TEXAS BEE SUPPLY
Yellowjackets & Bees
10 Most Important Things
6 December Tips
10 A Yellow Jacket December
16 Indoor Overwintering
20 Honey Testing
22 10 Most Important Things to Know
34 How To Make Honey Straws
38 Winter Inspections
40 Recipe of the Month
44 How and What to Winter Feed
50 Monthly Q & A
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5. Add entrance reducers, remove queen excluders if you haven't already. Check out our article in the October edition outlining the details on each of these items, or our video on entrance reducers.
6. Keep wax moth crystals on your stored comb. Check out our video on how to store comb!
7. If your hive has been properly cared for and everything has gone right, you should have 8-16 frames of bees going into winter. A well fed hive, with virtually no mites, should easily survive the winter! Check out this video of a hive ready for winter!
8.If you have a screened bottom board, covering it is not necessary. However, prevent wind from blowing underneath the hive by blocking off each side of the bottom board.
9.Fortunately, things like insulation hives, providing an upper entrance to prevent condensation, candy boards, etc. are not necessary in Texas. Our winters are mild enough that none of those things are needed.
10. Don't forget to go ahead and use this down season to order & build equipment for next year!
11. Last, but certainly not least, if you want more hives next year, make sure to order nucs or hives, and queens NOW! The sooner you order your bees, the earlier the pick up date you will be able to choose! For now, we have not raised prices for 2021, so order soon!
Only a few more months
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1. Continue monitoring food stores. Pollen patty feeding can be discontinued as your hives remain clustered most days. However, during warmer days, bees will fly, searching for food sources. You may find bees burrowing into chicken feed, sawdust, etc. They are attempting to find a source of protein, and will gather any type of dust thinking it is a protein source. You can open feed protein powder in December and January to discourage that behavior. It is not completely necessary, but any feeding is helpful. Check out how to tell how much honey is stored in a hive here!
2. During quick hive inspections, you will most likely see the size of cluster diminish over time. The bees will be clustering more and more tightly as the weather gets colder. But, you will also see a slow loss in population as the fall workers die. This is normal. Hives often lose strength over winter, thus the larger and stronger the hive going into winter the better.
3. With the cold weather, you may notice your harvested honey beginning to crystallize. To re-liquefy, warm at 120 degrees for 24 hours. This can be done using a variety of methods, such as an old refrigerator or ice chest with light bulbs and a thermostat.
4. Any hive that has less than 4 frames covered front and back with bees should be combined with another hive using the newspaper method. Eliminate the queen in the weak hive, and remove the lid of the hive you are going to join with. Place a sheet of newspaper over the hive, and place the box containing the bees from the weaker hive directly on top of the newspaper. Over a period of days, the bees will chew through the newspaper, and merge into one hive. This slow method of joining helps prevent fighting between the two hives. Here is a video showing this process!
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Ahhh… the air has a cool little crispness to it and the trees are finally starting to act like the date on the calendar.
I feel a Christmas story coming on!
Photo Credit: ehow.com
A Yellowjacket December
Twas the month of Christmas when all through the nest
Not a creature was stirring, not even a pest;
The Honey was stored in the super with care, in hopes that St. Ambrose soon would be there;
All little bees were nestled all snug in their hives, while visions of honey drops danced in their eyes;
And Queen in her crown, and I in my hat, had just settled down for a long winter’s nap; when out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my house to see what was the matter.
Away to the bee yard I flew like a flash, tore open the lid and threw it in the grass.
When, what to my eyes should appear, Yellowjackets and Robbers buzzing around my ears!
More rapid than honeybees and much more mean, I whistled and shouted, and called them by name;
Now Yellowjackets and Robbers starting this brawl – Dash away, dash away – Gone with you all!
With my hive tool and knowledge of beekeeping at hand, I made traps and reduced entrances so these thieves would disband.
And putting my suit away, feeling the victor – I feel safer now going into Winter!
If only it were that easy…
These thieves of the day are more than just pests for sure. It's interesting to learn, that yellowjackets can soon follow a robbing frenzy. Yes, robbing – we talked about this in August but why now?
With Winter on its way and nature's food resources getting scarcer, robbing can become a huge problem! One of these unwanted robbing pests are Yellowjackets. These yellow and black “stripy things” aren’t sweet like our little Honeybees – on the contrary! They are MEAN! AND to top it off, they have it out for our bees!
Yellowjackets are in the “wasp family” and feed on our bees, larvae, brood, bee bread and pretty much anything they want inside our colonies!
Ironically, the robbing from other bees tends to start first and then the Yellowjacket takes the opportunity to go in while our bees are distracted.
We do have ammunition though…
You can purchase “bait traps” commonly found at your local box store or make your own.
Here’s a DIY method readily found online:
Use a 2 liter bottle and fill it with about a cup (give or take) of sugar syrup (light or heavy.) Or, if you don’t want to accidentally trap honeybees; meat, fish, chicken, or some rotting fruit will also work. Sugar syrup seems to be the preferred method because it’s easily made, and the container can be cleaned and reused time and time again.
You can either leave the bottle intact or cut the top third of the bottle off (the neck portion), placing the cut top inverted back down into the cut opening pointing down.
This is a rather elementary trap – the pest enters through the funnel top and can’t manage to get back out! Easy Peasy!
A proactive approach to robbing can be achieved by reducing your hive entrances. We typically suggest reducing them during colder weather anyway, so this shouldn’t be a problem as a seasonal solution to robbers of any kind.
I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping your woodenware in good condition. Robbers, no matter the species will take full advantage of any opening available; i.e.. separating seams or worn places where boxes meet. When you think about it in the terms of your own home, without fail we maintain a good roof over our heads and walls that don’t leak to stay comfortable and dry. Your bees want the same! Take the time during the cold weather to do maintenance on your hive boxes. Yes, you can do this WITH bees inside the box! On a cold day “when all the little bees are nestled snug in their hives,” take some wood putty (or duct tape if you’re me) and a gallon of paint and go make repairs to seams and give her a nice new paint job! I would still recommend at least a veil when working the front of the box… those guard girls are on duty year-round!
Fun game if you are bored –
You can actually “track the yellowjackets” to their nest! I know… if you’re really bored, right?
Take a clear plastic cup and put a small amount of powdered sugar in the bottom. Then “catch a yellowjacket” with the cup and quickly cover it with something they can’t sting through. Give a quick shake to coat the wasp in the powdered sugar and then release it. The now “white” yellowjacket will quickly fly away, hopefully to its nest. Your job is to follow it! Remember, I said you were really bored to spend time doing this right?
It may take 20-30 attempts, but eventually you’ll locate the nest, giving you the opportunity to destroy it! Unlike our bees, they build their nests in trees, shrubs, or in places like flower pots, as well as in soil cavities in the ground, tree stumps, etc. Also, they don’t use wax to build their comb, but instead, the nests are made from wood fiber chewed into a paper-like pulp to form cells.
In the event you find the nest, you can either use a pesticide rated for wasps/yellowjackets OR take a pot of boiling water and pour it down the entrance to the nest. It is really important to be well suited for this event and it’s even suggested to do this at night. Not only will you get more bang for your boil (that’s a punny) – but you’ll less likely get an all-out attack on you in the event they retaliate.
Authors Caution: I’ve made jest of tracking yellowjackets, but please understand, there is danger in serious stings from these very mean wasps. They can and will sting you given the opportunity. I’ve seen pictures of huge nests and you would not want to go at it unprepared.
Now that you know about the Yellowjacket and its mission – You can better calculate your position.
Protecting our bees and their honey – although hard work, is sure to save us money!
Determination and commitment to healthy, thriving bees as our plight…
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”
By: CHARI ELAM
Photo Credit: beeinformed.org
Photo Below taken by Andrew R. Jenson
Giant Yellowjacket nest
located 4 miles north of Tennille, Florida
This box needs repair and painting
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For commercial beekeepers, overwintering indoors has become increasingly popular over the past 5 years. While a method for small scale beekeepers to do the same hasn't been developed yet, I'm sure it's only a matter of time until someone devises a method!
Storing bees indoors has been around for a long time. Traditionally, bees were stored in northern states in potato cellars, which were not being used for potato storage during the winter. So, beekeepers would wait until early November when outdoor temperatures typically stayed in the 30s and 40s, load up all their hives & stack them indoors. This came with some concerning issues. One, there was not always good ventilation, and CO2 control. Plus, if you had a sudden warm day or two, and the bees began to fly or crawl out of the hives, it could cause a huge mess.
I began storing my bees in sheds right after some critical changes began about 5 years ago. Buildings were built just for bees with computer systems controlling and monitoring oxygen, CO2, ventilation & temperature. The buildings are refrigerated, thus ensuring a perfect 40 degree hibernation temperature.
Cleaned & ready to receive bees for the winter!
By Blake Shook
Truckloads of bees indoors ready to unload. Bees can't see red, & thus don't fly if red lights are being used...as much anyway.
This allows us to place our bees indoors even earlier, starting October 1st. They remain indoors, lightly clustered, until we pull them out in late January to ship them to almond pollination in California.
So, why go to the trouble? What's better about this method as opposed to letting the bees overwinter outdoors? There are a few key factors. Personally, I've seen our operation go from often struggling to maintaining an 8 frame average of bees through the winter with outdoor overwintering, to often far exceeding that.
-Hives tend to maintain more bees per box. Since they aren't out flying every warm day, and thus wearing themselves out and dying, we tend to have a greater population per hive coming out of the winter.
-Less food consumed. In Texas, it's not uncommon for a strong hive to consume 20-40 lbs of stored honey. In sheds, each hive consumes more like 10-15 lbs per hive. This is due to them not flying and burning energy, and having a more consistent temperature.
-Protecting woodenware. Since the bees, and thus all the woodenware is stored indoors for almost 4 months out of the year, it greatly extends the life of our woodenware!
-Labor savings. Rather than working bees all winter long, our bees stay parked in one place doing nothing all winter, and requiring no labor on our part.
Unloading & stacking hives. You can see on the back wall the vertical openings in the wall, which allow cold air to circulate between the rows of stacked hives. There are currently experiments being conducted regarding controlling varroa mites in sheds. Bees can withstand higher CO2 levels than mites can. So, trials are being conducted to see if we can raise the CO2 levels just high enough to kill mites but not high enough to kill bees. If it works, this could be an organic way to kill, in mass, all the varroa from thousands of hives at a time!
Dead bees on the floor of the shed. At 40 degrees bees only form a "light" cluster. They are still able to move around inside the hive, and throw any bees out that die. So, every few weeks, the floors are swept and cleaned to remove any bees which hive died and been removed by the workers.
Stacking more hives! The shed in this picture can hold up to 80,000 beehives at a time!
Have you ever wondered where your bees forage?
Me too! Did you know your honey “tells the story”?
Turns out a LOT of beekeepers send honey samples to Texas A & M University for pollen testing! Full disclosure – we’ve done this as well. I can not tell you how exciting it was to find out the origin of the pollen granules in our honey. It’s kind of like your bees have a secret and now you know!!
The Texas A & M Palynology Laboratory's primary focus is on analyzing pollen in honey, forensic samples, soil, and lake sediments, and from archaeological sites. Interestingly, they will accept sample “pollen” and “honey” for the pollen analysis. Provided your samplings origin is from North America the cost for an analysis is $75; otherwise the cost is $100 for other areas in the world.
According to the “January 2019” explanation and cost sheet for this laboratory, “There are approximately 350,000 potential plants from which bees can collect either honey or pollen; therefore, the challenge to identify the pollen is significant.” This document also states that 200-300 pollen grains are examined per sample in order to classify the identifiable pollens.
Are you interested? It takes less than 2 oz of honey submitted to unveil your bees’ secret. How can this information help you? Very often Beekeepers will tout the origin of their honey as a “sales” technique. “Clover” honey – “Mesquite” honey – “Tallow” honey… a great tool to help your honey stand out from the rest!
Here is a picture of our Honey analysis done for the Real Texas Honey program in 2016.
I can tell you we were not only thrilled at getting to participate in the grant program, but also to find out what made our honey so good! As you can see, we are primarily Tallow and Tupelo. Tupelo? Yes… we were “shocked” as well! We had no idea there were Tupelo trees in our area, much less that our bees were finding enough to make it 28% of our pollen content. To view our entire report, of which is very interesting CLICK HERE.
What are your bees foraging on? Do you want to find out? Drop me a line when you get your findings back and let’s share the results!
For complete available instructions and cost to get YOUR honey tested
We All Need Help Sometimes...
Beekeeping can be complicated. Whether you're a new-bee or experienced, all of us get stumped sometimes. A major goal of Texas Bee Supply is to do more than sell you premium equipment and bees. We want you to succeed, and we are here every step of the way for you. When our videos, magazines & classes don't answer your questions, send an email to our beekeeping experts and we will help you with anything we can! Beekeepers helping Beekeepers. That's Texas Bee Supply.
By: Chari Elam
the 10 most important things you need to know
by - James Elam
Every beekeeper was once a Newbee, just beginning the learning curve. The initial exposure is one of fun, excitement and fascination leading to intimidation, reluctance and finally the “Ah ha” moment of confidence. How does the new beekeeper get to the “Ah ha” level of this new learning curve?
Begin with: Understanding Who You Are As a Beekeeper and Why You Want To Keep Bees
Ask yourself: What do you expect for you and for your bees from this experience? What do you expect from you and from your bees as a result of this experience? Do you want to be a traditional beekeeper, learning by the book or do you want to learn through your own trial and error?
Reinventing the wheel is never a good idea when practicing good animal husbandry. Some lessons are easily learned and some come with a price. Beekeeping should be something that is fun and not something discouraging. You can responsibly have fun beekeeping while understanding that learning takes time.
There are lots of reasons to raise honeybees. Maybe you want them as pollinators for your garden or maybe for honey production. Maybe you want to be part of saving the honeybees or to make some money from the products. Regardless of the reason, understanding the “why” is a necessary part of understanding the “how.” I encourage you to adopt the following tips as you learn and pursue the “Ah ha moment.”
Start by learning about bees and then learn about beekeeping. The more you learn about the biology and behavior of the bee, the more you will understand about trying to manage them. Once you understand their goals, you will better understand your responsibilities as a beekeeper.
Two hives are better than one. Managing two colonies is not more difficult than managing one but the advantages are Great! The ability to compare colonies side by side is invaluable to spot whether a colony is surviving or thriving. How do you know if a single colony is doing great or poorly if you have no baseline to work with or compare to? Having 2 or more colonies allows you to share not only “groceries” but also bees, brood and honey!
Bee consistent when expanding your hive equipment. Try using the same size box for all brood rearing. The same is true for honey storage. Equipment consistency is important in growing colonies, splitting colonies and in harvesting honey. Regardless of the box size used, be consistent. Deeps are usually preferred for brood rearing when using traditional Langstroth hive equipment, but medium boxes are acceptable if the colony is properly managed. The reverse is also true that mediums are traditionally used as honey supers in small scale beekeeping, but deeps can also be used. The ability to interchange equipment between colonies is both cost effective and practical.
Understand and practice the 75% rule of beekeeping. It’s generally accepted that any brood box or honey super must be relieved of overcrowding pressure when reaching the 75% full status on the condition that a nectar flow is in progress. Bees like to be crowded but not so much so that swarming is initiated. Randy Oliver of Scientific Beekeeping says it best in describing the Beekeepers Dilemma “The greater the population of a colony, the greater proportion of workers that can be involved in nectar foraging, comb building and converting nectar into honey.” The challenge is how to maximize colony population yet minimize the swarming urge. Take away- most colonies not given a second deep box for colony expansion will likely swarm.
Swarming? Let it “bee” or Stop It! Swarming is how a colony reproduces, expands or perpetuates the species. Do we have the right or responsibility to stop or influence this natural event? Expansion will occur with or without our help in all healthy colonies. Can we as beekeepers assume the responsibility of managing this expansion? The answer is absolutely and responsibly YES. We don’t want to watch our bees fly away in a swarm. As beekeepers, we can simulate a swarm by artificially making a split, effectively dividing the colony to relieve expansion pressure. In doing so, we have the benefit of not only artificially creating and managing a swarm but also keeping the bees “at home” for apiary expansion. Inside tip- First year queens are very unlikely to swarm.
To exclude or not to exclude, that is the question! The use of queen excluders is a topic of great disagreement. Keep the queen where we want her to be or trust that she knows what she’s doing. Once a colony is strong enough for the beekeeper to consider adding a honey super, the decision has to be made. Yes, means you allow her the opportunity to lay eggs in a box dedicated to honey storage, potentially contaminating one or more frames. No, means she may be excluded from expanding her brood nest potentially resulting in a swarm. We are of the belief that excluders should initially be avoided if wax building is just beginning in the honey supers (new foundation). Once several frames have been mostly drawn, install the excluder to protect the stored honey. Remember the inside tip, first year queens are not likely to swarm. Some beekeepers believe queen excluders slow the honey building process down referring to them as “honey excluders.” For those, consider using an upper entrance and an excluder; allowing the excluder to do its job but also giving the foragers a door above it.
So, queen excluders? The answer is Both Yes and No. There is no right or wrong answer.
To re-queen or not to re-queen, that is the question! Honeybee queens can live really long lives – 3,4,5 and even 6 years. Young queens, those in years one and two, are at their absolute best. As a queen ages, her queen pheromone releases decline, her egg laying diminishes and brood patterns may potentially become irregular. As beekeepers, we have the ability to control not only the ages of our queens but both the positive and negative traits of the queens within our colonies. Inside Tip- The proactive approach to queen management is to initiate planned and controlled requeening. Manage your colonies and bee the beekeeper.
Hive inspections, what, why and when? Hive inspections are a beekeeper’s opportunity to assess the health and well-being of a honeybee colony. We classify hive inspections as hive checks or deep dives. Hive checks should occur every 7-10 days and deep hive dives should occur quarterly, 4 times a year. A hive check provides the beekeeper with an assessment of colony health by “outside observation” and a “quick peek” of a frame or two. A hive dive is the beekeepers scheduled opportunity to examine, manipulate and observe things such as brood pattern, resource needs and disease and pest management. Hive dives are 100% necessary for responsible colony management and may be warranted more often if the need arises.
Varroa mites are the Enemy! Learn about these parasites and be proactive in controlling them. “Doing nothing about Varroa mites is not an option. Honeybees are not capable of surviving or thriving unless the beekeeper prevents Varroa from reaching damaging levels.” (Honeybee Health Coalition)
Understand the rules of successful beekeeping. Bees require a warm and dry home, access to abundant food resources and pest and disease management. Meet these requirements and you are on the way to the “Ah ha” moment of becoming a successful beekeeper.
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Hold one end of the straw next to the flame for just a second until it melts. Then use the second set of needle nose to crimp hot plastic to create a good seal.
This is a Fun and Easy project for the beekeeper wanting to make a few honey straws at home! If you own a food vacuum sealing machine, watch this short video to learn how to make multiple straws at a time!
Your Favorite Honey
Condiment squeeze bottle
Ordinary drinking straws
Tea Light or candle
2 Needle Nose pliers
Cut straws to desired length
Fill straw that has not been sealed on either end - I found this filled easier than method 1.
How To: Make Honey Straws At Home
Fill a total of 3 straws. Hold them together with the needle nose and melt the ends like in method 1
Video Credit: Foraging Flights
Use the condiment bottle to squeeze your honey into the straw and repeat the sealing steps above.
Rotate the straw and seal the other end. You may have to use small scissors to separate your straws when your done.
We know the bees use the propolis to seal cracks, but have you ever seen them reduce the entrance to their hive when the beekeeper failed to?
Bees are pretty smart - Cool weather coming or invasion of unwanted guest? They’ll quickly utilize their propolis reserves and create an entrance reducer when needed!
The Bees' Miracle Mud!
Have you ever wondered what that gunky stuff is that glues our bee boxes together making it “pop” when we break the seal? That's propolis! Not really high-tech stuff – basically just the “ooze” that drips from trees or other botanical sources, collected by our honeybees to use in their hives.
When mixed with bee saliva (bee spit) and beeswax, the concoction becomes a “tool” the bees use for many different benefits inside the hive and even for their health!
Did you know?
Propolis is Bee Caulk! Bees use this sticky resin as a “crack filler” inside their hives to stop drafts and more importantly, robbing!
The rigidity of propolis adds “stability” to the hive and can reduce vibrations that might occur.
Medicine – Propolis provides anti-fungal and antibacterial benefits to the colony.
Honey Bees will keep “back stock” of propolis, “just in case” of emergencies; as much as 1 pound stored and ready to go!
Social immunity – studies have shown honeybees that have prolific propolis have “sterilized” the nest, keeping diseases and pathogens under control better than low propolis colonies.
Propolis is also used to embalm large intruders that can’t be removed. Honeybees will create a propolis encasement as a “self-preservation” factor to help keep their nest sanitary from the rotting intruder!
Bees "self-made" propolis entrance reducer!
...so now what? After months of activity caring for your bees, it's finally time to take a deep breath and wait for spring. If you are like me, waiting is the hardest part! Every cold rainy night, or cold front, I wonder what's going on with my bees, when can I check on them, is it too cold to take a look, etc. Here are some answers to common winter inspection questions:
1. How often should I inspect?
I recommend some form of inspection 2 times per month, November-January. For November you should be adding a pollen patty each inspection, and doing any last minute feeding. One inspection in December and January can simply be to lift up on the hive and peek under the lid to ensure proper food stores; then the other inspection can be to quickly look inside the hive.
2. When should I inspect?
Bees do a decent job of keeping their hive warm, and recovering after the hive has been opened. If you are simply checking food stores, and not breaking the boxes apart or lifting frames, it can be done anytime. If you are lifting frames out or breaking the boxes apart, I recommend around noon on a sunny day. This will give the bees plenty of time to form their cluster before it gets
Winter is finally here...
how often, when, and what should i be looking for?
before it's cold again at night. As far as temperatures, I've inspected plenty of hives around 35-40 degrees if it's sunny, and the inspection only takes a few minutes. If you want to pull all the frames out one at a time, and do an inspection that lasts several minutes, it needs to be flying weather, so 50s and sunny. But, to just break the boxes apart to see the cluster side, and pull a frame or two out, it can be quite cold and not damage the hive.
3. What should I be looking for?
Typically winter inspections are gauging syrup/honey stores. If your hive has less than 30 lbs in their second box, you can feed. Check out how to tell how much honey is stored here! It will take the bees several days to drink syrup in the winter. During the winter, that's about all you can do. Outside the hive, make sure the lids are on securely, water isn't pooling on the bottom board, and your wind blocks are in place. If you do have a bright sunny day, and want to pull a few frames out, you should see the queen beginning to lay eggs early to mid January. A pollen patty or two starting in early January will help jump start that process.
2/3 c. honey
2/3 c. oil (I use olive oil)
6 c. warm water (110 degrees)
3 T. instant yeast (I use SAF brand)
2 T. salt
12-15 c. flour (I grind my own Prairie Gold; you can use 100% whole grain or mix it with some white flour for a lighter loaf)
Recipe of the Month
By: Cynthia Goodell
Yummy Whole Grain Bread
Have a Recipe you'd like to share ? Email us at Editor@TexasBeeSupply.com
Click Here to Print Recipe
1. Using the dough hook attachment to your stand mixer, add water to mixer bowl and sprinkle yeast on top ~ blend. Add oil, honey, and enough flour to make an oatmeal texture. Let “sponge” (rest and activate) for 15 minutes.
2. Add salt and enough remaining flour to clean the sides of the bowl.
3. Knead for 8-9 minutes, until a ball of dough stretches flat and doesn’t tear.
4. Remove from mixer onto oiled countertop and form into five loaves. (Note: I like to make cinnamon swirl bread by rolling dough into a rectangle, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and then roll up before placing in pan.)
5. Cover loosely (I use cheap shower caps purchased at the beauty supply store ~they’re perfect for this!) and let rise in a warm place ~ a lighted countertop or oven with the light on.
6. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.
7. Cut one slice while warm, apply butter, and enjoy; leave the rest to cool on a rack before placing in plastic bags to store or share!
Applies to Purchases made for your Beekeeping venture
Beekeepers can claim “exemptions” from some Texas taxes (sales tax) when purchasing certain items used exclusively to produce agricultural products (as it relates to beekeeping) used for sale.
Example: Beekeeping Equipment (protective clothing does not apply)
Note: Merchant has the right to determine whether or not to grant you
the tax exemption at time of purchase. You also must carry the Ag Exemption card with you and fill out a form with each merchant to keep on file.
To apply :
Application Form AP-228-2 completed and turned in to the Texas State Comptroller either online or by mail.
Applies to land taxes only
Beekeeping is an agricultural use and shall qualify for agricultural use productivity
valuation if used for pollination or for the production of human food or other tangible products having
a commercial value. (Sec. 23.51 (2) Tax Code)Requires 5-20 acres
Note: Each county will have their own interpretation of this Tax Code.
You will want to call or meet with your local appraisal district to follow their specific instructions on application and qualifications.
To apply: File Application Property Tax Form 50-129 to your local county appraisal district.
If accepted, land that falls under the criteria will be appraised at a lower value per acre saving you money on your year end land taxes.
Time sensitive filing deadlines apply
Do you know the difference?
If your hive was fed sufficiently in the fall, odds are they won’t need any additional feeding. However, if they did not go into winter with sufficient stores, or are eating stores faster than expected, you may need to feed during the winter. This can be challenging, since it is difficult for the bees to move around enough in cold weather to access syrup.
Here are some tips to give them the best shot at drinking syrup, or having enough food:
1. Feed 2:1 syrup. This will allow them to use or store it immediately.
2. Use a division board feeder, or a top feeder directly over the cluster. The closer the food is to them, the more likely they are to drink it.
3. Take a few frames of honey from a different hive with excess honey, and place them immediately beside the cluster.
4. If the hive is completely out of food, place a gallon zip lock bag of syrup ½ full of 2:1 syrup, with all the excess air removed, on the top bars directly above the main cluster, and poke 10-15 small holes, or 1 inch slits on the top of the bag. This will give the bees direct access to food with minimal movement.
5. For southern beekeepers it's not necessary to feed fondant. Some beekeepers feed a thick sugar patty placed on the top bars for winter feeding. This works for northern climates where bees can't access syrup for weeks/months, and syrup freezes even inside the hive. Unfortunately, bees have to turn that sugar into a liquid before they can use it. Syrup is much easier for them to use and in the south, there are plenty of days the bees can access syrup.
How & what to Winter Feed
hINT-iT'S NOT FONDANT
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Learn Queen Rearing
Photo Credit: Denise Ingle
Photo Credit: Bishop Decker - Liberty County Beekeepers
Royal jelly is cultivated by stimulating colonies to produce queens. It is then collected from each cell when it reaches about 4 days old.
A well-managed hive can produce around 500 grams of Royal Jelly per spring/summer queen rearing season.
Royal Jelly has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. Although the FDA has deemed claims of its medicinal properties as unfounded, Royal Jelly remains highly sought after as a dietary supplement.
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Royal jelly is secreted from the hypopharnx glands of nurse bees and used for feeding all larvae in the colony for the first 3 days regardless the caste.
Queens cells are fed exclusively Royal Jelly until the cell is capped at day 8-9. This pure Royal Jelly diet is what promotes fully developed reproductive organs in the Queen; giving her the ability to be mated and become a fertile female.
Royal Jelly contains:
All B complex vitamins (including high concentrations of B5 and B6)
Minerals, Enzymes, Amino Acids
Vitamins A,C, D & F
Nucleic Acids (to make RNA and DNA)
Acetylcholine - a substance that allows messages to travel from one nerve to the other in the brain.
Q: Should I worry? How can I keep roaches out of the tops of my boxes? They are often on top of my inner cover.
A: Thankfully, they are not a problem for the bees. In general they are just looking for a warm place to hang out!
GC vs. TX5000 for Beginners
Q: Which bees are the best for starters the Golden Cordovans or the Texas 5000?
A: Great question! Texas 5000s are our toughest, and most dependable stock. Excellent in all areas. The Golden Cornovans are great in all areas as well, but are considered some of the world's most gentle bees. If gentle bees are your primary concern, then they are your best choice. If just great bees then the TX 5000s.
Paper on Pollen Patties
Q: Do I need to remove the paper on either side of pollen patties before putting them in the hive?
A: Nope! It is there to help keep the patty moist. The bees will easily chew through the paper as they eat the patty.
Q: Is it normal to see hive beetles at this time of year?
A: Yes! Hive beetles can thrive up to the point of consistent cold weather. Even then, the adult beetles will overwinter with the hive.
Q: If I have plenty of honey in my second box, should I keep feeding in December?
A: No need to keep feeding if you have 30-40 lbs of honey stored! The only time you need to feed for the rest of the year is if they have less than 20 lbs or so of stores.
Q: Should I worry about the hive being too cold at night if I put a box on top for feeding sugar syrup? The empty space is worrying to me.
A: No they should be fine! doesn’t get cold enough here for us to worry about. They will cluster and keep themselves warm.
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It doesn’t get cold enough here for us to worry about. They will cluster and keep themselves warm.
Q: How often should I inspect my hive during December?
A: Only 1, or perhaps 2 times. The main goal is to take a quick peek, make sure the population looks good, and make sure the upper box still feels heavy with stored food.
Q: When do you remove the in-hive feeder? It seems to take up a lot of real estate in the bottom box.
A: I actually leave them in year around. It does take up space, but if you have 2 brood boxes (either 2 deeps or a deep and a medium) there is plenty space for the bees.
2:1 or 1:1 winter feeding?
Q: For winter feeding, should I be feeding 1:1 or 2:1 syrup?
A:The goal over the winter is for the bees to store the syrup, and/or use it as quickly as possible. They are able to do both those things faster with 2:1, so I recommend feeding a thicker, 2:1 syrup (2:1 by weight or volume) during the winter.
Q: I have a hive that has all the boxes totally filled with bees. Should I add a box in December?
A: Nope! There is virtually zero risk of swarming in December and January. lf they are still that full in late January, go ahead and add another box, and prepare to split as soon as you can get a queen!
Q: Should I plan to requeen every year?
A: In general, yes! It's a good best management practice to requeen your hive each year. Order queens now for spring!
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Bees are attracted to heat during cold days and can cluster on humans to keep warm!
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