Thursday, October 16, 2014

Be Careful Not To Take Off Too Much Honey. Then You’ll Have To Feed Them…Maybe Feed Them Anyway! Lesson 164: Long Lane Honey Bee Farms 217-427-2678

Hello friends! I hope you have been enjoying these first few days of Fall.  I enjoyed summer and I’m sure you did too. As beekeepers we are all hoping for a few weeks of nice weather before winter is finally here.  Time to visit the pumpkin patch and enjoy fall. I’ve been using the last month to get my bees ready for the winter of 2014-15.

I had a great time in Arkansas last weekend at the Arkansas State Beekeeping meeting. I spent some time with Dr. Jeff Harris and Audrey Sheridan. They are both at Mississippi State University and if you subscribed to Bee Culture you’ll remember seeing Audrey’s column there. Jeff is a professor of Entomology. Jeff joined MSU after working 15 years as a bee breeder with the USDA, ARS Honey Bee Breeding Lab in Baton Rouge, LA.  He is best known for his involvement with other scientists in developing lines of honey bees that express high levels of Varroa Sensitive Hygienic (VSH) behavior. Of course it was great spending time with my good friend and fellow master beekeeper and Arkansas bee specialist Jon Zawislak. After the conference I spent a couple of days with Jon discussing details of a future beekeeping project that we both are excited about.

HiveTalk Speaking of Jon, today Jon and I will be live on the air with HIVE TALK!  Join us at 10 am central time TODAY!. We are in the studio now, warming up the tall red and white tower with the little flashy light on top, sipping on coffee and waiting for the producer to point his finger at us to begin.

We will be talking about a few things NO ONE ever wants to discuss about bees today: biological control of varroa mites with anthropods, predatory mites and psuedoscorpions. We promise to make this educational and fun. You can make Hive Talk more interesting by calling in and asking us a question live, or by logging in on your computer and texting us your question. Here’s how:

The number to call is:


When you call in you'll be asked to enter our SHOW ID which is: 129777 followed by the # sign. Then the automated system will ask you for your Pin number which is 1 followed by the # sign. At that point, you'll be on the show with us so you can ask your questions. So that we don’t hear you breathe or your dogs barking, you will be muted unless you press * 8 on your phone and that will allow us to unmute you so you can ask your question. Call in around 10 minutes prior to broadcast, at 9:50 a.m. central time.  If you want to just listen from your computer, go to:

Set your alarm and your smart phones, it’s coming up in an hour.

We all know last winter really gave us a run for our money with bees. We gave 4 separate classes on Getting Your Bees Through The Winter. It was very rewarding to us, to finally drive three essential points home to beekeepers on how to get bees through the winter.

One of those points is that beekeepers often take off too much honey. Have you taken off your honey yet? How much should you take off? Most of us want to take off every drop the bees make. After all, honey is selling at a higher price than it ever has. I’ve been amazed over the years, though, as to the number of beekeepers that take off every drop of honey and then wonder why their bees died in the winter. Sometimes bees store their winter honey and pollen in the upper supers. Then in the last summer or fall they carry it down into their deep hive body combs. Beekeepers usually know this, and quickly harvest the honey before the bees can carry it down. If the bees are in need of that honey super and we remove it and bottle it, then bees usually starve in March.

Bees need food in the winter. Otherwise, they will starve. I’ve been beefing up my hives with a lot of sugar water. I’ve been mixing it as 2 parts sugar and 1 part water. As expected my bees have been storing it as honey and sealing it over. Quite impressive!

Before you rob every drop of honey from the hive, keep in mind that in the Midwest, bees need between 60-80 pounds of honey in the hive. The hive without wax or bees weighs 70 pounds. 60,000 bees weigh approximately 20 pounds. Thirty pieces of comb weighs another 5 pounds maybe. That takes us up to 90 pounds without any honey.  So if you pick up the back of your hive to guess at the weight, without any honey it’s going to feel like 90 pounds. That’s heavy. Add another 60 pounds of honey to it and  now it weighs 150 pounds. That’s going to feel like dead weight if you try and lift it with one hand. If it is not extremely heavy from the back, feed, feed, feed!

We are shipping out our Winter-Bee-Kinds as fast as we can. If you placed an order rest assured you will receive it in time to help your bees have food above the winter cluster. Do not become impatient and want to place our WBKs on until the bees cluster. If day time temps are above 50 (f) and bees can fly, feed them 2 parts sugar and 1 part water but not in the entrance. Use an internal feed system.

That’s all for now, I’ve got to prepare for our broadcast in a little bit. See you then hopefully!

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms