Friday, September 25, 2009

Lesson 65: Screen Bottom Boards In The Winter? Fall & Winter Feeding

DavidSheri Hello, we are David & Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in Central Illinois.
Today, I want to address a few controversial issues about preparing a colony for winter. For example, screen bottom boards are of tremendous benefit in reducing mites in the summer, but should we leave these open for the winter winds? And, what about feeding bees in the winter? How can we feed bees without the sugar water freezing? Before I address these and other issues, let me remind you of our upcoming beekeeping class.
WARNING: There is a push to make beekeeping appear practically hands free. New beekeepers are failing to implement best management practices. I want to be your mentor. I am currently accepting positions to mentor a limited number of beekeepers. You'll have access to my personal cell phone and private email. And you can send me videos or pictures of your hive when it just doesn't seem right or you don't know what's going on. You'll also receive 4 new instructional videos from me and a weekly tip of what you should be doing. Click here to see if spots are still available.

l664 Those of you who have visited us know why we are called Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We live down a long lane, a long gravel lane and with heavy trucks coming and going, our road is constantly full of potholes. So, we added Thomas the Tractor to our arsenal against potholes. L663A 1958 Case 800 tractor with a front pallet fork and a rear box scraper. I'm a penny pincher. When we first moved here, I had 5 loads of gravel dumped in piles down my lane and for weeks, my son and I used shovels and rakes to smooth it out. I've been working on Thomas for a couple of weeks, repairing hydraulic lines but now the old tractor has joined the work force at the honey bee farm.
LESSON 66: Screen Bottom Boards In The Winter & Fall & Winter Feeding
In a previous lesson, I shared several approaches on how to prepare for winter. In this lesson I want to go into more detail about screen bottom boards and winter feeding.
Bottom Board 001 Screen bottom boards prove to be very beneficial in the summer for reducing mites and for increasing ventilation. But do they pose a threat to a colony during the winter? That's a debated issue. Some cover their screen bottom boards while others leave them open. A few years ago, we did a simple test. We placed covers over 3 colony's screen bottom board and left the others open. We lost all three that were covered. So we always leave our screen bottom boards open all winter. It is our opinion that an open screen bottom board cuts down on excessive moisture. Cold air sinks and warm air rises, so the threat of an open screen bottom board, in our opinion, is minimal.

If your hive is up in the air 6 or 8 inches, then you want to prevent cold wind from curling up and blowing onto the cluster. This can be accomplished by building a wind block around your hive.
Remember, that a winter cluster warms only the cluster and not the inside of the hive. On an extremely cold night, the air several inches away from the cluster will be the same as outside the hive. The bees consume honey, and vibrate by flexing their muscles to generate heat, much like we do when we shiver. That heat is transferred throughout the cluster. They will be able to accomplish generating the cluster heat with or without the screen covered.
Many beekeepers allow their colonies to become extremely undernourished. Pollen and stored honey is essential to winter survival of colonies. In the fall, I work to beef up my colonies. It's tricky for me because of the number of colonies in one location. Even an inside top feeder can create a robbing frenzy. In the fall, boardman feeders placed in the front of hives is a certain robbing disaster.
So my approach is two fold. 1) During the fall only, after most nectar is no longer available, I want to prevent robbing, and 2) I want to beef up my colony nutrition for winter.L662
You can click on the images for a larger view. My approach is simple. I do use boardman feeders, but I place them on stands throughout the bee yard. And on dry days, I pour dry pollen out on the feed stands. My sugar mix is two parts sugar and one part water for fall. I have to make the holes bigger in the lids for the syrup to pass through. I also add one teaspoon of Honey-B-Healthy.
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.
Bee Factory 212 Feel free to order your hives for the spring by calling us at 217-427-2678. We take credit cards over the phone, or you can order online by clicking here.
We always appreciate your business, whether it is for your woodenware hive needs, queens, packages, nucs, clothing or extraction equipment, we always appreciate your loyalty.
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Phone: 217-427-2678
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Until next time, remember to BEE-Have yourself!

David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
Fairmount, Illinois

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lesson 64: Why Is Honey So Good For Us?

DavidSheriHello Friends! We are David & Sheri Burns operating our family honey bee business in Central Illinois where summer seems to be giving way to fall. We've had a few cool nights in the mid to upper 40s so it seems like fall.
August 20 09 014 Sheri's chickens are laying about 5 eggs a day, not quite enough to keep up with our family's need, but they are just now 20 weeks old. Every day we all race out to the chicken coop to gather up the eggs. I didn't realize until I read up on it that fresh eggs are much better for you than older eggs. Speaking about what's good for us...we all know that honey is good for us. And in today's lesson I want to give you some information explaining why honey is so good for us. Before I start today's lesson, let me continue to bring you up to date on what we've been doing.
tractor12 I bought an old farm tractor,  a 1958 Case 800 with a front end loader. We are always plowing, digging and hauling things around, so this will be a big help for us. I bought it on Ebay and hauled it up out of southern Illinois last Saturday. It's two years older than me!
Two weekends ago we had a wonderful group at our beekeeping and queen rearing courses we offered at our honey bee farm. We had people here from Ohio, Missouri, Illinois and California. The students were very enthused about keeping bees and raising queens. The weather was great so we were able to spend some time in the hives as well.

Lesson62u Our honey crop was good and we were able to bottle up a good amount of beautiful tasting honey and our customers have lined up to buy it before we run out as they do every year. Our customer's appetite for honey is greater than our bee's ability to keep up with demand.
ilqueen This will be our last month to produce queens. It becomes much more difficult to produce late queens but this is when so many people want to requeen, in September. Once again we gained so much knowledge and skill in our queen rearing operation. Can't wait until next year!! Where we really need to improve is in overall production of our queens. We have the quality where we want it, but now we must increase quantity. We had to turn away so many request.
on including the location and directions:
And for those of you who are Studio Bee Live addicts, we are producing more finally! These are broadcast that we produce here on our farm and place on the Internet. These broadcasts are located at: Check it out!
LESSON 64: Why Is Honey So Good For Us?
Nutritional Value
lesson63a What's in honey? The actual chemical make up of honey can be slightly different based on the local nectar sources. Typically, honey consists of simple sugars known as glucose (dextrose) and fructose (levulose).
Bees do not gather honey from flowers. They gather nectar which is a sugary substance from plants which is very high in moisture. The bees carry the nectar to the hive and then hand it over to carriers in the hive. These carriers work the nectar droplet. Invertase is added by the bee who works the nectar to help evaporate the moisture from the nectar. This goes on for nearly several minutes and then the nectar is placed in the comb where it dries even more. Bees fan the open cells of nectar to cure it by evaporating the moisture level down to around 18%. Then it becomes honey and is sealed over with a wax cap.
Honey is made up of Moisture (17-18%), Fructose (around 40%) Glucose (around 30%) and other sugars, vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates.
Honey is fat free, sodium free and cholesterol free! Honey does have vitamins like B6 and thiamin, niacin, and riboflavin. Honey contains minerals that are good for us like calcium, copper, iron magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
Antioxidants are also found in honey, such as chrysin, pinobanksin, vitamin C, catalase and one antioxidant that is only found in honey, pinocebrin.

This nutritional information was obtained from the National Honey Board's website.
whippedhoneyHoney is the only unprocessed food that never spoils. Sometimes honey will become hard or solid. This natural process is known as granulation or crystallization. For the most part all honey will eventually crystallize over time, but some takes much longer than others. The deciding factor is the type of nectar or floral source from which the nectar was gathered which determines the sugar content.
What causes honey to crystallize or granulate? Since honey is composed of glucose and fructose, this high concentration of the sugar begins to separate out and can then form crystals. Remember that honey is 70% sugar and 20% or less of water. Any small particle such as pollen specs, or even air bubbles will provide a seed for these sugar crystals to begin to grow. We count on this process in making our cream honey. We just grind the seed crystals to be extremely small so it makes the honey feel creamy.
Granulated honey is not spoiled. It can be warmed and most of the crystals can be re-liquefied. Remember, all honey will eventually granulate unless it has been heated to 140-160 degrees and highly filtered to remove all particles. Of course, heating honey damages it by removing or killing valuable enzymes.
Something that often does follow granulation is fermentation because water is forced out of the sugar in the granulation process. This extra water causes the honey to ferment. Natural yeast within the honey will begin the process of turning your honey into mead or alcohol when the moisture level is above 18%.
Honey absorbs water? It will absorb it from the room you process it in. That's why I keep my processing room around 30-35% humidity and dry my supers 3 days before I process the honey. I've never had a fermentation issue.
What is the shelf life of honey? A long time! Do not put it in the refrigerator. It is fine left at room temperature.
Many people including myself use honey on skin injuries. I recently spoke with a hand surgeon and he explained to me that honey can keep a wound very moist to aid in healing yet kill bacteria. Honey kills bacteria because it is hygroscopic. This means that honey absorbs moisture from bacteria that tries to grow.  This is why honey is such a safe food to eat no matter how long it has sat out, maybe centuries!
Thanks for joining me today, and I really enjoy preparing these lessons each week.
I want to remind you that we manufacture our own hives, built to our own specifications because we are beekeepers. Please check out our website at: for all the honey bee products we carry including hives!
I always welcome you comments or suggestions on future lessons and I also appreciate it when you pass these lessons on to others.  You can encourage your friends to sign up to receive these directly via Email.
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Until next time Bee-have yourself!

David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
14556 N. 1020 East Road
Fairmount, IL 61841