Saturday, April 5, 2014

LESSON 151: Beekeeping Classes Are Paramount 217-427-2678

Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms.

Route663Finally, it seems for us that winter is letting up. We are officially into spring and we hope the weather finds that out too.  My circle of friends and acquaintances include brilliant people who spent their lives researching and raising honey bees. At conferences and during the week we often talk about new research that might be helpful. We also talk about the impact that new beekeepers may have on colony survival. Sometimes we express our concern over the number of beekeepers who start keeping bees with little to no real knowledge about the challenges facing bees today.  We talk about what is being taught in some beginner classes and whether it is enough to really help get a newbie off to a good start.   Today I want to share 4 lesson to be learned from not taking a beekeeping class and in so doing hopefully contribute to better winter survival for next winter. But first let me share some things that been going on around the farm.

Route661 Sheri and I traveled to California with Leah to see our son, Seth, return safely home from Afghanistan. We spent 4 days driving along Historic Route 66 toward Twenty-nine Palms, Ca. Last year Sheri and I studied a few books about Route 66 and planned a trip out west but our schedule never worked out.

route664 This was our first time to see the Grand Canyon. It was unbelievable and as breath taking as everyone says it is. We were following along Route 66 somewhere in Arizona through a tight and winding mountain road when we started wondering if we’d ever find another gas station. Then we rounded a corner and found a small town bustling with people, stores and donkeys. It was Oatman, Arizona. It’s a restored goldmine ghost town.

Route667 The town is mostly for tourist now and it was fun. There was a make believe gun fight out in the street and everywhere you walk there is a donkey in the way. Apparently when the gold mine closed they didn’t know what to do with the donkeys so the workers just let the donkeys free and now they simply roam the area and hang out in town. It also helps that you can buy small blocks of grass to feed the donkeys.

We finally made it out to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twenty-nine Palms, Ca. We got on base about 11:30pm California time and waited for the arrival of 3/7 India company which finally arrived around 3:30 a.m. They marched out and family and friends cheered, filled with joy that they were home after their 6 month deployment in Afghanistan.

We are thankful that Seth is back from the combat zone and on base. He will be back on the farm in May for a few weeks of post deployment leave. Then in August Seth and Leah will be married and move back out to California. He will deploy again in 2015 but hopefully not to a combat zone.

Route662 It was great to take a vacation especially in a warmer climate. All our family and friends did a great job covering for us while we were gone. Now it’s back to work!


This winter was one of the hardest winters on record. I believe for Illinois it was our third worst winter and the bees suffered. It will take a while for surveys to shed light about winter losses but it would be surprising if it is not much higher than usual.

The million dollar question is what could we have done differently. As I have said before, sometimes we can do everything right such as having low mite levels and a strong queen and a strong population of bees but viruses can simply overtake the bees in the winter. Varroa mites vector viruses. Those viruses can weaken and cause the colony to perish in the winter. Varroa mites can cut the life of bees in half. So  you can see how a long winter can take it’s toll on bees.

class3 There is a reality that many beekeepers start beekeeping without taking a solid beekeeping course or class. I did when I first started. And I lost my first hive after a few years because I made mistakes and didn’t really know up from down. Taking a class does not guarantee success but it certainly increases the chance. Of course it is still up to the beekeeper to put into practice what is learned.

I’ve noticed that when doctors and nurses take our classes their bees do really well because they care for their colony like a patient. It really does require careful and deliberate care to keep a colony healthy. I know there are plenty of YouTube videos on how to raise bees. I have some online. But there is nothing like spending a day with a knowledgeable beekeeper where you can ask questions, take notes and have it all come together.

Here’s a sure way for your colony to die. Pour in your package, put the boxes on and do nothing. Oh, occasionally a colony can survive and do well, but that is a rare exception. To keep that colony strong it takes a knowledge base and skill level that you are best able to grasp by taking a class.

Institute4 It may sound like I’m promoting our classes we offer. Of course I am! I’d be a fool  not to because I’ve worked hard over the last decade to learn everything about bees and become a certified master beekeeper. If you want to see what it takes to be a certified master beekeeper check this link out and you’ll see what I had to accomplish. In 2010 I became a master beekeeper so that our beekeeping classes would be spot on with solid teachings to help beekeepers learn as much as possible.

Take a look at our upcoming courses:

April 13 Basic Beekeeping - 2 Seats Left

May 23-24 Advance Beekeeping

Beekeeping Institute:

June 9-13 Beekeeping Institute – Sign Up For The Whole Week

If you cannot make it to all classes during the institute, sign up for a single day by clicking on the class below you wish to attend.
  June 9th-Basic Beekeeping, Tues June 10th-Practical Beekeeping, Wed June 11th-Advance Beekeeping, Thur June 12th -Queen Rearing and Fri June 13th-Insect Photograph

June 27-28 Queen Rearing Course

October 3-4 Basic Beekeeping

October 25 Basic Beekeeping

We are gearing up for the 2014 beekeeping year and as you can see from above there are plenty of classes to participate in. Please take advantage and learn as much as you can. So what did we learn from the winter of 2013-14? It might seem like the wrong time of the year to plan for winter, but actually, what you do now will lend to successful overwintering of your bees. You must start now controlling varroa mites, making sure you have a great laying queen, and make sure you colonies are very populated all year.

1. Winter Survival Begins With Controlling Varroa Mites

NS14 I simply cannot stress this enough. You might even be tired and bored of me repeating this time and time again, but if you choose not to do anything about mites, the colony will eventually perish. Maybe not the first or second year but eventually. We all love the occasional survival hives that have mites and yet still do great. These rare hives intrigue all of us who raise queens. We want to reproduce those traits. But even this is not a proven science. So we must fall back on some methods of reducing mites. Some of our links below will take you to a more descriptive lesson for the method.

a. Start now using green drone comb.

drone foundationUse drone foundation to lure the mites. Mites prefer drone cells because the foundress mites have a full 24 days to develop their prodigy since the drone is the longest in the cell. So, you can lure the mites from worker cells by placing drone foundation on the outside edges of your brood hive bodies. We sell a one piece drone foundation plastic frame. The cell size is for drone cells so the queen knows to lay only unfertilized eggs producing drones. Then, your mites run to these cells and after the comb is capped, you pull the frames out and freeze them overnight and your mites are dead. Scratch open the cells and place it back in hive for the bees to clean out, and they will! They get rid of all the mites and dead drones. These frames are a bright lime green so you can easily identify your drone frames. We sell these frames for $4.99 each, much cheaper than chemicals.

b. Powder sugar dust your bees. See

c. Use screen bottom boards to help mites fall out of the hive.

I used to be a staunch solid bottom board fan until I experimented with a screen bottom board. Wow! I immediately converted all of my solid bottom boards over to screen bottom boards. When mites fall to the bottom of a hive with a screen bottom board, they are gone, and cannot make it back in. On a solid bottom board, they simply wait for the next passing bee to get on and ride back up to infest the hive.

d. Break the colony’s brood cycle once the hive reaches a strong population. Review my lesson on breaking the queen’s brood cycle at:

2. Winter Survival Preparation Means Having A Strong Queen In The Fall

It is important that you know the health of your queen at all times, especially in late summer and early fall. She should be laying really well all the way into fall. Throughout the beekeeping year monitor your queen. If she is not laying lots of eggs, replace her immediately. It is certain failure to over-winter with a poor queen.

3. Winter Survival Means Having A Large Colony In The Fall

It seems that a strong colony has a much great chance at survival that a colony that is weak in numbers. Obviously for winter survival more bees means more heat that can be generated. If a colony is not strong in numbers going into winter it probably means that a problem already exists and that winter will be the final straw.

4. Winter Survival Means Trying Everything Else 

I think if we all knew that this winter was going to be this hard we might have tried a few extra methods and tricks. Even not knowing if they work, maybe they couldn’t have hurt? It’s hard to know for certain. But here’s some thoughts:  Wrapping is always a consideration. It doesn’t always help and hives still perish that have been wrapped. But it might be worth a try.

Winter-Bee-Kinds are viewed as emergency feed, top insulation to cut down on moisture developing at the top and an upper vent to provide a sooner opportunity for bees to defecate outside the colony during winter. Hives with viruses and other problems can still perish with a Winter-Bee-Kind. But it is certainly worth a try.

A wind break is always a good thing . Imagine yourself either in the cold wind or behind a wind block. It’s always better out of the wind.

In summary the key to winter survival is to keep mite levels down, strong numbers, a strong queen and plenty of honey and pollen in the hive prior to winter. So, start now to prepare your hive for next winter.

We appreciate you doing business with us! Take advantage of our many offers on hives. Here’s our best deal.

Two Full Size Hives, fully assembled and fully painted. He hive consists of a Screen Bottom Board, two deep hive bodies with wooden frames and foundation, one medium super with wooden frames and foundation, an inner cover, a top cover with metal covering and also comes with two entrance feeders and two different sized entrance reducers. One to accompany your entrance feeder, and one to stand alone. We recommend starting with two hives. Click for more information.

Swarm Are you ready to catch that swarm?  It’s swarm season. Have that extra hive ready when you get that call to collect a free swarm of bees. If you’re not ready to collect the swarm, they’ll fly away before you have something to put them in. Order an extra hive now.

Thanks for joining us for another lesson! See you next time!

David & Sheri Burns

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

LESSON 150: The Transition From A Hard Winter Into Spring 217-427-2678


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms and thanks for joining us for an important beekeeping lessons. We’re David & Sheri Burns and we operate Long Lane Honey Bee Farms here in East Central Illinois. We manufacture and sell beekeeping equipment, package bees, nucs, queens, honey and everything to do with bees! As an EAS certified Master Beekeeper I offer these lessons, answering hundreds of beekeeping questions all FREE.  But, if you want to help us pay the bills, consider buying hives,  beekeeping supplies, packages and queens from us. We appreciate your business. We are a family business with a personal touch. Thank you in advance for your business.

Like most of us here in the north we’ve been waiting for warm weather and we are becoming impatient! Temperatures tomorrow night here will be –1 below (f) and even a week from tomorrow the low is 9 (f). We have a lot of winter still left. It’s going to be important for beekeepers to transition their colonies out of this hard winter into the spring season. In today’s lesson I want to give some important feeding information as well as cleaning out the hive and how to rotate hive bodies to help give the colony a good start to spring.

2014Class Before our lesson let me tell you how excited we are at the number of students taking our beekeeping classes and getting into beekeeping. While many of our students at our basic classes are new, other students have been keeping bees for a few years and decided it was time to take a class to learn more. Students, this year, have been very inquisitive and passionate about getting into beekeeping. It is very good to see.

buildroom As usual, this time of the year through June is very hectic trying to keep up with the equipment demand from our shop. Needless to say we stay very busy building hives and equipment. We purchase wood from a local hardware store and custom cut all hive equipment to our specs and then assemble and paint everything here. It takes a lot of effort and hard work. We’d like to thank all our wonderful customers for ordering from us, keeping our family busy and helping others to have jobs. We know you could go to other places, so thank you for your business. We appreciate it.

Busybee We are offering FREE SHIPPING to all hives shipped within Illinois. This is for phone orders only, not onlineFreeshipping orders. Call 217-427-2678 to take advantage of this special offer. Limited time only. Please order your hives as early as you can to avoid the busy bee season when shipping times may take longer.



Two Seats Left For March 8th Basic Beekeeping Class

Our beekeeping classes always sell out. We have two seats left for our March 8th basic beekeeping class. Click here to register. Time: 9am-3:30 Central Time. Bring your own lunch. Registration includes student workbook. We have 3 lb packages of bees with mated queens available for purchase for our class students only.Upcoming Classes:

April 12th Basic Beekeeping - 4 seats left

May 23-24 Advance Beekeeping - Open

June 27-28 Queen Rearing Course -Open

October 3-4 Basic Beekeeping -Open

October 25 Basic Beekeeping -Open




Do You Have The Knowledge Necessary To Keep Your Hive Alive And Strong?

Imagine spending 5 days with certified master beekeeper David Burns, Jon Zawislak, University of Arkansas Div of Agriculture Apiculture, Charlie Nye from the University of Illinois Bee Lab and Alex Wild, renown insect photographer!  Long Lane Honey Bee Farms Beekeeping Institute will be Monday-Friday, June 9-13, 2014. This is our second year to offer our Beekeeping Institute and last year was a smashing success.

The Beekeeping Institute is a series of classes over the course of five days to make you a well rounded, knowledgeable beekeeper. This week long institute is held at our honey bee farm in our new classroom building. Here's the approximate schedule (which may change due to weather):
Day 1 Monday: Basic Beekeeping
Day 2 Tuesday: Practical Beekeeping
Day 3 Wednesday: Advance Beekeeping
Day 4 Thursday: Queen Rearing
Day 5 Friday: Insect Photography with Alex Wild
Lunch each day is included as well as workbooks. Click here for more information. If you want to attend only one day, please call in to secure you seat. 217-427-2678.

I’ll be speaking at the Tri-County Beekeepers conference in Wooster, Ohio this weekend. Hope to meet some of you there.

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Lesson 150: The Transition From A Hard Winter Into Spring

 beepoop2 Most of us in the north really aren’t sure how our hives have done this winter. It’s still too cold to inspect. All we can do is keep feeding our colonies and keep waiting for spring. This time of the year we start becoming optimistic that our bees are fine because spring is right around the corner. However, now is the time colonies die. Winter has been very cold and we’ve had only one or two days all winter for the bees to take a cleansing flight. Since bees do not defecate in their hive, they wait until it is warm enough to take a cleansing flight. If they are confined too long, they will show signs of defecating in the hive.Brown spots will appear on the frames and comb. If the weather is warm enough for a cleansing flight bees usually potty all over the front of the hive and top of the hive on that first flight after winter. And they carry bees that died over the winter out of the hive and deposit them in front of the hive.

beepoop If the ground is covered with snow and it warms up, the bees will carry out the bees that died over winter and deposit them into the snow. This usually alarms new beekeepers, but rest assured it is as normal as spring cleaning.

What measures need to be taken by the beekeeper to help an overwintered colony going into spring? 1) Proper Feeding 2) Clearing Out The Bottom Board 3) Rotate Hive Boxes

First, proper feeding will help bees remain well fed between winter and spring when there is very little resources available. Until the temperature outdoors rises above 45 (f) bees usually remain clustered to keep warm. When bees cluster it is best to use our Winter-Bee-Kind and place it above the cluster. Our Winter-Bee-Kinds contain both carbohydrates and protein. It is very important to feed bees during the crucial time between late winter and early spring because the queen is laying more which requires more resources to feed young developing larvae and bees. Do not try to use an entrance feeder during cold weather because the bees are unable to break cluster and move down. The Winter-Bee-Kind placed above the cluster allows the bees to gain easy access to the food.

Once temperatures rise into the 40s and 50s (f) bees will break cluster and move more freely in the hive. Any time bees fly they can be fed liquid sugar as with an entrance feeder with 1:1 sugar water. I would never feed bees liquid sugar until bees are flying outside the hive. Until that time, use the Winter-Bee-Kind, hard sugar.

Secondly, it can help to clean out the bottom board of the overwintered hive. Usually the bees will clean dead bees out just fine, but it can save them the trouble. It works best to wait until it is warm enough to remove the hive bodies off the hive and to dump out all the debris. During a really hard winter there can be an exceptionally high number of dead bees on the bottom board. One year I made a special steel rod with a curve so I could drag out the debris on the bottom board without disturbing the hive. Be careful because bees may come out and investigate who is at the other end.

3) Rotating the hive bodies in early spring can be helpful. Below watch my video of how to rotate the hive bodies during the early days of spring.

Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. Check out all of our beekeeping hives and kits specials at

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Thursday, January 30, 2014

LESSON 149: What’s Hurting Bees? Chemicals Or Varroa Mites? 217-427-2678


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. Hello long time friends and a warm welcome to those who have just found us on the web! We are all counting down the days until spring with only 49 days to go. Still hard to get excited with recent frigid temperatures.

As usual more and  more people are calling us and stopping in getting started in beekeeping for the very first time. 2014 will be the very first year of beekeeping for so many people. We are excited to be a catalyst and source of training for new beekeepers and experienced beekeepers. Stop in and see us or call us at: 217-427-2678

As a certified master beekeeper I review the latest findings, attend conferences, review journals and speak with friends doing research so that I can continue to teach and mentor beekeepers with facts not myths. Our beekeeping classes are filling up fast. Some of our spring classes only have several seats left. If you are considering taking one of our beginner, advance, queen rearing or bee institute classes, do so soon. Beekeeping Classes. 


NS15 As predicted last fall and early winter, package bees are being sold at an unusual rate. Never before in our history have we sold out of bees in January. But we have sold out for the year. There is a small chance that we might be able to shake more, but it is too early to tell. If we do, we will be able to tell more around March. Please keep an eye on these lessons and our website and we’ll post more information as soon as we know.  Please do not ask to be placed on a waiting list. Instead if we can obtain more we will give a week’s notice before we place them online so you can be ready to order as soon as they go live.


NYPhoto4 For those of you taking our classes or anticipating signing up for a class, we have reserved some packages for students. However, we may not have enough packages for all students. This is on a first come, first serve basis. You must sign up for a class first and then purchase a package. These will run out soon too! Here’s  a list of our classes:

Feb. 8 Basic Beekeeping - SOLD OUT
Feb. 15 Basic Beekeeping
March 8 Basic Beekeeping
April 12 Basic Beekeeping
May 23-24 Advance Beekeeping
June 9-13 Beekeeping Institute
June 27-28 Queen Rearing Course
October 3-4 Basic Beekeeping
October 25 Basic Beekeeping

LESSON 149: What’s Hurting Bees? Chemicals Or Varroa Mites?

A common question from new beekeepers often has to do with farm fields close to where they want to place their hives. Those of us in the Midwest are surrounded by farm fields. Data is flowing in from many different reliable sources as bees, pollen and wax are examine to see how much these farm chemicals could be effecting honey bees.

Most of us watch aerial sprayers in the summer and wonder if this will hurt our bees. However, if we removed all chemicals from our world our bees would still face their greatest foe, the varroa mite. I think we would all agree that far more hives are lost to varroa than all chemicals combined.  I attend many meetings and conferences and I hear from beekeepers who do nothing against mites are quick to blame chemicals. That, to me, is unfair. In no way am I defending chemicals that kill bees. But, the reality is we need to invest our concerns first into defeating mites because we have absolute proof that varroa kill bees and contribute to the greatest loss of honey bees.

Varroa mites came to our country shortly after I started keeping bees. I’ve written an article on the history, lifecycle and how to break the brood cycle of varroa mites in the hive.

There are very effective chemicals to use in the hive to reduce mites. Whether to use chemicals in the hive or not, is a personal opinion that you will have to consider. However, if you want to avoid chemicals we recommend a 4 part method to greatly reduce varroa mites in the hive. We teach in detail these 4 methods in our basic and advance classes because for you to be a successful beekeeper you must stay on top of varroa mites.

Four Steps: 1) Use screen bottom boards 2) Dusting with powdered sugar 3) Green drone comb and 4) Breaking the queen’s brood cycle.

I am always surprised at the number of experienced beekeepers who have never heard about Green Drone Comb Trapping of varroa mites.

drone foundation We strongly suggest using drone foundation to lure the mites. We explain this method in more detail in our classes how mites prefer drone cells because the foundress (adult female) mites have a full 24 days to develop their prodigy since the drone honey bee is the longest in the cell. So, you can lure the mites off of your workers by placing drone foundation on the outside edges of your brood hive bodies. We sell a one piece drone foundation plastic frame as seen here in the picture. The cell size is for drone cells so the queen knows to lay only unfertilized eggs which produces only drones. Then, mites run to these cells to reproduce. After they are capped, you pull the frames out, put them in a plastic trash bag, freeze them overnight and your mites are dead. Scratch open the cells and place it back in the hive for the bees to clean out, and they will! They get rid of all the mites and dead drones on the green drone comb and you can repeat this method over and over  These frames are a bright lime green so you can easily identify your drone frames in the hive. We sell these frames for $4.99 each, much cheaper than chemicals. These can be purchased from our website at: under tools, smoker category. By scratching the cells open after freezing, it allows you to keep the drawn comb intact, but encourages the bees to clean out the dead mites and drones from the cells. If you scrap the wax completely off, then it just takes more time for the bees to build the comb out again.

NS14 Do not let varroa mites discourage you. But work all season with our 4 suggested methods to greatly reduce the negative impact mites can have on your hive.  No matter where you purchase your bees from, your hive will quickly have varroa mites. Mites crawl from bee to bee even when bees are out foraging on flowers. Bees sometimes drift into other hives and drones are carriers of mites to other hives. You may never have chemicals hurt your hives, but you will always have mites hurting your hive. Be proactive.

Let me tell you about an awesome gathering of beekeepers in February. It’s called the Tri-County Beekeeper’s Association and meets in Wooster, Ohio. This thing is HUGE. It’s believed to be the largest gathering of beekeepers in the US. It’s over 35 years old and keeps getting bigger and better. This year, I’ve been asked to be the keynote speaker and would love to see you there. The dates are Feb. 28- March 1.  Click here for more information and registration information.

Then in March I’ll be speaking for the Missouri State Beekeeper’s Association Spring Meeting. This will be held at the Country Club Hotel & Spa Lake Ozark, Missouri March 21st-22nd. I hope you can join me there too. Click here to register for this conference.

David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Friday, January 24, 2014

LESSON 148: Are You And Your Bees Prepared For Spring 217-427-2678


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms where it is cold, cold and cold. The good news is that we are only 55 days from spring. If you are like us, you can’t be more ready.

We’ve been busy as a bee this winter, meeting so many new folks who are starting beekeeping this spring for the first time, and of course new customers who just found us on the internet. Welcome!

Today I want to encourage you to be sure you are prepared for spring, and I want to help our new beekeepers understand when to add hive bodies and supers as the year progresses.

Before our lesson today, take a peak at what’s been going on here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. Our son Seth is still deployed in Afghanistan and will be coming back this spring. He’s doing fine and we look forward to seeing him again. After returning home he’ll get a short leave and will marry Leah our newest addition to our staff. Unfortunately, we’ll be losing Leah after the wedding as they will be moving out to Twenty-nine Palms, CA where Seth is stationed. They will be getting married this summer so we’ll have Leah through the busy busy bee season. Yea!

I had a great birthday last week and all my children wrote me letters letting me know how much they love me. I’m keeping those! It was great for them to share with me how much I have influenced their lives. Then Sheri took me to a Japanese restaurant, the kind where you sit right next to the flat grill where the chef does amazing things with fire, knives and food. It was lots of fun.  

With Leah, Karee, Jennifer, Josh and Zach doing such a great job around here, we enjoyed a trip over to the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis. Our Christian is growing up so fast. He’s now six and he’s a sucker for a building full of fun stuff to do to break up the monotony of winter. Yes, winter seems long and boring this time of the year for those of us in the north. We have to do something fun to keep our sanity.

Let me tell you about an awesome gathering of beekeepers in February. It’s called the Tri-County Beekeeper’s Association and meets in Wooster, Ohio. This thing is HUGE. It’s believed to be the largest gathering of beekeepers in the US. It’s over 35 years old and keeps getting bigger and better. This year, I’ve been asked to be the keynote speaker and would love to see you there. The dates are Feb. 28- March 1.  Click here for more information and registration information.

Then in March I’ll be speaking for the Missouri State Beekeeper’s Association Spring Meeting. This will be held at the Country Club Hotel & Spa Lake Ozark, Missouri March 21st-22nd. I hope you can join me there too. Click here to register for this conference.

LESSON 148: Are You And Your Bees Prepared For Spring?

Whether this will be your first year to keep bees or you have years of experience there is always so much to know and do in preparation for spring.

Rainbowhive If you live in the cold north like we do you might find that winter seems like it will never end. However, as of today there is only 55 days left until spring.  Whether you are new to beekeeping or experienced, do not let this cold weather fool you into thinking spring is a long time away.  Start preparing now. Let me give you several tips on how to prepare for the new beekeeping year:

1. Purchase your equipment and bees in advance. I cannot stress this enough. Bees always run out fast for all providers across the US. Do not put off buying your packages of bees. If you haven't purchased your hive kits yet, do not delay. You do not want your bees to arrive before your equipment and have nothing to put your bees into. Get your equipment early so you can become familiar with the pieces and even place it out where it goes. If you cannot decide whether to start with one hive or two, read my article on, “How Many Hives Should I Start With”? We are selling bees very fast and may only have several week’s supply left. If you still need a 3 pound package, click here.

2. Increase your knowledge of beekeeping. Now is the time to take a beekeeping class. A thorough beekeeping class can make all the difference on how you can keep varroa mites under control, install a package, harvest honey,  trap small hive beetle and much more. It's a different beekeeping world now. So much has changed so keep up with it all by taking a class.

3. Be prepared to know when to add hive bodies and supers to your expanding colony. I have a complete article and video for you to study so you will not make rookie mistakes.

4. For new beginners, brush up on how to install a package of bees. It's really enjoyable. But watch my video first so you do it right.

winterbkind 5. Even though spring is close, do not let your bees starve to death now. Remember, bees need food and most colonies starve in late winter and early spring just before flowers bloom. Be sure to put on one of our Winter-Bee-Kinds to help your bees get that added nutrition to hit spring running. Be sure to select either 8 frame or 10 frame when ordering.


For those of you who have hives enduring the winter you need to have a plan ready as soon as spring arrives. I have some suggestions on how you can prepare yourself and your hive for spring:

1. First, DO NOT pull out a frame unless the temperature is above 60 degrees (f). Otherwise the cold can damage the brood. Warmer is better, but you can do a quick inspection if it is 60 degrees (f).

2. Once you can perform your first inspection you need to look for the following:
     a. Brood in various stages such as eggs, larva and sealed brood.
     b. Identify the queen.
     c. Assess the amount of pollen/honey. Add pollen patties or our Winter-Bee-Kind if low on food.
     d. Clean debris from bottom board.
     e. Determine how well the hive came out of winter in population. Are they low in numbers of bees are very strong?

NS8 3. Once you have performed your first inspection in the spring you will need to plan what to do to help your hive grow well. Questions to ask are:

    a. Is the queen laying well or does she need replaced?
    b. Is the colony so strong in population that splitting the hive is necessary to prevent swarming?
    c. Do I have mites? Place green drone comb in each deep hive body to begin capturing varroa mites.
    d. Do I have small hive beetles? Insert small hive beetle traps, one in each deep between the frames.
    e. Determine if you need to place a honey super on for the spring flows.

These are important ideas and questions to encourage you to think now what you will do in the spring. For example, if you find your hive is very populated and you need to split the colony but you do not have another hive, then half of your colony may swarm. Be sure to have adequate beekeeping supplies before you desperately need them. Now is the time, while you are bored of winter, to prepare for spring.

See you next time.
David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Sunday, January 5, 2014

LESSON 147: What Will Winter Storm Ion Do To Honey Bee Hives? 217-427-2678

DavidSheri Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We are David and Sheri Burns and we operate a family owned beekeeping business. We make all our hives by hand. We DO NOT buy other hives and assemble them. We start with large pine boards and build hives. And as an EAS certified master beekeeper we offer beginner and advance beekeeping courses, as well as queen rearing classes in our education center here on our farm. Visit for a full list of our 2014 class schedule. We sell everything to do with bees, even the bees. So we appreciate your business.

We are a one stop place where you can get everything you need to get started in beekeeping. You’ve thought about it, and now it’s time to get started in the exciting world of beekeeping.


Hive2 Years ago we started making our own hives. They meet traditional Langstroth’s measurements but we’ve tweaked our hives because we are beekeepers and we knew what improvements we could make to improve our hives. Our complete hive was one of the first hives to be completely painted and assembled and we still build and paint them the same way. If you need a hive for spring, check our hives.

Winter weather certainly brings concern to most beekeepers. Although healthy colonies can withstand brutal winter weather, colonies that are low in numbers or food supply can fall victim to such storms as we are witnessing across the Midwest and northeast. The low temperature in Chicago tonight will be minus 13 below zero (-13 f). The high temperature in Chicago tomorrow is predicted only to reach a negative 10 below zero…that’s the high temperature!

Winterhives When blasts of cold, brutal winter weather threatens colonies around the US we get questions from beekeepers asking whether their bees will survive. Colonies that were already in trouble will probably fail. Small colonies with less that 40,000 bees will likely freeze and die. Larger colonies that are healthy will likely be unaffected by winter storm Ion.

The winter colony of honey bees does not hibernate, rather bees cluster together and generate heat to keep work. The queen will be in the center of the cluster as well as possible small amounts of brood. Remember, developing pupa needs to be kept around 92 (f) degrees. Bees will work hard to generate the heat needed around the brood area and in support of the winter cluster. The greater the number of bees, the more heat can be generated. This is why it is so important to start preparing for winter in the spring, making sure your bees are developing into strong colonies all year long in preparation for winter.

Tomorrow we will receive lots of calls from beekeepers in a panic over winter storm Ion, asking us what they can do to help their bees make it through winter. When Sheri and I were discussing how to answer these questions I jokingly told her she should answer, “buy more packages”.  The tricky part of winter beekeeping is packages have to be ordered in January and February when you really don’t know yet how your existing hives will do coming out of winter. Will they make it or not? If you wait until March to find out, it’s practically impossible to buy packages this late in the year if you need replacement packages of bees.

wraphive Most people wonder if they should wrap their hive, or cover the hive with something to hold in the heat. A blanket may help your bees if they have no wind block and are in a very windy area. I would only use the blanket for short durations, taking it off when temperatures reach back into the 30s. Many insects survive winter by burring down under brush, leaves or dirt to avoid drastically cold temperatures. Of course, a blanket is feasible if you only have one or two hives but is impractical the more hives you have. A blanket on a cold night still may not help an unhealthy hive or a hive with inadequate numbers of bees. But, since you do not know how many bees are in your colony, it may be something worth trying. The reason you do not want to leave it on a hive is because it could become moist and hold too much moisture and stale air within the hive.

Should you put a heating pad or light around the hive? Again, this is a lot of work and excessive or unnatural heat can adversely affect the colony. Again, if you have a hive or two and it’s going to be –10 (f) for a night, some beekeepers claim this is helpful. Ideally, we want strong colonies going into winter so these attempts are not necessary with strong and healthy hives.

What about moving the colony into a barn or garage? Certainly this could be helpful if the hive does not have a wind block. But, a healthy hive is going to be very heavy to move. What if you move it and spill it and separate the boxes and break the propolis seal? Not good! What if you hurt your back? And if you do move them into a building, be sure to screen the front so no bees can fly out to investigate what all the shaking and groaning is about. Then, you’ll need to move them back out on a day of 50 (f) degrees or above so they can fly out from their old location. So again, this could be helpful but requires a lot of work and risk.

So what’s the best thing to do? Stay warm in your house and hope for the best. That’s really all we can do. Of course we believe in our Winter-Bee-Kind upper insulation/candy and protein board with an upper entrance/exit.  Watch my video on how it works:

It’s never too cold or late in the winter to put the WBK boards on your hives. When ordering, be sure to specify whether you have an 8 frame hive or 10 frame. Look closely to order the proper size for  your hive. Click here to order. In summary, there is very little left to do at this point. Winter preparation has to be completed during warm weather, now we sit and wait keeping our fingers crossed and saying our prayers.

Before I go, here’s some items and classes you need to know about:

busybee1BUSY BEE SPECIAL 1 Hive and one package of bees with mated queen. The hives are custom made by hand right here in Central Illinois. The packages of bees are shipped to you from Gardners Apiary in Georgia, who have agreed to help us help you fulfill your dreams of becoming a beekeeper in the spring 2014. Your hive will ship first from Illinois, then bees will ship approximately in May of 2014. CLICK HERE to read more about our BUSY BEE SPECIAL. VERY LIMITED NUMBERS.




Freedomekit Two complete hives. Each hive includes the following: CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO ORDER
1 screen bottom board with two different entrance cleats. One cleat is for use with the included entrance feeder. The other is used without an entrance feeder.
1 entrance feeder. Just add your small mouth glass jar and feed your bees sugar water if needed.
2 Deep Hive Bodies. This is the area where the bees live. Each deep hive body comes complete with 10 wooden frames with full 3/8 side bars, and are glued and stapled. Plus each frame is already assembled with plastic beeswax coated foundation. This is a total of 20 deep hive body frames.
1 Medium Honey Super. This is where the bees store their excess honey that you can
remove. This super comes with 10 wooden frames, glued and stapled, fully assembled
with plastic beeswax coated foundation.
1 Inner cover. This goes on top of the boxes, but beneath the final top cover. This inner
cover allows for upper ventilation and an vapor barrier.
1 Telescoping Top Cover. This is the final top cover with nice white aluminum metal to
help protect it from the weather.
1 Plastic Pith Beekeeping Hat.
1 Veil that goes around the hat to protect the face and neck.
1 hive tool. 1 Beekeeping Stainless Steel smoker with heat guard
1 Package of smoker fuel, though you can also use pine needles or other natural items.
1 Book, "First Lessons In Beekeeping" by Keith Delaplane.
2 Queen Excluder, used to keep the queen from entering into the upper super.
These hives are built right here at our honey bee farm in Central Illinois.

Classroom Plug in to one of our upcoming beekeeping classes:

Jan. 24-25 Basic Beekeeping

Feb. 8 Basic Beekeeping

Feb. 15 Basic Beekeeping

March 7-8 Basic Beekeeping

March 22 Basic Beekeeping

April 12 Basic Beekeeping

May 23-24 Advance Beekeeping

June 9-13 Beekeeping Institute

June 27-28 Queen Rearing Course

October 3-4 Basic Beekeeping

October 25 Basic Beekeeping

Stay warm and thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

217-427-2678 M-Thu 10am-4pm central time. Friday 10am-Noon

Thursday, December 26, 2013

LESSON 146: Using Old Beekeeping Equipment vs. New Equipment

DavidSheriWe are David and Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We hope you had a Merry Christmas. The new year is around the corner and with the new year comes the hope of another great year for beekeeping. The early months of a new year makes us consider our beekeeping equipment. Do we have enough hives if we catch swarms or want to expand? Do some of our rotting bottom boards need replaced? 

Maybe you are just now getting into beekeeping and you are trying to round up used equipment from family or friends. Did you know that used equipment can present some serious problems for your bees? Today I want to share the difference between using old equipment and new equipment.

Christmas 2013 Before I do,  let me tell you what’s been going on around Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We manufacture beekeeping equipment. We make hives right here, paint them and ship them out to customers. We DO NOT buy kits or someone else’s hives and assemble them. Nope, we buy lumber and build the entire hive, hand made. That’s why our hives are completely assembled and painted when you buy from us. We really enjoy cranking out hives from our shop. We took Christmas week off to enjoy rest, family and the holidays. We’ll get back at it on Monday Dec. 30th.Truckwreck

So here’s what been going on. Sheri hit some black ice and totaled our business truck. She rolled it but Christian was strapped in good in the back so they were all fine. Sheri was sore for a few days and busted her lip, but minor injures only. Christian wasn’t sore and didn’t get a scratch. We were all worried until we found out they were okay. Because the truck was on it’s side firemen had to prop the truck up and work at getting them out the topside window. I thought maybe they could just push the truck back on all fours and I could drive it home…no! Accidents happen.

Yellowbelt Christian earned his yellow belt in Taekwondo. It’s fun watching him learn, exercise and excel. He broke a board in half at 6 years old. Though we have 6 children, for some reason, Christian is the first one to ever participate in Taekwondo. It looks like something I would enjoy.

SethAfgh Speaking of belt colors our middle son, Seth, will be in Afghanistan for another 3 months and he has earned his gray belt. He’s in the Helmand province where we’ve recently lost two marines in the last 10 days. So please keep those serving our county in your prayers. Seth is the one kneeling in the photo. Our men and women in service endure so much as do their families. You really do not realize the gravity of the sacrifice made until you have a loved one in a combat zone.


Class Our first Basic Beekeeping class for 2014 is coming up January 24-25, 2014. This class opens with our Friday night dinner buffet at 6pm and then the workshop continues on until 9 p.m. This is a two day beginning beekeeping course and continues on Sat. 9am-noon. This class will benefit those interested in keeping bees, as well as those who have been keeping bees for a couple of years. Topics include: basic bee biology and anatomy overview, package installation procedures, winter/spring/summer/fall management, integrated pest control, equipment and hive inspection techniques, registration/licensing/zoning requirements, and honey extraction. We teach you how to do it from start to finish. Click here for more information. Come spend some time with us learning about bees. Check out all our classes at:

Snow2013 As beekeepers we worry about our bees during the cold days of winter. I realize many of you live in warm climates, but in central Illinois bees face cold months and go weeks without ever being able to break cluster. We’ve already received our share of ice and snow. I rest a bit easier knowing our Winter-Bee-Kinds will help our bees should they run out of food. Remember it is NEVER too late to place our Winter-Bee-Kinds on your hive. You can do it quickly on the coldest of days. In fact, many people continue to purchase these candy boards/ventilation/insulation boards way into March. Click here to watch our video on our Winter-Bee-Kinds. We sell both 8 Frame and 10 Frame WBK so be sure to select the proper size for your hive.

busybee1 Finally, before today’s lesson, let me tell you about a special offer. While we are NOT shipping bees in 2014 (Pick up only), we do have a BUSY BEE SPECIAL where we ship you the hives and the bees are shipped to you. The hives are custom made by hand right here in Central Illinois. The packages of bees are shipped to you from Gardners Apiary in Georgia, who have agreed to help us help you fulfill your dreams of becoming a beekeeper in the spring 2014. Your hive will ship first from Illinois, then bees will ship approximately in May of 2014. CLICK HERE to read more about our BUSY BEE SPECIAL. VERY LIMITED NUMBERS.


BeewithPollen With spring only 84 days away, it’s time to get into swing of the 2014 beekeeping year. Our 3 lb packages of bees with mated queen are selling faster than ever. Please order your bees right away. Remember they are for pickup only. Click here. You MUST order your bees in the winter to ensure you’ll be able to pick them up in the spring. Every year some people make the mistake of ordering their bees, but they forget to order their hives. Big mistake. Once you receive your bees they should be placed in your hives as soon as possible. So now is the time to order your new hive equipment. But maybe you are someone who remembered that a friend or grandpa has a bunch of hive equipment in the barn that hasn’t been used for years. Think of all the money you could save by using old equipment.  Many people call and ask us about the risk of using old equipment. The only answer I can give is that it is a gamble. You really don’t know until your new bees get sick and die.

oldequip1 It seems so innocence using old equipment. Throw a new coat of paint on them and all is good, right? Maybe on the outside but it’s what lurking on the inside that could be a risk, especially on used frames and comb. What we all fear is American foulbrood. AFB spores are known to live a long time on infected, used equipment. If your bees are infected with AFB your only recourse, in many states, is to burn the bees and all the equipment. You have to burn everything from the bottom board all the way to the top cover. I called the bee lab in Beltsville, Maryland to see if they could detect AFB on old comb or equipment and they told me they could not. They can only detect it from comb containing fresh brood. Not only is AFB a concern in old equipment, but now we are also concerned about Nosema Ceranae spores in used equipment.

While all of us want to save a buck if we can, my advice is to decide your level of risk you are willing to take. Bees have enough to contend with without us starting them off on the wrong foot. New equipment at least will give our bees a chance to start strong without the risk of infected old equipment.

All beekeepers should keep this in mind even when buying live hives (hives with established bees inside) from retiring beekeepers. Always have prospective purchases of hives inspected thoroughly by your local bee inspector. Insist that samples of brood be sent to Maryland before you buy living hives. There is very little concern when buying packages because there is no brood in packages. However if you are buying nucs, be sure they come with a clean bill of health.

oldequip2 In my own operation, I am discovering that my bees prefer newer and fresh comb. Most brood diseases occur on old comb. It is a good idea to replace three frames a year from your deep, brood nest area. If you use two deep hive bodies on your hive, pull out 3 older frames from each hive body each year and replace with new ones. By doing so your comb will never be more than 4 years old and this will reduce the risk of AFB. Use a marker to date your frames. This means if this is your first year to keep bees and you buy new equipment that you do not need to worry about replacing your first three frames for 3 years. If you currently have a very old hive with dark, almost black comb that you cannot see light through, it is definitely time to replace frames and comb.

It is possible to obtain used equipment that has never had diseases, and you might successfully raise healthy bees. Again, this is a risk you will have to decide if you want to take. This is a risk I have decided is not worth taking. I regularly burn old frames and boxes because I just don’t want to provide and environment within my hives for future problems.

Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. We are closed for the holidays until Monday Dec. 30th. When calling us remember we are on CENTRAL TIME. Call us Mon-Thursday 10am-4pm, Friday 10am-Noon. 217-427-2678. Of course we’ll be closed for New Years Day. Orders can be made online at:

We prefer you call rather than email us. We are swamped with emails and with spam filters your email may not make it to us. So always call instead of email.

Bee-Hav Yourself!

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
14556 N. 1020 E. Rd
Fairmount, IL 61841

Friday, November 29, 2013

LESSON 145: 7 Ways To Check On Your Hive During Winter 217-427-2678


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Today is known as Black Friday, the day after thanksgiving when everyone rushes the stores in hopes of getting the best deals on Christmas gift purchases. Not me! We’re enjoying these couple of days off, putting up our Christmas tree and eating too much. I never did get into Black Friday. I used to wait and buy gifts a few days before Christmas. For the last few years, online shopping has taken the stress out of gift shopping for me. I research what I need online, purchase it online and soon it is delivered to my home. Awesome! I save gas, time and a lot of frustration.

Mobile Here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, we’ve made it even more easier for you to shop online at our store with our new mobile website. Log in to from your smart phone and you’ll see our new smart phone website, making your shopping experience much more enjoyable.


We are selling PICK UP ONLY packages of 3lbs of bees with a mated queen again this year. CLICK HERE to secure your packages for late April of 2014. WARNING: They are selling faster than we’ve ever seen. Do not delay.

2014 Beekeeping Classes

class3 Sheri and I sat down and worked out all the details for our 2014 Beekeeping Classes including our second week long Beekeeping Institute. Sheri, being a teach by trade, has designed student workbooks for all our classes. We’ll be using more hands on in our classes to help the learning experience really click. This year we are also adding a slew of FREE Introductory Meetings:






These are  free informational meetings on beekeeping. Are you curious about the hobby of beekeeping. Are you unsure of the cost and the time involved?  Do you just need a little more information before you plunge in? Then come to one of our FREE informational meetings. Sign up is required. Click on one of the links above.

Here’s our class line up for 2014:

Jan. 24-25 Basic Beekeeping

Feb. 8 Basic Beekeeping

Feb. 15 Basic Beekeeping

March 7-8 Basic Beekeeping

March 22 Basic Beekeeping

April 12 Basic Beekeeping

May 23-24 Advance Beekeeping

June 9-13 Beekeeping Institute

June 27-28 Queen Rearing Course

October 3-4 Basic Beekeeping

October 25 Basic Beekeeping

We are really excited that some of our classes have a new two day format starting with a Friday night dinner buffet at 6pm and then the workshop continues on until 9 p.m. This is a two day beginning beekeeping course and continues on Sat. 9-noon. Please book your classes above as soon as you can as they do fill up fast. Remember, our classes are limited and each seat sells out, so anyone attending must purchase a seat. Thank you and we look forward to another exciting year of learning more about bees.

Today, I want to share 7 ways to keep an eye on your hive now that it’s cold outside. Before I do, let me take a moment to encourage our new beginners with:


Freedom Thinking about starting with bees in the spring. CAUTION: PLAN NOW!! Too many prospective beekeepers wait and try to order hives and bees in the spring only to find everything across the country is sold out. Do not delay. Order your bees now even though you will not get them until the spring. And order your hive equipment now too. We ship hives (without bees) now, but hives are in such demand in late winter and early spring that there usually is longer shipping delays. Don’t put it off or you may miss another year. Check our our most popular item our FREEDOM KIT, 2 complete hives. Click Here. FREEDOM KIT.

Also, follow our daily updates on Facebook at:

LESSON 145: 7 Ways To Check On Your Hive During The Winter

We worry about our hives in the winter, don’t we? Are they cold? Are they diseased? Will they survive? Is my queen alive? We want to do something to help them along. While there is very little we can do at this point to help our bees, it does make us feel better to be actively checking on our hives during the winter.


An average size colony has the same nutritional needs of a medium size dog. Bees need protein and carbohydrates just like us, just like most animals. Do your bees have enough honey (carbohydrates) and pollen (protein)? Bees consume their food in the winter to stay warm. Ideally, if the temperature stays around 30-40 degrees (f) they consume the least amount of food. But the colder it gets the more food they consume to generate heat.

winterbkind Our Winter-Bee-Kinds provide both carbohydrates and protein for your bees and provides upper vent/exit and 1” of upper insulation to help reduce excessive condensation. Many of you have been purchasing pollen patties from us and I’m glad to see that. While it is not as necessary with the use of the Winter-Bee-Kind, it is necessary if you are just wanting to provide extra protein. Bees cannot exist on sugar alone.

Winter Remember you cannot lift frames out of the hive when temperatures are below 60 degrees (f). If you do, you can damage developing pupa of bees. But you can lift the top off briefly to take a 30 second peak at food supplies by looking down between the frames of comb. Keep food on top of the winter cluster all winter long. This does not guarantee that your bees will make it, but at least they will not die from starvation.


Hives In Winter Some studies have shown a slight advantage to wrapping a hive with roofing paper. Instead, I like the idea of a wind block. If you wrap your hive you’ll also need to provide more upper ventilation to reduce excessive condensation that causes cold water to drip on the colonies. With a wind bock, the fierce winter winds hitting the hive is reduced. Be careful. Do not place stray or hay bails next to the hive. They can hold water and this can provide too much moisture around the hive. Keep your wind block several feet back from the hive to help the area around the hive remain as dry as possible. You may have a natural wind block such as a grove of trees as in the photo or a shed. This works great.


Hives In Water Make sure your hive is stable on its stand throughout the winter. As the ground freezes and thaws, your stand or blocks can shift and your hive may topple over. Also, if you broke the propolis seal on your top cover, a harsh winter storm could blow the top off. Regularly check your hive for any shifting and keep it stable all winter. Keep a rock or weight on top to help stabilize the hive.


Mouse1 Mice will kill your hive if they nest over the winter in your hive. Take a flashlight when it’s dark, remove your entrance reducer or mouse guard and make sure you cannot see a mouse nest on your bottom board. If you see a pile of grass in a corner there is a mouse in your hive. If there is, find a friend to help you lift off the hive from the bottom board and if you are lucky the mice will stay in their nest on the exposed bottom board and you can get rid of them and put the hive back down on the bottom board and reduce the entrance. When you do this, please remember to keep your tops on and your deeps together. Do not open or separate your hive during the winter. Just lift it off the bottom board and check for mice. It’s better to find mice now than in April after they have destroyed your bees.


If your equipment is old and falling to pieces, you might find corners missing and large cracks. Duct tape or metal tape can seal the gaps until you can replace your equipment in the spring. Broken bottom boards can allow mice to get in, so keep an eye out for drafty cracks.


You can put your ear on the side of your hive and tap and you may hear an increased buzzing. This serves no purpose other than bringing you false securing that all is okay. I have tapped on my hives and have heard absolutely nothing. But in the spring that same hive was doing great. There is some benefit. If you are sure that there is no sound of life in your hive, you can open it and verify by looking for 30 seconds between the comb. If the colony has perished it is best to shake out the dead cluster as soon as you can to prevent further decay inside on the combs. Just remember if you don’t hear anything it may speak more to your hearing than of your bees. Be careful as bees sting in the winter too.


deadsnowbees Snow and ice can pile up on the hive blocking the entrance at the bottom. In the past, I’d always go out after it snowed and especially after an ice storm and clear out the opening at the bottom of the hive. However, with our Winter-Bee-Kinds, the entrance is built into this feeding system and bees prefer a top entrance/exit during winter. This can allow your bees to take that much needed cleansing flight to potty which they may not have taken if they had to walk all the way to the bottom to fly out. Also, bees die of natural causes all winter and begin to accumulate on the bottom board, blocking the entrance. The upper entrance on the Winter-Bee-Kind keeps the bees away from the gross accumulation of dead bees below.

Keep an eye out on your hive this winter. Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. Hope to see you soon at one of our FREE Introductory meetings or at a class.

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms