Here in Illinois, rainy, cool weather has placed bees in neutral until warmer weather returns. Beekeepers with new packages, nucs, and splits are worried about how to combat the cooler nights. We have a remedy. Hello from David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois.www.honeybeesonline.com. In today’s lesson I want to suggest a great way to feed bees when first starting out with your new hive or split.
Before our lesson today, I want to thank everyone for your encouraging emails welcoming home our son Seth from Afghanistan. We all had a great time on Tuesday catching up on his life. If you’d like to watch the news report, click here.
ADVANCE BEEKEEPING COURSE JUNE 11, 2014 9am-3pm Central Illinois!!Have you considered the importance of taking our one day Advance Beekeeping Course? I'll be joined by my good friend and fellow certified master beekeeper Jon Zawislak. Jon and I have written a book on queen rearing and we recently authored a two part articled published in the American Bee Journal on the difference between Northern and Southern bees. Jon and I will be teaching our Advance Beekeeping course June 11, 2014 here in Fairmount, Illinois and we have around 6 seats available. You don't want to miss this opportunity to be around me and Jon and learn about bees for a whole day. Click here for more information.
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LESSON 154: A FEEDING SYSTEM FOR CRITICAL TIMES OF THE YEAR
I wish we all could just let the bees find their own food sources all year. Sometimes they do. But our country has an obsession with killing weeds. Fence rows are sprayed and edges of mono-crop fields are sprayed or mowed. The bee’s natural food sources are quickly eliminated. Those studying Colony Collapse Disorder point toward poor nutrition as one of the many potential causes.
A colony actually requires a large amount of food like any living organism. And since a hive is considered a single living organism, its requirement for steady food is enormous. Bees are like us; they live on carbohydrates (nectar/honey) and protein (pollen). We do not need to cite a study to know that bees are healthier when they are on a healthy diet of pollen and nectar.
There are critical times during the year when bees need food but it is limited. Take for example the installation of a package in the spring. Over the last week here in Illinois packages were unable to forage for food due to rain, wind and colder temperatures. To care for the new brood, large amounts of stored nectar and pollen had to be used. When temperatures fall below 50 degrees (f) the bees cluster to stay warm and are no longer able to go down and eat from the entrance feeders. Resources are consumed in order to produce heat. Less brood is reared and less eggs are laid during cold snaps, thus reducing the building up of brood. We call this “brooding up”. There are several reasons why brooding up is so important in the spring and early summer. A colony’s large population is essential for gathering nectar, building comb, storing honey and fighting pests and diseases. Weaker colonies usually become weaker which increases the risks of wax moths, small hive beetles and winter die-outs.
Without large numbers of foragers they will not have large amounts of nectar coming in. Without large amounts of nectar, they will not be able to produce large amounts of wax to build comb. Without comb there is no place for the queen to lay. Since we have placed a colony in our hive, on our property and want them to work on our terms, there are critical times during the year when we must feed our bees.
In the spring when it is cooler and rainier. In late summer during the inevitable dearth period between when summer flowers are done and before fall flowers bloom. In the fall when bees need to store up food for winter but frosts have killed off all foraging sources. No matter how “good” your bees are, how perfect your queen is, these are critical times to ensure your bees are well fed so their numbers remain strong in preparation for winter and for fighting off pests and diseases.
I recently became overwhelmed with how many beekeepers were finding it difficult to feed their bees both protein and carbohydrates during these critical times. Last year I was at the Eastern Apicultural Society meeting in Pennsylvania when a friend of mine received a call that her bees were starving. This was in late summer during a dearth. She was in a panic to figure out how to quickly get food in the hives. Then, in the winter I was speaking at the the Tri-County Beekeepers annual conference in Ohio when another friend and fellow master beekeeper told me how much he liked my Winter-Bee-Kind feeding system, but that I should make one for the summer dearth.
We both discussed how this is one of the more critical times that bees need to continue building up on needed resources in preparation for winter. So for nearly a year I’ve been designing and trying out different methods and systems to meet this demand. I finally did it! It took several prototypes but I finally developed the Burns Bees Feeding System. So often new beginners call us in a panic saying they just installed their new package but they are worried about the cold nights.
Some people try to place an entrance feeder on the frames of a deep and surround it with a shell of a deep hive body and place a lid on it. This can work if all conditions are right, but the fact that you need to do this means that all conditions are not right. In other words, it is too cold for the bees to go down to the entrance feeder at the opening which means there is way too much heat loss. Heat escapes from the cluster up into the open shell of the hive body. Also the bees need more than just sugar, they also need pollen to keep building up.
So let me give the details the Burns Bees Feeding System. First we provide you with two pollen/sugar patties that go into the system. And the board also accommodates a lid with pre-drilled holes for your small moth jar of sugar water. 1:1 in the spring and summer and 2:1 (2 parts sugar to 1 part water) in the fall. The board holds in the heat during the spring. In our video and pictures you will see how we recommend the patties are smashed through the screen in order to create more texture so the bees can consume patties more effectively.
We also include a recipe so you can continue to feed your bees as needed. Take a look through the follow pictures. Traditionally entrance feeders and patties are placed on top of frames and a shell is placed around the food source.
However, as seen in this picture, bees begin festooning and building comb in the open space above the cluster making unwanted comb. And significant heat is lost as it rises away from the cluster into the open space above them. Also if you’ve ever fed patties like this, you’ll notice that they are unable to eat the part of the patties directly resting on the top of the frames.
Push the provided patties through the screen as shown above.
This allows the patty to be cut into tiny attached sections making it easier for the bees to consume. This is a view of the patties facing up, but when placed on the hive, the patties pictured above is placed upside down and hangs directly above the cluster.
Here is a new package on undrawn foundation. A green drone comb is seen for varroa mite trapping. The Feeding System is placed directly on top of the cluster.
As pictured above the sugar water is added in the specially cut cap hole. We suggest laying a piece of cardboard or rag over the pollen patties and screen area for maximum heat retention. This is not necessary in temperatures above 50 degrees (f).
You can use used equipment, like a deep hive body shell to place on the feeding system. The reason you have to do this is because of the jar of sugar water that sticks up. This is not necessary if you are merely wanting to feed a pollen patty in which case you can push it through the screen and then place the top feed on the feeding system without a shell. A shell is to add space for the jar feeder.
Notice how the jar lid does not allow the sugar water to spill out, but simply bubbles up due to a vacuum seal. The bees are able to drink from this effectively.
Finally place the lid on the system. Be sure a use a weight like a rock or brick incase of a strong wind.
To order our NEW BURNS BEES FEEDING SYSTEM, click here now. Thank you.David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms