Lesson 120: How Much Honey To Leave On The Hive? www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

family13Welcome to the most popular and longest running, free online beekeeping lessons! We are David and Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. As an EAS certified master beekeeper David has worked hard to learn everything he can about beekeeping, and he’s still learning, experimenting and doing research constantly. David is the eternal optimist and he is always running into the house or office with some breaking discovery he’s made, for sure it will revolutionize the beekeeping industry. I like that about David.

Thanks Sheri. It is fun to experiment with various aspects of beekeeping. We need some important discoveries made by citizen scientist. Rev. Langstroth made our most significant discover (bee space and the removable) and we are still using his hive 161 years later! If we can just find the silver bullet to knock out varroa mites, I believe the honey bee would return to pre-mite health and populations.

This year looks like a great year for honey production. The winter was mild allowing more bees to survive and with drier conditions the bees are flying more often to gather nectar. In today’s lesson I want to answer the question how much honey to leave on the hive. Before we get into today’s lesson, a few thoughts from our honey bee farm.

My wife, Sheri and I are passionate about beekeeping. We love everything about it. We even produce a beekeeping podcast on iTunes called Studio Bee Live. You can listen to our podcast either from our website: www.honeybeesonline.com/studiobeelive.html or by going to iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/studio-bee-live/id400801201

In our newest podcast, Sheri runs into trouble on the road, but an Ax man helps her out.

Long Lane Honey Bee Farms is unique in that we are beekeepers too. Let me list some of the things we do: Teach queen rearing courses, beginners, advance and natural beekeeping classes, raise and sell queens, sell packages and nucs, manufacture and sell woodenware beekeeping equipment, speak on beekeeping in surrounding states, write articles for beekeeping journals, experiment with our own hives to help improve beekeeping techniques and much more. We appreciate your business as we make our living from these things I’ve just listed.

DavidSheriNewSheri and I have spent years improving our beekeeping courses. Our courses consists of hands on, in the bee yard experience, power point lectures and an accumulation of years of beekeeping experience, wisdom and knowledge. But to top it off, we’re just down to earth, fun, nice and good people. You’ve gotta love us!

Our two day queen rearing course has been filled to capacity. Sheri has informed me to take it off line due to registration reaching our maximum. I asked if we could squeeze two more in, but she said we are overbooked now.  Those of you who are registered, please bring with you a flashlight or headlamp and a magnifying glass or high-powered reading glasses. This is a HANDS ON class, and providing the weather is good, we will be in the bee yard for a large portion of the class—therefore bring your protective gear as well. Please bring a filled water bottle with you as well. Lunch is provided, but if you have special dietary needs, we suggest bringing your own bag lunch/snacks with you. Other drinks will be provided. We are sorry, but due to the limitation of space, we cannot host family members not signed up for the class and a reminder that there are no refunds or credits on for cancellations (including for weather). Registered students will learn the anatomy of the queen and drone, how to make your own wax cell cups, various methods to increase your drone populations, banking queens, introducing virgin queens, selecting the best stock, grafting, starter nuc and finishing hives, cloake boards and much more.

Even though our queen rearing course is full, we still have openings for our Advance Beekeeping Course on July 14th. We do touch on queen rearing in this class in addition to many other advance topics in beekeeping.

Jon-Smoke_thumbThis year’s Advance course will be very unique because I have asked my good friend and bee expert Jon Zawislak to join us and teach on several subjects including bee genetics.

Jon-in-hive_thumbJon is the Arkansas bee expert and is also teaching the short course this year at the Eastern Apicultural Society in Vermont. He’s employed by the University of Arkansas Department of Agricultural, Research and Extension. Jon did specific research to see if various plants (such as sumac) added as smoker fuel reduced varroa mites. Jon will join us for this Advance Beekeeping Course on July 14th. I’ve asked him specifically to explain bee genetics. Registration is filling up fast, so click here to sign up now.

Finally, we are selling queens online to be shipped out June 20th! And we have a complete Queen’s Corner on our website. Stop by and check it out to find out more information on queens and to order your queen now. Or go to: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/queen.html

Lesson 120: How Much Honey To Leave On The Hive?

JesseExtracting8I am constantly telling new beekeepers that winter preparation starts in the spring. Do not wait until October to try and prepare a struggling hive for winter. It’s usually too late. It’s too late to deal with varroa in October. Varroa mites must be dealt with all season minimizing the mite load going into winter.

JesseExtracting2In the north we have long winters. I grew up in Memphis so I realize that our southern states only have about 12 hours of winter (ha ha). Here in central Illinois we usually have a solid three months of winter.  Depending on how hard your winters are, you’ll need to adjust what I’m about to say. Typically in the north a hive needs 60-80 pounds of honey in the hive to survive the winter. However, as I teach in my advance class, a colony also needs pollen in the hive during the winter as well. A pollen patty can go along way in providing essential winter nutrition for the hive.

Many beekeepers keep bees for one reason, honey. Therefore, most of us have been guilty of removing too much honey from the hive, leaving the colony to perish from starvation during the winter.

Another common mistake is to think that a surplus of honey stored in supers guarantees there is plenty of stored honey in the brood nest area. This is not always the case. A colony can use two brood boxes to raise brood during the summer and store their winter surplus in the upper supers. Then, as late summer and fall approaches, the colony will move the honey from the supers down into the upper deep.

If a beekeeper removes all supers filled with honey without inspecting the brood nest area for stored honey, the hive could go into winter with very little stored honey.

JesseExtracting6If your goal is for your hive to overwinter with plenty of stored honey, inspect the hive before removing any honey. Make sure there are at least 8-10 deep frames full of honey in the brood nest area, below the extra supers. The idea arrangement is to have most of the brood area in the lowest deep, and mostly stored honey in the upper deep in late fall. Place one half pollen patty between the two deeps and the other half on the top of the upper deep.

So if you inspect your hive in late July or August wishing to remove your honey supers, but find there is very little stored honey in the two deep hive bodies, it is best to leave the honey supers on and see if the bees will move the stored honey lower into the hive, preferably into the upper deep hive body. This is often the case. However, impatient beekeepers are quick to remove the supers without inspecting the amount of honey in the hive. Or we remove the honey supers and hedge our bets that the fall flow will be enough to get the bees through the winter.

A technique that has become very successful for us is the use of candy boards. For the last two years we have made and sold candy boards and our customers swear by these. We do to! Due to the heat, we do not start shipping candy boards until September.  We have found one candy board on a hive can greatly increase the hive’s winter survivability should they run out of food storage. We include pollen powder in the candy mix. With the use of candy boards I am less concerned about leaving excessive amounts of honey in the hive for winter. I’ve over wintered 5 frame nucs on candy boards.

In summary, before removing honey supers determine how much stored honey the hive has in the two deep brood nest area. Do not remove honey supers until you can see 8-10 deep frames in the brood nest area full of honey. And remember to remove honey supers that are fully capped.

TipJarThanks for joining us for another lesson in beekeeping. We have a growing number of students who have learned how to keep bees based on these free lessons. It’s our hope that if you find these lessons of value, you’ll consider making a donation so that we can continue our research, experiments and communicating to you the best practices in keeping bees. Click on the tip jar to make a $30 donation or go to: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/servlet/Detail?no=144

Thank you in advance for your donation.

Please feel free to contact us. Phone is best. 217-427-2678 and visit us online at: www.honeybeesonline.com

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
Website: www.honeybeesonline.com

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