Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Today is known as Black Friday, the day after thanksgiving when everyone rushes the stores in hopes of getting the best deals on Christmas gift purchases. Not me! We’re enjoying these couple of days off, putting up our Christmas tree and eating too much. I never did get into Black Friday. I used to wait and buy gifts a few days before Christmas. For the last few years, online shopping has taken the stress out of gift shopping for me. I research what I need online, purchase it online and soon it is delivered to my home. Awesome! I save gas, time and a lot of frustration.
Here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, we’ve made it even more easier for you to shop online at our store with our new mobile website. Log in to www.honeybeesonline.com from your smart phone and you’ll see our new smart phone website, making your shopping experience much more enjoyable.
We are selling PICK UP ONLY packages of 3lbs of bees with a mated queen again this year. CLICK HERE to secure your packages for late April of 2014. WARNING: They are selling faster than we’ve ever seen. Do not delay.
2014 Beekeeping Classes
Sheri and I sat down and worked out all the details for our 2014 Beekeeping Classes including our second week long Beekeeping Institute. Sheri, being a teach by trade, has designed student workbooks for all our classes. We’ll be using more hands on in our classes to help the learning experience really click. This year we are also adding a slew of FREE Introductory Meetings:
These are free informational meetings on beekeeping. Are you curious about the hobby of beekeeping. Are you unsure of the cost and the time involved? Do you just need a little more information before you plunge in? Then come to one of our FREE informational meetings. Sign up is required. Click on one of the links above.
Here’s our class line up for 2014:
We are really excited that some of our classes have a new two day format starting with a Friday night dinner buffet at 6pm and then the workshop continues on until 9 p.m. This is a two day beginning beekeeping course and continues on Sat. 9-noon. Please book your classes above as soon as you can as they do fill up fast. Remember, our classes are limited and each seat sells out, so anyone attending must purchase a seat. Thank you and we look forward to another exciting year of learning more about bees.
Today, I want to share 7 ways to keep an eye on your hive now that it’s cold outside. Before I do, let me take a moment to encourage our new beginners with:
Thinking about starting with bees in the spring. CAUTION: PLAN NOW!! Too many prospective beekeepers wait and try to order hives and bees in the spring only to find everything across the country is sold out. Do not delay. Order your bees now even though you will not get them until the spring. And order your hive equipment now too. We ship hives (without bees) now, but hives are in such demand in late winter and early spring that there usually is longer shipping delays. Don’t put it off or you may miss another year. Check our our most popular item our FREEDOM KIT, 2 complete hives. Click Here. FREEDOM KIT.
Also, follow our daily updates on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/longlanehoney
LESSON 145: 7 Ways To Check On Your Hive During The Winter
We worry about our hives in the winter, don’t we? Are they cold? Are they diseased? Will they survive? Is my queen alive? We want to do something to help them along. While there is very little we can do at this point to help our bees, it does make us feel better to be actively checking on our hives during the winter.
1. PROVIDE FOOD
An average size colony has the same nutritional needs of a medium size dog. Bees need protein and carbohydrates just like us, just like most animals. Do your bees have enough honey (carbohydrates) and pollen (protein)? Bees consume their food in the winter to stay warm. Ideally, if the temperature stays around 30-40 degrees (f) they consume the least amount of food. But the colder it gets the more food they consume to generate heat.
Our Winter-Bee-Kinds provide both carbohydrates and protein for your bees and provides upper vent/exit and 1” of upper insulation to help reduce excessive condensation. Many of you have been purchasing pollen patties from us and I’m glad to see that. While it is not as necessary with the use of the Winter-Bee-Kind, it is necessary if you are just wanting to provide extra protein. Bees cannot exist on sugar alone.
Remember you cannot lift frames out of the hive when temperatures are below 60 degrees (f). If you do, you can damage developing pupa of bees. But you can lift the top off briefly to take a 30 second peak at food supplies by looking down between the frames of comb. Keep food on top of the winter cluster all winter long. This does not guarantee that your bees will make it, but at least they will not die from starvation.
2. WIND BLOCK
Some studies have shown a slight advantage to wrapping a hive with roofing paper. Instead, I like the idea of a wind block. If you wrap your hive you’ll also need to provide more upper ventilation to reduce excessive condensation that causes cold water to drip on the colonies. With a wind bock, the fierce winter winds hitting the hive is reduced. Be careful. Do not place stray or hay bails next to the hive. They can hold water and this can provide too much moisture around the hive. Keep your wind block several feet back from the hive to help the area around the hive remain as dry as possible. You may have a natural wind block such as a grove of trees as in the photo or a shed. This works great.
Make sure your hive is stable on its stand throughout the winter. As the ground freezes and thaws, your stand or blocks can shift and your hive may topple over. Also, if you broke the propolis seal on your top cover, a harsh winter storm could blow the top off. Regularly check your hive for any shifting and keep it stable all winter. Keep a rock or weight on top to help stabilize the hive.
4. KEEP MICE OUT
Mice will kill your hive if they nest over the winter in your hive. Take a flashlight when it’s dark, remove your entrance reducer or mouse guard and make sure you cannot see a mouse nest on your bottom board. If you see a pile of grass in a corner there is a mouse in your hive. If there is, find a friend to help you lift off the hive from the bottom board and if you are lucky the mice will stay in their nest on the exposed bottom board and you can get rid of them and put the hive back down on the bottom board and reduce the entrance. When you do this, please remember to keep your tops on and your deeps together. Do not open or separate your hive during the winter. Just lift it off the bottom board and check for mice. It’s better to find mice now than in April after they have destroyed your bees.
5. KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR CRACKS
If your equipment is old and falling to pieces, you might find corners missing and large cracks. Duct tape or metal tape can seal the gaps until you can replace your equipment in the spring. Broken bottom boards can allow mice to get in, so keep an eye out for drafty cracks.
6. PUT YOUR EAR ON THE HIVE AND TAP
You can put your ear on the side of your hive and tap and you may hear an increased buzzing. This serves no purpose other than bringing you false securing that all is okay. I have tapped on my hives and have heard absolutely nothing. But in the spring that same hive was doing great. There is some benefit. If you are sure that there is no sound of life in your hive, you can open it and verify by looking for 30 seconds between the comb. If the colony has perished it is best to shake out the dead cluster as soon as you can to prevent further decay inside on the combs. Just remember if you don’t hear anything it may speak more to your hearing than of your bees. Be careful as bees sting in the winter too.
7. KEEP THE ENTRACE CLEARED
Snow and ice can pile up on the hive blocking the entrance at the bottom. In the past, I’d always go out after it snowed and especially after an ice storm and clear out the opening at the bottom of the hive. However, with our Winter-Bee-Kinds, the entrance is built into this feeding system and bees prefer a top entrance/exit during winter. This can allow your bees to take that much needed cleansing flight to potty which they may not have taken if they had to walk all the way to the bottom to fly out. Also, bees die of natural causes all winter and begin to accumulate on the bottom board, blocking the entrance. The upper entrance on the Winter-Bee-Kind keeps the bees away from the gross accumulation of dead bees below.
Keep an eye out on your hive this winter. Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. Hope to see you soon at one of our FREE Introductory meetings or at a class.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms