Andy Card – Honey Northeast and South (Part 2)

Honey Northeast and South

by Andy Card

Part 2

Feeding cont.

Modified datae is an extra large deep super. the guys in the old days had it figured out; it’s a modified datae was designed to hold the entire broom nest in tact so the whole thing fit. There’s less swarming.

We’ll feed in excess a million pounds, somewhere between a million and a million five pounds of corn syrup a year, plus all the supplements as well.

[are you actually supering the bottom for honey and extracting that or is that just an empty space for bees?]

the bottom box is just an empty space for bees — kind of. if you’re running that broom nest correctly and we’re supering and the honey’s going through the top and we broomed in the deep. if you run a double broomed nest, the queen might go all the way to the bottom, but most times, she’ll just drops down in there, maybe 6 inches. That allows the queen the extra space she needs that she would get with a modified datae.

If you want to split your bees and do some financial planning, you need at least 4 gallons — you could grow a beehive from a four frame split to something that will produce — if you give it that much.

[is that 2:1 or 1:1 syrup?]

the best thing to tell you is that the blend works better than either of these alone. there’s nothing better that straight sucrose to stimulate bees. Sucrose got really inexpensive here last couple years. One of the things we found out is that you have to be careful with sucrose because they won’t put on weight with it. An ideal ratio would be 60/30 less on the sucrose. the high fructose corn syrup would probably be better use 55/42 on that.

we feed three different ways. we feed with two gallon pales, 5 lbs rounds, and internals. if you notice here, every one of our lids has not one hole but two holes. That hole lines up perfectly with manlake’s feeder so that if that palette were abandoned on a pollination job, we would go in there and take that yellow cap out there, the gasoline style feeder under pressure. They’re mostly medium feeders right now. The frames are all in there and the feeders sets right there in that side. We inspect our bees just about every time we do pollination. We needed that root desk to be here and not on the bottom because in lieu of doing pollinations, we take some of these pollination bees and make them what we call a “discluder splits,” we took all the supers off because they were full of honey, and then two frames of broom and two frames of food, shook the bees off, put the discluder in there — we knew we were leaving the queen downstairs — and made splits. Then, we supered them.

[are you running your hives in a deep and a medium versus 2 deeps?]

We’re running 2 deeps in louisiana. in louisiana, we’ve got 200 locations — 96 is the standard — we’ve got 40 h2A guys, and the reason we use two gallon pails is because we can’t get around this jar thing fast enough. If you’ve got time and ability to get around, that’s the best beehive right there, that five pound round. Just don’t let them see an empty one.

[Do you have problems with water getting in or around the jar lid?]

None. That’s a g70 cat from a 5 pound round honey jar. This little round guy we got from Manlake, it was something we had to have. When we go to California, we feed everything 1 gallon going on the truck. One of the reasons we do that is because when you take bees from Louisiana to California through West Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and of course California, the air is very dry. The bees need some water. We use a 42 bold syrup, depending on how cold it is. The idea is to get a little water from the trip. They get six pounds of supplement on these pollinations, which seems to be helping. You look right through the beehive and you can see air right through it. That beehive won’t make you any honey.

We’ve tested this over and over again. Bees pretty much eat the feed, put it in a broom production, and we don’t have any cross contamination. If the bees can’t get a consistent flow outside, you don’t feed. We’re making sure they have everything they need so they don’t lose momentum.

We haven’t had any fermentation issues with sucrose that is a danger. Usually, they consume it so fast. As far as “Honey Bee Healthy” goes, I’ve tried it and I don’t use it all the time.

We’ve been doing this for a about ten years and what we do in the fall for the queen cell, and just about every beehive (we get about a 98% hatch rate), is we buy the queen cells for $4 as opposed to the queens which you can buy for $20. When you put the queen in there, they don’t take well. What happens with the queen cells is we get a 66% success rate. We don’t look for any queens, all we do is take that jar lid out and wrap that cell on top of the hive and close it back up. We figure it’s working right about 66% of the time. If you’re normally making splits, you’re looking for 80-90% success rate because we’re not looking for any queens here. On a new queen, 60% is fine, but for an old queen will get through on 40%.

I go back to Edward Lloyd Seackers, in 1948, he was studying hive temperature. You need to have it at 93 degrees for broom production so what he was doing in California, he was putting a light bulb under the bee hive, which would allow a bee hive to raise broom earlier than it normally would. So I’ve been working on these insulated lids and the reason is because I was thinking about doing it for everything we think we’re going to send to California. In central louisiana, it’s cold enough that we can’t maintain the temperature in the beehive, we’ve probably got 24,000-26,000 live colonies in a good year but if it gets cold, we could be down 8-9,000, which brings 30% right off that. If you bring down that 30% off 4,000 hives, and you’re spending $200 on hives, that’s a lot of money. We can afford to build more of these. We buy this concrete plywood brand new from someplace in Georgia. It’s about $42 per sheet and that’s a lift price. This is an insulated lid and you have to vent, which is very important because you have to let that moisture out. This insulated lid, with the right size cluster that’s capable of going out West, will help hold. Next time I do this, I’d like to make it a little thicker. We had to drive staples through it because it buckled away from the celotex, which was allowing the bees to chew on the celotex, none of which is good. Best thing to do is to keep it as tight as you can so next time we do this we can go with ¼ inch so we don’t have to staple it. This lid is pressure-treated. We’ve moved away from luan because it doesn’t have any staying power and of course, people have a tendency to flip the lids upside down. It’s fairly expensive to put this thing together. By dropping the insulation in there, putting plastic on top, and adding that extra rim, which is what you need to do luan supplements, that will get rid of moisture.


One of the things we do is we requeen every single beehive twice a year. We can’t do that without raising our own. We use lighter bees with verroa resistant traits. We’re part of a club here in Ohio, Ohio Queenbreeders. We’re involved pretty heavily here and they do an excellent job here. 500 cells a day to go into these splits is a lot, especially if we’re trying to requeen both sides. Both farms have set-ups in Louisiana to raise queens. We had a problem last fall and through the winter, a few less hives — 22,000 instead of 26,000 — we made that up with our summer split. We’re shooting for the whole bee yard to have 80-90 lbs and to have the whole extraction. Timing is everything on supering. If you go every other frame, you have less of a tendency to do oddball stuff, drawing wise; you put a brace in the wrong way… So it’s much better to go 10-frame and confine them to that space then you won’t get cross stuff, which you could just take out of your hive tool.


I buy all my stuff pre-assembled: I buy plastic frames because we have a lot of wax moth danger in Louisiana. Plastic frames draw them out completely. If they don’t, you can just take the hive back and start again. That is a plastic ear, so that when you break the ear off your plastic ear, you can fix it. Just take an upholstery staple gun and you put those plastic ears back. Those were figured out by Larry Bachato from California. Our inventory on plastic frames seems to be around one million. Buzz toxin seems to take care of anything.

Down in Louisiana, we have four 84 frame extractors and our production in New York totals about 20 drums. With a typical extraction, you can get 3-4. Louisiana runs about 40 barrels a day. Everyday we’ll run under a lot or a semi-load of honey. Production takes about 8 weeks. One on the Jennings farm and one in New York State.

Louisiana has 4 pipes going into an in floor tanks that get pumped. A mixing tank, a cheese tank — it’s probably 50-60 years old. A honey wax separator, which we use in Louisiana. We won’t really use that in New York because it won’t hold. In NY, we’ve got these coffee top milk tanks and you’ll lift them right off and shovel the captings. It’s all gravity, we don’t pump anything. We pump the 1500 gallon coffee top tank in the back. We pour barrels and tails. We’ve outgrown the system. We dump the barrels of captings, 2 or 3 at a time.

There is a set of heater coils that can warm the honey but because we run it so fast, we don’t need to use them.

In Louisiana, the honey can run up to 20% moisture and it’s not honey the, it’s something else. We have to take it down a point or two. Because the size of the operation and the time frame, we start early. There’s a filter inside the tank which has a dryer in tandem. We also have 2 vacuum chambers.

Only 2 loads of honey went to the big 3: soo v, dutch coal, and barton. we market all the rest of that honey ourselves. we got published as a major contributor in american bee journal and all of sudden, there’s no place to sell it. We’ll go to a couple of clubs in Massachusetts and sell pails of honey for over 25 cents over the prevailing barrel price. It took us all year to sell 36 palettes. This was back in 2001-2002. It took a while to get it going.

We have a couple distributors now and we’re moving about ¼ million pounds that way.

These are loads of pails that we sent up from Louisiana and then those got shipped to MA as we needed.