Monday, June 15, 2015

Summer Management


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms we are David and Sheri Burns. We are enjoying spring and it will finally be summer next week. Colonies are looking good and building up  nicely. Spring was wet and cooler for us than normal and bees were a little slower in getting started. It was great seeing everyone at our package bee pickup day. Since then we have been teaching beekeeping classes almost every weekend. 

Sheri and I are amazed at the phenomenal surge of interest in beekeeping this year alone. We thought previous years were really strong, but so many people are getting into beekeeping. In fact, normally we start to see things slow down by this  time of the year, but we are still busy shipping out lots of equipment. Thank you.

beeinstitute2015 Last week and last weekend we had our Beekeeping Institute. This is the third year we have offered the institute. And in two weeks we are offering another institute which has been sold out since winter.  We had a beginners class on Thursday, and the institute ran Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Jon Zawislak was great to help out again.  Jon and I are friends and have a lot of fun teaching together.  Students came from Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee. We worked between storms on several days.  One day, after class was over, a storm moved through and blew tops off of three hives. Jon and I ran out in the middle of pounding rain and wind and put the tops back on. We were soaked. Here in Illinois we have received over 7 inches of rain in a week just from popup thunderstorms. And that’s what is in the forecast for the next several days, possibly 5 more inches.

Bees cannot fly in the rain so if it rains a lot honey production (and wax build up on comb) will be slower. And when it rains, it may take a day or two for some flowers to regain their nectar. We typically say that rain washes out the  nectar. But on a positive note, all of this rain means that clover will bloom longer and stronger to help with the honey crop.

jondavid Jon and I have been friends since we became EAS certified master beekeepers about 8 years ago. We’ve spoken at conference together, written articles and wrote a book on how to raise quality queens.

Jon and I also host Hive Talk, a live beekeeping podcast. When Jon isn’t up here, he spends his time as the apiculture instructor with the Entomology Department, University of ArkansasQueen book Division of Agriculture in Little Rock, Arkansas.

A few years ago, Jon asked me to teach him everything I know about raising queens and we  both decided to capture the images and write a book on raising quality queens. We wanted to provide a FREE book for beekeepers to download and be able to use as their main resource for producing queens. We have had so many people tell us how much this book has helped them start a queen rearing business or just raise a few queens. You can click on the cover image to get your copy.

Today, I want to encourage you to think about summer management. Summer will be arriving this weekend. Those of you who follow my lessons know that I cannot stress enough the importance of monitoring and eliminating varroa mites in your hive. Ignore mites and chances are your hive will perish in the winter. But you can review my previous lessons on mite control.

Honey Super What about summer management? Here in Illinois we only have 4-6 weeks left for bees to gather nectar. It varies from year to year, but our main floral sources are over by mid to late July. Sometimes we may stretch into August. Therefore, summer management means you must place supers on your hives! If you place supers on now, the bees have a better chance at adding wax to undrawn foundation. If you wait and give your colony an undrawn super in late July here in Illinois, the bees will likely not have time to draw out the wax and gather nectar and dry it into honey. So get busy today if you want honey! He are trying to ship medium super orders out about 3 business days after we receive the order. We are limited by our supply of frames, but if you don’t have supers, get them now! Click here for more info on our medium honey supers.

I recommend that you give an extra hearty coating of beeswax to your super foundation. Melt wax down and brush it on. You will witness a remarkable difference in how fast the bees will draw out the comb, possibly giving you the edge you need to get some honey this year.

Monitor the fecundity of your queen, how well she is laying. In the month of July you should make a decision if you like your queen’s production or not. If she is not laying well or she is more than 2 years old, you should consider replacing her in July. This will give you time to make sure your hive is queenright and strong before going into winter. If you wait too long, you will have trouble finding a queen and it is a little harder to introduce her when there is not a honey flow occurring. 

As the summer gets hotter be sure to place watering stations for your bees gather water and keep your hive cool. Don’t place them too close to the hive or they may have trouble locating them. Bird baths in the shade with sticks to help the bees not drown will work well.

Colonies could still swarm, so monitor the brood boxes for swarm cells and overcrowding. It’s getting too late to split in time for winter, but you might make it work. If you can’t split your overcrowded colony, and you have a crowded hive ready to swarm, you can move frames to other hives to balance your colonies resources.

Speaking of swarms, if your colony swarms do you have a hive to place them in? What if a neighbor calls you to remove a swarm, do you have an extra hive? Be prepared to expand your operation by collecting swarms. We sell complete hives, assembled and painted. It’s better to have a hive before you catch a swarm than to catch a swarm and have to wait days for your hive to arrive. Plan ahead for the bees’ sake.

Finally, summer management should include winter preparation. I know, I know! No one wants to think or mention winter during the summer. Winter is long enough and we all just want to enjoy summer. But if you want your bees to survive winter, you need to prepare in the next few months, not wait until October.

We have classes focusing just on How To Get Your Bees Through The Winter. They are all filling up fast. Don’t wait or you may be unable to sign up. Here’s the list of classes coming up, so just click on the link.

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Aug 22, 2015

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Aug 29, 2015

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Sept 12, 2015

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Sept 26, 2015

ADAY This year I’m offering a new class in my line up. “A Day In The Field”.  9am-1pm. Spend 4 hours with me in the bee year for hands on bees! This class will be in one month, Friday July 17th. This class is limited to 10 students. If July 17th is rainy, the rain date is July 24th. The agenda is for me to show you a variety of ways to work bees and manage colonies out in the bee yard. Bring your own snacks and water bottles to stay hydrated. You must wear protective gear even if you are superman. No one will be allowed in the yards with short pants, or without at least a hat and veil and long sleeve shirt or bee suit or jacket. No exceptions. Bring your smoker but NO HIVE TOOLS. We provide hive tools. This is a new class and if it goes well and there is a strong interest we may have more this year. Click here for more information. All students must be registered in advance.

Prior to the class, you will receive a letter via email with detailed information. Please read thoroughly to know what to bring. We will hold the class at our education center located at our office at 14556 N 1020 East Rd., Fairmount IL 61841. Please follow these directions (some GPS units do not work for our location). Off I-74, take the Oakwood Exit 206. Go south into town, to 2nd stop sign (Catlin-Homer Rd). Turn left onto Catlin-Homer Rd., going down two country roads to 1020 East. Turn left, go down another 1/4 mile until you see our signs. If you need hotel information, we suggest either the Best Western in Danville (217-431-0020) Holiday Inn at 217-442-2500 or our own Sleepy Creek Vineyard at 217-733-0330 (only about 2 miles away). Please bring protective gear but NO HIVE TOOLS. Remember we are on central time. We will not start until 9am central time no matter how early you arrive. 

Thanks for reading our blog today and remember to check us out online at

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

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