Thursday, December 6, 2012

LESSON 126: Frequently Asked Beekeeping Questions 217-427-2678

Hello From Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, we are David and Sheri Burns. We’re glad to be with you for another beekeeping lesson.Today, we’ll have fun answering some commonly asked questions that we’ve collected over the last beekeeping year.
 Here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, we have spent the last few months making hives and an unbelievable amount of Winter-Bee-Kind candy boards. Please consider using our Winter-Bee-Kind on your hives this winter. No order of Winter-Bee-Kind is too large as we have expanded our production of these candy boards. Customers have found the importance of this product that we invented that can insulate, ventilate and provide food for the hive during the winter. I’ve also observed that my hives will use the upper vent in the winter to take cleansing flights while hives with lower entrances will not. It is because as the cluster moves up into the hive, they cannot break cluster enough on cold days to go down, but can easily go up.
And, if you visit us over the next month, please be patient with our construction dust. We are undergoing a major overall of our buildings and the addition of a new beekeeping education center for our classes. We are re-working our phone system as well, so be patient with us for a few more weeks. You know how it goes, you always think the construction will be done sooner than possible, but we are making progress.
photo We’ve listened to our customers and so many of you have enjoyed our classes at the Farm Bureau building, but there’s something special about being at the honey bee farm. We have a full list of beekeeping classes scheduled for 2013 and look forward to having them in our education center here at our bee farm. We are always looking for volunteers that may want to come out to help work on our building. So give us a call if you can volunteer putting on the finishing touches, dry walling or some plumbing.  Click here to see our full list of 2013 classes or go to:
The 2013 beekeeping season has officially started. Orders for hives and bees is on the increase. We’ve never seen it this busy in December before. Do not be caught having waited too long to get started in beekeeping. Some people get inspired to keep bees in the spring. But by then, everyone has sold out of bees and equipment orders can be back logged. Please read our article on how to get started in beekeeping.
We have some great hive kit specials for the 2013 season: Check them out at:

We are really excited about our Royal Hive Kit Special.  (These prices are for 2013 only)

(Bees not available to be shipped to CA, WA, AZ, UT, NV, ID, MT)
3 lb package with marked Italian queen. Plus a standard complete hive which includes 2 deeps, 1 honey super, screen bottom board, telescoping top cover, entrance cleat, 30 frames and and foundation, FULLY ASSEMBLED and PAINTED, FREE feeder included, FREE queen excluder included. Bees ship UPS OVERNIGHT May 1 or 2, 2013. FREE SHIPPING!
Wooden hives ships 7-14 days after order is placed. Bees ship first week in May. CLICK HERE to see more about our Royal Hive Kit Special With Bees.  Check out all our 2013 hive kit specials at: 
Nuc We are now taking orders for 4 frame nucs, bees and frames from our hives with our Illinois Pioneer Queens. We only have a limited number of nucs. All nucs are for PICKUP ONLY. All nucs are inspected by the state inspector and health certificates and moving permits accompany each nuc. Click here to pre-purchase your nuc now. Each nuc contains frames of honey, pollen, brood and a queen that is mated and laying in the nuc. Nucs are only available to be picked up in June. Please DO NOT order a NUC unless you can wait and pickup one in JUNE.
photo Finally we are selling our honey now online. This was a good year for honey production. If you’d like to buy a 1 lb jar of our honey in a beautiful and famous Muth jar, click here. These jars are sealed with a cork and a safety seal wrap. The jar has a raised impression in the glass of a honey bee hive.
LESSON 126: Frequently Asked Beekeeping Questions Answered
1. How Many Hives Should I Start With?
Multiple Hives The number of hives to start with is entirely up to the individual. We recommend at least two hives because with two hives you can share resources between hives. If one hive becomes queenless and fails to replace their queen, a frame of eggs can be carried over from the other hive. If one hives becomes low in numbers, frames of brood from the strong colony can be moved over to strengthened the weak hive. Certainly starting with one hive is acceptable, but there is a an advantage to starting with more than one.
2. How Far Apart Should The Hives Bees From Each Other?
In commercial operations, four hives are placed on a single pallet. For the hobbyist, the distance between hives is usually determined based on the comfort of the beekeeper. The beekeeper may want to work all the hives without walking a considerable distance between each hive. I usually recommend at least two feet between hives.
3. Which Direction Should My Hives Face?
Traditionally, we recommend the opening of the hive should face south or southeast. However, it really doesn’t seem to matter.
4. How Close To The House Can I Put My Hives?
Use good judgment. Bees will fly miles away from their hive to find nectar. If a hive is near your house, the bees will still fly up and away. However, it may take six feet from the hive for bees to gain six feet in altitude. Keep this in mind so that hives are not placed near sidewalks, decks and clothes lines. Place them so that when the bees leave the hive, they will not be immediately near people or pets.
IMG_1163 5. What Should I Plant To Help My Bees?
Bees will pollinate plants around your house, but not in huge numbers. In other words,  if you have 10 tomato plants you will not see thousands of bees in your tomato garden. Certainly many bees will help pollinate your flowers and garden. However, most of your bees will fly out to an area of abundant nectar such as an apple orchard, acres of clover or a large grove of basswood or black locust trees. If you have a half acre or more, planting buckwheat, clover and other flowering plants will certainly help your bees, but it is not necessary. Bees are quite capable of flying two to three miles to gather nectar.
6. Should I Buy Medication For My Bees?
When various pests and diseases were identified among bees, many chemicals became available. However, some of these chemicals proved to be harmful to bees over time. Certainly some medications do fight certain pests and diseases. However, we prefer not to use chemicals or medication in our hives. This is a personal choice.
Hot Knife On Comb 7. How Much Honey Will I Get My First Year?
First year beekeepers should not expect  much honey from a new hive. It takes eight pounds of nectar for the bees to produce one pound of wax. The first year the colony is producing a lot of wax to build up their comb. Certainly some first year hives can produce a full crop of honey, maybe 70-200 pounds of honey. But this would be in a perfect situation, or from a second year hive. So it is better to have no honey expectations the first year, but if your bees do produce extra honey for you, it is an unexpected surprise. Year two is when you can expect much more.
8. How Much Honey Can One Hive Make Each Year?
An average hive in Illinois produces around 70 pounds per year. This can change to more or less depending on the weather and the health of the bees and the skill of the beekeeper. The most I’ve produced from one hive in one season is 210 pounds. We sell our honey for $6 per pound.  If a hive produces 70 pounds and you sell it for $6 per pound you make $420. My record hive earned  me $1,260 in honey sales.
Hives In Water 9. Can I Save Money By Using Old Equipment?
There are several diseases that can linger in old equipment. American foul brood is one of the more deadly diseases and AFB spores can live 50-80 years in old comb. It isn’t worth taking a chance unless you are absolutely sure the old equipment was not exposed to diseases. There is really no way to test old equipment.
Hives In Winter 10. Should I Leave My Screen Bottom Board Open In The Winter?
This is a personal preference. However, we prefer to have plenty of ventilation in the hive even during the winter. We leave our screen bottom boards open. If you prefer to close the screen bottom board, simply slide in a thin piece of metal or plastic.
Mite On Drone 11. What Do You Recommend To Combat Varroa Mites?
Varroa destructor will be found in all bee hives. We recommend these natural methods:
a. Screen bottom boards, so that mites fall out of the hive.
b. Green Drone Comb Trapping.
c. Powdered Sugar. See our article by clicking here.
d. Removing the queen to break the mites’ brood cycle. For more information, click here.
SHB 12. How Do I Treat Small Hive Beetle?
Since we prefer not to use harsh insecticides in the hive, the best method is to smash and trap. We have extensive teachings (CLICK HERE FOR OUR LESSON ON SHB) and videos on trapping small hive beetles.
13. What Do I Do If I Want Northern Bees But Can Only Find Southern Packages?
All package bees come from the sunshine states, southern states and California. There is absolutely NO WAY anyone in the north can provide packages prior to May, and probably not then. Many northern beekeepers like the idea of a nuc, which is four or five frames from a strong hive, and a queen. But nuc producers can never produce the volume of bees to ever replace the number of packages sent to new beekeepers. Therefore, many northern beekeepers purchase southern packages, and if the queen fails, they replace her with a northern produced queen.
TBH 14. Should I Start With A Top Bar Hive Or Langstroth Hive?
We believe new beekeepers should start with a traditional hive and only try a top bar hive after they have become more familiar with beekeeping.
15. Which Feeder Is Best?
There are many types of hive feeders all serve a different purpose.
a. An entrance feeder is placed in the entranced of a hive in the spring. 1:1 Sugar/Water is used. This feeder does not need to be used in the summer and certainly not in the fall or it may cause other hives to rob and kill a hive. But this is the preferred feeder in the spring.
b. A top feeder is a large feeder placed on top of the hive and sugar water is held in a large reservoir. This works well, but sometimes stray bees can get under the top cover and drown in the reservoir.
c. Frame Feeders are used inside the hive in place of a frame. It’s a frame sized plastic reservoir and requires opening up the hive to refill. It cannot be used in the winter because you cannot open the hive to refill it if the temperature is below 60 (F).
Check out our recent article on Feeding Bees. Click Here.
16. How Important Is It That I Take A Beekeeping Class?
Class Taking a class is not required or essential, but the more you know the better beekeeper you’ll be. We have a host of classes coming up in just a few months. Click here to visit our 2013 class list in our new educational center.
17. Should I Register My Hive?
Check your local state requirement. Most states require hives to be registered and we recommend beekeepers register their hives with their state’s department of Ag or Department of Natural Resources.  Registration affords you the opportunity to receive helpful, free advice from state bee inspectors. This is always a good thing!
Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. We appreciate your business and interest in Long Lane Honey Bee Farms.
Please visit our online beekeeping store and lessons at:
That’s all for now and thank you for joining us for another beekeeping lesson! Please let others know about these lessons and our business. We appreciate you spreading the word! TipJarYour donations help us continue our work and research on the honey bee, such as our recent development of our Winter-Bee-Kind. These lessons are free and will provide you with as much if not more information than you would find in a $30 book. So consider making a $30 donation so that we might continue these lessons, CLICK HERE TO DONATE $30 or go to:

Thank you in advance.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
217-427-2678 Website: facebooktwitter iconYoutube