Steve Coy – Honey in Southeast (Part 1)

Honey in Southeast

by Steve Coy

Part 1

Questions to Think About. What will you do with the honey? So I know yesterday most of you’ll are Back Yard Bee Keepers, Hobby Bee Keepers. But if you want to grow to a Sideline Status, or even to the Industrial Size, you need to know. What are you going to do with your honey? You gonna Wholesale it in Restaurants and Grocery Stores? You’re gonna sell it from your house? You’re gonna sell it out of the trunk of your car at work? You’re gonna sell it at church? You’re gonna bottle enough to sell to the Farmer’s Markets? Or are you gonna sell in Drums, sell it to Packers?

Set Your Goal so you know how hard you’re gonna have to work to reach that.

Are you gonna go to Almonds? Are you gonna get, once you get several hives are you gonna be able to send them? Are you gonna be willing to send them to Almonds? And if you do that, how is their return going to affect your splitting schedule when they come back in the Spring? And is it gonna affect your Honey Production? Cause it might.

How far are you willing to have your bees from your house? Are you willing to keep them? 30 – 60 miles from your house? A 100 miles? 300 miles? Are you willing to go sixteen hundred [1,600] miles to keep your bees? If you’re not, then – then that might affect. That might affect how much honey you can make. And probably the most important is: Do you live in a high honey production area?

So, if you don’t know this already, that’s probably one of the first things you need to find out.
How does your, and if you do – you have hives now, how does your hive production compare to the total production from your state? And your neighbors in your region of your state? And which part of your state makes the biggest honey crops?

So here’s “The Big 6”, usually they say “The Big 4”, but “The Big 6 States” from gross honey production statewide, and also numbers of colonies. As you can see, California and Florida, they make – okay, so the chart on your right here is, or on your left, is pounds per hive. So California makes thirty-three [33] pounds per hive on average. Minnesota fifty-eight [58]. Montana ninety-four [94]. North Dakota was at sixty-nine [69].

The those four [4] states up in the North, Montana, North and South Dakota and Minnesota half [1/2] of the bees in The United States are there in the Summertime. And so they make a, even though they’re making sixty-nine [69] pounds per hive in North Dakota, the State makes the most honey.
I don’t remember the value. The State makes more honey than any other State in The Nation.

Honey Production in the SE by State

Okay, but we’re not talking about those guys. We’re talking about South East. So that’s, and I’m pretty much limiting it to, okay. To Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. So you see Alabama is making fifty-two [52] pounds per hive.
Oh, this is the NAS Data from twenty fifteen [2015], so it’s actually two [2] years old data.
South Carolina makes more than zero [0] pounds per hive. They don’t, NAS lumps them with about five [5] other States. So I don’t really have any idea how much Average Production is in that State. But you see Louisiana and Mississippi are right there around a hundred [100] pounds per hive. Now this is an Average, and you can do a lot with statistics. And I think that one of the reasons that Mississippi’s is so high is there are a few bee keepers that keep bees here. And then they move the bees up here. And so they make a good crop here, and then they have a good crop there. So they’re double cropping their bees, and they’re making, that squeeze the average. Because in this section of the State there’s not a lot of Honey Production, and in this section of the State there’s not much Honey Production.

There Are No Secrets

Okay, so there are no secrets to making a big Honey Crop.
That’s the secret. It takes good decisions and good locations. Become a Beekeeper Not a “Bee-Haver” So I’m gonna talk about a couple of Key Issues, I have more than Four Pillars, like John did.
I think there’s about seven [7].

But, so the First [1st] is you need to start with a “Good Bee Management”.
You need to become a beekeeper not a “bee-haver”. So you need to start in the Fall preparing for next year’s Honey Crop. So this is the time of year that you need to start. I’m gonna talk mostly about South Mississippi Honey Production. And when I talk about you need to do, if I use dates they are specific to South Mississippi. Which we had this discussion yesterday. I don’t like it when someone says, like Dennis, you need to treat for mites in August. I don’t need to treat for mites in August. I have dead hives in August, if you don’t treat in South Mississippi. You need to treat for mites in June, so the month is not as important as what Stage of the Life Cycle your hive is in.

Okay, so the Fall, this is the time that you want to start working for next year’s Honey Crop.
You want to build your Winter bees now, because they’re the ones that’s gonna get you started in the Spring. And more hives you have in the Fall, the more hives that survive the Winter is the more honey you’re gonna have in the Springtime. So one of the things you might need to consider is how much honey do they make in the Fall? Do they make enough for you pull the excess off? Is it worth it to pull and replace it with corn syrup? Or you may be better off just to leave it on there, and let them live through the Winter, because “Mother Nature” is best. While John and Andy feed a lot to get their bees up, you know, I’ll talk about that in a minute. What “Mother Nature” provides is better than what we can give them.

Your Fall Season is obviously gonna be different than mine, even in the South East. From North to South Mississippi is, I don’t know, four hundred [400], it’s about four hundred [400] miles. So there’s a lot of, there’s a big variation in the plants that bloom, and the time that they bloom.
About every sixty [60] to eighty [80] miles North or South you travel, you’re gonna get a one [1] week’s variation in plant bloom and colony build up, or slow down in the Fall.

So in the Northern tier of the Southern U.S., Tennessee, North Carolina, Northern Arkansas, North Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, their Fall Management is gonna take place from September thru October. When you get down to the Coastal areas of Louisiana, and Alabama and Georgia, it’s gonna be more like Mid October to Mid November. So just because Fall Management it’s not a date thing. It’s more of a Regional. One of the things you need to do is you need to measure your mite loads. And you need to treat if necessary. And you need to measure the mites. You don’t need to guess on how many mites you have. You need to remove your excess supers. Don’t leave a lot of supers stacked up in the Winter time. You need to be sure and remove your excluders. If you run excluders, remove those, and let the bees come up in the Winter, and feed on the honey. Because you can, it can get cold; it does freeze down there even in Wiggins, Mississippi. And sometime, I mean, it got seventeen [17] degrees a couple, for several nights a couple of years ago. So, if you leave that excluder on, and your queen gets stuck below that excluder, the cluster can get above her, and she could freeze.

You don’t need to leave excess boxes on, because that interferes with Small Hive Beetle Control [SHB Control]. You want to take the boxes off so you can conserve the heat energy and reduce mice damage.

Feed If Necessary

You want to feed if necessary. You need to feed thick syrup in the Fall, cause if you’re gonna feed sugar, you need to feed two [2] pounds of sugar to one [1] pound of water. Or you need to feed corn syrup, feed to thick corn syrup. Pollen patties, I don’t know, I have very little experience with Pollen Patties, because I haven’t used them, and I haven’t seen that much of a benefit from them in my situation. But you can choose which is the best ones to use for you.

You need to know your average monthly rain fall, especially in the Winter time. And you need to know your general soil types in your area, partly so that you can help pick your locations for identifying plant locations. But also you need to know how wet it’s gonna be when it rains. Because this is gonna effect your ability to access your hives in the Fall. Now these are pictures from, I think it’s from Bakersfield, California area, but the same principle applies. If it’s a little bit wet, it can be a little bit difficult. And it’s hard to see, but this is a Hummer, and it has dual wheels on it. They do not make them with dual wheels. This is a special order thing, and it requires a special order trailer to go with them. But this guy had to put dual wheels on his swinger, I call them swingers. They are originally swinger, and they were loading an eighteen wheeler to go to Almonds. But the tractor, the eighteen wheeler tractor couldn’t get in there. So they had to go to a real tractor to get their bees out. So knowing where, what the weather is gonna be like, you don’t want it. If you know it’s gonna rain, you know you have a hard time getting there. You want to make sure you go take care of those yards first. In your dry locations, you can take care of those later.

Winter Management

You want to make sure you have plenty of food for the winter. Again, Sugar Syrup, you can feed it two to one [2 to 1] or three to one [3 to 1]. It’s really difficult to get a three to one [3 to 1] ratio of sugar. You’ve got to have hot water when you do that. You can feed the Inverted Corn Syrup or the High Fruit Corn Syrup. If you buy that straight, you need to add at least ten percent [10%] water, mix it up really well, so it doesn’t solidify crystalize on you. Cause it doesn’t pump well when it’s a solid. Trust me. Candy Boards, they’re not typically used in the South. I think a lot of people use them further North. I don’t know that they won’t work in the Southern Regions. They probably will, but I have no experience with them.

Pollen Patties again, in the Winter you can decide what works for you. Don’t forget about small hive beetles, because they are – Pollen Patties, regardless of the brand is very excellent in growing small hive beetles. And it’s difficult to stimulate brood rearing, until after the Winter Solstice, which is usually sometime around the twenty-first [21st] of December. Regardless of whether you put Pollen Patties, or feed, or it’s just, it’s not impossible to do, but it’s hard to do.

I think it’s actually easier to maintain brood rearing, if you can get started sometime around Thanksgiving. If you think that’s necessary. But if you’re up until the end of, or if you’re in the middle of December, and you decided you need to feed, stimulate your bees. It’s gonna be tough to get them going, until after the Winter Solstice.

One of the most important things you can do in the Winter is build and repair your equipment, because you do have to have something to do to keep you busy. But build and repair your equipment, get it ready for Spring, you’ve got to decide how you’re gonna make up your splits. What your process is gonna be? Some guys save back frames of honey, and they put a frame of honey, and they put some cups, some frames of foundation, some empty cones. They have a feeder, they put that all in the box, they nail a bottom board on, they’ve got a top on there. So, and they’ve got that on the pallet, so when it comes time to make their splits in the Spring, they just go get their pallet full of boxes that are ready, and they take it with them to the Bee Yard. They’re not trying to get out there two [2] days before they’re making splits, and put all this stuff together. You need a two [2] deeps, that’s what most people use. A deep and a medium, a nine and five eighths [9and a 5/8ths] and a six and five eighths [6 and 5/8ths] work really, they will work well. But you need about fifty [50] pounds of honey to go through to the Winter, and so they’ll have enough honey to build up in the Spring.

Average Frost Dates in South – East

Alright, so the Average Frost Dates, so I’ve got two [2] charts here. And so you have the zones. And here, I live here, my Dad’s operation, we he runs bees from between here and Arkansas. And we’re right on the edge of the number nine [9] zone here, which the lowest temperatures are twenty to thirty [20 to 30] degrees. And at the last frost is on March, early March. Up here it’s ten to twenty [10 to 20] degrees, and it’s early April. I’m sorry, zero to ten [0 to 10] in late April. So it can, in Cricket County, that’s an average of one [1] inch of snow. Per year.

It’s a gardening place, but in Jonesboro, ninety percent [90%], nine times out of ten [9 out of 10], you’re gonna get thirty-six [36] degrees on March the twenty-ninth [29th]. You’re gonna get freezing temperature on March the fifteenth [15th]. Fifty percent [50%], April tenth [10th]. So I know from past experience, if I graft it on April the first [1st], that sometime around April first [1st], April tenth [10th], I’m gonna get what we call, Black Berry Winter. It’s cold again, and it gets cold enough that it just really screws up your queen cell production. But that doesn’t happen every year, but it happens often enough that you better back count that it’s gonna happen. In Wiggins, we’ve got a frost on March eighth [8th], nine [9] years out of Ten [10]. It gets down to twenty-eight [28] degrees at the end of January, March the twenty-third [23rd]. In the Fall, October fifth [5th] is the first [1st] Killing Frost. Down in Wiggins it’s October twenty-fourth [24th]. Fifty percent [50%] of the time you get, I’ve always said the fifteenth [15th] of April and the fifteenth [15th] of October, and the fifteenth [15th] of March, and the fifteenth [15th] of November, is kind of what I go by. So, it’s pretty close. But you need to know that, so that it will help you make decisions on what you’re gonna do in the Management of your bees.

Spring Management

Okay, Spring Management. Don’t let your bees starve in the early Spring. So January, February bees can starve to death pretty quick, if you don’t keep on top of it. You need to feed to stimulate brood rearing. And stimulate brook rearing better with sugar water than you can with anything else. You need to give them room to expand. You need to treat for mites if necessary. And you don’t know that it’s necessary, unless you sample for mites. You’re gonna have to worry about Swarm Prevention.
You’ve got to decide, are you gonna split your hives? You’re gonna sell brood? You’re gonna sell nucs? What are you gonna do to take care of swarms? And when you Feed Splits, you need to feed them a one to one [1 to 1] sugar and water. And then you need to add supers for your Spring flow.

Summer Management

So you need to pull Spring Honey, if you can. If you make enough honey in the Spring, you should pull that honey, make another Summer crop. Some places, I know in North West Arkansas, all they make is Spring honey. Check Mite Numbers. Treat if necessary. Now I know what Dennis said yesterday, but there is no good generic threshold for mite treatments. Three to five [3 to 5] is a good starting point. But that doesn’t mean that you’re locked in to three percent [3%] mites, or five percent [5%] mites. It’s different, there’s a whole host of things that make that different. So, in the Summer you’ve got to add Honey Supers when they’re needed. And pull the Summer honey when it’s when the flow ends. And treat for mites. Now I didn’t say, if necessary. I said, treat for mites. Because it will be necessary to treat for mites in the Summer.

Good Honey Locations

My Dad has pretty much always said, Good Locations Make Good Beekeepers. So if you’ve got good spots you can do bad and dumb things, and still come out okay.

So, some locations make more honey than others, and if you’ll see, you know, the picture shows up a lot better on the computer screen. There’s a few bees in here, that is by far not full. It’s probably half [1/2] full. But there’s bees, and there’s honey in that box. That’s the top box for that hive. So some locations are better than others.

Some locations are more consistent than others. But some consistently produce good crops. So those are nothing. These are Mississippi bees and these are in Arkansas, that’s nothing to sneeze at.
My Dad’s operation, the last five [5] years has averaged a hundred [100] pounds per hive, over the whole operation. That’s a ten thousand [10,000] hive operation between Mississippi and Arkansas. And the State Average is sixty-five [65], I think, for Arkansas. It’s a hundred and sixteen [116] for Mississippi.

MS Honey Plants

Now everything in yellow, these are all plants that produce honey. So, you have Maple, it is not a significant honey producer.But it blooms in, this is in Mississippi, it blooms in January, ends in May. So but it doesn’t bloom in January in North Mississippi. So this site is I think I just Googled “Honey Plants of Mississippi”, and found it up. Okay, so this lists all the plants in Mississippi. So we have Titi, Buckwheat, Ironwood, Galiberry, Rattan Vine, and White Dutch Clover, Leatherwood, Tulip, Populars, Sumac, Cotton, Soybean. So and these are all significant Honey Producers. But that doesn’t mean that they all grow in my area, because they don’t. There actually is cotton ten [10] minutes from my shop, but the bees won’t make any honey on it. So just because these things are listed, it doesn’t mean that they are gonna be growing in your area. And these that have, that are not listed in yellow, not significant honey plants, that doesn’t mean they’re not important.

So I call those Secondary Honey Plants. And they are very important. So, for instance, in Arkansas, in the Spring time, there’s Willow Trees. If you have your bees next to the river, where you get the Willow Trees, so that is excellent plants for bees to build up on. In the Fall, we have Smartweed in some areas, and that provides an excellent source of pollen, and builds really good Winter bees. And a lot of years you can make excess honey off of it. In South Mississippi we have Titi and it’s good for building up bees. If you have really good bees, come in the Winter, you can actually make honey on them for some years. In the Mid-Spring we have Yaupon Holley and the Privet Hedge, and those build good bees. I don’t usually make any honey off of them, but they’ll build bees. And then in the Fall we have Goldenrod. Sometimes it yields surplus nectar, sometimes not. Mother Nature’s food is always the best.

“What Makes a Good Location”?

What makes a Good Location? Plants, you’ve got to have the plants, right? But once you find close to honey plants, you need to have “Easy Access” to your roads. You need to have some place you can get to all year long. You need to be able to put your bees close to the road, so you don’t have to go a quarter [1/4] mile down the dirt filled road. It’s good if there’s no vandalism. It’s good if they’re out of sight of home owners. And you need to be large to have large enough areas where you can turn around your truck and your forklift. If you’re pulling a trailer with a forklift, you’ve got to have room to get your equipment in there, and turn it around. You need to have good property owners. Someone who is considerate, land owners, farmers are considerate of you and your needs. Considerate of your bees. Someone who is, and you need to have a considerate pesticide applicators in your area. It might be the best Honey Production; they might make more honey in that location than they do anywhere else in the State. But if you’ve got a guy that applies pesticides, whether it’s a mosquito abatement program, or whether it’s a farmer. If he has no consideration for your hives, and he kills your bees, they’re not gonna make a crop. A few neighbors is better, whether that’s your residential neighborhood, or whether it’s other beekeepers. Dennis talked about the Varilla [SP] bombs. If you’ve got other beekeepers, they may have Varilla bombs going off, and they can affect your hive. Obviously low pesticide use is good. You need to generally be within a mile or less of the good forage. You know, bees will travel four [4] or five [5] miles, if they have to. But they consume a lot of energy by making that trip. Consider the proximity of this location to your other locations. Do I have to drive thirty [30] minutes in the opposite direction to get there? It might be a good Honey Producers, but it may not be worth the extra time and effort for being that’s an hour out of your way. Thirty [30] minutes there, and thirty [30] minutes back.

Spring and Summer Nectar Flows

If you don’t move your bees, you need to have both the Spring and Summer Flow. Because bees don’t do well in a dirth, pollen dirth. If it’s an early Spring flow, it can be good for Colony buildup. It might be a good place to split. You may not want to make honey there. You may never want to make honey there. But you make want to make, put your splits there, let them grow, and then move into a late Summer location.

Healthy Bees Equal Good Bees

One of the best things to do to have healthy bees is to have good quality queens. Buy queens from a reputable queen breeder. There’s a different between a queen breeder and queen producer. And that’s not to say that queen producers are bad, or they sell bad queens. But you need to ask questions. Ask questions about his stock. Where does he get his breeders? Is he buying it from the guy down the road? Does he raise his own? Is he, you know, where does he come from? Does he believe in survivor stock? Personally, I don’t buy into the whole survivor stock mantra [SP] that a lot of people use. Or, locally adapted stocks, we can discuss that, that’s fine. But you need to ask him questions that are concerning to you. How often does he treat his bees for mites? All those things that you need to know. And you need to just, that doesn’t mean you have to say, no, I don’t want them. But you need to figure out if what his idea of keeping good bees is matches your idea. Maybe you rear your own queens? And maybe you need to improve your “Queen Production System”? And raise hard quality queens.

You need to consider using mite resistant stock. I’m part of “The Russian Bee Breeders Association”, so I believe in Russian bees, but there’s VSH bees that are resistant. There are survivor bees that are resistant. So, consider using that.

So maybe you’ve been using queens from a certain person, and you really like those. And you need to know, what do I really need to change? Well think about this. Is it difficult to control your mites? Are they Russian hybrids? Do you have issues with them being a little bit too mean? Or not very good in controlling mites? Cause they’re supposed to be Russians? Maybe they really hybrids? Are they VSH hybrids? Well, all VSH Production Queens end up being hybrids. So you need to check in more, and find out more about the details on where those come from? Do they produce brood all year long? And maybe that works for you, maybe not. That just means you’ve got to feed them more. Cause in some areas of the South, you can get reproduction nine [9], or ten [10] or eleven [11] months out of the year. Have you had trouble with them starving to death in the Fall and the Spring? That could be, it could be more of a Management issue. Or it could be more of the bees want to brood up all the time, and you’re just not able to get around to take care of them. So you might want to consider using other stocks. Do they swarm too much? Do they make as much honey as your neighbors? So those are some things to consider on queens.

Good Mite Control

Timely and effective miticides.You CANNOT KILL all the mites in your colony. And it’s my personal belief that if you kill more than eighty percent [80%] of the population you promote resistance. And if you’re killing less than five percent [5%], if you’re killing less than twenty percent [20%] of the population you’re not really, you’re wasting your miticides. Timing of the application is very important. But it is also the most difficult thing to do. And that falls back into the category of the three percent [3%] and five percent [5%] mite infestation is not a hard and fast rule. Because if you talk to Andy and John, they’ll tell you, I can’t treat when the mites reach a certain level. I have to treat at a certain stage in my Business Model. If you’re running twenty-six thousand [26,000] hives, you can’t pull all that honey off, put a mite treatment in, put the boxes back on, and then go pull honey. You’ve got to wait until you’ve pulled the honey off to put your mite treatment in. There’s several effective producers out there now, Oxalic Acid is good. Formic Acid is good, but Formic Acid is not gonna work for everyone in the South all the time.

Proximity to other colonies and common foraging areas effect mite loads. And you need to know what your neighbors are doing. Is he controlling mites? How is he doing it? Or maybe he’s not controlling them.

This is how I build this. This is my “Mite Washing Machine”. It’s pretty crude. This is an ice cream freezer motor. And I took two [2] pieces of plywood and cut, I made a cam. I just, but I could just make half [1/2] a cam at the time. So I screwed, overlapped them and screwed them together. I have a timer, a light timer, and it runs for thirty [30] minutes. Shuts off and runs for thirty [30] more minutes. And this is a bee hive lid, it’s got little springs, and so if you fill them with. That’s a cup and a cup, and the top cup has screen in the bottom. So you put your bees in there, put your three hundred [300] bees, have a cup of bees in there. You dump your alcohol, or you can do soapy water, or white windshield washer fluid works really well. You dump that in there. You’ve got them all numbered. So I have to keep everything. You’ve got bag number one [1], and it goes in. Actually it’s got Hive Number 362, it goes into cup number twelve [12]. Hive number 374, it goes in cup number six [6]. You’ve got to keep with all this stuff. Anyway, you turn it on, and it just goes back and forth. And I can do twelve [12], I can wash twelve [12] samples at time. I can turn it on, and, you know, go off and leave and do something else. I can come back an hour later, and it’s turned off. And all the mites float down below the screen. You pick that top cup out, and you run it over a cheese cloth so you can count the mites.

Resistant Stock

Russian bees are resistant to mites. They’re not mite proof. They will require some treatments. We, my Dad’s operation uses fine malt two [2] times a year. And that seems to do well. Some commercial guys are treating six [6] times a year. Hybrids or crosses with Russians are not as effective as a pure stock. And a pure stock is difficult to obtain because there’s a lack of people that sell a Pure Russian queens. That’s just the facts.

VSH bees are resistant to mites. However, the queens that you end up with are a cross between your operation, whatever is in your operation and the VSH breeder queen that you get. And the resistance is based on the single VSH trait. And what you end up with depends on how much of that WSH trait you have in your own stock? So there’s a lot of variability from one operation to the next operation with VSH queens. But they are good, and if you work at it, you can get good resistant bees out of it.

I don’t believe that mites themselves are the biggest problem. I believe it’s the viruses that they vector that causes problems. Susan Kegley from Pesticide Research Institute has some research data that she’s been working on for a couple of years. And it indicates that high mite numbers are not – they’re not directly associated with hive deaths. So hives that have had high mite numbers are not the ones that die necessarily. And the ones that die sometimes die even with low mite numbers. So it’s more like viruses, whatever is causing the queen to fail. Whether that’s fungicides; whether that’s insect growth regulators; whether it’s insecticides, whether it’s herbicides, whether it’s cell phone towers, I don’t know what it is. But it’s not directly related to mites anymore.


Nutrition is important. Choosing good locations will help mitigate some of that problem. They should typically provide a wide range of and a variety of forage. Nutrition deficiencies will reduce the immune system of the bee. And therefore, you have problems that wouldn’t, things that wouldn’t cause a problem then crop up and become issues, like hive death, queen failure, I don’t know. There’s a lot of, I’ve been doing, I’ve my Dad started keeping bees when I was two [2]. And there’s a whole lot that I still don’t know about this.

Supplemental Pollen, feed that when necessary. I have very little; I have little experience of feeding pollen patties. I haven’t had a lot of success. I don’t know if it has something to do with the Russian bees, or the fact that I live in an area where I get a lot of natural pollen. There’s, we have a dirth in the Summer, and there’s virtually nothing, and that’s pretty tough. But the rest of the year when these guys are talking about feeding pollen patties. And I’m not doing the same thing they’re doing. So that I don’t have a lot of experience with them. But what I do have experience with is I’ve planted Buckwheat in the Summer. And if you can, if you can be a decent farmer, and get it planted right, and you get rain, Buckwheat will help in my area when there’s not a lot of pollen, natural pollen coming on. And then Fall, plant around August, you know. September – October, I can Rapini Mustard growing and through the Winter, and it’s great for the bees. Yeah, see I have a, we have a dirth that lasts for three [3] months in the Summer, and starts about the middle of June. And goes all the way thru almost the first [1st] of October.

Match Population to Bloom

So the next thing is to Match the Bee Population to the Honey – to the Plant Bloom. No Bees No Honey – – No Honey No Money. And while we’re all beekeepers, and we all are, and Honey Producers, the real goal is “To Make Honey to Make Money”, that’s the real Goal. I mean, I told somebody one time, I’m in the Money Making Business. I just use honey to do it, and you’re doing it some other way.

So, how many bees are needed to make a Honey Crop? Does anybody know? You need all of them. Every single bee. It’s usually around sixty to eighty thousand [60,000 to 80,000] workers. So, How Long Does It Take to Get 60,000 to 80,000 Workers? Well, if the queen can lay two thousand [2,000] eggs a day, and they don’t eat them back like they do sometimes. And if you start with six to eight [6 to 8] pounds of bees, and you have a good Spring, and Mother Nature cooperates. And you don’t have a big problem with varoom [SP], or any other issues. It’s gonna take like thirty [30] days. And then you need to wait for the last brood cycle to mature, which is another twelve to fourteen [12 to 14] days. And if your queen is a little bit, if she’s not a good quality queen, and she’s only laying a fifteen hundred [1,500] eggs a day, it’s gonna take you forty [40] days. So, it’s gonna take you somewhere between forty-two and fifty-four [42 and 54] days. But Randy said, sixty [60] days pretty much six [6] weeks. You can just bet on six [6] weeks. It’s gonna take you to reach maximum bloom. So you need to know, you need to look at your Frost Line, your Freeze Data, and your Zones. And you need to know when that plant’s gonna bloom. When your major plants are gonna bloom, and you need to be making your splits, or getting your hives ready six [6] weeks ahead of time to do that.

So, in Mississippi, in South Mississippi, we have the first [1st] bloom starts around April tenth [10th], April fifteenth [15th]. So I’ve got to make splits on March the fourth [4th] to have to be ready for that bloom. If you’ve got, if it’s May the tenth [10th], you’ve got to make your splits on March the twenty-ninth [29th]. If it happens to be June first [1st], you’ve got to do it on April twentieth [20th]. Now, you can’t make all your splits in one [1] day. If you’ve got ten [10] hives maybe. If you’ve got fifty [50] hives, you’ve got a hundred [100] hives. If you’ve got twenty thousand [20,000] hives. You can’t make all your splits in one [1] day. So you’ve got to figure that in, as to how long it’s gonna take you to make them? When you’re gonna start? The first [1st] ones you need to start making a little bit early. So that the last ones are done a little bit late, cause it doesn’t really matter, if most of these Bee Management things. It doesn’t really matter when you start the process. What matters is when you finish. So you’ve got to figure that in, and how long? How long is it gonna take you to make splits?

So, if you’re gonna figure out, it takes six [6] weeks for my bees to get up to maximum Honey Production size. You kind of need to know how many frames? How many bees are gonna get on a frame and brood? So, I’ve always kind of been told that the one [1] frame of brood, a sealed brood is gonna equal to three [3] frames of bees. Once the queen has laid for three [3] weeks, you should have bees of all ages. You should have about fifteen to ten. Twelve to fifteen percent [12% to 15%] eggs. Thirty percent [30%] uncapped brood. And fifty to sixty percent [50% to 60%] capped brood. If you look in your hive, and you’ve got something really way out of whack, if you’ve got thirty percent [30%] eggs. Or, you’ve got eighty percent [80%] capped brood, then something is going on in your hive, and you need to figure out what’s going on. There’s about approximately twenty [20] cells per square inch on each side of the comb. A deep frame is about a hundred and twenty eight [128] square inches on each side. So you’ve got about two hundred and fifty [250] square inches of brood. If it’s a solid frame of brood, you’re gonna have five thousand [5,000] cells per side. So, if you’ve got ten thousand [10,000] cells for the frame, that’s gonna be about three [3] pounds of bees. You need to start a three [3] – a three [3] frame split. Start now, it’s gonna have somewhere between eight to ten [8 to 10] pounds of bees. So if you’re looking in your hive and you can estimate. This will help you estimate how fast your hives are gonna grow. So if you’ve got, if you only have four [4] frames with brood on them, and they’re only three quarters [3/4th] full of seal brood then you’re not gonna quite reach this number. You’re gonna go short of that.

So, in the Fall in October they move bees from their Summer locations down South. They split bees somewhere around the second [2nd] week in March, somewhere around the tenth [10th] fifteenth [15th].
They use queen cells, mate their queens, grow their bees. And they put their bees out on when they’re close to the secondary honey plants. They don’t want the major honey plants, because the bees will plug up, and you’ll end up with a box full of honey, where you will get poor Mating success. But they use these secondary plants to grow their bees. They move the bees North in May to take advantage of secondary Spring plants up in the Northern climates. The one I always hear about is Dandelion. But I heard yesterday that Dandelion pollen is not good. So, I’m not sure what else is going on at the time. I think sugar water happens a lot up there. Which is, that’s fine, that’s good. If you want to do, if you’re not willing to travel sixteen hundred [1,600] miles, you want to go a short migration. Like for Mississippi, it’s you can go two to three hundred [2,000 to 3,000] miles North. You make splits, the same time in the Wiggins, and then we take we take them up to the Delta, which is about a three to four hundred [300 to 400] mile. It’s about a three hundred [300] mile move North. They fill the second [2nd] story; sometime you’ve got to feed them on the Spring stuff. And then start making honey late June, early July, and you start putting honey supers on them.