Wednesday, July 21, 2010

LESSON 77: Don’t Do That!

Here we are again, David & Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms with another fun lesson in beekeeping. In today’s lesson, I want to share some things that you should NOT DO! Why not learn from the mistakes of others? Before we get into today’s lesson, here’s an update from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms.
We had a lot of fun at our basic beekeeping course last Saturday. The students were great, the bees were cooperative and the weather was perfect. This coming Saturday is our Advance Beekeeping Course! We still have room for a couple more students to join us, so click here for more info. Stop repeating the same mistakes. Learn more and do better.

jar No one guessed our mystery photo on our last lesson. From left to right, a jar of sweet tea, a jar of honey with comb, and a jar of pickled eggs.
A few weeks ago I attended the Heartland Apicultural Society (HAS) meeting in Cookeville, Tennessee and it was great.  I met several of you who follow our online lessons, have bought supplies from us, etc. While I was on an elevator I met Joel who bought a queen from us a few years ago. He recognized my shirt and said the queen was doing good. Another lady from Ohio introduced herself at lunch and mentioned that she really enjoys our lessons and has shared them with other beekeepers. The HAS, of course, had great speakers, hands on apiary workshops and more. For me, the highlight was listening to Dr. Clarence Collison. No one I know of holds a match to his knowledge of beekeeping and the honey bee. He writes a monthly column in the BEE CULTURE.

eas Speaking of Dr. Collison, he heads up the Eastern Apicultural Society’s Master Beekeeper program which I will be attending next month in Boone, North Carolina to go through my second year of testing. Several from our family will be going over for the whole week for the EAS beekeeping conference. The master beekeeping program consumes the last two days of the conference. If you can afford the time away, I would strongly encourage you to come and enjoy the conference. Outstanding speakers and workshops.lesson54h It is absolutely the most superbly orchestrated beekeeping conference, ever! If you can’t come every day, you can chose the latter part of the week. It’s a blast. I hope to see you there. I’ll be wearing the yellow “Long Lane Honey Bee Farms” shirt like the one in the picture. For more information on the EAS conference Click Here.
Okay, so you are enjoying beekeeping, but you’ve already made a few mistakes. Don’t feel badly, we all do it. Just don’t repeat the same mistakes every year. To help you avoid repeating mistakes and to help you avoid them all together, let me give you a list of things I’m calling the “Don’t Do That” list. Let’s go…
1) Don’t put off beekeeping, thinking you’ll do it later. Make a determined effort to start keeping bees next Spring.
lesson77b 2) Do not leave a frame out of a hive. Always put the frames back! If you don’t, you are guilty of violating bee space. The bees will nicely fill the vacant frame space with comb that you’ll never be able to work with.

Lesson77 3) Do not use a bee vac in the afternoon when the foragers are returning from their flights. The suction will pull out the honey from their honey stomachs and drown all the other bees in the vac.
4) Don’t drip honey or throw comb near a hive. Sometimes we need to remove burr comb from a hive. Carry it away from the hive. If you throw it on the ground next to the hive, robbers will smell the honey and comb and may be enticed to go into the hive and start robbing it.
lesson77a 5) Don’t use old equipment. American Foul Brood spores can live dormant in abandon hives and stored equipment for nearly 80 years and activate once you start using the frames or boxes.
6) Don’t dump out your smoker in dry grass. Don’t set your hot smoker down on your truck’s plastic bed liner or store it in the garage before it’s cooled down. And don’t blow sparks or a flame into the hive when smoking.
Lesson74g 7) Don’t be caught without something to put a swarm in. Keep a spare hive on hand. As more people learn that you’re a beekeeper, you will receive calls to retrieve swarms. Be prepared.
8) Don’t assume your hive is doing well based on what you see at the entrance. Just because they are bringing in pollen does not guarantee they have a laying queen. Check your hive every 2 weeks and verify you have a laying queen by inspecting her brood pattern and checking for newly laid eggs.
9) Don’t forget your hat and veil. No matter how calm your bees may bee, anything may set them off. Always protect your head and face. (Especially if you have somewhere special to go that night!)
10) Don’t be an isolated beekeeper. You will benefit from joining your local association, attending conferences and classes and networking with other more experienced beekeepers.
11) Don’t place a queen excluder below a honey super with undrawn comb. Wait until the comb is starting to be drawn out, then check to be sure the queen is not in the super. Then you can place the queen excluder below the honey super.
12) Don’t allow your hive to become congested. While a crowded hive is a healthy hive, they may run out of empty cells for the queen to lay. Continue to monitor your hive to make sure the colony has room to expand.
13) Don’t cheat and harvest honey before it is completely sealed. If you harvest frames that are not sealed completely, your honey’s moisture level may be too high, causing the honey to eventually ferment, foam and taste like yeast.
14) Don’t be oblivious to pests and diseases in the hive. Know the most common pests and diseases and learn how to identify and treat your colonies if these show up.
15) Don’t force your bees to your neighbor’s swimming pool for water. Keep water around your property in the sun for bees to find. Bees can more easily detect polarized light so keep your water source in direction sun light because light is polarized once it reflects from the surface of water.
16) Don’t pull a frame out if it is really close to the frames beside it. You may “roll” your bees, even kill the queen. Remove a frame near the wall that is less tight, then slide the frames to allow room to freely lift each frame.
17) Don’t mix up your frames. When you pull out a frame, place it back in the same place and orientation.
18) Don’t work hives in poor weather. Bees are calmer on sunny days with higher barometric pressure.
Lesson74i 19) Don’t take your chances with an old queen. Requeen every year or two. A younger queen’s pheromones will reduce swarming and she will lay more prolific.

20) Don’t give up!  Beekeeping, for most, is an enjoyable hobby. Hobbyist become attached to their animals. When a hive dies, a beekeeper can become discourage and want to quit. This is understandable. But do not despair!  If your hive dies, consider the good news:
   1.  You have drawn comb for next year’s package to build up faster. 
   2.  You gained a wealth of skill and information for next year.
   3.  You have time to evaluate why your hive died and what you can do better next year.
Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We’ve given you 20 “don’ts” today, advice to help you avoid the most common mistakes.
We hope you enjoyed today’s lesson and if you want to leave a little tip on the table for the service you received from today’s lesson, we would appreciate any donation.  You can click on the link below to leave a donation of any amount.

Remember, we are selling queens through September and it’s always beneficial to requeen after June 21 so that you know you have a young queen going into winter. Also, we sell woodenware, beekeeping equipment and everything to do with honey bees. Check out our main website at:
Here’s our information and our summer hours:
Summer Hours:
Mon – Thur 8:30 am – 4 pm Central Time
FRI-SAT  visits & pickups by appointment only
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
14556 N. 1020 E. Rd
Fairmount, IL 61841
(217) 427-2678