Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lesson 69: Basic Bee Biology Part I & How To Convince Your Friends To Keep Bees

Hello! We are David & Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in Central Illinois where the weather has been freezing!
We have some real nice videos in this lesson. If you received this via Email, and your Email program will not display the videos, you can use this link to view the two videos below:
If you are new to our bee lessons, let me say we had a huge request for candy boards from our last lesson. Check out that last lesson if you missed it. Here’s a video showing how I place candy boards on hives that are short on food.
Candyboardwithbees 24 hours later, I took these pictures showing how well the bees took to the candy board. You can click on the image for a larger picture. In this picture, taken at 1:30pm January 13, 2010, the temperature was 30.6 (f). Even at 2 degrees below freezing, the cluster loosened enough to feed heavily on the pollen patties and the candy on the candy board. You can see how they have made chewing marks on both. I also noticed that some bees were breaking off the sugar crumbs and letting them rain down on the bees below who were immediately picking it up.  At this point, I am totally convinced that candy boards are a must on all hives in the winter, along with pollen patties. We sell are selling these boards as fast as we can make them. Click Here To Order
In today’s lesson, we’ll do two things. First, I will share how important it is to encourage others to become beekeepers. Then, I’ll teach Part 1 on bee biology and today we’ll look at the eyes of the bees. The better we understand the honey bee, the better care we can give them. Before we jump into today’s lesson, let me say that we are counting down to spring when we will enjoy watching the bees return to normal activities instead of being clustered in a ball in their hives.  This winter is certain to be very hard on the bees. While bees can withstand very cold weather, the longer they are cold and the longer the cold spell is, the greater the chance they might perish.
winter cluster Here in Illinois we’ve had at least 2 weeks where the clusters have been forced to be extremely tight, unable to move within the hive for more food. Hopefully, by the end of this week, the weather will rise above freezing and allow the clusters to loosen enough to move over to more frames of honey. Today the weather warmed (30 degrees Fahrenheit), so I was out taking a peak and couldn’t believe my bees did so well in the extreme weather.
Here’s a video you’ll enjoy that was from last summer, showing how we find a queen, mark her, place her in one of our shipping cages and then how we add 5 young nurse bees to accompany her royalty during the shipment.
As usual I have many first time experiments underway to test for overwintering, and so far insulated top covers are proving to be winning the race. All hives that have wintered with pollen patties are doing terrific. We produced some outstanding queens last year, and some lines we loved but wouldn’t sell until we tested them for winter hardiness. This winter will be a great test and that line is still doing good so far. If they are winter hardy, then we’ve got a keeper!
It’s January 13, which means in just 3 months we’ll be getting excited about package bees pickup and delivery (with purchase of hive). Usually it is the latter part of April, so around 120 day and we’ll be out of winter and into a new bee season.

It is always paramount this time of the year that I encourage all beekeepers whether new or experienced, to be sure to have all their equipment purchased before April. Otherwise, you might get your bees before you have anything to put them in. Don’t delay. All beekeeping suppliers become overwhelmed with spring orders and shipments are delayed. So by waiting, you could risk having to wait longer for your equipment to arrive.

LESSON 69: Basic Bee Biology & How to Convince Others to Keep Bees.
First, how can we encourage others to become beekeepers? This is so important! The only way we can significantly improve the overall population of honey bees is to increase the number of beekeepers. Let me share three ideas with those of you who presently keep bees.
1. Set a goal, a certain number of people you wish to introduce to beekeeping. It might be one or it might be 10 or 20.
2. Introduce them to beekeeping by sharing how much you enjoy it, and how keeping bees benefits you and your area.
3. Offer to mentor them to help them get started.
4. Invite them to attend local or state association meetings or conferences with you to learn more about bees.

5. Invite them to attend one of our beekeeping classes or a class near you.
Some pointers about introducing people into beekeeping. Be encouraging and positive. Don’t make beekeeping sound worse than it is to prove that you are Rambo. And don’t exaggerate pests and diseases to the point where they think the sky is falling on the bees.
Sometimes we are reluctant to help others get into beekeeping due to a lack of information or help. But as you can see, when you direct your friends to us, we have the advantage of online lessons, real people answering the phones and your friends can receive everything they need from one place, including bees and queens! In fact, we have a lesson gear just toward the new beginner beekeeper. CLICK HERE You can point them to that lesson.
Now on to bee biology! The better we understand the bee, the better we can keep bees. Biology lessons can sometimes become too technical, complicated and seem impractical, so I want to share some bee biology in a way that you will not even know you are in biology class.
beeeye2 Let’s first look into the eyes of the honey bee. I spent an hour today, looking at bee eyes under my microscope. It is awesome to look at a bee under a microscope. How many eyes do bees have? You might be quick to answer two, but they actually have five. On each side of their head they have compound eyes made up of almost 7,000 individual hexagonal sections known as ommatidia. This is very important in helping bees see and evaluate light rays and movement from various flowers. Because of these 7,000 facets to each compound eye, the honey bee can quickly detect motion and movement. In fact, it has been said that if a bee were to watch a movie, they would see it as frame by frame. It would have to be sped up to be seen as we see it. That’s why you should not swat at a bee. The rapid movement is alarming and extremely exaggerated through their sights.
The compound eyes are fixed focus, so for a bee to see letters on a page as we do it would have to be magnified significantly. It is not true that bees are colored blind. They do see in color but not all of our colors, yet they can see colors we cannot, such as ultraviolent colors. They cannot see the color red. To the bee it would only look black or nothing. That’s why we wear red lights when working bees at night. They would be attracted to a white light.
In addition to the two compound eyes, bees also have three additional eyes located in a triangle on the top of their head. They are simple eyes with a single lens. These are the navigational eyes of the bees, the GPS that continually takes readings of the location of the sun’s light rays, allowing the bees to fly with little to no sunlight. These eyes are called ocelli. Just exactly what these three eyes do is still a mystery, but most agree that these eyes are used in orientation.
Thanks for joining us for another lesson today, and we do hope you’ve enjoyed learning about candy boards, how to package a queen, how to encourage others to become beekeepers and more about the eyes of the honey bee.
Here’s our contact information:
PHONE: 217-427-2678

Until next time, remember to BEE-have yourself!

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