Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Winter and Spring Feeding of Honey Bees www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678


We are David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. I want to share some great things about feeding bees now and into spring. How is the best way to transition feeding bees from winter to spring?  Before I do, let me thank you for reading our blog about honey bees and beekeeping.

Since 2006 I have been writing these lessons in beekeeping. I enjoy sharing as much information as possible. It’s hard to believe I’ve published these teachings for a little over eight years. Some of you have been reading these from the beginning and though you may live too far away to visit us, you feel like part of the family. My first lesson was entitled, “I Can’t Figure Out Why Everyone Is Not A Beekeeper”. I start off saying, “For the life of me, I can't figure out why everyone doesn't keep bees. It is a blast! I suppose bees have been falsely portrayed as "killer bees" taking over homes and whole cities. That's Hollywood, not reality. Anyone can keep bees. It's easy. As you continue keeping bees over the years, you learn more and more…”  That was 8 years ago, and I feel more passionate about beekeeping now than I did then.

Christmas 2013 I want to thank you for being a part of our family and business over the past few years and we look forward to many more years to come. We know you can buy your beekeeping equipment from other places. Some even offer free shipping. We try never to use the word “free shipping”, because  you do know that it is NOT free, don’t you? With some of our hive kits we use words like, “Shipping is included.” If it comes down to you saving a buck because of “free shipping” and going somewhere else, I hope you’ll decide to buy from us, to support our family business so we can be here long into the future offering classes and all of these online lessons that I am sure have helped so many of you. Our bread and butter comes solely from you deciding to do business with us,  hard working, small family business. Thank you in advance. We have built a lot of hives in preparation of the 2015 bee season. They are ready to ship! Check out our hives at: www.honeybeesonline.com The more you purchase from us, the more resources we have to continue our research and inventing things like our Winter-Bee-Kind and our Burns Bees Feeding System.

Someone told us that if you have an Android smart phone (not an iPhone), you can say to Google Now, “How to start beekeeping” and she will recite back info from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. I tried it and it is cool. Speaking of the Internet, here is some important information about our website this week.

NOTICE: Our website is undergoing a refurbishing toward the end of this week. We are adding many new features. There may be intermittent downtimes during this revamp so please be patient. If you go to our website, www.honeybeesonline.com, but it is down, please feel free to call us (217-427-2678) during regular hours and place your orders with us over the phone. We will do everything we can to reduce downtime, but depending on where you live, it may be down only 10 minutes or up to 48 hours.  

beeinstitute We are getting ready for our first class for the 2015 beekeeping season. We’ve taught beekeeping classes for seven years now. Each year we add more classes and update materials to stay up to date on new findings and research about beekeeping. In preparation for our 2015 classes we are preparing our educational center. Some of you have been to our new facility for classes last year, and it is very nice. But we have slowly been finishing up the kitchen area and we hope to have it completed in a few weeks in time for our Feb. 7th class.

Our first class, Feb 7th, is sold out and our second class on Feb 28th has 2 openings left. We are excited about a full roster of classes we are offering throughout the year. Our Beekeeping Institute in June is completely filled up already. We are contemplating offering a second one this year. Several people were disappointed not to have registered in time before all seats were sold. If you were not able to sign up for the beekeeping institute, but are interested in attending our Beekeeping Institute, please call us to help us make this decision. Thank you. To see our entire list of beekeeping classes including, Advance Beekeeping, Queen Rearing, How To Get Bees Through The Winter and more, go to: www.honeybeesonline.com/classes.html

Winter and spring feeding of honey bees can be tricky especially for inexperienced beekeepers. The best winter option is or bees to live off of their own honey and stores of pollen. However, if a colony does not store up enough for winter, they die because they do not have enough food to generate heat. They starve and freeze to death. Our Winter-Bee-Kinds are an idea resource to place on a hive if they are out of winter food. But how do you make the transition from winter feeding to spring feeding?

I like to give my overwintered colonies liquid feed as soon as the weather permits it. In late winter and early spring, colonies need pollen and 1:1 sugar water. The tricky part is deciding when to go from hard candy to liquid candy. My rule of thumb is as soon as it is warm enough for bees to fly, it’s time to go liquid. I cannot feed them liquid now because not only would it freeze or crystallize, but it is not characteristic of the winter cluster to consume liquid feed.

As soon as I see that the forecast calls for low winds and mild temps so that bees will fly, I’ll start with 1:1 sugar water and patties. Sheri makes an unbelievable sugar/pollen patty for bees. Some of you purchased those last fall and  you know how well the bees loved them. We could not keep up with the demand of orders. I am trying to talk Sheri into making these available again in the spring because this is when bees need them, spring and fall. For now we include a recipe.

Burns Feeding System Now is the time to purchase your Burns Bees Feeding System. In some parts of the southern US, temps will be warming up enough to begin using this system real soon. It allows you to feed liquid and patties to your bees without needing spacers. Special screens hold the bees down so you can change out your feeder jars without bees flying up out of the holes. We now make them out of birch and have a better automated system to cut the perfect circle holes. In the central US we can start using these in about 6-8 weeks so don’t delay. Have them on hand when the weather provides the opportunity.

Here’s a video I made about this system. Man, don’t you wish we were back to short sleeves!

Feeding bees can really make a difference in how fast they build up in the spring. Sometimes bees survive the winter, but become so weak and hungry they never build up and eventually crash in the spring or summer. It is important to provide good nutrition to bees year round if they cannot obtain it on their own.

That’s all for now. See you next time!

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
M-Thu  10am-4pm central time
Fri-       10am- Noon

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