Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lesson 94: Inspect The Queen After Winter (www.honeybeesonline.com) 217-427-2678

DavidSheriNew1Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, we’re David & Sheri Burns, certified EAS master beekeeper here to help you succeed at beekeeping. Our contact phone number is: 217-427-2678 and our website is: www.honeybeesonline.com
In today’s lesson you MUST read carefully so that your hive that survived the winter will survive the early part of spring. Today' we’ll look at how to evaluate your queen following a cold winter.


Lesson 94: Inspect The Queen After Winter
lesson941On the first nice, warm day, it is important to open up the hive and make an inspection to determine the welfare of the queen. In the worst case scenario the queen died in late fall or winter and now there is no new brood and no new bees. The hive will become smaller and smaller and eventually perish. Or perhaps the queen is failing, unable to lay fertile eggs and has become a drone layer. Now your hive will become over populated with drones, and will soon perish.
lesson942Let me walk you through an inspection. First, choose a warm sunny day when the temperature is no less than 67 (F). Smoke the hive and beginning inspecting frames. Depending on when you do your inspection, you'll want to see a fair amount of sealed worker brood and uncapped brood such as eggs and larvae. It is not essential that you find the queen as long as you see eggs. Seeing eggs mean that you have a queen. In fact, if you spot your queen but fail to look for eggs, you have not gained useful information about the state of your queen. You must evaluate her ability to lay.
Several factors might influence what you see. First, if you have a Carniolan queen, she is less likely to lay early in the spring. She will, however, start laying when the nectar flow starts. All queens will lay more once the nectar flow increases. But you should expect to see some brood. How early you inspect your hive may change the results as well. The queen begins to lay more as there is more daylight and the days become longer.
Usually here in Illinois there is a day or two in February warm enough to allow me to inspect my hives. If I spot my queen, but she is not laying yet, I do not become concerned just yet. I will make a note in my log to check on her in two weeks. Or I may feed the hive 1:1 sugar water to see if this will stimulate her to start laying. It's not a bad idea to start feeding 1:1 sugar water to an overwintered colony to stimulate early laying.
nucsWhat do you do if you discover you are queenless or in need of a new queen. It is more difficult to resolve this problem early in the spring. Queen producers often cannot provide queens this early or they already have long waiting lists. Every spring we receive calls from desperate beekeepers who have discovered that their hive survived winter but their queen did not. There is little we can do except to have them feed their hive and keep it going until we can ship out a queen. However, if you discover in May that your queen is not laying an impressive brood pattern, then you should have no trouble buying
a new queen. Replace her as soon as possible.

If you can make a February inspection and find your queen is gone, one option is to purchase a new package. Even though your package will not arrive until April, your new bees and queen will be a huge boost to the failing overwintered queenless hive. But, remember that most package providers are sold out in March, so you'll have to hope for a warm day in February to order a replacement package.

See you next time and remember to bee-have yourself!

David & Sheri Burns


Thursday, January 20, 2011

LESSON 93: Rotating Hive Bodies In Spring (www.honeybeesonline.com) 217-427-2678

DavidMBHello, we are David & Sheri Burns, beekeepers operating Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. Feel free to contact us at: 217-427-2678. We’re having the time of our life enjoying helping others get started in beekeeping.
In today’s Lesson, I will be explaining the importance of rotating hive bodies in early spring. Before we start today’s lesson, let me invite you to two our our upcoming classes.
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LESSON 93: ROTATING HIVE BODIES
It's important for beekeepers to be well prepared to properly manage hives that have survived the winter. In our last lesson we looked into a more detailed look at the Demaree swarm prevention method. Use this acronym to help you remember how to prepare:

Stimulate For Rapid Foraging Force
Prevent Swarms
Rotate Hive Bodies Inspect The Productivity Of The Queen
New Queen
Give 1:1 Sugar Water & Pollen Patties

Winter Cluster DrawingIt is important for the second year beekeeper to understand how the bees gradually move upward in the hive during the winter. During the winter the cluster gradually moves upward into the top hive body eating its way into stored honey above the cluster.

Pollen PattyNormally the colony is found in the upper deep hive body during the start of spring, leaving the bottom deep hive body empty of bees and honey. The colony will expand in the upper hive body but will quickly become congested and will not likely move down.

The congestion can cause the colony to swarm. Therefore, by reversing the hive bodies the main nesting area is placed on the bottom, giving the colony room to expand into the upper hive body thus elevating congestion and helping to prevent swarming.
This is referred to by beekeepers as rotating the hive bodies or also as reversing the hive bodies. Many beekeepers become too eager to reverse the hive bodies and make a mistake so huge that it devastates the hive, and the colony usually never fully recovers. So let me give some practical advice on rotating the hive bodies.
First, DO NOT ROTATE TOO EARLY. Many beekeepers rotate the boxes too early in the season when the nights are still below freezing.

While a large hive may not be too effected, a smaller hive can suffer from being moved to the bottom. Why? When they were in the top of the hive, they enjoyed living in the pocket of heat that became trapped in the upper part of the hive. This provided assistance in heating the newly reared brood. If the hive bodies are rotated and the temperature drops drastically from a surprise spring cold snap, the colony is now on the
bottom and may have difficulty keeping the brood warm. In Illinois I make it a firm practice never to make splits or rotate hive bodies until after May 1. I simply want warmer nights.

Secondly, many beekeepers make the mistake of not fully inspecting and locating the nesting area. Before reversing the hive bodies it is essential that the hive be inspected. If any of the capped or uncapped brood dips down into the lower hive body, DO NOT REVERSE. If the brood/nesting area was in the upper half of the lower deep, and into the lower half of the upped deep then rotating will damage and break up the brood area and the hive will likely not recover throughout the summer.
So before rotating, make sure there is no brood in the lower hive body. It must be empty of brood, capped or uncapped. If there are some bees in the lower hive, but no brood, it is okay to rotate.

Rotating Hive Bodies & Cleaning Out Bees That Died In Winter
Let me summarize rotating hive bodies:
* Be sure the nights are warm enough not to chill the brood.
* Check and make certain all capped and uncapped brood is found in the upper hive body.
* To rotate, simply reverse the locations of the hive bodies. Place the bottom one on top and the tope one on the bottom.
...in our next article Inspecting The Productivity Of The Queen


Thanks for joining us today and here is our contact information:

Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
14556 N. 1020. E. Rd
Fairmount, IL 61841
(217) 427-2678

http://www.honeybeesonline.com/
EMAIL: david@honeybeesonline.com



Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lesson 92: Swarm Prevention, Demaree Method (www.honeybeesonline.com) 217-427-2678

DavidMB
We are David & Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. Our main website is: www.honeybeesonline.com
Thanks for joining us today as we continue to look at important preparations for hives that survive the winter. We call these hives overwintered colonies. Today we’ll specifically look at an effective swarm prevention method known as the Demaree method.
But first, let me thank you for your interest in honey bees. Thank you for realizing how important honey bees are to our food supply. 1 out of 3 bites of food is the result of honey bee pollination. Do your part by keeping bees.

LESSON 92: SWARM PREVENTION
Winter ClusterIt's important for beekeepers to be well prepared to properly manage hives that have survived the winter. In our last lesson we looked at how to stimulate the colony to produce a large population of foraging bees prior to the first strong nectar flow. In this lesson we look into the very challenging task of swarm prevention. I'm using an acronym to make it easier to remember 6 important management practices to implement in the SPRING and today we'll look at number 2, Prevent Swarms.
Stimulate For Rapid Foraging Force

Prevent Swarms
R
otate Hive Bodies

I
nspect The Productivity Of The Queen

N
ew Queen

G
ive 1:1 Sugar Water & Pollen Patties

In this lesson, we'll look at a few techniques to prevent swarming. Swarming is probably the greatest cause of low honey production.

First, I'll give some important bullet points on swarming, then I'll give three swarm prevention methods. Keep in mind that swarming is not completely understood and no matter what methods are used colonies may still swarm. There is no 100% sure method that works every time.

* 60 percent of the colony swarms with the older queen.
* Clipping a queen's wing does not prevent swarming, because they will wait and swarm with the new, virgin queen.
* The primary cause of swarming is congestion in the brood area of the hive.
* The swarm is made up largely of young bees at the optimal age for producing wax since the swarm must quickly build new comb.
* A large hive (one that has not swarmed) has more foraging bees than bees caring for brood even though the large hive has more brood. In other words, once a hive swarms it will greatly reduce its ability to produce surplus honey.

* A healthy colony will swarm in order to reproduce another colony.

* Colonies are most likely to swarm during spring and early summer during the start of a nectar flow.
* Colonies with queens that are more than 1 year old are more likely to swarm.
* Keeping a young queen in the hive is a very effective swarm control method.
* A colony makes queens in preparation to swarming and as soon as the newly created queen cells are capped, they can swarm at any time.
* Beekeepers who capture swarms often have queen issues afterward because the swarm is accompanied by the old queen that may soon die or not lay well, and be unsuccessfully replaced.
* The main swarm is headed by the old queen, and normally additional swarms (afterswarms) are headed by virgin queens.
Swarm prevention has always been a challenge. There are many methods to control swarming, but three are most often followed: 1) Reversal of brood bodies 2) Providing a young queen 3) Demaree method
Reversal of Brood Bodies
During the winter the cluster gradually moves upward into the top hive body eating its way into stored honey above the cluster. Normally the colony is found in the upper deep hive body during the start of spring, leaving the bottom deep hive body empty of bees and honey. 
The colony will expand in the upper hive body but quickly becomes congested and will not likely move down. The congestion will likely cause the colony to
swarm. Therefore, reversing the hive bodies places the main nesting area on the bottom, giving the colony room to expand into the upper hive body thus elevating congestion and helping to prevent swarming. We'll talk more about this method in our next article as it is part of our SPRING acronym.

Providing a Young Queen
Lesson74iAs the queen ages she is less likely to produce queen pheromones as strongly as a young queen. With the reduced queen pheromone the hive is more likely to swarm. Providing a new queen is part of our SPRING acronym so I will deal with this more in a future article. But for now, realize that a new queen each year can greatly reduce swarm tendency.
Demaree Method of Swarm Prevention
When I began studying for the master beekeeping certification, I learned about the Demaree method to prevent swarming. It frequently shows up on the
tests and I’m glad I studied it, because it showed up on last years test. George Demaree was a beekeeper from Kentucky who came up with an effective method of swarm control in 1892 which separates the queen from the brood. It requires more colony manipulation, but the method is effective.

For demonstration, our hive under consideration will have two deep hive bodies and let's assume the queen is laying well and there is capped and uncapped brood throughout the two deep hive bodies.

1) Examine the frames and cage the queen so that you do not injure her while moving frames.

2) Move frames of capped and uncapped brood into the upper deep hive body. If both deep hive bodies have brood that will not fit into the upper deep hive body, use a third deep hive body. Replace the brood frames that you moved up with empty drawn combs.

3) Place the queen (release her if she is in a cage) into the bottom deep hive body and place a queen excluder to hold her down into this bottom deep hive box.

4) Now, place drawn comb into a new deep hive body and place it on top of the bottom deep that has the queen excluder on it (in the middle of the two deeps).

5) In 7 to 10 days go through the upper hive body and destroy all queen cells. Since the queen is held down to the bottom of the hive, this upper box could start raising their own queen. But once you destroy any cells, they cannot raise another one because the brood is too old to raise a queen. Now you can remove the queen excluder. The bees have been given more room, the queen has been given more room and no bees have been lost due to swarming. And the bees will begin to fill the upper hive body once the brood has emerged.

...in our next article The Details of Reversing Hive Bodies

May 24 2010 042Thanks for joining us today! Here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms we appreciate you business. Contact us to order all your woodenware (hive equipment), beekeeping equipment and supplies. We appreciate your support. 217-427-2678 or visit our website at: www.honeybeesonline.com
HERE’S OUR CONTACT INFORMATION:
PHONE: 217-427-2678
EMAIL:
david@honeybeesonline.com
WEB: www.honeybeesonline.com
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/longlanehoney
See you next time,
David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
14556 N. 1020 E. Rd
Fairmount, IL 61841

Friday, January 7, 2011

LESSON 91: Best Management Practices For Overwintered Colonies (www.honeybeesonline.com)

DavidSheriNewWe are David & Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms and we are glad you’ve joined us for another lesson in beekeeping.
We are located in central Illinois where it is cold and snowy and the bees can’t wait until a nice warm day and neither can we.
I was going to jump into some lessons on Top Bar Hives, but I’m going to save that after this series of lessons.
There is plenty of information in the beekeeping literature to help beginners. But there is far less information that goes into great detail about what to do with your bees the second year as they come out of winter. In today’s lesson and over the course of the next few blogs I’ll address what you should be doing with your bees as winter draws to a close and spring makes its usual grand entry.

LESSON 91: BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR OVERWINTERED COLONIES
There is plenty of information in the beekeeping literature to help beginners. But there is far less information that goes into great detail about what to do with your bees the second year as they come out of winter. I'll take the next few articles to address what you should be doing with your bees as winter draws to a close and spring makes its usual grand entry. The first thing you should do is celebrate and rejoice that your bees made it through a long winter. After you've had sufficient time to celebrate, you'll need to get serious about helping your bees have a great season. I've made an acronym to make it easier to remember how to prepare your bees for their second seasons:
Stimulate For Rapid Foraging Force Prevent Swarms Rotate Hive Bodies Inspect The Productivity Of The Queen New Queen Give 1:1 Sugar Water & Pollen Patties
In this lesson, we'll look at how to stimulate your late winter bees for a rapid buildup of the foraging force. A colony that is very populated with foragers will be able to gather more pollen, nectar, propolis and water. This alone will make a much healthier colony. And if you desire to increase your honey yields per hive, increasing your foraging force is essential.
How can you help your colony build up a huge foraging force to gather an abundance of resources? To start, we have to do the math. We have to work backwards to arrive at our target stimulation date. Let's randomly choose May 1st as the day we want our full foraging force.
By foraging force I mean a maximum number of worker bees of foraging age. Since worker bees take 21 days to emerge and another 21 days until they take their first foraging flight, that gives us a total of 42 days. So we want our queen to be laying at her maximum 42 days prior to May 1st, which would be March 20th. But, we'll need to stimulate the queen about a week before March 20th so that she can be at her maximum laying on March 20th. Bingo, March 13th is our date that we will want to manipulate the colony to ensure we have our full foraging force for May 1st.
To stimulate our queen to lay at her maximum we would normally want a natural, heavy nectar flow. That might be the case the further south you live. In central Illinois I will have to introduce pollen substitute patties and a 1:1 sugar feedings to stimulate my queen to start laying prior to the natural nectar flow. And once I start, I cannot stop, because the colony is counting on my pollen and sugar water to feed to their larva. Even the adult bees feeding the larva need this same food so the glands in their head can produce the much need brood food.
Of course you'll need to be sure you have a prolific queen and you'll be able to determine this once the temperature warms up above 65 (F) and you can lift out brood frames and inspect for eggs and sealed brood.
…next time we’ll look at Spring Swarm Prevention
We hope you are finding our lessons very helpful and if you can, please purchase all your beekeeping needs from us! We sell packages of bees, 4 frame nucs, raise and sell our own queens and we manufacture beekeeping equipment as well. Make us your one stop shop for all your beekeeping needs. Thank you in advance.
HERE’S OUR CONTACT INFORMATION:
PHONE: 217-427-2678
EMAIL:
david@honeybeesonline.com
WEB: www.honeybeesonline.com
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/longlanehoney

See you next time,
David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
14556 N. 1020 E. Rd
Fairmount, IL 61841