Friday, March 22, 2013

Lesson 135: March Is One Of The Hardest Months For Bees In The North 217-427-2678

Beekeeping is so enjoyable! It not too late in the season to start beekeeping in 2013. We are here to help. We build all the hive equipment right here in east central Illinois. We are a total turn key operation, meaning we’ll get you started in beekeeping the right way through our classes, equipment and bees. When you call you will be speaking to a well trained beekeeper. We will not try and sell you things you do not need or things that do not work just to make a sale. We want you to be a successful beekeeper. If our beekeepers cannot answer your beekeeping question, they’ll turn you over to me. I started keeping bees in 1994 and I’ve been a certified master beekeeper for 3 years. We are here to help answer all your questions.
I have written 135 beekeeping lesson from years of my own experience, research and experiments. In today’s lesson, I will be teaching you the dangers of losing your bees in late winter or early spring from cold snaps resulting in starvation. But before I dive into today’s lesson, I want to introduce ourselves more and introduce you to the wonderful world of beekeeping.
Sheri and I own Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We named it that because we live down a long lane with beehives scattered down our quarter mile lane. We have hives in several other places, but this is where we raise our Illinois Pioneer Queens, winter hardy, chemical free survival bees. We are a mid-west, hard working family in our 50’s employing many of our grown children and some friends from our church to help get the job done. We are a home school family and have been blessed by God with a bee business to provide for our family. Our business is driven by our strong Christian values from Scriptures like, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” (Colossians 3:23). We do our best to treat our customers by the Golden Rule, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”(Matthew 7:12).  So we appreciate all of our fantastic customers who choose to help support our business by purchasing from us. Thank you!  We know you may have other choices so thank you for giving us a chance to serve you.
 StoreShelves Once again we are gearing up for our next beekeeping class this Saturday, March 23rd. This class has been full for several weeks. We are remodeling our store to make the flow of things go better during our classes. We are stocking the shelves getting ready for the spring season. Local beekeepers appreciate that they can stop in and purchase the hives and equipment they need locally. Beekeepers around the US benefit from our online store, shipping needed beekeeping hives and equipment throughout the country.
HexStamp HexWall Sheri wanted our store to have honey bee comb hexagonal cells painted on the wall. Jesse made a large stamp and I dipped it in painted and away I went!  It was fun and turned out better than we thought.
Cedar Over a year ago we began to add an additional hive to our line of beekeeping equipment. Up until now we have built our hives of Langstroth tradition, with the occasional top bar hive. A year ago we purchased some cedar boards and began exploring the idea of building our hives out of cedar. Cedar is a slightly thicker board and is smooth on one side and rough on the other. We wanted to make sure we could keep the traditional sizes of our hives and frames and still retain bee space.
Cedar1 Also, we had to design our own peaked top rather than our flat tops. Jesse spent several months thinking through a cedar top and finally came up with a top that is peaked and has a strip of copper across the top. We decided that our Langstroth cedar hive will come with two deep hive bodies and two medium supers, with wooden frames and foundation. Our cedar hives are fully assembled and untreated and unpainted. They are absolutely beautiful. The natural color of cedar is gorgeous. Cedar is very expensive, so our cedar hives are more expensive than our traditional pine hives. However, if you’re looking for beauty, it’s worth the price. Remember these are built right here in our shop, no middle man here. We take pride in our work. If you’d like to purchase one of our cedar hives, CLICK HERE.
Hive1 Of course our most popular hive is our standard Langstroth hive. Many people ask me how we got into making bee hives. Well, years ago, I made a hive and put it on eBay. It sold immediately.  I built another one and it sold immediately. When we first started we only sold on eBay because we didn’t have a website. Now that’s all changed. I made my hives with a few special features that I wanted in my hives as a beekeeper. We still make these hives the same way.  We love them and so do our customers. Our Langstroth hives are fully assembled and painted. We also include metal frame rests in all boxes to help the frames more more freely when inspecting the hive. Our hives are all built with screen bottom board to assist with ventilation and Integrated Pest Management. Our special inner cover provides upper ventilation. Painted with a high quality exterior paint this hive will stand proud in your yard for years to come. We ship hives all over the US. Look at our shipping cost to ship a hive in the US (except Hawaii or Alaska) Only $29. Click here to order today! This offer only applies to our traditional hive, item #1.

We've listened to our customers and so many wanted a class on package bee pickup day. So here it is. May 4th, our basic beginners 3 hour class. 9am until noon.  Come pick up your bees and equipment and take our 3 hour class. Be sure to order equipment in advance. This is a very introductory class and does not go into as much detail as our all day classes. But if you just need to learn about beekeeping equipment,  how to install a package, and how to inspect a hive, you’ll enjoy this three hour class. You must have protective gear to go into the bee yard. All students must be paid and registered to attend. Click here to register now.
LESSON 135: March Is One Of The Hardest Months For Bees In The North
We all want our bees to survive the winter. Beekeepers in the south have a much shorter winter than we do in the north. I live near the 40th parallel, map jargon which means I’m in central Illinois. It gets cold here. Many beekeepers make the mistake that since March doesn’t seem like a cold, brutal winter month that the bees are out of the woods. But nothing could be further from the truth. In the north, queens begin laying more which requires much more honey and pollen consumption. But, there is nothing much left and nothing yet to gather. It’s too cold to forage even if there was something blooming.
To make it even harder, most of the northern US has had challenging bee weather over the last few days. This is when it warms us in the day but drops quickly and drastically at night. For the last week, and sounds like all next week, our temperatures have been in the 40s in the daytime and in the teens at night. The reason this can be hard on bees is because at 40+ degrees the bees will break cluster in the hive, move around and eat honey. But as the sun goes down and the temperature drops suddenly the bees may fail to regroup into a tight cluster. Sometimes they get separate into several clusters and then cannot generate enough heat to keep from freezing to death if temperatures plummet into the teens and the bees are low in numbers or short of food.
Hive with blanket Bees need food to generate heat. They eat honey so they can vibrate and make heat. What you can do to help shave off the sudden evening chill into the teens and give the bees a better opportunity to cluster correctly is use a heavy blanket and lay over the hive at sundown. Place some bricks on the blanket to keep it on the hive. Do not cover the hive completely as this might not allow enough air for the hive. Do not cover the front entirely with the blanket. In preparation of this lesson, I placed a blanket on one of our hives. I remove it during the day. Do not let it get rained on or it will hold too much moisture near the hive.
Watch my complete video on how I use a Winter-Bee-Kind and blanket.(In the last 30 days 35,000 people have watched our YouTube Beekeeping videos.) I only recommend the blanket when the day is warm but the evening temperature will drop into the lower 20s or teens and your bees  might be low in numbers. Small clusters can die when temperatures drop into the teens. That’s why we recommend not installing new packages of bees in the north until mid April. A 3 lb package only contains 10,000 bees on new foundation with nothing stored in the comb to heat. And a lake of drawn comb makes it hard for the bees to stay warm. This makes a cold night.
Please be careful not to feed bees too much liquid sugar if the day will be too cold for the bees to fly. They will be unable to relieve themselves. We prefer to feed the Winter-Bee-Kind candy boards to bees in late winter because it is an emergency feed for when the bees start to run out of food without overloading their guts.

Winter-Bee-Kind For Winter Feed For Bees
In The summer of 2011 we introduced our Winter-Bee-Kind after several years of studying overwintering hives. We could barely keep up with production they were in such demand. We still make them right here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms but we've expanded our production methods to keep up with demand. So many beekeepers told us that these were the only thing that got their hives through the winter. This year, it's time for the 2014 production year. We even mix the sugar and pollen and right here and pour the candy into the Winter-Bee-Kinds. WHAT IS A WINTER-BEE-KIND? It is a one piece candy board that provides food, ventilation, upper insulation and an upper exit/entrance to help bees remain healthier during the winter. Someone said it insulates, ventilates and feed-i-lates. With the built in upper vent, you don't have to worry about snow covering up your hive's lower entrance. The bees can still go in and out through the top vent spacing. We avoid shipping Winter-Bee-Kinds in hot weather and start shipping each September-March. You can place our Winter-Bee-Kinds on your hive anytime, even in the winter. Because it goes on top of the hive in place of the inner cover, and you are NOT removing any frames, it can be placed on the hive in cold weather. Just do it fast. Open the top, remove the inner cover and place the candy side down and the vent slot toward the front of the hive and you're done. Click here to order your Winter-Bee-Kinds Some form of a candy board has been around for a long time. Beekeepers of long ago placed candy in their hives to provide enough food for their bees to survive the long months of winter. There are various mixtures and receipts for candy boards. Some are made with soft candy and some with hard candy. The end result is still the same. The bees will consume the sugar as they need it. We've always been concerned about the amount of condensation that can develop in the hive during the winter. The bees produce heat within their hive and as the temperature is very cold outside the hive, condensation will develop on the warm side, just above the bees on the inner cover or top cover. This condensation can accumulate and drop down onto the winter cluster of bees below. Bees can stay warm in the winter but they must remain dry. If this cold water drips down onto the bees, it can reduce their ability to keep their cluster warm. The insulation on our Winter-Bee-Kind helps reduce the excessive moisture and even puts some of that moisture to work, as it accumulates on the candy and makes it easy for the bees to consume the sugar. Thus, a Winter-Bee-Kind can help lessen two winter stresses, the lack of food and excessive moisture. We make our Winter-Bee-Kinds with sugar and a healthy amount of pollen powder. Many beekeepers make the mistake of only feeding their bees sugar in the winter, but the bees also need protein which they obtain from pollen. Our Winter-Bee-Kinds come with pollen mixed in with the sugar.. Click here to order your Winter-Bee-Kind today. We recommend that you place candy boards on your hive any time between Oct-March.

Commonly Asked Questions
Q: Which way does the candy face in the hive?
A: The candy faces down just above the winter cluster. Normally, this means that the Winter-Bee-Kind would be placed on the brood box that contains the cluster. For example, if you overwinter your bees in a single deep hive body, the Winter-Bee-Kind would be placed on this deep hive body with the candy facing down toward the cluster. If you are using two deep hive bodies to overwinter, then the Winter-Bee-Kind would be placed on the top deep hive body. It is best to disregard the use of an inner cover, and simply place your top cover over the Winter-Bee-Kind.

Q: What about winter moisture?
A: Moisture can develop in the winter from condensation, a contrast of the heat the bees produce in the hive and the extreme cold temperature outside the hive. Condensation accumulates on the warm side, which means moistures collects on the inner cover or top cover above the hive. This can drip down on the bees and chill them during the winter. A Winter-Bee-Kind takes the place of an inner cover and any moisture that develops from condensation aids the bees in consuming the candy.

Q: How long will a Winter-Bee-Kind last on a hive?
A: On average about 3 weeks. However, a colony that has ample stored honey may not consume the candy board as fast or not at all until they need it. A colony close to starvation may consume a Winter-Bee-Kind within a week or two.

Q: Since Winter-Bee-Kinds are placed or replaced on the hive in the winter, can I open the hive up on a cold day?
A: It is best to place the candy boards on a hive when the temperature is above freezing and try to place the candy board on and have the hive sealed back up within 1-2 minutes. It should not take over 1 minute. Do not remove any frames in cold temperatures, only place your Winter-Bee-Kind on and off quickly. If you can choose the warmest day during the winter, that would be best. Try to avoid very cold, windy or rainy days.

Q: How do I refill a candy board?
A: It is best to send back your candy board and we will refill it for $7 plus shipping. If you are a good candy maker, you can do it yourself.

Q: How do I get one with a pollen?
A: Our Winter-Bee-Kinds contain pollen as well.

Q: Can I make my own?
A: You can, but you must experiment, because you do not want the candy to be too hard or too runny. The exact mix depends on your altitude, heat source and other conditions so it will be different from one location to another.

Q: Why was some liquid sugar dripping out of my Winter-Bee-Kind when I received it?
A: It is the nature of candy boards to be a bit on the dripping side even though the top may be hard. Do not be concerned if you see liquid sugar dripping out of your boards when you receive it. It usually means it was left on end during shipment for a prolong period of time. The bees will clean everything up and enjoy this soft liquid.

Q: How much sugar is in one Winter-Bee-Kind?
A: Approximately 5 pounds

Q: When do I put a Winter-Bee-Kind on my hive?
A: Any time! Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb are good months to place on the boards.

Q How often should I check my Winter-Bee-Kind?
A: Every three weeks, take a peek.

Q: Do you make Winter-Bee-Kind for 5 frame nucs or 8 frame hives?
A: Yes, check out our website to order, but carefully read the description to make sure you are ordering the correct size and type.

Q: Can the candy break loose from the board on the hive?
A: It rarely happens, but during extreme winter weather, the candy and separate from the board while on the hive. This is not a problem. The bees will continue to consume the sugar.

Q: When I place it on the hive, do I use my inner cover. Just how does it go on?
A: Winter-Bee-Kind takes the place of your inner cover. Simply place the Winter-Bee-Kind on the top of your upper hive body or super with the candy facing down, then place your top cover on top of the Winter-Bee-Kind. Be sure to use a rock or brick to make sure the wind does not blow your top cover off. There is overwhelming enthusiasm about our Winter-Bee-Kinds. Click here to order now.

Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. We hope you’ll visit our website at, buy some hives and get started in beekeeping! It’s not too late. Now is a great time to dive in. Though we are sold out of packages, we’ll provide you with the numbers of reliable package providers that will ship bees to you. We are ready to be your friend and mentor in beekeeping.
See you next time!
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
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MB said...

Unfortunately my bees did not survive the winter as was common in Utah this year. But they did leave behind about 4 full frames of honey. When I install my new package in April, will I still need to feed them syrup? Or will the 4 frames of honey be enough food to get them through spring? Thanks.


Kevin Walrath said...

I love this approach to helping spread bee keeping to others! The Godly approach reminds me of Dr. Bronner and his soaps! Great post and great operation you've got going here. I plan to begin beekeeping myself hopefully in the not so distant future. Thank you for outstanding information!