Honey In Southeast
by Steve Coy
Once again, it’s difficult, and I know it’s difficult to get Russian started before the Winter Solstice. Which is, and there’s like a four  day range. But other stocks, I don’t know how that works. Sucrose is much better for the bees. It’s not as good for the beekeeper. If you buy Liquid Sucrose and you have to probably buy that at a half a tanker and a load at a time. It has a short shelf life. I think it’s like ten  days, so you need to buy it, and use it up pretty quick. You can extend the shelf life by adding your essential oils, and it be Healthy, Pro Health, those kinds of things. I think it’s mostly the Spearmint that inhibits bacteria growth and fermentation. Dry Sucrose, I’ve never used that. And I think they call it Divert Sugar. You don’t have problems robbing, it feeds the bees well. I’m not sure how well the stimulants foraging. But I know Sugar Water; thirty three percent [33%] Sugar Water will stimulate brood rearing. If you bump it up to fifty percent [50%], so that’s a one to one [1 to 1] ratio. It will stimulate brood rearing, they’ll grow. You’re not gonna put weight on the bees. But when you’re feeding bees in the Spring, you don’t want to put weight on them. You want to make bees.
So, how to feed the bees? You need to mix, if you buy Dry Sugar, you need to mix it up, and use it within five  days. Add the essential oils that will help keep it a little bit longer. You really need to store it in a tall dark tank, so you have a small amount of surface area, cause that’s where the fungi and the bacteria, and all the yucky stuff grows. And if you’re gonna leave it for longer than you think, then you can spritz a little Clorox bleach water. Spritz, put this thin layer of bleach water on top, and that will help inhibit the growth of the bacteria. So whatever method you choose, whatever works for you, it’s that’s what you do, that’s what you use. So this is my tank, it’s a five hundred  gallon tank. But I have a five  horsepower trash pump, a two  inch trash pump, and that’s what I use to mix it up with. So, this is the suction, so this is, I just have an elbow going into the bottom of the tank. And this sucks into the trash pump. It circulates it out, and comes in this PVC pipe, and it has. I think it’s one eighth [1/8th] inch holes drilled along it. It goes one row on this side, and one row on this side. So that the, it shoots the water out to the sides. Going on the sides, and it just rolls. It circulates like this, and you can use it, well water, just regular water on the County Water System. You can put water in there, put your sugar in there, and turn that pump on. Well, you turn the pump, put the water in there, turn the pump on, get it going. And you dump your sugar in, and it mixes up just slick as a whistle. It’s works really good.
And once again, feed it when these natural pollens coming in. Maples, Maples are a really big plant. It’s start around January the tenth [10th] in my area. Now you see the little red in the Maple trees. What’s going on with the Maple trees right there? That’s leaves from the seed pods, it is past bloom. When you see this, you’re too late, it’s over with. It makes a little whirly bird, so you need to they’re bringing in pollen weeks, a couple of weeks before, at least a week before that ten  days. So it’s a real little bitty red looking, it’s a red flower, it’s kind of a maroon color. That and it has yellow pollen, but you’ve got to get out there and look at it to see it.
Cause when you drive down the highway, and you see this, it’s you’ve missed it. But if you’re feeding Sugar Water, and they’re bringing in natural pollen, they are going to grow bees.
So early Spring feeding can be tricky. If you’re putting pollen patties on you’re gonna be growing small hive beetles. And you don’t want small hive beetles in June in Mississippi, cause you’ll have lots of them. And if you start growing them in January, you’re gonna have a lot in June.
You feed once natural pollen is available in my area. That starts about January the tenth [10th].
Buckets or jars work well; they work better than the other feeders, as far as getting the hives to grow. As far as overall for the hive, they work better. But they’re labor intensive.
Community Feeders are the easiest. They’re fast and easy. The hives, the problem with that is the hives that need it the most probably get it the least.
And they spring diseases that way.
Inside Feeders reduce robbing. So here we have a three hundred  gallon tank with a gear. It’s got a one inch gear pump and a five  horse motor on the other side. And that’s how we feed inside the hives. So these, we have gone through the weak hives, they’re getting fed inside, and we’ll put this. We bought these tubs at Lowe’s, it’s like a forty  galloon tub, and we drilled. I don’t have a good picture, but we drilled some holes in the side, and we put some pine straw or pine bark. And you put something in there so the bees don’t drown. And you fill it with about thirty  gallons of syrup, and just sit it out here right out of the way from the bees. And that’s a Community Feed, and that’s more closely to going and collecting nectar. And the weak ones get some feed that they need, plus they get some extra.
So you feed, as needed, to stimulate brood. There is no cut and dry answer if I feed this much on this date. You’ve got to look at your hive, you’ve got to be able to estimate how many, how much brood they’re producing? How much more you need to feed? Look at the Nectar Pollen Flow. Sometimes you get Nectar Flows, you might want to cut back on the feed. Cause you don’t want to feed too much, cause there’s some problems you can have with Feeding, as you see. If you feed too much, you can get them honey bound. So they’re bringing all that in, and packing all that in, and there’s no room for the queen to lay. And so she’s not gonna grow. You feed them too much, the population might grow too fast, and they might swarm on you. That’s kind of what you’re after, but want to be able to control that. If you feed them, this is, and when I was like typing this, I was, this is kind of crazy. But this is what happens, if you feed them too much, too early, you can get mold in the hive. Now this will work good for controlling weeds. It’s kind of a dark moldy mildew thing right here in front of the hives. So I did a really good thing. I these are eight , most all of them, all of the operation is ten  frame hives, except these bees I’m gonna use for my Breeding. For my Cell Builders, so I will make eight  frame hives. Eight  frame boxes, and I painted them yellow so that nobody would confuse them with the white ten  frame boxes. And I bought these black buckets, so I would inhibit the growth in the feed. Well, they sit here in the sun, and in Winter and they get warm, and they build up pressure. And the syrup just drips, drips, drips, drips. And there’s a good decent size population of bees in there, so there’s a lot of condensation up there. And I had to route some of the bees. They got, I had so much sugar running out, it was running out of the front of the hives. And around, and it killed the grass. So you’ve got to pay attention to what you’re doing. You have to be a beekeeper not a bee-haver. And so I had some bees with buckets on them, that’s what I had. And then, besides that, you just waste money, if you’re feeding like this. You’re just wasting money. But you’ve also got to be sure that you don’t feed them enough that they grow population, and you stop feeding, and then they need more sugar, and then they starve to death. That’s very counter productive also.
Okay, so we feed so that we get a big population of bees, and then they might swarm. And remember, if there’s no bees in the box, there’s not gonna be any honey in the barrel. So Swarming, it’s the natural process that bees reproduce. And you can’t always beat, you can’t beat Mother Nature. And sometimes you just, you can’t outdo her. To maximize Honey Production, you’re gonna need somewhere between sixty and eighty thousand [60,000 and 80,000] workers, and twenty to thirty [20,000 to 30,000] of those are gonna be foragers. They’re in the big nectar flow. A hive will usually swarm just before the main nectar flow, when it’s just the wrong time to happen, that’s what’s gonna, yeah, they’re gonna swarm. And so in a swarm usually contains fifty to sixty percent [50% to 60%] of the colony. And so you, at best, you’re gonna get fifty percent [50%] of your honey crop.
So, why does swarming occur? It’s a lack of sufficient amount or lack of the dispersion of the queen pheromone[s]. So this can be Caused by Congestion. You’ve got too many bees for the space that they are in. Or something is going on with the queen. She’s not producing enough pheromone to be spread around for the hive. So it may not be as populated as the next hive, but the queen is not producing enough pheromone, so they make a new queen, and they’re off. Queen cells are started because some of the bees think they don’t have a queen. And then you end up with a swarm. If the bees are crowded with fourteen hundred [1,400] bees on a one nine and an eighth [9 1/8th] frame, that’s that one deep frame has fourteen hundred [1,400] bees in a confined space. They’re gonna swarm, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how much honey they have on them. It doesn’t matter how much brood they have on them. It doesn’t matter how old the queen is. When they get confined like that, they can’t distribute the queen pheromone around enough to everyone, and they’re gonna swarm.
So, if you have sixty thousand [60,000] hives, sixty thousand [60,000] bees, and you had fourteen thousand [1,400] on a frame, you need forty-three  deep frames to provide enough space so that they won’t swarm. So you need lots of room to prevent swarming.
Okay, so Basic Swarm Prevention. You’re gonna avoid congestion of the Brood Nest. You want to keep your young Queen in the colony! You want to put your Supers on time! You want to use two  Brood Chambers! If you don’t use two  Brood Chambers, there’s ways to do it with a single and excluder, but it’s more complicated. Timing is critical. The time you do is what’s critical in that. You can starve the bees, and that will prevent swarming. But that’s kind of, that’s not, well, if you did that, that doesn’t mean starve them to death. But you can starve them so that they don’t have adequate excess stores, which just, you know, just counter intuitive to what you’ve just spent the last four  weeks, six  weeks doing. And you can Equalize Strength in the yard. So if you’ve got some really strong hives, you pull some frames of brood, you put them over in the weaker hives.
So here’s some things that I’ve done for Swarm Control. And I’ll tell you right now, they don’t always work.
So before they have really a significant amount of brood in the bottom box, you can swap them.
If they have a lot of honey in the top of the frames, in the top box, and you swap them, you’re probably not doing yourself much good, because the Queen just doesn’t want to move across that band of honey. So, you’ve got to move a couple of frames up. So, sometimes you’ve got to swap the cone, so you rotate. You can either rotate cone from the outside to the inside. Or you can rotate cones up and down. You can just remove honey from the box, and replace it with the empty combs from your storage facility. You can sell bulk bees. You can shake bees out of it, and sell bulk bees to help control swarming.
You can sell frames of brood. You can pull frames of brood and sell it to the guy who’s buying Queens from Hawaii; you can get them early in the year. Or you can split your hives. When which that’s probably what we’re gonna talk about as a method of controlling swarms.
The problem with all these methods is if you do it too soon, you can delay brood rearing, which then delays the peak population. And you want that to coincide with the Peak Bloom. Or, you might just can add Supers.
So here’s how we make Splits. We go, we have a three  story hive, and we take boxes to the bee yard. And we divide off, we start at the top, and we pull the frame out, and we shake all the bees off of it. And if it’s a brood, we put it in the box. We put two  broods and the honey, and we have empty frames. And we do that all the way down, shaking all the bees off. And when we get to the bottom box, we leave one and a half [1 ½] or two  frames of brood, and the Queen, and all this mass of bees is in there. We put excluder down, and we take all those boxes, and we stack them back up. See, we’ve got three  splits out of this one. And we’ve got four  splits out of those. We’ve only got two  splits out of that one. So, there’s some variability in there. And we go back the next day, and that’s what these guys are back the next day. And we take the top box off. We set it on a pallet; we make a stack of them like that. We stack them on the truck, and we haul them to another location.
So, ten  frame equipment, we work to double beats. The bottom box has nine  frames. The top box has eight  frames, and division board and inside feeder.
So when we get to the new location, and we spread the bees out like this, we this is another one. And then we put Queen cells, and then go back the next day. And we put a Queen cell in that top bar. If it’s relatively warm enough, we put the Queen cell in the top bar. If it’s gonna be cold at night, it’s gonna be in the forties [40’s], then we will pull a frame up and put the cell in the brood. And then we leave them there until May. And then we ship them North. But we are mating Queens and we’re growing the bees. And they’re growing bees in the secondary location.
You need to; it’s kind of like voting in some districts. Super Early and Super Often. Okay, so if you can use Deep Supers or you can use Medium Supers. So that’s the nine and five eighths [9 5/8ths]. You can use the six and five-eighths [6 5/8ths]. The young men like to use Deep Supers. The old men, the guys that are almost getting old like me, like to use the Medium Supers. However the Deeps are more efficient. They’re just more efficient all the way around. But the seven and five eighth’s 9 [5/8ths]. That’s a really good compromise. It’s seven and five eighth’s [7 5/8ths] inches tall. You have to buy the nine and five eighths [9 5/8th] foundation from a [Inaudible]. You have to buy Deep Foundation, cut off the bottom of it. But they’re a really good compromise. And you can run two  of those as a Brood Chamber. I don’t have any of those. I have Deeps and Mediums.
Excluders. Some people like them, some people don’t. I used them this year. And it worked out fine.
Now you need to start Supering by the calendar. Most of what I’m telling you is not by the calendar. But you need to look at the calendar, and when you Super. Because you should know, and this is your calendar, this is not what you look up on the Internet. What you look up on the Internet is gonna be a Guide. But for your area, you need to determine, when does that plant start blooming? Because if it starts blooming on May the tenth [10th], it’s rarely gonna bloom on May the tenth [10th] three  years in a row. It might bloom on May the fifth [5th], it might start on May the eighth [8th]. It might not start till May the fifteenth [15th]. But there’s like a five  day, maybe a five  day window on either side. So you get like ten  days when it’s mostly gonna start. And it’s gonna end at the same time that it ends every year, within that five  day window or so.
For instance, I don’t know how many years I have gone on January, on June the eighth [8th], and put that last box on the hive. Because the top box is half [1/2] full, maybe three quarters [3/4] full, and the bees are flying really hard. I know the honey flow is gonna end about June the fifteenth [15th]. But on June the eighth [8th], it’s hard not to put that box on. It’s like they’re working on it, it’s hard not to put that box on there. And you go back to pull the honey, and you’ve got a top box that’s empty. And you’ve got a second [2nd] box that’s half [1/2] full. You know, but if, I think I’ll get this in a minute.
So, where do you put the Supers? You put them on the top? You put them below the box? Or whatever, as long as you get them above the Brood Nest, that’s the important thing. Whether you want to pull two  boxes of honey off, and put it down. And put the one  on top, what research they’ve done, there is no difference in the Honey Production. Okay, so you need to know the potential of your location. And the potential of your bees. If you under Super, if you don’t put enough Supers on, you’re gonna get less honey, cause they’re not gonna put it. I mean, I have seen them build cone up underneath the pallet. But that’s really hard to get that into the extracting equipment. It doesn’t work. So, if you don’t put enough Supers on, you’re not gonna make as much honey. And the bees are gonna the honey in the Brood Chamber, and you’re gonna reduce the number of bees that. She’s not gonna lay as much, so you’re gonna reduce. If you have an Extended Bloom, if this is in the Spring, if you don’t put enough honey and Supers on in the Spring. And you crowd her out, there’s not gonna be the population there to make the honey in the Summer.
If you over Super, it takes more time, and more energy to handle the half [1/2] empty box than it does a full box, when you get into the Extractor Room. That’s costing you money. So you’ve got to run this balance between put on enough Supers, so they fill them out. A good friend of mine says, He likes to see them matted together. So when he opens that top box, he wants to see brace cone in between there. If you have the lids with a space on them, you need to see bird cone up in there. That’s when you pull the honey, that’s not what you want to see in the middle of your honey flow.
A six and five eighths [6 5/8th] box, a Medium Box is gonna hold somewhere between twenty-five and thirty [25 and 30] pounds of honey. A Deep is gonna hold somewhere between forty and sixty [40 and 60] pounds of honey. You need to know how fast can they fill up that box? They’ll fill up a Deep, a Deep, let’s see. Three  Mediums, and two  Deeps are the same height wise. So a Deep is like one and a half [1 ½] Mediums. But they’ll fill up a Deep; they’ll put more honey in a Deep than they will in a Medium, in the same amount of time. Because they don’t have to cross the top bar, that’s just. I don’t know why, but they will. So, you need to know how many boxes do I need to put on? How soon will it be before I get back there? Do I need to put two  boxes on? Do I need to put four  boxes on? Do I need to put one ? Because if they’re gonna fill it up, before you can get back, then you need to put an extra box on there.
So, here’s the way I try to describe it. You can’t look at the bee hive, and say, oh, well, okay, they have three  boxes on them. So, I’m gonna put two  boxes on there. It depends on what time of the year, you know, cause this is not. This is a, they started making this honey in March, and this is in June. So they’ve made this honey for a long time. So we normally put two  boxes on at a time, until we get up. This is not a good one, cause this high body, I’m chasing a rabbit for a second. That’s a dead hive, there’s a dead hive there. There’s a dead hive around on that side. = There’s a dead hive over here on this other side. There was thirty-two  hives in this yard, and eight  of them died. So this is, and they were doubles. So this is a hive that died, it had some honey in it when I stacked it up there. So this hive did not make all that honey. And that’s gonna effect your overall Honey Production. I’m trying to do the math, and I couldn’t make it work out. But I know that, if you have thirty-two  hives, and they all stay alive, they’re gonna make more honey than when eight  of them die, and you have some honey in this one, and you stack it all up there. I mean, it looks really impressive, but that box is not full of honey.
And the honey that’s in it was not all made by that hive.
So when you’re putting Supers on, we put these two  Supers on at a time. We put these two  Supers on at a time. And then we just put one , and we put one . Cause we’re getting close to the end of the Season.
If you have a Spring and a Fall crop, you need to pull that Spring crop. Extract your honey; put those wet Supers back on there. I don’t buy into the whole Nosema problem. We check bees for Nosema and we got counts. We went back a month or two later, and checked the exact same hive. And then the Nosema went down. There’s research that shows that when you treat for Nosema, you end up with more Nosema than you started with. Except in Nick’s experiment, when you don’t do anything, you have less Nosema than you started with. So the research says, we don’t understand.
Okay, so you need to, if all you make is a Spring crop, you need to get that off early. Don’t leave it on there, cause the bees are just gonna eat it. And if you’ve got small hive beetles, you run the risk of them taking care of it for you.
Pull your Spring crop, check for mites, and treat, if necessary. Add your Supers for the Summer crop. Pull your Summer crop just as soon as it’s over. Check for mites, and you don’t have to check for them, just treat, you’ve got them. And then we’re trying to make as much honey as possible, so we Double Crop. And we make honey here, make honey in Mississippi. Take the bees to Arkansas, make honey there. So you need to start pulling your honey there, before the Flow ends. Because you can’t pull all your honey in one  day, and so you need to, cause it doesn’t matter when you start. What matters is when you end. And you need to finish pulling your honey, as soon as close to the end of the Honey Flow as you can. And move those bees to the next Honey Flow, so that you don’t. I don’t know how to describe it. I don’t know what the scientific way to describe it is. But it’s a morale problem, or something. But if you pull all your honey, and your bees sit for week, and then you move them North to another crop. And they have to sit for a week, before anything is blooming or whatever. They just don’t do as well, as if you pull the honey, put them on a truck and take them up there. They’ll make more honey do it that way.
Pulling Honey For Second [2nd] Crop
Okay, so, in Mississippi, in Wiggins, our Nectar Flow ends by June the fifteenth [15th]. We know it’s gonna take fourteen  days to get the honey pulled. It takes fourteen  days to get the bees moved. The Nectar Flow, the bees need to be in Arkansas by July the fourth [4th]. If they’re not there by July the tenth [10th], they will not make as much honey. There’s, you can see a difference in the amount of honey they’re making. So, if it takes two  weeks to pull it, and two  weeks to get moved, then it’s gonna be a month. The last hive is gonna be a month from the beginning of the process.
So what we did, we had two  crews. Day one , both crews went and pulled the honey. Day two , both crews went and pulled the honey. On day three , which I don’t have it in here, but we loaded an eighteen wheeler load of honey, and sent it to the Extractor Facility. In addition to loading the eighteen wheeler, both crews go and pull honey. Crew One  goes and moves bees. Day four , both crews pull honey. Crew Two  moves bees. Now when do you have to move bees? At night, that’s right. Day Five , Crew One  is moving, now day five , Crew one  is loading the truck. And then Day Six , Crew Two  is moving bees. And we send out one  truck load a week. But we’re, that’s what we didn’t. We used to pull the honey, and then move the bees. And that’s just turned into a nightmare. And Double Crops. For instance, the best I can tell these are the exact same. This pallet of bees is somewhere in this yard. So these are Splits that I made this year. The last Splits I made were on April the third [3rd]. So kind of as a general rule, we go by the calendar. We make our Splits, we finish before Easter. Easter is never the same date. Easter rotates, and it has something, you know, it’s with the seasons. And the seasons rotate accordingly. There’s a Shift in Spring that osculates, or whatever. So, if we can finish by Easter, then we have time to make a crop.
So these Splits, I don’t know when these were made, but they weren’t made any later than April the third [3rd], with a Queen cell. This is a Single with an Excluder. I can’t tell you why they ended up this way. But they did. So they made three  Supers of honey. Look here’s a dead hive. But this one  had four  Supers of honey on it. It may have come from one  of those hives. But they made at least three  Supers of honey. We pulled the honey off of them; we moved them up to Northern Mississippi. And I made stories and a half out of them. I put a six and five eighths [6 5/8th] down below them. And then they still made another three  Supers or four  Supers.
You don’t have to wear a suit; you can, in the mornings you can strap them down. Now we have this net that we put over the top, and we bungie cord it down. And we don’t even, if we’re going close, thirty  miles or so, we don’t even put straps over them. Sometimes I’ll throw a strap over the very back row, just cause I’m OCD about them bouncing off the back. But they don’t bounce off the back. But that net is to keep the lids on, that’s what the net is for. And it helps hold the hives on there too. But moving bees is a nighttime thing. Where is the truck? Here’s the forklift, there’s a pallet of bees. There’s the next pallet of bees. That’s the parking lot for the truck.
Summers Are Always Hot And Humid in South Mississippi My Dad’s Operation, my operation is not quite that big. I’m in the hundred , I have hundreds of hives arranged, not thousands [1,000’s] of hives. And I don’t want ten thousand [10,000] hives. But when you load the truck, whether it’s an eighteen wheeler, or a ton truck, you start in the evening, before sunset. It’s really good if you can finish loading the truck, before it gets dark enough to turn the lights on. But there’s bees flying everywhere. And in the Summer, you put this, we pull the honey, and put this third [3rd] box, Honey Super on top to give the bees room to go ventilation.
Hives Versus Honey
Alright, so, Splits. How many Splits? Do I need to Split every hive? One of the questions, I don’t know if it was a slide at one  time. How many hives do you want? Let’s assume that you’re being, you want a thousand [1,000] hives. So, on February the first [1st], how many hives are you gonna have? You might if, you might have six hundred  hives. Alright, not all those hives are gonna split. I’m saying fifteen percent [15%] of them are not gonna split. So that’s ninety  hives that aren’t gonna be strong enough to split.
So once you do your Splitting, if you Split every hive in half [1/2]. And once you do your Splitting, you’re gonna kill it. If you split them the way I do, and if you’re looking for the Queens, you’re gonna kill some of the hives. Let’s say you killed ten percent [10%] of the Queens. I mean, killed some of the Queens. So you’ve killed, you Split five hundred , here I’ve got it broken down here. So, you started with six hundred  hives, you’ve got ninety  that won’t split. So that leaves five hundred and ten  hives. So you Split those, so you’ve got five hundred and ten  old hives. Five hundred and ten  new hives. You killed ten percent [10%] of your old Queens, so you lost fifty one  hives. You’ve got a ninety percent [90%] success on mating. So you lost fifty one  of your Splits. You had seventy six  that didn’t Split, because some of those died. So when it’s all said and done, you ended up with five hundred and thirty five  old hives, old Queens, or old hives. And you had four hundred and fifty nine  new Splits. So you ended up with nine hundred and ninety four  hives.
Alright. Splits. Your Splits are not likely to make as much honey as your old hives. So kind of a general rule, when I was a kid in Arkansas, my Dad would say. The Split is gonna make about fifty percent [50%] of what the hive would make, if we didn’t split it. And the old hive, depending on how strong it is, when you Split it, it might make seventy-five percent [75%] of what it would make, if you didn’t Split it. Of course, if you don’t Split it, you run the risk of it swarming. Alright. So, if you Split every hive in half [1/2], half [1/2] your bees, and this is a general statement here. Half [1/2] of your bees are not gonna make as much as the other half [1/2].
So what if you Split a third [3rd] of your hives, and you Split them into thirds [3rds]? And this is not gonna work for everyone. So, you start with, you want a thousand [1,000] hives on February the first [1st]. You only have six hundred . You know, the National Average is forty percent [40%] die throughout the year. So you’re working with the same numbers. You’ve got ninety  hives that won’t Split. But you’re only splitting, you’re only gonna Split three hundred  hives, and you’re gonna split, you’re gonna three  new Splits out of them. So you’re gonna get six hundred  Splits. You’re only gonna lose thirty  Queens. I left out the ten percent [10%] loss there, didn’t I? So you’ve got two hundred and ten  hives that you didn’t Split. Hey, you might make a Nuc out of them. You might even those up. You might have to do something to those. But you didn’t Split them in half [1/2], so you’re gonna end up with a thousand and twenty [1,020] hives.
And you’ve got two hundred  them that are gonna make more honey.
So, you’ve got two hundred and ten  hives that you didn’t Split. So they’re gonna make more honey than the other one. So, you end up with more hives, and you’re gonna end up with more honey. So, here’s the way my Dad’s Operation does it. It’s a ten thousand [10,000] hive operation. About three thousand [3,000] are dead sometimes through the Winter. Fifteen hundred [1,500] of them are not strong enough to go to Almonds, so they stay in Arkansas. Three thousand [3,000] of them are send to Almonds. When they get done with Almonds, they go back to South Mississippi and they make a honey crop. But two thousand [2,000] of them are sent to South Mississippi to make the Splits. So if you, and some of them die off, so you’ve got about nineteen hundred [1,900] that you Split. Well, we’ve been averaging three and a half [3 ½] new hives, plus the old hive, cause we shake the Queen down below the Excluder.
So, and we make those Splits, put the Queen cells in them, and by May the twenty-fifth [25th], we move them back up to Arkansas or North Mississippi to make a honey crop. You’re putting the Supers on by June fifteenth [15th]. You start blowing honey by June the first [1st]. So, we’ve got a ten thousand [10,000] hive operation. We send three to Almonds, three thousand [3,000] of them are dead. You send two thousand [2,000] of the Split. Those two thousand [2,000] turn into six thousand [6,000] new hives. And you end up with about ten thousand [10,000] hives.
So, we don’t have a Re-Queening Process. Our Re-Queen Process is just attrition from die off, and we make new Queens. So, we’re making fifty percent [50%} or more of our Operation every new is new Queens.
Non-Migratory Double Crop Operation
So, if you don’t want to be a Migratory guy, but you do want a Double Crop, here’s a way you can do it. So, same thousand [1,000] hive operation. Three hundred  are dead. You’ve got about two hundred  that don’t, that are weak, they’re not gonna Split. So you move those to locations that are easy to get to. Had a good Spring build up, something you can take care of, and babysit them through the Winter and Spring.
So, you take five hundred  hives, you’ve got five hundred  hives that are left. You Split those as early as possible. Sometime around March the tenth [10th] in our area. You make the Splits with two to three [2 to 3] frames of brood. You leave the “old” hive with five or six [5 or 6] frames of brood. So, you’re not knocking the “old” hive down so much that you can’t build the population up fast. So she’ll make some of the late Spring crop. And she’ll make a good Summer crop.
The Splits, you can move those to late Summer locations. So in my area, I move them on Popcorn trees, so stuff that doesn’t start blooming until the middle of May. Or you can pick those up and move them to your secondary location up further North. And you leave your “old” hives; I think I got ahead of this. You leave your “old” hives on the Spring locations. You pull the Spring honey, and you move those. And then you start Double Cropping those. You move those to your second [2nd] crop. So, it’s something like this. In January to February, you’re feeding up your bees. March the fifteenth [15th], you’re making your Split. By the twenty-second [22nd] of May, you’ve pulled the hone and moved the hives that you didn’t Split to the second [2nd] crop. On June the fifteenth [15th] you’ve pulled the honey from the hive you did Split, and you can either leave them there, depending on your area. Or you can, you might can move them to a secondary crop. And then sometime around August the twentieth [20th], you can pull the honey. And then in October you can move the bees back down to your Southern locations. Now, I’m talking about going North to South. But you can do this, certain areas you can do this from the bottom of the mountain, from the valley to the top of the mountain. And I don’t know how much that, I know like with Sour Wood, that can do, you can move your bees from lower places up to the Sour Wood locations in that area.
Late Means Short
If you’re late starting to feed your bees, you’re gonna be late Splitting your bees. And you’ve got to figure it’s gonna take sixty  days to build the population from six  pounds to sixty thousand [60,000] hives, or sixty thousand [60,000] bees. But it’s gonna take about thirty  days for that hive just to increase its population, turn over a one set of Brood Population, so you can Split it.
So you need to start feeding on time. The later the Splits, the less honey you’re gonna make.
It takes six  weeks to get to peak population. And that’s if the weather cooperates. A late start of bloom is gonna mean a short season. Because if Spring starts ten  days late, Summer is still gonna start on time. It’s not gonna, Summer is not gonna start ten  days late. Cause if it did, we would eventually be having Summertime on December twenty-fifth [25th]. So there’s a correction back there sometime. You know, if you get a late – if Spring starts ten  days early, you’re probably gonna get a little extra bloom time.
So sometimes there’s problems. This was not our bees, thank goodness. Not our bees. That was us trying to make Splits. Sometimes there’s problems you create for yourself. So this is the tire that belongs on that axle right there. And he just went out there in the woods and picked it up. It was way up there in the woods. So, Preventive Maintenance pays. I don’t know why they were across that culvert, but it was not a good idea. Well, I need to get to the other side, but it was not – it was not a good idea. We had to unload that by hand, it was not fun.
There’s some problems you just never can explain, so, this is really a pretty sad Brood Pattern. And the best we could figure out is these bees were suffering from some strain of European Fowl Brood. And they’re Russian bees, and they’re really hygienic. And their resistant to American Fowl Brood. They’re not resistant to European Fowl Brood. But I think what is happening, I’m not sure. I think they’re really Hygienic bees, and when the warbler gets sick. Those nurse bees goes in there and cleans it up. And then she goes and feeds another healthy one, and she infects the other one. So because they were so hygienic, they were spreading the disease instead of cleaning it up. But the next year we didn’t have a problem.
Some problems you just have to learn to live with. These are small hive beetle larva. Small hive beetle larva, and there’s like hundreds of those beetles down there on the bottom board. So when a hive dies, you can’t just leave it sitting on the bottom board, or it’s gonna get all slimy and nasty. You’ve just got to do a better job of keeping stuff neat and clean around your bee shop, you’re Honey House to control the beetles.
Some problems are pesticides, these bees before they could emerge, they were dead. This is from a fungicide application in Almonds. And this was two  weeks after, as we were getting ready to Split these bees and weak them, and that’s what they look like. So needless to say, those didn’t get Split. We don’t normally Split bees from California. But that year we had one  truckload we needed to Split. And we weren’t able to do that.
Some pesticide problems are really people problems. So, they killed like fifty two  hives. He flew right over the top of them, and sprayed them with a combination of Insect Growth Regulator and an Insecticide on sweet beans. And he just didn’t care.
What Is The Real Secret To Honey Production?
So what is the real secret to Honey Production? You need to be a good beekeeper. You need good bees. You need good locations. And you need good weather. And which is something I didn’t touch on. But that’s completely out of my control.
Things To Remember
Start in the Fall to make next year’s Honey Crop. Feed your bees to stimulate the Brood Rearing. Treat for mites, you need to treat effectively and when necessary. Split early, six  weeks before bloom. Don’t Split all of your bees, save some to make honey. Control Swarming. Super when it’s necessary. Double Crop your hives. That’s how you make a lot of honey in South East United States.