Thursday, August 28, 2014

Honey Bees Are Telling Us Now What They Need To Survive The Winter www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

Ragweed

I know ragweed has a bad reputation, but I like it. Or should I say my bees like it. Every morning they head out and pack in the pollen. The dust (pollen) from ragweed just falls from the flowers as the bees fly about it.

Hi, we are David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, and we want to thank you for joining us for another beekeeping lesson/article/blog, whatever you want to call it.

Popup thunderstorms have been the name of the game for the last two weeks. Hot and humid weather has put an end to our bees foraging for nectar. Now, they have only be gathering water to keep the hive cool. They deposit the droplets of water on the shallow parts of the brood comb and then fan it. This is called evaporative cooling. Around noon today it was so hot! I observed one hive in direct sunlight and the bees were pulling air through it as fast as they could. There was no wind and the sun was beating down on the hive; plus it was humid.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been pouring over studies, research, and scientific articles putting he final touches on our new class, “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter.”  I am PUMPED about teaching this class. Man, I cannot wait!  I’m two weeks full of awesome findings and now I can’t wait for winter to try and weaken my hives. Bring it on winter. We still have 8 seats left in our Oct. 5th class. Click here for more information. And we’ve been putting together more and more YouTube Beekeeping videos that we should be posting before long.

We still have a few spots left in our Basic Beekeeping Class on Oct. 25th. Click here for more info.

HiveTalk Our next Hive Talk will be August 28 (Wednesday) at 10 a.m. central time. We’ll be talking about honey. Join us and ask questions live on air or just listen in. 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.  If you want to just listen from your computer, go to: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/129777

LESSON: 163 Honey Bees Are Telling Us Now What They Need To Survive The Winter

Today, I want to warn you that your bees are telling you NOW if they will survive the winter. All signs are visible. All surveys and polls are in. You can find out this week how well your bees will do this winter, and prognosticators are calling for another cold and long winter (Farmer’s Almanac). 

Here in Illinois we hit our summer dearth a week or so ago. There is now minimal foraging compared to a month ago. The honey flow is over. In fact, the bees are acting very hungry. The golden rod is starting to bloom, but I have not seen any bees on my .5 acre plot of golden rod. Maybe they have a bigger and better patch they are going to.

I will go over this more in our upcoming “Get Your Bees Through The Winter” class, but right now the colony must raise a lot of brood between now and December. The eggs being laid over the next few weeks will be the bees that will overwinter the colony. BUT, for there to be good brood production now, the hive must have a surplus of nectar and pollen coming in the front door. I’m not going to wait and gamble on a golden rod and aster flow. I am going to stimulate brood rearing starting tomorrow by feeding my bees 2:1 sugar water and my own sugar/pollen patties. Do not use the entrance feeder now or in the fall. That’s only for spring. If you use it now you will likely cause your hive to be robbed by another hive.  It’s time to break out the big guns and bulk up the colonies for winter. 

You may not think so, and you may prefer to wait to see how things go, but here in Illinois our first frost usually hits the end of September or the first of October. That means the bees only have 4 weeks tops to do much. I’ve gambled before on fall nectar flows and lost.

I’m bringing out the big guns and I want to share with you three things my bees are telling me now about winter. It’s all located on my website, www.honeybeesonline.com and you’ll find it as #12 in my list of important beekeeping information on my main page. It’s your choice. You can ignore these early warning signs, but if you do, it will be a miracle if your bees survive the winter.

See you next time!
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Mon-Thur  10am-4pm central time
Fri- 10-Noon

Call us today: 217-427-2678

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

LESSON 162: Coating The Inside Of Hives With Propolis www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

DS

Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, we are David and Sheri Burns. We are located in east central Illinois. With a passion for beekeeping, we’ve dedicated a big part of our lives to promote beekeeping.

In December 2011 I wrote a lesson/article on propolis and in that lesson I said, “Many people are now recommending that we score or scratch the smooth surfaces of the insides of our hives, forcing the bees to add propolis as they would in a natural hive in a tree.” Since that time I have been evaluating more and more studies and the results are very promising. So today I want to share why coating the inside of a hive with propolis can make a difference and I’ll show you how to do it. Before I get into today’s lesson, here’s a few pre-lesson comments.

In 2010 I became a certified master beekeeper to insure our classes are accurate, informative and thorough. One such class is a new class we are offering this year, “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter.”  Our first class, coming up on Sept 6th,  quickly filled up. Then we offered the same class for Sept. 7th and that class quickly filled up. So now we are offering yet a third date for this upcoming class, “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter” on Sunday Oct. 5th from Noon-6pm. Click here to sign up now. It is a good feeling to come out of winter with strong colonies. Beekeepers are making many mistakes that can lead to colonies dying in the winter. In this one day class we’ll discuss the major causes for winter die-outs and what steps beekeepers can take to give their colonies a better chance to survive winter. Don’t wait until the first frost to get your hive ready for winter. Start now because the first day of winter is only 122 days away. Make an investment to be a better beekeeper.

Our Winter-Bee-Kind orders are pouring in! If you have not placed your order yet, please do so soon. We sell both 10 frame and 8 frame WBK, so be sure to order the correct size.  Click here for more information. Our video demonstrating our Winter-Bee-Kind has had nearly 9,000 views! Check it out below. If you cannot view it below go to: http://youtu.be/7sDXqd4DcKc

We started harvesting honey from our hives this week and it was a great honey year. It’s always so rewarding to watch the honey pour out of the extractor. We have the footage, and will soon put together a video on how to extract honey. We’re also making a video for a step by step guide on how to break the queen’s brood cycle in order to help control varroa mites. We just completed footage and that video will be forthcoming soon.

Our recent video and experiment on adding additional wax to plastic foundation generated nearly 1,000 views in a week. I received a lot of emails asking for specifics, so I made another video on specifically how I add wax to frames. You can view it now by clicking here or go to:

http://youtu.be/zHAnCER-eRk?list=UUcilAnkcu67nJwNlgqVKdXw

LESSON 162: Coating The Inside Of Hives With Propolis

Propolis is more than just sticky stuff on frames. Actually more and more studies are showing that colonies with ample amounts of propolis do better by benefiting the bees immune defensive (Simone-Finstrom, et al, 2009). So the idea is to add something to the walls of the hive in order for the bees to coat them with propolis, like they do in a tree in nature. There are several ways to accomplish this:

1) Cut to size a plastic proplis trap screen and staple it onto the inside walls of your hives.

propolis162 2) Gather and save propolis and dilute it in alcohol then brush it on the inside walls of your hives. Ok! I’ll make a video of this too :) Meanwhile, I have posted a complete description on my website on how to do this, step by step. Visit www.honeybeesonline.com for complete details. It is located as item number 39 on our main front page if you scroll down. This method has proven to be more controllable for me. It really isn’t hard to do. The first method may take more time for the bees to actually add propolis to the traps. This second method works great. I’m so impressed. Check out my website for the complete method.

 

 

Prop2 3)  Score or scratch the inside walls of your hive bodies causing the bees to add propolis to smooth it out. Notice what the bees have done to this rough area near a knot on the inside of the hive. The scoring does not have to be very excessive as shown in this photo.

It seems that bees will more readily forage for propolis during a dearth or a slow nectar flow period. So now would be the time to use a trap to gather propolis or staple traps or scratch the inside walls of your hive.

It is important to view propolis as part of the colony’s immune system. Last year Renata Borba , Entomology, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN, spoke at the Entomological Society of America (November 2013) about this very subject. She’s been doing a lot of work on this very subject. She basically discovered that bees in hives with propolis treatments did not have to use their immune systems as much. Also her study found that colonies with more propolis had significantly more brood.

Marla Spivak, PhD, wrote an article on the value of adding propolis to hives and refers to the work of one of her previous graduate students, Mike Simone-Finstrom, “He found that bees exposed to a propolis envelope for just seven days had lower bacterial
loads in and on their bodies, and had ‘quieter’ immune systems compared with bees in a colony with no propolis envelope. In other words, the propolis in the colony was killing off microbes in the nest, so that the bees’ immune systems did not have to gear up and make peptides and cellular responses that fight off infection.”

In a day when everything seems to be working against the bees, why not throw one more thing in their favor.

Here’s my first lesson on propolis:  Or go to:
http://basicbeekeeping.blogspot.com/2011/12/lesson-113-sticky-subject-of-propolis.html 

Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. Tell your friends about us. See you next time.

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

www.honeybeesonline.com

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

LESSON 161: Part 2 Adding Wax To Frames To Speed Up Drawing Out Plastic Foundation

Wedding

Welcome from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms and www.honeybeesonline.com

We just celebrated another wedding as our middle son, Seth married Leah on Saturday. I drove up to O’Hare in Chicago Saturday and picked up Seth at 6 a.m. It was a great wedding and now Leah and Seth are at Twenty-nine Palms, Ca. living in their home off base. Congratulations!

UPCOMING BEEKEEPING CLASSES:

Beginners Class Saturday Oct 4 9am-3pm

Beginners Class Oct 25 Saturday 9am-3pm

Sept 7 “Getting Bees Through The Winter” Sunday Noon-6pm

June 12-14 “Annual Beekeeping Institute”

Taking a class is paramount in being successful at keeping bees. Come and enjoy a day with us. We always enjoy meeting beekeepers from around the US who take our classes. Winter is fast approaching so start thinking now about preparing for winter.

LESSON 161: Part 2 Adding Wax To Frames To Speed Up Drawing Out Plastic Foundation

wax test In my last lesson I demonstrated how to add extra wax to beeswax coated plastic foundation. I showed a picture of the shallow super I used for my experiment. After 7 days, it is now time for the results.

The results were amazingly impressive! The frames with extra wax were pulled out completely and filled with nectar and some were starting to be capped over in just 7 days!

I discovered that it did not help to over do it with excessive wax. The frames with excessive amounts of wax added were no different than ones with a small amount added. Both were pulled out the same.

The challenge is that most new beekeepers do not have extra wax. There is no need to worry. The wax that comes already on the frames is more than enough to get things started, especially in the brood nest area. However, if you are wanting honey in a hurry, it does pay to add a thin layer of wax to the honey super foundation.

I had one frame that I experimented with where I stapled in a 1” strip of worker plastic foundation. The bees added drone size comb below it and filled it with nectar since my bees are no longer raising drones this late in the year.To see the results of my experiment, watch the video below or go to: http://youtu.be/Uljvn0o9MuA 

 

propolis162 The experiment I’m conducting now is to measure the health of a hive by coating the inside walls of the brood nest area with a thin coating of prepared propolis. I’m preparing my propolis now by making up my solution over the next two weeks. I’m making a propolis tincture by letting it “dissolve” in 190 Proof Grain Alcohol. 

Thanks for joining us again! Please visit our website at: www.honeybeesonline.com as we have lots of supplies and we make our own beekeeping woodenware just for you!

And our Winter-Bee-Kinds orders have been phenomenal. Order now as orders will be shipped in the order in which they are received starting in Oct. Also, we appreciate word of mouth promotion of our Winter-Bee-Kinds as well.

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

217-427-2678
Hours Mon- Thu  10am-4pm
Fri 10am-Noon
Sat by appointment

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

LESSON 160: Adding Wax To Frames To Speed Up Drawn Comb

(This entry is time sensitive, meaning  prices and items are subject to change. Visit our website for current items and prices: www.honeybeesonline.com)

MB Pin I want to share today about adding wax to foundation to help the bees draw the comb out faster. But before I do, let me tell you about the great time I had at the Eastern Apicultural Society in Richmond, Kentucky. The pin pictured here is what is awarded to those who pass the four tests to become a master beekeeper. The master beekeeper certification runs parallel with the EAS conference. 

Dr. Dewey Caron serves as the advisor to the MB program. Dr. Caron is the author of, Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping. 7 more master beekeepers were certified and earned their MB pins. New bee research findings were revealed and the workshops were great. The best part for me is hanging out with people in the halls or at supper and talking bees.

MBtesting

Here I am (yellow shirt) field testing master beekeeper applicant Andrew Joseph, Iowa state bee inspector at the Eastern Apicultural Society conference. Andrew is now a newly certified EAS Master Beekeeper, along with 6 others tested this year. Congratulations to all! To find out more about becoming a master beekeeper go to: http://www.easternapiculture.org/master-beekeepers.html

Andrew was the first person I’ve ever tested who scored a 100 on the field test. It was a pleasure watching Andrew demonstrate a hive inspection. The master beekeeper certification consists of 4 areas of testing: Field, Lab, Written and Orals. This year the oral panel that I served on tested Louie from France. I was really impressed with his mastery of the English language in his short time in the US.

All the applicants were enjoyable to meet and talk with. It is encouraging to see so many people wanting to know as much as possible about keeping bees.

 

winterbeekindclick Our Winter-Bee-Kind winter feeding system is on sale now. Orders will start shipping in Oct once the weather becomes cooler. Orders will be shipped in the order they were received. We usually have several hundred orders placed prior to our shipping date, so order soon! We have a video online that you can view prior to purchase. Just click here. We sell both 10 frame and 8 frame Winter-Bee-Kinds, so BE SURE you are clicking on the correct size when you order. If you’ve never heard about this item it is a candy board with sugar and pollen substitute. It also has a 1” insulation for the top of your hive as well as an entrance/exit to help with winter condensation.

FACEBOOK

We almost post something daily on our Facebook page. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/longlanehoney and Like Us while you are there please and thank you.

My good friend Jon Zawislak and I produced another HiveTalk episode when we were at EAS. Take a listen as our guests were: Dr. Jeff Harris, Dr. Dianna Sammataro, Kent Williams, Steve Repasky, Erin MacGegor-Forbes, and Karessa Torgerson. Go to: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/129777

HiveTalk Our next Hive Talk will be August 28 at 10 a.m. central time. Join us and ask questions live on air or just listen in. 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.  If you want to just listen from your computer, go to: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/129777

NEW CLASS:  A Better Way To Get Your Bees Through The Winter

And while we are talking about winter survival of bees, why not take our over wintering class. Sunday Sept. 7th Noon-6pm. Get Your Bees Through The Winter Class.  The winter of 2013-2014 was very hard on colony survival and it 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. Join certified master beekeeper, David Burns, for an extensive 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 and more. Sunday Sept. 7th  2014  Noon-6pm. An email will be sent to all registered students with hotel information, directions and other important information. Click here for additional information. Our Sat. class filled up and we are offering this Sunday class, but only a few seats are still available.

LESSON 160: Adding Wax To Frames To Speed Up Drawing Out Comb

We are in that time of year when we want every last drop of nectar bees can carry in. But, this means we need supers on the hive with drawn comb. Beekeepers around the country are buying up supers like a gold rush in order to capture the honey stores for this summer.

Waxtest If the colony does not have drawn comb nectar gathering can be lost, and no honey harvested. Here’s what I do to help speed up my bees to draw out the comb. I clean my wax cappings gathered from when I harvested my honey supers. I melt it in a skillet, then I brush the wax on to my plastic foundation. It comes with wax, and usually that is fine. But to give my bees an extra edge it doesn’t hurt to add some wax if you have it.

When you add additional wax to plastic foundation it can greatly increase the chances that the bees will draw out the comb faster. They will use the extra wax you’ve given them along with making more of their own and drawing out the combs for faster use.

By using your own wax, you know the quality of your wax. Be careful not to brush on the wax if it is very hot or it will warp the plastic. Let the wax cool enough to where it is thicker and cooler.

If you do not want to heat your extra wax cappings you can ball it up and then rub it into the plastic foundation. As you rub the wax into the foundation small amounts will catch and adhere to the cells.

wax test There are several ways to place wax on plastic foundation and you can even add extra wax to wax foundation too. I’ve tried sponge brushes, paint brushes and they all work fine. I started using a drywall sander because it is spongy and it was all I could find one day. Currently I’m running an experiment to see how much faster it is to add additional amounts of wax to foundation. In my case, I took 7 frames and configured them with various degrees of wax and foundation and some with no wax. I started this experiment on our anniversary, Aug. 3rd. It might be too late in the season, but I’ll see how the bees will do. What I mean by too late is that it is more challenging to get drawn comb later in the summer. However, as long as there is a nectar flow, it works. The heavier the nectar flow the better.

Soon, summer nectar flows will stop until fall nectar flow starts. A good rule of thumb is try and get all the wax in your supers pulled out before fall. I have had some wax building in the fall, but bank on spring and summer.

Thanks for joining us again!
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
www.honeybeesonline.com

Contact Us By Phone

Mon-Thur 10am-4pm Central Time
Fri- 10-Noon Central Time

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