Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How Does A Warm Winter Effect Honey Bees?

Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We are David and Sheri Burns and we operate www.honeybeesonline.com

I've been sending this blog out for nearly 10 years. It's been my humble effort to help beekeepers keep bees better. People from around the world have told us how much this blog has helped them so I feel like it is doing some good!

The weather has been very nice for winter. Here in Illinois it has been very warm and I have not ran my snow plow once. It's hard to believe because now we are in to February and I haven't had to turn on my big house furnace.  Wow!

So how does a warm winter effect honey bees? It's not good. But before I explain this in more detail, let me share some other cool stuff.

Are you losing your colonies every winter to mites? Varroa destructor is the leading cause of why bees die in the winter. They carry various viruses that can spread quickly through a hive during winter months. Watch my recent video on how you can use Green Drone Comb to help control mites. We teach this in greater detail in our beginner classes.
Over the years we have worked hard to educate and encourage more and more people to become beekeepers. I spend a great deal of time speaking at various groups like 4-H, FFA, home schools groups, Lions and Rotary clubs, Park Districts, bee clubs and school groups. Any opportunity I get to encourage the younger generations to keep bees is exciting to me. Anyway, as a result I see more and more people becoming interested in beekeeping.

Now, almost anywhere you go you see something about beekeeping. It wasn't always that way. In fact, in the early 90s I'd say beekeeping was practically on its way out.  But now, it is "cool" to keep bees.

For those of you who are currently keeping bees you too play a huge role in helping others get into beekeeping.  You can introduce a neighbor or a friend into beekeeping. Maybe you can encourage a grandchild or relative to start keeping bees. It's only February so there is plenty of time to help more and more people jump in and enjoy keeping bees. We have a website dedicated to "How To Start Beekeeping."

Those square, white boxes gracing the countryside is a beautiful sight and has been featured in many picturesque photos and paintings. It's a peaceful scene depicting the balance of nature. Bees are pollinating flowers and plants ensuring that we will have our next meal.

Those white bee hives were once much more common than they are now, although they are making a come back. Years ago I remember seeing those white bee hives and wondering how in the world I could ever keep bees. Maybe you've wondered that too.

Now it is practically a prestigious thing to own hives. A common mistake many beekeepers make is that they never have enough empty hives to catch their own swarms or the swarm calls that will come their way in just a couple of months. All beekeepers need to have a few empty hives on hand to help rescue swarms. The faster we can rescue swarms the better image honey bees and beekeepers have among the non-beekeepers of our communities.

One of our most popular kits is our Freedom Kit. Starting with 2 hives is always better than starting with one. There is an old saying, " One is none and two is one." It means that if you have one and lose it, you have none. But if you have two and lose one, you still have one.

I have an entire article answering the question of how many hives to start with.

Our Freedom Kit is fully assembled with frames and foundation, and it comes with 2 hives and 2 packages of bees. This kit also comes with a hat and veil, hive tool, book, queen excluders, a smoker and smoker fuel. Click here to view our Freedom Kit

I believe this has become a very popular kit because it removes much of the guess work out of beekeeping. What do I buy? How many? If I buy my hives at XYZ place, then where do I find bees to go in to my new hives? The Freedom Kit solves these problems.

Classes are very popular today. Not just beekeeping classes, but classes on just about any subject. My wife recently flew out to San Francisco to take a class on becoming a Chocolatier. Taking classes is enjoyable because as we get older we realize we need to keep expanding our horizons. We need to keep our minds sharp and it's enjoyable learning something new.

I cannot imagine starting beekeeping without taking a class. Be sure and visit www.honeybeesonline.com for our class schedule. We put so much effort into our classes and we'd love to meet you. Our classes are filling up so fast this year. Every spring people are disappointed that all classes are full. So sign up and take a class before the spring rush.  Review all of our upcoming classes.

Our next Basic Beekeeping Class still has a couple of spots available. It's on a Friday from 8am - 1pm. Take off work on Friday and come join us! Click here for more details. 

We have 3 spots available in our spill over, new class on how to manage your hive in the springs. People are always wondering about making splits and how to prevent swarms. This class is on March 26th (Saturday) 9am-1pm. Click here for more details.

Now, is this warm weather good or bad for honey bees? Normally we would think it would be good for bees because they are flying. There are some good benefits to a few warm days each month in the winter. Bees are able to break cluster, move closer to stored food in their hive and take a potty break. However, a prolonged warm spell means that bees are moving around much more, laying more eggs, raising more brood and consuming food at a faster rate. A prolonged warm spell could cause the bees to starve because even though it is warmer and they are flying, there is nothing to go and gather. The more they fly and move around the greater the food requirement is. Most of us would love to see the temperature stay in the 30s all winter. This is the optimal temperature for bees to coast through winter.

One way to calm your concerns during these unusual warm spells is to make sure your bees have plenty of food for the next two months. Most colonies starve in February and March.  Keep a fresh Winter-Bee-Kind on top of your clustered colony all winter long to ensure they have the protein and carbohydrates they need. Colonies are consuming an unusual amount of food this winter because our customers are ordering more Winter-Bee-Kinds and bringing an unusual amount back to be refilled. Stay alert and meet the nutritional needs of your hives.

Finally, we provide many entertaining ways for you to stay current on beekeeping trends.

Like our Facebook page.
Watch our Videos.
Read our Beekeeping Lessons.
Listen to our Beekeeping Podcasts.

Stop in and see us soon.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Monday 9am- 6pm
Tues - Thur 9am-4pm

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