Lesson 143: Accidently Killing Your Queen When Harvesting Honey www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678


Welcome to another beekeeping lesson from EAS certified master beekeeper David Burns.

Hello friends we are David and Sheri Burns owners of Long Lane Honey Bee Farm, a hard working family business striving to earn your trust, providing you with the knowledge of beekeeping we have acquired over the years. Sometimes beekeepers are stingy with what they know. No us! We have posted over 143 FREE lessons here for you to gleam over. We offer over 20 specialized classes a year from our beekeeping education center at our honey bee farm located in central Illinois. We offer an entire hands on week in June here at our Beekeeping Institute. We welcome your business and appreciate your support. Feel free to give us a call M-Thru 10am-4pm central time and Friday 10am-noon. All of our hives are hand made right here in central Illinois.

Freedom NEW BEGINNER ALERT:  Thank you for your interest in beekeeping. Be sure to order your beekeeping equipment between NOW and February. Order your bees between Jan-Feb. Trying to purchase bees after February and you may discover a shortage of packages around the country. Once you buy your hives, they will ship from us within 10-15 business days. When you order your bees in Jan, they will be available for pickup in the spring. Do not delay and wait too long. And, always have your equipment ready before the bees are ready. And if you know someone in need of a beekeeping gift, check out giving them a gift certificate from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms by clicking here or going to: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/servlet/GiftCertificate

It’s better to start with two hives. Click on the image above to find out more information about our Freedom Kit that comes with two hives and supplies. Why are two hives better than one?  Or go to: http://basicbeekeeping.blogspot.com/2007/12/lesson-eighteen-how-many-hives-should.html

All beekeeping equipment purchased as Christmas gift must be placed by December 1st to ensure arrival prior to Christmas.

ADVANCE BEEKEEPER ALERT: Take off queen excluders going into winter. Put on mouse guards and Winter-Bee-Kind boards. Put up a wind block keeping material about 3 feet away from hive so as not to allow moisture build up next to hive.

LESSON 143: Accidently Killing Your Queen When Harvesting Honey

Most beekeepers have harvested the honey from the hive. Supers full of golden honey were removed from the colony and extracted and bottled. It felt good. But then there is always that sinking feeling, wondering if the queen may have been in the super and was killed or carried off without you knowing it. Oh, you weren’t thinking that, not until I just mentioned it. Well, don’t worry too much about it, but it does happen. During the summer if we lose our queen, we do not worry too much because they can raise another one, and she will mate with drones outside the hive and all is well. However, most beekeepers harvest the honey supers in the fall and if the queen is killed or carried off the hive cannot raise a new queen because there are no drones to mate. The hive goes into winter queenless. The hive will perish during the winter or early spring from a lack of brood and population.

Even though most queens lay very little in the winter, they do lay some eggs to keep the hive going and by late winter, queens are laying the first group of spring foragers. So without a queen to overwinter with the colony it will perish. This is an awkward situation for two reasons. First, in is almost impossible to find a queen in the fall if you do kill yours. And the same is true if your colony does survive into early spring, most people cannot produce queens that early.

NS6The best practice to ensure your queen is safe when you rob the honey off is to find her and put her in a queen cage and set her inside the hive while you work. After you finish manipulating your frames and supers you can release her back into the hive.

We hope the queen has not walked up into the supers, but usually we do see a few bees on the supers at the honey house. Could the queen have been pulled? It is a concern. Queen excluders could help, but this can reduce the honey volume placed in the supers. Even then, a queen can be on the bottom of a queen excluder so when it is removed carelessly she can be lost.

WHAT NOW? If you notice in the spring that your hive survived but you are queenless, you can wait until a day above 60 degrees and move a frame of sealed brood over from a strong colony. This is only to buy you time until you can purchase a queen. Keep that in mind in the spring. Just be careful not to move the queen over or the other hive will probably destroy her.

NS8 Speaking of queens, the queen is by far the single most important bee in the hive. She lays 1,000 or more eggs a day. Without a prolific queen the hive will begin to weaken in population and without a strong population the hive will suffer and eventually fail. Does the perfect queen exists? Well, there is no such thing. Some queens are stronger than others, no doubt. You must get in the habit of regularly checking on the strength of your queen. When she shows signs of weakening in egg production, replace her so that you can save the hive. Those of us who raise queens do our very best to provide the best queens. It’s complicated to raise queens. There is grafting, starter nucs, royal jelly, queen cups, finishing hives and more. What’s fascinating is how queens mate. Virgin queens always mate outside the hive mating with upwards of 20 drones. The drone dies after mating. The sperm is stored in the queen’s spermatheca for her entire life, 2-4 years. If she wants to lay an egg to become a male drone she chooses not to fertilize the eggs before she deposits it. Jon Zawislak and I wrote a booklet on queen rearing which is very thorough. In fact, if you want to know more about queens or queen rearing, this will be the topic of our next Hive Talk broadcast this coming Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. central time. Jon and I will be teaching a queen rearing class in the summer here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms.

HiveTalk Join us this Tuesday night, November 12th at 6:30 p.m. Call in to ask your queen questions. The number to call is: 1-724-444-7444. 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. 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 6:20 p.m. central time. The show starts this coming Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. central time. If you want to just listen from your computer, go to: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/129777

If you use a smart phone you can add the Podcast App and have our shows sent to your mobile device every time we produce a new one. Just go to iTunes and search for Hive Talk, scroll down to podcast and you’ll find us there.

Or listen to our past episodes by clicking here or by copying the link below and pasting it into  your internet browser.


One final thought. Be sure and keep protein and carbohydrates on your hive all winter. We recommend our Winter-Bee-Kind. In The summer of 2011 we introduced our Winter-Bee-Kind after several years of studying overwintering hives. We could barely keep up with production they were in such demand. We still make them right here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms but we’ve expanded our production methods to keep up with demand. So many beekeepers told us that these were the only thing that got their hives through the winter. We’ve include many commonly asked questions about our Winter-Bee-Kinds:

Winter-Bee-Kind For Winter Feed For Bees

WHAT IS A WINTER-BEE-KIND? It is a one piece candy board that provides food, ventilation, upper insulation and an upper exit/entrance to help bees remain healthier during the winter. Someone said it insulates, ventilates and feed-i-lates. With the built in upper vent, you don’t have to worry about snow covering up your hive’s lower entrance. The bees can still go in and out through the top vent spacing. We avoid shipping Winter-Bee-Kinds in hot weather and start shipping each September-March. You can place our Winter-Bee-Kinds on your hive anytime, even in the winter. Because it goes on top of the hive in place of the inner cover, and you are NOT removing any frames, it can be placed on the hive in cold weather. Just do it fast. Open the top, remove the inner cover and place the candy side down and the vent slot toward the front of the hive and you’re done. Click here to order your Winter-Bee-Kinds Some form of a candy board has been around for a long time. Beekeepers of long ago placed candy in their hives to provide enough food for their bees to survive the long months of winter. There are various mixtures and receipts for candy boards. Some are made with soft candy and some with hard candy. The end result is still the same. The bees will consume the sugar as they need it. We’ve always been concerned about the amount of condensation that can develop in the hive during the winter. The bees produce heat within their hive and as the temperature is very cold outside the hive, condensation will develop on the warm side, just above the bees on the inner cover or top cover. This condensation can accumulate and drop down onto the winter cluster of bees below. Bees can stay warm in the winter but they must remain dry. If this cold water drips down onto the bees, it can reduce their ability to keep their cluster warm. The insulation on our Winter-Bee-Kind helps reduce the excessive moisture and even puts some of that moisture to work, as it accumulates on the candy and makes it easy for the bees to consume the sugar. Thus, a Winter-Bee-Kind can help lessen two winter stresses, the lack of food and excessive moisture. We make our Winter-Bee-Kinds with sugar and a healthy amount of pollen powder. Many beekeepers make the mistake of only feeding their bees sugar in the winter, but the bees also need protein which they obtain from pollen. Our Winter-Bee-Kinds come with pollen mixed in with the sugar.. Click here to order your Winter-Bee-Kind today. We recommend that you place candy boards on your hive any time between Oct-March.

Commonly Asked Questions

Q: Which way does the candy face in the hive?

A: The candy faces down just above the winter cluster. Normally, this means that the Winter-Bee-Kind would be placed on the brood box that contains the cluster. For example, if you overwinter your bees in a single deep hive body, the Winter-Bee-Kind would be placed on this deep hive body with the candy facing down toward the cluster. If you are using two deep hive bodies to overwinter, then the Winter-Bee-Kind would be placed on the top deep hive body. It is best to disregard the use of an inner cover, and simply place your top cover over the Winter-Bee-Kind.

Q: What about winter moisture?

A: Moisture can develop in the winter from condensation, a contrast of the heat the bees produce in the hive and the extreme cold temperature outside the hive. Condensation accumulates on the warm side, which means moistures collects on the inner cover or top cover above the hive. This can drip down on the bees and chill them during the winter. A Winter-Bee-Kind takes the place of an inner cover and any moisture that develops from condensation aids the bees in consuming the candy.

Q: How long will a Winter-Bee-Kind last on a hive?

A: On average about 3 weeks. However, a colony that has ample stored honey may not consume the candy board as fast or not at all until they need it. A colony close to starvation may consume a Winter-Bee-Kind within a week or two.

Q: Since Winter-Bee-Kinds are placed or replaced on the hive in the winter, can I open the hive up on a cold day?

A: It is best to place the candy boards on a hive when the temperature is above freezing and try to place the candy board on and have the hive sealed back up within 1-2 minutes. It should not take over 1 minute. Do not remove any frames in cold temperatures, only place your Winter-Bee-Kind on and off quickly. If you can choose the warmest day during the winter, that would be best. Try to avoid very cold, windy or rainy days.

Q: How do I refill a candy board?

A: It is best to send back your candy board and we will refill it for $7 plus shipping. If you are a good candy maker, you can do it yourself.

Q: How do I get one with a pollen?

A: Our Winter-Bee-Kinds contain pollen as well.

Q: Can I make my own?

A: You can, but you must experiment, because you do not want the candy to be too hard or too runny. The exact mix depends on your altitude, heat source and other conditions so it will be different from one location to another.

Q: Why was some liquid sugar dripping out of my Winter-Bee-Kind when I received it?

A: It is the nature of candy boards to be a bit on the dripping side even though the top may be hard. Do not be concerned if you see liquid sugar dripping out of your boards when you receive it. It usually means it was left on end during shipment for a prolong period of time. The bees will clean everything up and enjoy this soft liquid.

Q: How much sugar is in one Winter-Bee-Kind?

A: Approximately 5 pounds

Q: When do I put a Winter-Bee-Kind on my hive?

A: Any time! Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb are good months to place on the boards.

Q How often should I check my Winter-Bee-Kind?

A: Every three weeks, take a peek.

Q: Do you make Winter-Bee-Kind for 5 frame nucs or 8 frame hives?

A: Yes, check out our website to order, but carefully read the description to make sure you are ordering the correct size and type.

Q: Can the candy break loose from the board on the hive?

A: It rarely happens, but during extreme winter weather, the candy and separate from the board while on the hive. This is not a problem. The bees will continue to consume the sugar.

Q: When I place it on the hive, do I use my inner cover. Just how does it go on?

A: Winter-Bee-Kind takes the place of your inner cover. Simply place the Winter-Bee-Kind on the top of your upper hive body or super with the candy facing down, then place your top cover on top of the Winter-Bee-Kind. Be sure to use a rock or brick to make sure the wind does not blow your top cover off. There is overwhelming enthusiasm about our Winter-Bee-Kinds. Click here to order now.

Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. We hope you’ll visit our website at www.honeybeesonline.com, buy some hives and get started in beekeeping! It’s not too late. Now is a great time to dive in. We are ready to be your friend and mentor in beekeeping.

See you next time!

David and Sheri Burns

Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
We are available to take your calls:
M-Thur 10am-4pm CENTRAL TIME
Friday 10am-Noon
Someone from our family looks forward to speaking with you.


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