Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. We are David and Sheri Burns with another lesson in beekeeping. It is important to start feeding bees liquid as soon as possible. I watch the temperatures and in this lesson I will show you how I have calculated the way to feed bees liquid sugar water as soon as possible.
Once again it is MYSTERY PHOTO time! It’s going to be a little more difficult this time, so put on your thinking caps.
We have posted the MYSTERY PHOTO on our main website at: www.honeybeesonline.com
The winner will receive a nice pair of ventilated beekeeping gloves. Here are the questions that must be answered:
1. What is this a picture of?
2. What is its purpose?
3. What is the scientific name?
Answers must be submitted on our Facebook page under the section where the black photo to the left appears on our Facebook page. The actual photo is only on our front page of our website, www.honeybeesonline.com
Good luck, and study hard.
I Put Together My Dream Hive
I put together my dream hive, a hive that comes with extra things that can help the colony along. I have only built a limited number of these, but here is what it is. Our typical completely assembled and painted bee hive with wooden frames and foundation. But it also comes with 1) 2 Green Drone Comb for mite control (and information on how to use them for varroa control) 2) 4 beetle blaster traps to trap small hive beetles, 3) I have painted on extra wax on all 30 frames and 4) I have scored the inside of the hive to help encourage the bees to add propolis inside on the walls of the hive which has been shown to improve colony health.
Certainly you can buy the green drone comb and beetle blasters and add them to our Completely Assembled and Painted Hive, but my dream hive has the extra wax that I’ve coated on my frames and the scored inside walls. This takes time and is why we only can sell a limited number of my dream hive.
You can do these things yourself and save a buck if you have the time and wax. Remember our Completely Assembled and Painted hives comes ready to go and shipping is included for $279.
We had another Basic Beekeeping Class last Saturday it was awesome. The students were so good and ask detailed questions and were very engaged. It was a nice day, but the threat of snow was looming over us for the evening. The storm held off until Sunday, but this is what it looked like one day after the class. Close one! We have another basic beekeeping class this Saturday 9am –3pm with 2 openings still available. See a list of our classes for the year.
Now For Today’s Lesson
I want to get liquid sugar in my colonies as soon as possible to help clear their guts and to stimulate early spring build up of more brood. The earlier I can get my colonies strong in numbers the sooner I can split and make more hives, more nucs and queens in the spring. I’ve been watching the forecast and here in Illinois we are going to have several days where temperatures will rise above 50 degrees (f). Here’s the temperature forecast for me:
Fri High 26 Low 22
Sat High 40 Low 24
Sun High 41 Low 26
Mon High 44 Low 28
Tue High 52 Low 33
Wed High 58 Low 38
Thu High 48 Low 31
Fri High 44 Low 32
So, after evaluating the temperatures, I plan to take off my winter wraps mid morning on Saturday so the sun can help warm the hives. Otherwise my wrap will work against the colony and prevent the warm sun from warming the hive. Insulation works both ways. On a cold day it can keep the cold out, but on a warm day, it can keep the warm out too.
Then, I will take off my Winter-Bee-Kinds at noon on Monday and place on my Burns Bees Feeding System. I will feed my bees 1:1 sugar water and our patties. They probably will not fly much on Monday, but that’s fine because they will fly on Tuesday as highs will be in the low 50s. This will provide the needed cleansing flights after eating the patties and liquid sugar. I will stop feeding them this way on Wednesday until I can evaluate the forecast at that time. If it stays below 45 I will keep my Winter-Bee-Kinds on. But if it warms up I’ll keep feeding them with my feeding system. Again, my rule of thumb is the 50 degree (f) mark.
My strategy has a dual purpose. First, I want to feed my bees to stimulate early brood expansion. Secondly, I want to reduce the potential of the microsporidian, Nosema, by having the bees eat and take cleansing flights.
I realize this information varies depending on the temperatures where you live. My main trigger is sunny days above 50 degrees (f). I can feed my bees a day or two prior to a flight day. However, when I see that temperatures may drop to where bees cannot fly, I’ll stop feeding them a day or two prior to the cold snap. I don’t want to fill up the bees with sugar water and have the cold weather pin them in the hive for two weeks.I will not wrap my hives again unless lows drop below 10 degrees (f).
It is amazing what this approach will do to help strengthen the colony late in the winter. I will NOT remove any frames. It is still not warm enough to remove frames.
Now, let me give you a secret tip. It’s a little risky, so apply at your own risk. My bees will be used to going in and out of their Winter-Bee-Kind ventilation slot at the top of the hive. When I remove it and place on the Burns Feeding System, they will be forced to go in and out of the bottom opening as they do throughout the year. However, I will cut a slot in my Feeding System at the same location where the WBK slot was located. This will allow the bees to eat and fly without having to travel up and down so much. Why is this risky? In a warmer environment and where hives are not equal or not equally being fed, a starving colony might smell the slot on the Feeding System and rob out the hive with the upper opening, especially if you put Honey-Bee-Healthy in the sugar water. The smell could attract other colonies running low on food. I have never had this happen, but I want to warn that it could happen.
I can get by with doing this because I equally feed my colonies at the same time, thus reducing the need for them to go out and rob other hives. I could have feral hives in the area that might scout out the feeding slot, but I’ll keep an eye on it. If you want to play it safe, you should not worry about cutting a slot and make sure the Burns Bees Feeding System is sealed at the top, and your colony will soon use their lower entrance after removing the Winter-Bee-Kind. This usually takes a couple of days for all the bees to orientate to the lower entrance.I will add additional pollen powder to my patties to help stimulate brood build up.
Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. Check out our website for all your beekeeping needs. We have hive kits with bees still available.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms