Monday, December 8, 2014

Beekeeping: Winter Wind Break 217-427-2678 www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

DavidSherifirearm

Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. How are your bees holding out so far this fall?  Winter doesn’t even start for another two weeks. Fortunately, the forecast in central Illinois for next week is perfect for bees. Highs around 40 degrees (f) and lows in the lower 30s (f). Because it is warm enough during the day, the bees are able to enlarge the cluster and move around a little and maybe gather resources a frame or two over.

Have you gone out and put your ear up against the hive yet? Doesn’t it bring a real sense of satisfaction when you knock on the side of a hive during winter and you can hear buzzing inside?  Yeah, they are alive! In this lesson, I want to talk about the importance of wind breaks and give a few suggestions about making a wind break or possibly moving the hive out of the wind.

winterbkind Before we begin, let me share that our Winter-Bee-Kinds are only $29 when you pick them up at our store this week only. It takes a lot of work to prepare the WBKs for shipping. So we’ll pass on the savings to you if you pick them up. We usually have a surplus available on hand but you might want to call if you are driving a long distance, to be sure we have them available. 217-427-2678. We are open Mon. – Thur. 10 a.m. –4 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m. until noon. If you live too far away click here to order your Winter-Bee-Kind today. It is more than a candy board as it also contains insulation to reduce condensation in the top of the hive, and an upper vent so that bees can more easily take that needed cleansing flight on warmer winter days and to reduce upper condensation from building up.

In this picture, we are testing our Winter-Bee-Kind mixture with one of our Special Taste Inspectors. windbreak2 We’ve spent years getting our mixture the way the bees want it. It’s challenging, because in order to make it for bees, we cannot make them too hard. If we cooked the mixture to 300 degrees (f) they would ship much easier as they would not be moist. However, it would be more difficult for the bees to eat candy that hard. So we have experimented and have landed on what the bees like and will consume every drop but can still be shipped. Don’t be concerned when it arrives moist or even wet. The bees will consume the moist or liquid parts.

winter444 Even though we add protein to these, it is not enough to stimulate brood rearing. When bees are going through winter, they are governed by other factors when it comes to raising brood, such as photoperiod. Before I started making the winter-bee-kind I overwintered colonies here in the north with the aid of pollen patties. Even though bees would consume the pollen patties, I saw no visible increase in brood production until the length of days (photoperiod) increased in the spring. For bees to ramp up brood production, there are several essential factors necessary such as successful foraging providing incoming nectar and pollen, warmer nights and room to grow. An over wintered cluster does not have the room to rapidly expand their brood area within the cluster. That is why most colonies only have a small amount of brood during cold months. Colonies usually have a good amount of pollen in the hive anyway, and yet they do not over-brood. However, the extra protein we add to the sugar is simply to keep the bees alive until spring if they are running low.

PACKAGE BEES will be sold out soon.  We are holding back a certain number of packages for students who take our winter and spring classes, and packages for those buying kits with bees. So our individual packages are nearly sold out. I strongly urge you to purchase your individual packages from us this week.

SPECIAL KITS: Check out our hive kits. You can select if you need your kits with  or without bees:

FREEDOM KIT WITH BEES (2 Hives + 2 Packages + Equipment) or
FREEDOM KIT WITHOUT BEES

INDEPENDENCE KIT WITH BEES ( 1 Hive + 1 Package of bees + Equipment)   or
INDEPENDENCE WITHOUT BEES

LIBERTY KIT WITH BEES ( Starter Hive With Bees)   or
LIBERTY KIT WITHOUT BEES

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL WITH EQUIPMENT AND BEES
EARLY BIRD SPECIAL WITH BEES BUT WITHOUT EQUIPMENT

WINTER WIND BREAKS

For those of us in the north, we know all about wind chill factor. The wind chill is basically how cold winter air feels blowing against our skin. If it is 10 degrees (f) outside but the wind is blowing 22 miles an hour, the wind chill is a negative 9.66. The NOAA calculation table for wind chill changed in 2001. Prior to 2001, the wind chill above would have been –26.39 (f). Now it is –9.66 (f).

Of course we all agree that wind makes a cold day feel much colder. Wind also can blow (or pull) away warmer air. Within a colony, the winter cluster is producing heat within the cluster itself to keep all the bees warm. Bees do not heat the inside of their hive like we do our homes. Instead bees only keep each other warm. Bees have to consume food to stay warm, just like us. That’s why bees need 60+ pounds of honey to survive a northern winter. Wind can pull heat away from the hive. A strong, healthy colony can compensate for this, but it does require more effort.

Winter Cluster In Tree Honey bees in their natural habitat, the tree, have 3”-6” of wood to shield the winter cluster from the cold, windy air outside. And where is this tree found? Among other trees which provide an additional wind break. But to put bees in a managed hive box usually made of 3/4” wood, out in the open wind, makes it more challenging for the colonies that are low in resources or small in numbers. Therefore, a wind block is a big help.

Now, what can a wind block be made of? It could be a doubled wall hive. These were experimented with back in Langstroth’s day (1800s) but they were too costly and heavy. Today, very few hobbyist would pay twice as much for a hive. Instead of $249, a doubled wall hive would cost $498. Other parts would not fit well either.

What about using buildings as wind blocks? Perfect. In fact, after a few weeks of bees being in their winter cluster, you can move your hive to a more sheltered location. Do not take the hive apart to move it. Keep it together and be gentle so as not to dislodge and break up the cluster.  We place a large bar on the top cover then use a large tie down strap that wraps all the way around the hive and bar. One person on each side of the bar can easily relocate the hive.

If you don’t want to move your hive, build a wind break. Remember, if you need a wind break it means it must really be windy where you live so you’ll need to build something that can withstand strong winds. I love wind breaks. It really can make a huge difference, in my opinion, on how well a hive overwinters.

A wind break can be as easy as a few bales of hay. Stack them up around a hive, but not too close or they will retain moisture and keep the hive too moist during the winter. This is an inexpensive way to go especially if you have a barn full of hay bales.

windbreak I like to make my own wind breaks. I take a few wooden sticks or small posts and beat them into the ground, then wrap visqueen (plastic sheeting) around the posts. I leave the front side open for the bees to fly in and out. On a warm summer day, when the wind isn’t blowing, the sun shining through the visqueen has a warming effect on the hive sort of like a green house effect.  I usually use 4 or 6 mil clear visqueen. Usually a roll of 4 mil, 10 x 100 feet is what I use, but I double it up for extra strength. This hive is facing east and we seldom get winter winds from the east.

But you can make it out of any materials, wood or metal, that would block the wind. Call Julie before you pound stakes in the ground. I am uncomfortable making 4 walls and completely surrounding a hive in fear that the bees may not find their entrance easily. I would hope they would, but I don’t want to take that risk.

I have built 4 walled wind blocks before as shown in the picture below, and I cut holes at the bottom so bees could go in and out but I noticed bees were confused and some clung to my black paper on warm winter days. But bees survived well in these boxed wind breaks. I just slide them down over the hive and the aren’t tight against the hive which allows moisture to evaporate away.

wrap33 You can still build a wind block around your hives no matter how cold it is. So take some of my ideas and run with them and see what you can come up with.

Before I finish, let me tell you how excited I am about our upcoming 2015 bee classes. These might make a great Christmas gift for that special someone in  your life. You can stay in a hotel, go out to eat and then take our Saturday class or our Bee Institute. Check out all our classes at: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/classes.html

Visit our online store at: www.honeybeesonline.com for all your beekeeping needs.

David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
217-427-2678
www.honeybeesonline.com

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bees May Be Working Harder In The Winter Than In The Summer www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

Thanksgiving 2015

 

Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. Our family enjoyed a great Thanksgiving day out at the honey bee farms. Sheri and I are blessed to have six children from 31 to 7 years old. Even Seth, our Marine son, was able to be home for a few days.

It’s neat to have our grown children to bring special holiday food to contribute to a great feast. We had a beautiful snow on Thanksgiving, not enough to accumulate much, but just enough to be beautiful falling from the sky. Sheri and I hope your family had a wonderful holiday weekend too.

We now have our 2015 beekeeping classes online. Beekeeping Classes

With Thanksgiving behind us, Christmas is not far away. It’s amazing how many people tell me they got started in beekeeping because they were given a hive as a Christmas gift. Maybe you have someone who has everything and you don’t know what to get them for Christmas. We have some great gift ideas. We have four hive kits that would make the perfect gift and they come with bees. Check them out: Freedom Kit, Independence Kit, Liberty Kit and Early Bird Special.

Welcome to the first day of December. Winter is officially 20 days away and I’m sure all beekeepers are wondering what will this winter be like. Will it be as cold and long as last winter? How much snow will we get. Last winter was hard on bees.

Most beekeepers wonder if there is enough food in the hive. Is the population numerous enough to stay warm all winter. Are the mites, within the winter cluster, spreading viruses? There is really nothing we can do for our bees when they are clustered for winter except wait for spring.

deadbeescomb

Here’s a picture of dead bees,

that died in the winter from

starvation.

 

I did everything I could and what I’m banking on the most is providing enough food for my bees through the winter. I don’t want them to starve. Will they starve out and die? A colony must consume food to stay warm and feed small amounts of brood during the winter. If they run low on food, they cannot continue to generate heat and will perish.

Bees work hard in the summer, carrying resources into the hive, building comb, and raising brood. It doesn’t seem like there is much for the colony to do during the winter. However, there is still a lot of energy that is exerted during the winter. The queen will usually continue to lay a small amount of eggs throughout the winter months, and that brood must be fed and kept warm. And the cluster itself is busy regulating the temperature and humidity within the hive. This takes work!

Winterhives I read a USDA study by Charles D. Owens in the early 70s where he conducted research on hives located in Madison, Wis, from December 1 to March 31 over a 5 year period. It was interesting what he observed on a cold winter night, “On January 4 between 0700 and midnight when the outside temperature was between 2 and 9 degrees (f), the cluster moved sideways and down into the center body.” He observed that the winter cluster, with temperatures near 0 (f), moved down into honey, replenished their resources and moved back up into where they were.  He noted that large colonies can move their cluster into honey, whereas small colonies could not move. This proves that bees are not tucked away doing nothing for winter, but rather they continue to work hard to eat, stay warm and raise small amounts of brood. Honey bees do not hibernate.

How can we reduce the amount of energy colonies must put into surviving the winter? We can make sure they have food always near the cluster. That’s why we always recommend our Winter-Bee-Kind placed just above the cluster. Much discussion has taken place about wrapping hives in the winter. It can’t hurt. However, my research revealed that on warm days, insulated wraps work against their intended purpose. For example, if you have insulation around your hive and it warms up on a winter day, then the insulated wrap prevents the warm sun from hitting the hive and warming it. We want to take advantage of the occasional warm winter days that come along, and insulation could keep the warm out. A warm winter day allows the cluster to move within the hive onto new honey for food.A wind break, in very cold and windy areas, may reduce the amount of energy bees must exert to stay warm. My old farm house is much colder inside when it’s windy outside. The wind sucks the warm air from my house.

This is why I prefer a wind break rather than wrapping a hive. In Illinois the occasional warm, winter day is usually very windy. It’s warm enough for our bees to want to take a cleansing flight, but it is so windy they cannot fly out of the hive. In my next blog, I’ll show you the special wind break that I place around my hives to stop the wind, capitalizing on the warmth of the sun, allowing bees to take a cleansing flight and make it back into the hive without getting blown away.

Before I go, let me encourage you to click below to see our newest videos on beekeeping. We have new videos on extracting honey, Winter-Bee-Kinds, and more. See you next week.

http://www.honeybeesonline.com/video.html

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
www.honeybeesonline.com
217-427-2678

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

pH Balance In Honey And What We Feed Bees | Packages Of Bees Available For Purchase www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

In today’s beekeeping lesson we’ll be taking a look into pH. What is the pH balance of honey and how does that compare to vinegar, water, milk, coffee and other things in my kitchen. Is it important to raise the pH balance in what we feed our bees? Read on!

Hello, are David and Sheri Burns and here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, we are a family business working hard to help more people discover and enjoy keeping honey bees. We manufacture beehives and sell everything related to beekeeping. Our hives are built according to our specific required specs right here in central Illinois.

It’s fall and if you are new to beekeeping you are just in time to get started keeping bees in the spring of 2015. We have 3 lb packages for sale now. Bees are so precious and essential to nature. We are excited to offer packages again this year. They will sell out fast. Last year we sold out within 45 days after going online. Click here to order your packages of bees. Packages include 3lbs, about 10,000 bees and one mated queen.

Busybee Now is the time to order your hives and we always appreciate your hive orders. Purchase your hives (woodenware) now, and you’ll receive them within a few weeks. Order your bees now to be picked up in the spring.

Remember when we were young and we’d take catalogs from major department stores and circle everything we wanted for Christmas? Only 36 days until Christmas. We have two special hive kits with bees that would make a great Christmas gift for that special someone in your life. These starter hives are affordable, includes bees and there is no shipping charge. One comes with startup equipment like a smoker, bee brush, frame hanger, frame grip, smoker fuel and a hive tool. The other does not come with equipment for those who already have equipment but are adding more hives. Click on the image below for more information.

EBS2

EBS1

HiveTalk Join us tomorrow, Wednesday November 19th at 10 a.m. for another live episode of HiveTalk. We’ll be  talking about   feral colonies trap-outs and cut-outs. These are terms referring to trapping and cutting bee hives from structures. We’ll also talk about how to establish them into hives and related subjects like principles of the bee vac, mistakes to avoid, laws and regulations. Here’s how to join us:

We promise to make this educational and fun. You can make Hive Talk more interesting by calling in and asking questions live, or by logging in on your computer and texting us your question. Here’s how:

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. So you don’t have to worry about keeping your kids or dogs quite. 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

Set your alarm and your smart phones. Nov 19th, Wednesday at 10 a.m. central time.

LESSON 166: pH In Honey And What We Feed Bees

pH stands for the power of hydrogen. When you write it, the “p” is lower case and since hydrogen is an element, it is capitalized. Water has a pH of 7. Anything 7 and above is considered an alkaline and anything below 7 is consider to be acidic.

So I grabbed my pH meter and tested different things in my kitchen this morning. Remember, the lower the number the more acidic. I snapped some pictures below so you can see for yourself.

pHCoffee pHgingerale pHHoney pHmilk pHOJ pHvinegar        pHwater

It’s hard to see, but there is a decimal point after the first number. So Coffee is 5.66. My ginger ale is a special kind that I buy that has real, fresh ginger so it is really tart and burns your throat when you swallow. Honey is close to that same pH level. Haven’t you noticed that honey does sometimes make your throat burn just a little. It’s because honey is acidic. That is what aids in preventing bacterial growth. Water is considered having no acidic trace and is around 7 pH. The higher the number the more alkaline. 

I discovered that by adding sugar to water, it actually raised the alkalinity by.09 elevating it further away from the level found in bees’ natural food, honey.  If bees eat honey at a pH of 3.52, then is it possible to increase the acidic content in sugar water to nearly match honey and still be healthy for bees?  I found a great study about this and how adding vitamin C to sugar water increased winter survival by 33%. I explain this today in more detail on my main website at: www.honeybeesonline.com where I’ll show you how I increased the pH in sugar water. Be sure and read my entire article there on my website.

Thanks for joining us for another lesson in beekeeping. See you next time,

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
www.honeybeesonline.com
217-427-2678

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Beekeeping In 2015: What To Expect For Bees in 2015 www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678 LESSON 165

HellDSo fellow beekeepers and prospective beekeepers! We are David and Sheri Burns and we are excited to share what’s happening with Long Lane Honey Bee Farms and with honey bees in general. Be sure and visit our main website where you can take a beekeeping quiz, reading about swarming, varroa mite control, small hive beetles, how to extract honey and more. http://www.honeybeesonline.com

Today’s lesson will touch on the subject of what to expect in beekeeping in the upcoming 2015 beekeeping season. Before we begin, let me tell you what we’ve been up to lately.

We are wrapping up our beekeeping classes for this year and they were so much fun. We met new beekeepers from all over the US. We had our last beginners class for this year last weekend. We trained prospective beekeepers from Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, New York, Iowa and Kentucky. We taught over 30 classes this year with our newest class addition, “How To Get Your Bees Through The Winter” which we had to offer three times due to increased interest.

Dr. Jeff Harris I spent two weekends in a row in Arkansas this month. I spoke at the Arkansas state association meeting and I learned a lot from Dr. Jeff Harris and Audrey Sheridan from Mississippi State University. Also in this photo, allow me to introduce my good friend, Jon Zawislak. Jon and I have studied bees together since 2009. Jon is a fellow EAS certified master beekeeper and is the apiculture instructor with the Entomology Department, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture in Little Rock, Arkansas. Jon has taught several of our classes and speaks at our Beekeeping Institute that we hold each year. We are excited about this year’s beekeeping institute in June. Registration is filling up fast. Click here for more information.

HiveTalk Jon and I also produce Hive Talk, an internet radio/podcast program about honey bees. In our last episode we tackled some tough topics about bees, that most people would avoid. But we waded in and had a good time. You can listen to our past episodes on iTunes: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/servlet/Detail?no=316 or Google “Hive Talk”.

Join us on Wednesday November 19th at 10 a.m. for another live episode of HiveTalk. We’ll be  talking about  71013 From iPhone 255 feral colonies trap-outs and cut-outs. These are terms referring to trapping and cutting bee hives from structures.  We’ll also talk about how to establish them into hives and related subjects like principles of the bee vac, mistakes to avoid, laws and regulations. Here’s how to join us:

We promise to make this educational and fun. You can make Hive Talk more interesting by calling in and asking questions live, or by logging in on your computer and texting us your question. Here’s how:

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. So you don’t have to worry about keeping your kids or dogs quite. 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

Set your alarm and your smart phones. Nov 19th, Wednesday at 10 a.m. central time.

Jon and I wrote an article for the American Bee Journal and we published a booklet on queen rearing and we continue to hear positive responses on it. It’s entitled, “Raising Quality Queen Bees.” You can download the .pdf at: http://www.uaex.edu/publications/pdf/mp518.pdf  It was published by the University of Arkansas, Division of Agricultural, Research and Extension. Queen rearing is either made complicated, or not detailed enough so we went to work to produce an easy to follow guide to raise queens. Check it out.

farm fall3 Farm Fall2 farm fall4 winterbkind

We are spending every spare minute making our Winter-Bee-Kind candy boards. The weather finally turned cold enough for us to ship them out.  A customer from Chicago has used our Winter-Bee-Kinds on her hives for 2 years and has never lost a hive. She bought 5 more and brought her empty ones to be refilled. We hear more and more of these stories. Remember though, no matter how much good nutrition bees have during the winter, if the varroa mites are spreading viruses, the hive can still perish during the winter.

Our new Burns Bees Feeding System was very well received, so much so that we were overwhelmed with orders and had to take them temporarily offline. Now we have an Amish business near us making them for us so we have placed them back online.

LESSON 165: What To Expect For The 2015 Beekeeping Year.

packages I believe we are faced with some good problems. First, packages, nucs and queens will, once again, be in big demand. Last year beekeepers around the country saw how difficult it was to find bees. It wasn’t impossible, but it took a bit more effort, especially new beginners.  This may very well be the case for 2015. Already one large supplier of packages is sold out.

Secondly, I am hopeful that with the increase in beekeeping conferences, workshops and 71013 From iPhone 281 classes that we’ll start to see healthier bees. Beekeeping can no longer be viewed as hands off. Beekeepers must be well informed to overcome the challenges facing honey bees.

Thirdly, science will continue to reveal more and more insights into how to keep healthier hives. Research and studies are exciting and show a promising future for honey bees. These are days where information and studies are coming out so fast that unless you are connected to this information, you’ll get left behind. Like, did you know, now we are changing the way we understand royal jelly influencing queen development.

Fourthly, the President, Governors, cities and states are starting to protect honey bees. The general public is now awake when it 71013 From iPhone 287comes to the importance of the honey bee. Therefore, 2015 I believe will be a very promising year for honey bees.

Lastly, beekeeping has been elevated to rock start status. When you tell people you are a beekeeper a very common response after the fascination is, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” That when we say, “come on” and encourage others to start keeping bees.  Why not encourage more of your friends and family to keep bees. Do it for the pollination.  Do it for the bees. Do it for the enjoyment.

We impacted thousands of new beekeepers over the last 10 years and we are passionate about continue our efforts to energize the beekeeping hobby. If you are wondering how to energize your family, friends or your bee club or association then check out our list of resources below:

farm fall5 Nov – March Buy Equipment & Bees. Get the word out to order things early. The later you wait, the more likely you’ll miss out on availability or speedy deliveries. We have kits available now that includes packages of bees. Click here.

Jan – Apr Study. We’ll be posting our 2015 classes soon, so keep an eye out and be sure to take a class. Our classes are thorough and complete.

Apr – May Install package or nuc and monitor growth.

May– June continue to provide extra room for growth.

June – Aug provide enough supers.

Aug – Sept remove honey.

Sept – Oct prepare for winter.

Remember, we exist because of the loyalty of our customers who purchase beekeeping equipment from us. Our hives are made right here in central Illinois. For example our Winter-Bee-Kinds are made from wood purchased at a local lumber yard, and our foam insulation is made 45 miles from us in Charleston, Illinois. We appreciate your support of these US made items. Click on the items below to place an order today, and we thank you. Christmas is coming and we know beekeeping will really surprise them!

Two Complete Hives. It’s always better to start with two hives.

2hives

Winter-Bee-Kind

winterbkind

 

 

 

 

Once Complete Hive

Busybee

Equipment Kit

Equipspecial

Burns Bees Feeding System

-10 Frame Feeding System

- 8 Frame Feeding System

BBFS 3hole

Thanks for joining us, and visit us online at: www.honeybeesonline.com or call us Mon – Thur 10-4 central time and Fri- 10 – Noon. 217-427-2678. If you call and cannot get through, please be patient as this indicates we are helping other beekeepers. Just keeping calling back during our regular hours.

Visit our main website where you can take a beekeeping quiz, reading about swarming, varroa mite control, small hive beetles, how to extract honey and more. http://www.honeybeesonline.com

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Be Careful Not To Take Off Too Much Honey. Then You’ll Have To Feed Them…Maybe Feed Them Anyway! Lesson 164: Long Lane Honey Bee Farms 217-427-2678

Hello friends! I hope you have been enjoying these first few days of Fall.  I enjoyed summer and I’m sure you did too. As beekeepers we are all hoping for a few weeks of nice weather before winter is finally here.  Time to visit the pumpkin patch and enjoy fall. I’ve been using the last month to get my bees ready for the winter of 2014-15.

I had a great time in Arkansas last weekend at the Arkansas State Beekeeping meeting. I spent some time with Dr. Jeff Harris and Audrey Sheridan. They are both at Mississippi State University and if you subscribed to Bee Culture you’ll remember seeing Audrey’s column there. Jeff is a professor of Entomology. Jeff joined MSU after working 15 years as a bee breeder with the USDA, ARS Honey Bee Breeding Lab in Baton Rouge, LA.  He is best known for his involvement with other scientists in developing lines of honey bees that express high levels of Varroa Sensitive Hygienic (VSH) behavior. Of course it was great spending time with my good friend and fellow master beekeeper and Arkansas bee specialist Jon Zawislak. After the conference I spent a couple of days with Jon discussing details of a future beekeeping project that we both are excited about.

HiveTalk Speaking of Jon, today Jon and I will be live on the air with HIVE TALK!  Join us at 10 am central time TODAY!. We are in the studio now, warming up the tall red and white tower with the little flashy light on top, sipping on coffee and waiting for the producer to point his finger at us to begin.

We will be talking about a few things NO ONE ever wants to discuss about bees today: biological control of varroa mites with anthropods, predatory mites and psuedoscorpions. We promise to make this educational and fun. You can make Hive Talk more interesting by calling in and asking us a question live, or by logging in on your computer and texting us your question. Here’s how:

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. So that we don’t hear you breathe or your dogs barking, 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

Set your alarm and your smart phones, it’s coming up in an hour.

We all know last winter really gave us a run for our money with bees. We gave 4 separate classes on Getting Your Bees Through The Winter. It was very rewarding to us, to finally drive three essential points home to beekeepers on how to get bees through the winter.

One of those points is that beekeepers often take off too much honey. Have you taken off your honey yet? How much should you take off? Most of us want to take off every drop the bees make. After all, honey is selling at a higher price than it ever has. I’ve been amazed over the years, though, as to the number of beekeepers that take off every drop of honey and then wonder why their bees died in the winter. Sometimes bees store their winter honey and pollen in the upper supers. Then in the last summer or fall they carry it down into their deep hive body combs. Beekeepers usually know this, and quickly harvest the honey before the bees can carry it down. If the bees are in need of that honey super and we remove it and bottle it, then bees usually starve in March.

Bees need food in the winter. Otherwise, they will starve. I’ve been beefing up my hives with a lot of sugar water. I’ve been mixing it as 2 parts sugar and 1 part water. As expected my bees have been storing it as honey and sealing it over. Quite impressive!

Before you rob every drop of honey from the hive, keep in mind that in the Midwest, bees need between 60-80 pounds of honey in the hive. The hive without wax or bees weighs 70 pounds. 60,000 bees weigh approximately 20 pounds. Thirty pieces of comb weighs another 5 pounds maybe. That takes us up to 90 pounds without any honey.  So if you pick up the back of your hive to guess at the weight, without any honey it’s going to feel like 90 pounds. That’s heavy. Add another 60 pounds of honey to it and  now it weighs 150 pounds. That’s going to feel like dead weight if you try and lift it with one hand. If it is not extremely heavy from the back, feed, feed, feed!

We are shipping out our Winter-Bee-Kinds as fast as we can. If you placed an order rest assured you will receive it in time to help your bees have food above the winter cluster. Do not become impatient and want to place our WBKs on until the bees cluster. If day time temps are above 50 (f) and bees can fly, feed them 2 parts sugar and 1 part water but not in the entrance. Use an internal feed system.

That’s all for now, I’ve got to prepare for our broadcast in a little bit. See you then hopefully!

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Varroa Mites: Lesson 163 www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

DSWe all know that if you don’t see any mites, then you don’t have any right? WRONG! If you don’t see any varroa mites, it either means you need to visit your eye doctor or you do not know how to really find them.

Hello, and welcome to another beekeeping lesson from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We are David and Sheri Burns and we are here to help beekeepers become more successful. And we are also passionate about helping more people become new beekeepers. We need our honey bees to pollinate our fruits and vegetables and we need skilled and educated beekeepers to help make that happen. So thanks for joining us.

Winter Class Our weekend was extremely busy and great. Saturday we taught on “Getting Bees Through The Winter” and then we had the same class with different students on Sunday. We had students from Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa and Ohio. This class will be held again on Oct. 5th, but it has filled up too, so now we are opening up another class on Monday Oct. 6th from 9am-3pm. For those of you who work weekends, now you can join us for a class on Monday. Or just take the day off from work and come learn some awesome ideas about getting bees through the winter. Click here for more information on the Oct. 6th class or go to: www.honeybeesonline.com/servlet/Detail?no=322

One of the featured field events of our weekend beekeeping classes was to sample hives for varroa mites. It is paramount that all beekeepers take mite samples now while there is still time to do something. Most beekeepers have heard about sticky boards, and checking how many mites are on drone pupae. I’d like to share a simple way to assess your mite load. As I demonstrated to the class in the bee yard, I was pleasantly surprised how many of them commented on how easy it was and how they were looking forward to going home and testing their hives. I do realize that reading the description here is not as good as watching it demonstrated in class, but I’ll describe it in detail so you can start looking and evaluating your mite loads.

WHY?

Why bother counting your mite load?  If you have a lots of mites it is unlikely that your hive will NOT survive the winter of 2014-2015. Mites parasitize bees and spread viruses which can cut the individual bee’s life in half. So, a bee born in October can make it through the winter into March if it is healthy. But, if it has been bitten by mites and contracted a virus, it may only live into January. 

Varroa Mite You might think that since you cannot see mites on your bees you do not have mites. I have people tell me they’ve never seen their queen either. If you can’t find your queen, you will not find mites either, but they are there! Mites are small but you can see them if you know where to look. They hide on the backs of bees in the first abdominal segment of the honey bee. It can be hard to see what is hiding. DO NOT ASSUME YOU DO NOT HAVE MITES SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOT SEEN ANY.

If you have a hive, you have varroa mites! I strongly believe it is the viruses which are weakening the colony’s health and causing overwintering deaths. The only way to limit viruses is to kill mites that are vectoring these viruses.  It is unfair for any beekeeper to blame chemicals and chemical companies without first monitoring their mite loads.

3 Mites Now that we are at the end of summer and entering fall mites are rapidly increasing. To survive a long cold winter beekeepers need lots and lots of brood now. But if this brood is parasitized by mites, the bees will not make it to spring. Do not trust a visual inspection of bees on comb to assess your mite loads. Here’s what I recommend to determine the percentage of mites in a hive. My personal level is not to exceed 3%, or 3 mites per 100 bees tested. 

Materials Needed

1.  A quart jar for canning, with the ring and separate lid which the ring holds securely. Disregard the lid but keep the ring. Now in place of the ring you’ll need to cut a piece of 1/8” hardware screen. It is small enough to keep bees in, but large enough to let mites pass through.

2.  Two tablespoons of powdered sugar

3.  A piece of cardboard or metal shaped like an L

4.  A measuring cup

5.  A plain white paper plate

Steps To Test For Mites

1.  Place two tablespoons of powdered sugar into your canning jar and keep the lid off.

2.  Open your hive and pull out a frame of bees.

3.  Shake the bees on your cardboard or bent metal so the bees land in the inside of the L shape piece. This will help them slide into your measuring cup.

4.  Pour bees into the measuring cup up to 1/2 cup which is approximately 400 bees. You may have to pour a little above the 1/2 cup mark as some may fly out while pouring them into the canning jar with the screen lid.

5.  Pour bees from the measuring cup into the canning jar and place the screen lid on securely.

6.  Dump excess bees from your L shape board back into the hive.You have to keep mite levels down. I hope you will embrace a 3-5% maximum tolerance for mites.

For the rest of the 14 steps to test for mites, visit my website: www.honeybeesonline.com and go down to #24 on the front main home page.

Join me Monday Oct. 6th “Getting Bees Through The Winter” class and we’ll demonstrate mite counts and much, much more. Click now to register.

a1545 TIP OF THE MONTH:  The next few weeks are the most critical time to increase food stores for the bees to make it through the winter. I am finding wonderful success in our new Burns Bees Feeding System. It allows the beekeeper to feed syrup from the top of the hive, preventing robbing and allowing the bees to still eat during cold fall nights. Plus it provides special screened areas to feed our pollen/sugar patties without smashing bees between deep bodies. Watch our new video on this feeding system.

See you next time!

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

M-Thu  10am – 4pm central time
Fri  10am – Noon
217-427-2678

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Honey Bees Deserve Knowledgeable Beekeepers www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

beeflyingHoney bees need our help. One way we as beekeepers can help is to know as much as we can about managing honey bees. Hi, we are David and Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. Beekeeping is awesome! It’s just a hoot. Not only are honey bees essential for the pollination of our fruits and vegetables, but the agricultural benefit of honey bees tops 9 billion a year. In other words, it would cost the United States 9 billion a year to do the work bees do to help us produce food.

While it is true that honey bees have more challenges today, it is not a time to abandon beekeeping. In fact, just the opposite. We need more and more people to start keeping honey bees so that we can restore the population of honey bees needed to support our food supply.

Honey bees deserve knowledgeable beekeepers. Some people don’t keep bees, they just have bees. They are called bee-havers, not beekeepers.  Keeping bees today is rewarding, enjoyable and beneficial. But it does require more knowledge and management skills than it did 30 years ago. That’s why we offer our Basic Beekeeping classes to all new beekeepers. We still have several openings for our October 25th Basic Beekeeping course.

How much do you know about honey bees? The more you know, the better you can care for your bees. I decided it would be fun, educational and revealing to offer a test on honey bees and beekeeping. Take the test and see how much you know. The answers to the questions are located on our website at: www.honeybeesonline.com on the front page under number 21.  Looking at the answers will help you know more about the honey bee and beekeeping. Ready? Here’s 20 questions and good luck.

1. Over time, with continuous use, the diameter of brood cells become larger in size.   a.   True     b.  False

2. Canola honey crystallizes soon after being extracted.     a.  True   b.  False

3. Oxalic acid, used as a mite treatment, is legal in the United States.  a.  True    b.  False

4.  Mature small hive beetles, when fed well, are able to live:   a.  1 month   b.  3 months  c.  6 months   d.  9 months

5.  Beeswax melts at:   a. 120 (f)   b.  132 (f)   c. 145 (f)  d. 170 (f)

6.  The waggle dance in a colony is used to direct other bees to resources that are located in distances greater than _____ meters from the hive.   a.  25   b.  50.   c.  100   d.  200

7.  Honey is 1 to 1.5 times sweeter than sugar?   a.   True   b.  False

8.  A colony preparing to swarm will reduce foraging _____ weeks prior to swarming.  a.  1 week   b.  2 weeks   c.  3 weeks

9.  Dark colored honey is generally higher in antioxidants and minerals than light colored honey.  a.  True   b.  False

10. In a healthy hive the following ration exists:  1 egg to 3 larvae to 6 worker pupae   a.   True     b.   False

11. When entering your honey in a honey show at what moisture level will it be disqualified?  a. 18.5    b.   18.6    c. 19    d.  19.6

12.  To determine whether to fertilize an egg or not, a  queen measures the size of a cell (drone or worker) with her:   a.  Antennae   b.  compound eyes   c.  Front legs

13.  As a virgin queen ages in the hive, the workers become increasingly more aggressive towards her.  a.  True   b.  False

14.  In the winter, a colony begins brood production before there is anything to go out and forage for.  a.  True   b.   False

15.  Varroa mites prefer to reproduce in old brood comb rather than new brood comb.  a.  True   b.   False

16.  How many subspecies of Apis mellifera ( European Honey Bees) are there in the world?  a.  16   b.  23   c.  26.   42

17.  It is easier to introduce a new queen during a nectar dearth than during a heavy nectar flow.  a.   True   b.   False

18.  European foulbrood spores remain viable in brood combs for many years.   a.  True   b.   False

19.  In a healthy colony about _____ of the total comb is drone comb.  a.  10%   b.  3-7%   c.  13-17%  d.  21%

20.  A worker honey bee has  ______ ovarioles in the ovaries.   a.  none    b.  2-12   c.  28-50   d.  100-115

The answers to the above questions are located on our website at: www.honeybeesonline.com on the front page number 21.  Looking at the answers will help you know more about the honey bee and beekeeping.

burnsfeed Before I go, let me issue a warning that now is a VERY CRITICAL time to prepare your bees for winter. There is still time to deal with mites. There is still time to feed your bees.  If you are planning on doing nothing there is a good chance your bees will not survive winter. Our Burns Bees Feeding System is a great way to build up your colony for winter. My daughters, Karee and Jennifer make the protein/sugar patties and the bees absolutely love these!  You can purchase extra patties, because if your bees are like mine right now, they are very much in need of food. Our Burns Bees Feeding System allows you to feed your bees both patties and 2:1 sugar water. The lid is provided with the holes already punched. I’ve noticed it in some of my hives and other beekeepers are reporting that now bees are rapidly consuming their stored resources. Feed Your Bees!!

WBK2014 Look at this Winter-Bee-Kind test we ran last week to test our mixture. Wow!  Bees are loving it. We continue to receive calls daily from new customers and beekeepers re-ordering more of our Winter-Bee-Kind candy boards. These provide upper insulation, ventilation and the important upper exit and entrance.  For several years we have sold these and the impact these have on helping bees not starve in the winter is awesome. Click here to watch our video on how they work.

We look forward to hearing from you. Give us a call with all your beekeeping needs. Monday – Thursday 10am-4pm and on Friday 10am – Noon. 217-427-2678.

See you next time,

David & Sheri Burns