Saturday, March 26, 2011

LESSON 99: Beekeeper Or Bee-haver ( 217-427-2678)

DavidSheriNew1Hello from David & Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in Central Illinois. It’s nice to be with you again for another beekeeping lesson.
This is lesson 99, which means our next lesson will be Lesson 100, a mile stone no doubt!  We want to make Lesson 100 something special. If you have something special to suggest for lesson 100, let us know!
Watch our recent Bee Dance Video below. If you cannot see it below, click here to go to our lesson directly.

We’re knee deep in honey bees, and we love it! In one week I taught and spoke at 4 different clubs and classes. It was great.
Our outstanding colonies headed up by our own Pioneer Queens all survived the winter. Yea! It’s always a good feeling to go out and find the hives Overwintered hive 2011strong and healthy in Illinois after such a bad winter. We do not treat our colonies and they go through the winter on screen bottom boards. Again, this year there was no difference between the hives that we wrapped and the ones we did not. Every year we provide larger upper openings for ventilation on our hives and each year they do better!
I’m leaning toward the opinion that most winter hives die from the following in this order:
1) Lack of proper fall and winter management (Froze or starved out)
2) Varroa mites – the diseases they vector
3) Nosema
4) Trachea mites

And before our lesson today, let me tell you about a few new products we are carrying that are great!
GoatskinglovesFirst, Bucko Goat Skin Beekeeping Gloves. Wow, what a nice glove! The goat skin is a better, less clumsy fit, and it has extended ventilated sleeves. We are selling these $5 cheaper than most places for only $15.
TBHAnd for all of you Top Bar Hive Enthusiasts we are now selling TBHs!!! (Pretend you hear a loud crowd applauding). Do not be tricked by tiny TBHs made of plywood. This is a full 46” TBH made from 3/4” pine. Even the top is made with pine, and covered with aluminum. Comes with 30 top bars (frame starters) with wooden splines. This TBH also comes with a screen bottom board with a slide in board to open and close the bottom. This TBH also has three holes in the side and two follower boards. Stand and bees not included. Click on the image or click here to purchase your TBH. Have some fun with a Top Bar Hive!
DavidteachingA BEE-HAVER is someone who can say they “HAVE” bees but they do not want beekeeping to consume their time or interest, so they spend little to no time keeping bees, they simply have bees. That’s certainly one approach.
Then there are those who want to evolve from just having bees to truly doing all they can to make sure their bees are as healthy as possible.
Probably somewhere between these two groups is where most beekeepers find themselves.
I recently held a class on “Pest & Diseases” and SO MANY BEEKEEPERS NEED TO TAKE THIS CLASS.  In order for beekeepers to overwinter colonies, produce more honey from colonies and have overall stronger colonies, beekeepers must know pests and diseases. There are many practical ways to prevent many pests and diseases, but until you are taught and trained, you will probably experience avoidable problems .
Let me show you what I mean by taking you on an inspection of a hive. A friend asked me to inspect his hive in the fall. Join me and let me demonstrate how easy it is to “think all is well” when it is not. As we inspect the hive, you’ll need to click on each image so that it will enlarge to its original size. Look at this comb of brood and bees. Click on it and see what you think?
deformedwingMost beekeepers would feel okay about this comb. The brood looks fine, though it is a small area of brood, it’s fall and queens are cutting back laying so it’s fine. But if we look closer we’ll several things that are wrong, this hive will not make it through the winter. In fact, nothing was done to my friend’s hive and it died in the winter from the major two factors visible upon the above image, both could have been prevented. So let’s zoom in.
deformedwing3Do you see the two major problems? I’ll give you a hint. Look at the bees, not the brood. Ah ha…see it now? Among several female workers we see DWV, deformed wing virus and one has K-wing. Let me zoom in and show you.
Her wings have been damaged by this virus (DWV) usually transmitted by the varroa destructor mite. In the larger image above, you can find two with DWV. MITE INFESTATION! That’s the first major problem that will kill this colony during the winter. But, there is even a greater threat to the hive surviving winter. Let me show you the image, by zooming in from our initial larger image:
This image reveals further evidence of varroa infestation because you can see mite feces on the bottom and walls of open cells. Small white particles. Another bee with DWV is in the upper center, but what is unusual to you about the bee below the one with DWV? Her back wing has slipped forward to advance in front of her front wing, forming what looks like the letter K, thus K-wing. Damage is done to the flight muscle area by the Tracheal mite. So in this image, we are probably looking at symptoms from two different mites. Usually K-wing always demands a further investigation for Tracheal mite testing.
tracheaexamineMost beekeepers do not have a microscope or the patience to pull out the bee’s trachea tube and look for the tiny tracheal mite in the tracheal tube, a bit smaller than a speck of a tiny dust particle. But you can buy a microscope and learn to do the dissection yourself or send in your bees to the Beltsville, Maryland Bee Lab. So here I have pinned down a bee, removed the head and first two legs and collar to pull out the trachea tube. It is lots of work but I never found any. Two pins in a pencil eraser works well to hold the bee in position during surgery.
While I was doing Tracheal mite testing I went ahead and inspected the bee further.
honey stomachOne thing in particular that was interesting was the honey stomach. Where else, but here, will you finally see what a honeybee’s honey stomach looks like? Rather than thinking of it as a human’s digestive stomach, think of it as a flexible holding tank. I went ahead and dissected the bee and pulled out a nearly fully expanded honey stomach, and I’m holding it between my fingers.
Now, back to our hive that we are examining. So here are our two signs that my friend’s large hive, with plenty of honey, will not see spring and it didn’t. VARROA & TRACHEAL MITES. It died leaving plenty of stored bee bread and honey. So to become a beekeeper who desires to know more to better assist your bees in overcoming these possible problems---I want to help you. But remember, almost all bees have varroa mites, but not all mites vector diseases to such a level as seen in the hive we are inspecting.
To help your bees have a fighting chance against what we have seen above, consider a few essential techniques. First, let’s deal with tracheal mites. Tracheal mite resistant bees are the best defense. Certainly it is nearly impossible to develop bees that are 100% resistant. However, if a colony survives the winter, it is probably a good indication they have some degree of tracheal mite resistance. That’s why the queens we sell are only from hives that have been overwintered without any treatment. Hives that suffer from tracheal mite infestation are unable to properly thermoregulate their hive during the winter and the hive simply freezes out.

I recently wrote an article on
formic acid and the Mite Away Quick Strips that will soon be approved in many states. It is not a harsh treatment and only requires 7 days and can be used with honey supers on. It will take care of both varroa and trachea mites.
To address the tracheal mite naturally use a grease patty in the hive. Mix 2 parts powdered sugar with one part Crisco vegetable shortening. You can add a bit of honey-b-healthy or lemon grass oil extract. Compact this mixture between two sheets of wax paper and lay on the top bar of each deep brood body. Keep it on all year! As the bees nibble at the sugar in the patty, they will track traces of the vegetable oil around thus it is enough to make it nearly impossible for the tracheal mite to find a young bee as a new host. It is difficult for a tracheal mite to enter an older bee because of the more developed hair near the first breathing airway on the mature bee.
Remember, tracheal mites are not usually a serious problem, certainly not like varroa mites. This is partly because bees in America are becoming more resistant, but also because beekeepers are  treating for varroa which is also knocking out tracheal mite populations. But if you want to become a better beekeeper, this lesson is for you!
Lastly, you HAVE to keep your varroa mite levels down as much as possible. I am always amused at beekeepers who say they do not have mites but their only test is a quick visual glance. These are the same beekeepers who can’t spot queens but they can spot varroa mites?? You cannot see tracheal mites and most beekeepers find it very hard to see varroa mites. Do not assume you are mite free simple because you cannot see mites. Become more aggressive toward mites to save your hive.
If you don’t like formic acid, then use IPM (Integrated Pest Management) methods for varroa such as 1) Freezing drone comb traps 2) Screen bottom boards 3) Powdered Sugar Drop and 4) Removing the queen temporarily to break up the bee’s (and varroa’s) brood cycle.
If you lost bees this winter, do not assume it was the cold winter. It could have been, but it is very possible that with a little more perfected management, your hives could have survived the winter. So move over and become a beekeeper, not just a bee-haver.
These lessons are free, but they do cost to research, write and publish and post. If you cannot afford a donation, no problem and please enjoy. If you can help support our ongoing research and lessons, we would certainly use your gift wisely to further freely sharing these valuable lessons which help others successfully keep bees!  Please see the link below to make a donation or send your gift to our address at the end of this Lesson. And thank you in advance.

Thanks so much for joining us again today, and please know that we appreciate your business. When you purchase from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms it helps us pay the bills and make a living and to continue our research on honey bees. So keep us in mind next time you need a hive, a queen or any beekeeping equipment. Our phone is: 217-427-2678
One of our most dearly loved hives that customers enjoy so much is our copper top garden hive. Looks absolutely beautiful in any garden or yard. We sell these with a cypress hive stand and these are 8 frame garden hive, so they are just alittle bit easier to handle and sure look cute. Click on our garden hive image to purchase one today. Click here for more information on our copper top garden hives.

Also we are now carrying a new style of top feeders, an all wooden top feeder with two large reservoirs. Each reservoir has a wooden platform where the bees can stand and eat and not drown. Place it on the top hive box and place the top cover on the feeder. Works great! Click on the image to purchase.
One more item is a queen mansion.
queenmansionQueen Mansions is just what it sounds like, a hive body that allows you to raise 3 queens at one time, or keep three queens in one deep hive body. We use them in our queen rearing operation and they work nicely. There are three separate areas in one deep hive body.
queenmansion2Each section is completely sealed from the other sections so each queen has her very own three frame section with separate entrance. Three top pieces made for 3/4" pine serve as the individual top pieces so you can remove one at a time to work one section while the other two remain sealed closed. This is a great flexible unit, because once you no longer want to hold queens, simply slide out the dividers and use it as a regular deep hive body and a regular screen bottom board. 9 Frames included. Top cover not included.
Here’s our contact Information…
Phone: 217-427-2678
(Please call us rather than emailing us about orders)
Mailing Address: Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
14556 N 1020 E. Rd
Fairmount, IL 61841

DavidMBSee you next time,
David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
In Central Illinois

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