Friday, February 24, 2012


In today’s lesson David will share why state bee inspection programs are so important and give you several ways you can best utilize this service. And David will also explain why this warmer winter posses a serious threat to bees surviving and what you can do to save the bees!

LESSON 115: State Bee Inspectors And You Must Feed Your Bees.
Throughout my years of keeping bees I’ve always benefited from bee inspectors. I first started keeping bees when I lived in Ohio. A year before I started beekeeping we lived in a house that had someone else’s bee hives out back. I remember watching from the window the bee inspector taking the hive apart and looking at frames. He left a sheet of paper with me stating that the bees were healthy.
Because we sell nucs, our bees have to be inspected every year. A nuc is a very small hive, maybe four or five frames with a queen. In order for customers to purchase nucs, they must be inspected, approved and also have a moving permit for each nuc. This has been the best of experience. Each year, the inspector spends the big part of a day searching for any problems, filling out health certificates and moving permits. It is a valuable service. We know our inspector very well and consider him a friend. Though some states do not have any inspectors, our state has 8. Our neighboring state of Indiana has only 1.
I’ve heard some say they feel threatened by “big government” messing with their bees. But this is not the case at all. Our honey bees have much more to deal with today and state inspectors are here to help. They are a tool that beekeepers should embrace and take full advantage of their services.
If you see something that concerns you or you just need help knowing if your queen is doing okay, call your inspector. Don’t sit around and wonder if you have a disease or a pest, call your inspector.
Because of our inspection program we can rest more comfortably knowing that our inspectors are merely trying to prevent the spread of harmful pests and diseases.
So we strongly urge all beekeepers to register hives with either your Department of Ag or Division of natural Resources.
Bees cluster in the hive when the temperature drops below 50 degrees F.  A mild winter can cause the hive to get an early start raising new brood. This new brood requires a significant amount of pollen and nectar. Now that most hives are raising significant amounts of new brood, the demand for pollen and nectar is strong. In northern states we are several weeks away from any type of natural resources for our bees. And if we have more than a few days of extremely cold weather, the bees will be forced to cluster without food over the brood to keep it warm, and they may starve out.
There are several ways to feed bees during late winter and early spring. For Northern states the weather will change back and forth so an entrance feeder is not recommended. In a cold snap, bees will cluster and not be able to reach the entrance feeder. Here are feeding methods we recommend:
1) Candy Boards
Our first choice is the use of candy boards. We sell a candy board we call Winter-Bee-Kind which has an upper vent/entrance, insulation and 5 lbs of sugar with pollen mixed in as well. Placed on the top of the hive, it is always above the cluster for easy access. The upper vent/entrance allows bees to stay close to the food source but still be about to exit the hive when needed without having to travel all the way down to the lower entrance.
2) Top Feeders
Top feeders are large reservoirs placed over the top of the hive and usually hold between 1-3 gallons of liquid fed such as 1:1 sugar water. As long as the temperature remains warm these are effective. However, if there is a sudden drop in temperature the bees will be stranded feeding and fail to re-cluster and freeze. So be sure you are out of the woods for cold snaps. Some make their own top feeders by placing pails or entrance feeders on top of the hive and then place an empty deep hive body around it with a lid. Again, make sure the temperature does not rapidly fall off or this added space above the hive can deplete their pocket of warmth.
3) Frame Feeders
Frame feeders are plastic reservoirs shaped like a frame and slip in place of a frame in the brood nest area. Their obvious disadvantage is that the temperature has to be above 60 degrees F in order to manipulate frames to place it in the hive. Be sure to include chicken wire, card board or some sort of floaters to prevent the bees from drowning in the sugar water.
Please take the warning that most colonies starve and crash in March. The increase brood requires much more food. In fact, they are consuming much more food than they can bring in. So they will rapidly deplete their stored resources. Feed your bees starting now!
Thanks for joining us for another lesson in beekeeping. Please check out our other resources:

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