Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms where it is cold, cold and cold. The good news is that we are only 55 days from spring. If you are like us, you can’t be more ready.
We’ve been busy as a bee this winter, meeting so many new folks who are starting beekeeping this spring for the first time, and of course new customers who just found us on the internet. Welcome!
Today I want to encourage you to be sure you are prepared for spring, and I want to help our new beekeepers understand when to add hive bodies and supers as the year progresses.
Before our lesson today, take a peak at what’s been going on here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. Our son Seth is still deployed in Afghanistan and will be coming back this spring. He’s doing fine and we look forward to seeing him again. After returning home he’ll get a short leave and will marry Leah our newest addition to our staff. Unfortunately, we’ll be losing Leah after the wedding as they will be moving out to Twenty-nine Palms, CA where Seth is stationed. They will be getting married this summer so we’ll have Leah through the busy busy bee season. Yea!
I had a great birthday last week and all my children wrote me letters letting me know how much they love me. I’m keeping those! It was great for them to share with me how much I have influenced their lives. Then Sheri took me to a Japanese restaurant, the kind where you sit right next to the flat grill where the chef does amazing things with fire, knives and food. It was lots of fun.
With Leah, Karee, Jennifer, Josh and Zach doing such a great job around here, we enjoyed a trip over to the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis. Our Christian is growing up so fast. He’s now six and he’s a sucker for a building full of fun stuff to do to break up the monotony of winter. Yes, winter seems long and boring this time of the year for those of us in the north. We have to do something fun to keep our sanity.
Let me tell you about an awesome gathering of beekeepers in February. It’s called the Tri-County Beekeeper’s Association and meets in Wooster, Ohio. This thing is HUGE. It’s believed to be the largest gathering of beekeepers in the US. It’s over 35 years old and keeps getting bigger and better. This year, I’ve been asked to be the keynote speaker and would love to see you there. The dates are Feb. 28- March 1. Click here for more information and registration information.
Then in March I’ll be speaking for the Missouri State Beekeeper’s Association Spring Meeting. This will be held at the Country Club Hotel & Spa Lake Ozark, Missouri March 21st-22nd. I hope you can join me there too. Click here to register for this conference.
LESSON 148: Are You And Your Bees Prepared For Spring?
Whether this will be your first year to keep bees or you have years of experience there is always so much to know and do in preparation for spring.
If you live in the cold north like we do you might find that winter seems like it will never end. However, as of today there is only 55 days left until spring. Whether you are new to beekeeping or experienced, do not let this cold weather fool you into thinking spring is a long time away. Start preparing now. Let me give you several tips on how to prepare for the new beekeeping year:
1. Purchase your equipment and bees in advance. I cannot stress this enough. Bees always run out fast for all providers across the US. Do not put off buying your packages of bees. If you haven't purchased your hive kits yet, do not delay. You do not want your bees to arrive before your equipment and have nothing to put your bees into. Get your equipment early so you can become familiar with the pieces and even place it out where it goes. If you cannot decide whether to start with one hive or two, read my article on, “How Many Hives Should I Start With”? We are selling bees very fast and may only have several week’s supply left. If you still need a 3 pound package, click here.
2. Increase your knowledge of beekeeping. Now is the time to take a beekeeping class. A thorough beekeeping class can make all the difference on how you can keep varroa mites under control, install a package, harvest honey, trap small hive beetle and much more. It's a different beekeeping world now. So much has changed so keep up with it all by taking a class.
3. Be prepared to know when to add hive bodies and supers to your expanding colony. I have a complete article and video for you to study so you will not make rookie mistakes.
4. For new beginners, brush up on how to install a package of bees. It's really enjoyable. But watch my video first so you do it right.
5. Even though spring is close, do not let your bees starve to death now. Remember, bees need food and most colonies starve in late winter and early spring just before flowers bloom. Be sure to put on one of our Winter-Bee-Kinds to help your bees get that added nutrition to hit spring running. Be sure to select either 8 frame or 10 frame when ordering.
For those of you who have hives enduring the winter you need to have a plan ready as soon as spring arrives. I have some suggestions on how you can prepare yourself and your hive for spring:
1. First, DO NOT pull out a frame unless the temperature is above 60 degrees (f). Otherwise the cold can damage the brood. Warmer is better, but you can do a quick inspection if it is 60 degrees (f).
2. Once you can perform your first inspection you need to look for the following:
a. Brood in various stages such as eggs, larva and sealed brood.
b. Identify the queen.
c. Assess the amount of pollen/honey. Add pollen patties or our Winter-Bee-Kind if low on food.
d. Clean debris from bottom board.
e. Determine how well the hive came out of winter in population. Are they low in numbers of bees are very strong?
a. Is the queen laying well or does she need replaced?
b. Is the colony so strong in population that splitting the hive is necessary to prevent swarming?
c. Do I have mites? Place green drone comb in each deep hive body to begin capturing varroa mites.
d. Do I have small hive beetles? Insert small hive beetle traps, one in each deep between the frames.
e. Determine if you need to place a honey super on for the spring flows.
These are important ideas and questions to encourage you to think now what you will do in the spring. For example, if you find your hive is very populated and you need to split the colony but you do not have another hive, then half of your colony may swarm. Be sure to have adequate beekeeping supplies before you desperately need them. Now is the time, while you are bored of winter, to prepare for spring.
See you next time.
David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms