have to decide if you want them to take 30 days to raise a new laying queen or order a mated queen. If it is later in the season it might be helpful to feed the new swarm colony to build them up heading into winter. Continue to monitor mite levels. Hopefully this swarm will make you proud and become one of the best hives in your apiary.

Swarm2 What happens when bees are still swarming in the air but will not land. A technique I use that is helps is to take a dark sock and place lemon grass extract on it, and tie it somewhere in the air near the swarming bees. The bees are sometimes fooled to think the sock are other bees that have landed.

Another helpful hint is considering how to get a swarm on the ground into a hive. I take a sheet or something white and place it between the hive and the swarm on the ground. Watch my video of bees being shaken off the sock and then walking into the hive. The bees always walk across the white sheet and into the dark hive. The queen is not always the first one to go in.  

Remember if you catch a swarm you’ll need a hive to put them in. Consider our fully painted, and assembled hive.

Thanks for joining us and have a great 4th of July weekend.

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
www.honeybeesonline.com

Friday, June 20, 2014

Lesson 155: How Honey Bees Work www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

DS

Understanding why bees do what they do and what work they do at various ages is important to the beekeeper. Today, we’ll take a look at how honey bees work and at what age they do different work. Hi, we are David and Sheri Burns proprietors of www.honeybeesonline.com and Long Lane Honey Bee Farms located in central Illinois. We are real beekeepers helping beekeepers with their honey bees.

I’ll be speaking at the Heartland Apicultural Society Conference July 10-12, 2014, at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. This conference is open to everyone interested in beekeeping, including beginners. Regional & national vendors, as well as experts in the field of beekeeping, will be present. Hope to see you there. Click here for  more information.  Then July 28-Aug. 1 I’ll be at the Eastern Apicultural Society meeting at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky assisting with the testing of future master beekeepers. The EAS is a great conference. Consider attending by clicking here. 

We are on Facebook. It’s fun to follow us there. Click on the Facebook icon below to get daily updates from us on Beekeeping.

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Learn To Raise Your Own Queens

Our next Queen Rearing Class is July 27-28. This is a two day queen rearing course. This class opens with our Friday night dinner buffet at 6pm on Friday. David will be teaching Friday 6pm-9pm, then Sat. 9-noon here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. With constant struggles with queenlessness and queens vanishing it's time to take the next step and stop buying queens and start raising your own! It will be worth the investment.  Hurry, class is limited and we have 4 seats left. Spread the word and bring a friend. Due to limited space, spouses or friends must be a paid student. Click here to sign up now or go to: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/servlet/Detail?no=296

Our customers are more than just a database number. Our customers quickly become family and friends and we become mentors to our customers, walking them through the joys and challenges of beekeeping. We did just that over the last week during our week long 2nd Annual Beekeeping Institute at our apiary near Fairmount, Illinois.  We had students from Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota and Massachusetts. My good friend and fellow EAS master beekeeper, Jon Zawislak, joined me from Arkansas to teach for a very full week learning about honey bees.

On Monday we presented Basic Beekeeping. Tuesday we went a little deeper with Practical Beekeeping. Wednesday we went a bit deeper with Advance Beekeeping and finished up on Thursday with teaching students how to raise their own queens. The most meaning moment for me was on Thursday. I grilled some brats and burgers and a group of us were eating lunch on a picnic table. The weather was perfect and the conversation went beyond bees and on to how to enjoy life. It was a great lunch. Here’s a photo tour of our 2014 Beekeeping Institute week.

David Teaching small David Marking Queen2 David Shakes Bees Off Frame Egg

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We are excited about next year’s 2015 Beekeeping Institute June 12-14. It will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The beekeeping institute is very limited and seats go fast, so sign up now! Click here.

Finally, A Class To Help You Get Your Bees Through The Winter  Registration Now Open

The winter of 2013-2014 was very hard on colony survival and losing hives was hard on beekeepers. Maybe you lost your hive last winter. It can be confusing trying to figure out why your bees died. They may have had plenty of stored honey and still died. Maybe they had a great queen and were very populated but still died. Will all your hard work to get your bees going strong be lost this winter? Are you making mistakes now that will lead to your bees dying this winter? Join us for an all day class that focuses on Getting Your Bees Through The Winter. Most winter losses are caused by a lack of knowledge or preparation on the part of the beekeeper. Finally a 6 hour course on common reasons why bees die in the winter and what you can do to improve your bee's chances of survival. This class will cover topics such as: fall preparation, mouse protection, mite reduction, wind blocks, wrapping hives, heating lights, winter feeding, insulation, moving hives into buildings or shelters, the biology of fat bodies, the timing of a new fall queen, pros and cons of double walled hives, dynamics of both Langstroth and top bar hives in the winter, the winter cluster, vitellogenin protein, and more. Saturday Sept. 6th  2014  9am-3pm. An email will be sent to all registered students with hotel information, directions and other important information. Click here or go to: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/servlet/Detail?no=315

LESSON 155: How Honey Bees Work, Age Progression Labor Force

It is important for beekeepers to think like a bee and to fully understand how the colony works. A colony is made up of usually just one queen, several hundred or more drones (male honey bee) and nearly 60,000 female worker bees. What’s crucial to understand is that at specific ages bees perform specific labor tasks.

After the egg is laid a queen emerges in 16 days, a worker in 21 days and a drone in 24 days. This is essential to know for raising queens and for varroa mite trapping on green drone comb. Let’s take a look at what worker bees do once they emerge on day one and beyond.

Day 1-2  Clean cells and keep brood warm

Young bees are limited in what they can do because various glands have not developed. So for the first few days these new, hairy bees clean cells and keep brood warm.

Day 3-5  Feed Older Larvae

Still too young for their glands to produce royal jelly they can only carry food over and feed the older larvae.

Day 6-11 Feed Young Larvae

For the first three days, larvae eats only royal jelly produce by the hypopharyngeal gland of female worker bees at this specific age. Therefore, bees 6-11 days old utilize the secretion of this gland and feed young larvae royal jelly.

Day 12-17  Produce Wax, Build Combs, Transport Food

At around day 12, bees have another gland that matures and it is the wax gland located on the underside of the abdomen of female honey bees. It takes the consumption of about 8-11 pounds of nectar for bees to produce 1 pound of wax. This is why a first year hive may not produce excess stored honey. It takes a large amount of incoming nectar to be consumed for wax production.

Day 18-21 Guard Hive Entrance

Guarding the entrance is important to hold out foreign insects such as wasps, yellow jackets. Guard bees also guard against larger attackers such as skunks, and bears.

Day 22-34 Forage for pollen, nectar, propolis and water

Finally once the worker bees reaches the age of around 22 days old they begin flying, foraging for pollen, nectar, propolis and water

Day 35-45 Dies (In The Summer)

Bees basically work themselves to death and die after about one month of work in the summer. Bees live longer in the winter due to less work requirements.

Thanks for joining us today for another lesson in beekeeping. We hope to see you soon at one of our upcoming beekeeping classes. If you are not one of our customers, we encourage you to support our effort to meet the needs of beekeepers by providing education, hives, bees and more. We’re building hives right here in our own shop in central Illinois. Next year we celebrate 10 years in the beekeeping supply business thanks to wonderful customers like you.

With the 4th of July coming up soon, check out our Freedom kit which comes with two hives and all the supplies. Similarly our Liberty Kit comes with supplies but only one hive. Why not purchase your equipment from a small beekeeping family where you know it’s made in the USA! Our hives are built with the beekeeper in mind. With the potential of catching a swarm or needing to make that split, consider purchasing our One Complete Hive, which comes assembled and painted with frames and foundation.

a1545 With the possibility of summer drought or dearth, consider our new Burns Bees Feeding System. 

We provide the patties and the jar lid and the board to place above your bees. This is especially good during a drought or a summer dearth or on new packages and nucs.

See you next time!

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
Fairmount, IL 61841
217-427-2678  M-Thu  10am-4pm  Fri 10-Noon

Friday, May 16, 2014

LESSON 154: A Feeding System For Critical Times Of The Year 217-427-2678 www.honeybeesonline.com

DS
Here in Illinois, rainy, cool weather has placed bees in neutral until warmer weather returns. Beekeepers with new packages, nucs, and splits are worried about how to combat the cooler nights. We have a remedy. Hello from David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois.www.honeybeesonline.com.  In today’s lesson I want to suggest a great way to feed bees when first starting out with your new hive or split.
Before our lesson today, I want to thank everyone for your encouraging emails welcoming home our son Seth from Afghanistan. We all had a great time on Tuesday catching up on his life. If you’d like to watch the news report, click here.


Hi we are David and Sheri Burns at honeybeesonline.com  Please visit our Main Website at: http://www.honeybeesonline.com
 

ADVANCE BEEKEEPING COURSE JUNE 11, 2014 9am-3pm Central Illinois!!

Have you considered the importance of taking our one day Advance Beekeeping Course?  I'll be joined by my good friend and fellow certified master beekeeper Jon Zawislak. Jon and I have written a book on queen rearing and we recently authored a two part articled published in the American Bee Journal on the difference between Northern and Southern bees. Jon and I will be teaching our Advance Beekeeping course June 11, 2014 here in Fairmount, Illinois and we have around 6 seats available. You don't want to miss this opportunity to be around me and Jon and learn about bees for a whole day. Click here for more information.

Check out our entire list of beekeeping classes we offer by clicking here.

Welcome to Long Lane Honey Bee Farms Online Lessons! Visit our MAIN WEBSITE AT: http://www.honeybeesonline.com We have a complete line of hives that we build right here in Illinois. We offer classes, sell queens and much more. Give us a call at: 217-427-2678. Our hours are: M-Th 10am-4pm, Fri 10-Noon Central Time.

LESSON 154: A FEEDING SYSTEM FOR CRITICAL TIMES OF THE YEAR
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I wish we all could just let the bees find their own food sources all year. Sometimes they do. But our country has an obsession with killing weeds. Fence rows are sprayed and edges of mono-crop fields are sprayed or mowed. The bee’s natural food sources are quickly eliminated. Those studying Colony Collapse Disorder point toward poor nutrition as one of the many potential causes.
A colony actually requires a large amount of food like any living organism. And since a hive is considered a single living organism, its requirement for steady food is enormous. Bees are like us; they live on carbohydrates (nectar/honey) and protein (pollen).  We do not need to cite a study to know that bees are healthier when they are on a healthy diet of pollen and nectar.
There are critical times during the year when bees need food but it is limited. Take for example the installation of a package in the spring.  Over the last week here in Illinois packages were unable to forage for food due to rain, wind and colder temperatures. To care for the new brood, large amounts of stored nectar and pollen had to be used. When temperatures fall below 50 degrees (f) the bees cluster to stay warm and are no longer able to go down and eat from the entrance feeders. Resources are consumed in order to produce heat. Less brood is reared and less eggs are laid during cold snaps, thus reducing the building up of brood. We call this “brooding up”.  There are several reasons why brooding up is so important in the spring and early summer. A colony’s large population is essential for gathering nectar, building comb, storing honey and fighting pests and diseases. Weaker colonies usually become weaker which increases the risks of wax moths, small hive beetles and winter die-outs.

Without large numbers of foragers they will not have large amounts of nectar coming in. Without large amounts of nectar, they will not be able to produce large amounts of wax to build comb. Without comb there is no place for the queen to lay. Since we have placed a colony in our hive, on our property and want them to work on our terms, there are critical times during the year when we must feed our bees.
In the spring when it is cooler and rainier. In late summer during the inevitable dearth period between when summer flowers are done and before fall flowers bloom.  In the fall when bees need to store up food for winter but frosts have killed off all foraging sources. No matter how “good” your bees are, how perfect your queen is, these are critical times to ensure your bees are well fed so their numbers remain strong in preparation for winter and for fighting off pests and diseases.
I recently became overwhelmed with how many beekeepers were finding it difficult to feed their bees both protein and carbohydrates during these critical times. Last year I was at the Eastern Apicultural Society meeting in Pennsylvania when a friend of mine received a call that her bees were starving. This was in late summer during a dearth. She was in a panic to figure out how to quickly get food in the hives. Then, in the winter I was speaking at the the Tri-County Beekeepers annual conference in Ohio when another friend and fellow master beekeeper told me how much he liked my Winter-Bee-Kind feeding system, but that I should make one for the summer dearth.
We both discussed how this is one of the more critical times that bees need to continue building up on needed resources in preparation for winter. So for nearly a year I’ve been designing and trying out different methods and systems to meet this demand. I finally did it!  It took several prototypes but I finally developed the Burns Bees Feeding System. So often new beginners call us in a panic saying they just installed their new package but they are worried about the cold nights.
Some people try to place an entrance feeder on the frames of a deep and surround it with a shell of a deep hive body and place a lid on it. This can work if all conditions are right, but the fact that you need to do this means that all conditions are not right. In other words, it is too cold for the bees to go down to the entrance feeder at the opening which means there is way too much heat loss. Heat escapes from the cluster up into the open shell of the hive body. Also the bees need more than just sugar, they also need pollen to keep building up.
So let me give the details the Burns Bees Feeding System. First we provide you with two pollen/sugar patties that go into the system. And the board also accommodates a lid with pre-drilled holes for your small moth jar of sugar water. 1:1 in the spring and summer and 2:1 (2 parts sugar to 1 part water) in the fall. The board holds in the heat during the spring. In our video and pictures you will see how we recommend the patties are smashed through the screen in order to create more texture so the bees can consume patties more effectively.
We also include a recipe so you can continue to feed your bees as needed.  Take a look through the follow pictures. Traditionally entrance feeders and patties are placed on top of frames and a shell is placed around the food source. a1541
However, as seen in this picture, bees begin festooning and building comb in the open space above the cluster making unwanted comb. And significant heat is lost as it rises away from the cluster into the open space above them. Also if you’ve ever fed patties like this, you’ll notice that they are unable to eat the part of the patties directly resting on the top of the frames.
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Push the provided patties through the screen as shown above.
a1543This allows the patty to be cut into tiny attached sections making it easier for the bees to consume. This is a view of the patties facing up, but when placed on the hive, the patties pictured above is placed upside down and hangs directly above the cluster.
a1544Here is a new package on undrawn foundation. A green drone comb is seen for varroa mite trapping. The Feeding System is placed directly on top of the cluster.
a1545As pictured above the sugar water is added in the specially cut cap hole. We suggest laying a piece of cardboard or rag over the pollen patties and screen area for maximum heat retention. This is not necessary in temperatures above 50 degrees (f).
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You can use used equipment, like a deep hive body shell to place on the feeding system. The reason you have to do this is because of the jar of sugar water that sticks up. This is not necessary if you are merely wanting to feed a pollen patty in which case you can push it through the screen and then place the top feed on the feeding system without a shell. A shell is to add space for the jar feeder.
a1548Notice how the jar lid does not allow the sugar water to spill out, but simply bubbles up due to a vacuum seal. The bees are able to drink from this effectively.
a1547Finally place the lid on the system. Be sure a use a weight like a rock or brick incase of a strong wind.

To order our NEW BURNS BEES FEEDING SYSTEM, click here now.  Thank you.

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
www.honeybeesonline.com