Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Do You Know What You Need To Know To Be A Good Beekeeper? www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

dslog

Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms (www.honeybeesonline.com). We are David and Sheri Burns located in East Central Illinois.  Today I have several things I want to share: 1) How hard is a spring cold snap on new packages? 2) Do you know what you need to know about being a good beekeeper?  Like, what is Absconding? 3) Helpful hints about Package Bee Pickup Day. 4) Calling in for support.  I’ll answer these concerns in today’s blog. But before I do…

4198 Many of you have asked about our Marine Son, Seth. He is in the Middle East on his 2nd deployment. We hated to see him go. He’ll be back home in the fall so we are praying for a safe deployment. He’s on a rapid crisis response team so mom and dad can’t help but keep an eye on the news coming out of the Middle East.

We have less contact with him than when he was in Afghanistan. Internet connections are slow and not easily accessible. So we are having to write occasional messages and letters to stay connected. We sent a care package of goodies the other day. That’s got to be refreshing to get a box of stuff from home.  This will be his last deployment and he will have completed in 4 years in the Marines the summer of 2016.

4199 We are busy preparing for Package Bee Pickup Day and a full summer of playing with bees.  We are still on schedule for the weekend of May 2nd, for packages of bees which is only 10 days. We’ve been mowing, burning yard debris, pressure washing outside walls, filling spring potholes, filling orders and trying to build up our inventory for that busy weekend. Karee and Zach have kept really busy shipping our more hives this year than ever before. Interest in beekeeping continues to soar!

A new line of hives that we are producing have become a hit! Last summer I produced a video showing how adding extra wax to undrawn foundation can really accelerate the growth of a new hive because they can make their comb faster. So we now sell David’s Wish List Hive. It is our full sized hive, painted and assembled. The difference is that it comes with extra wax on all 30 pieces of foundation. It also comes with 4 small hive beetle traps ( 2 for each deep hive body) and 2 Green Drone Comb Varroa Mite Traps ( 1 for each deep hive body). That’s not all! Studies have shown that scoring the wall of the inside of the hive can contribute to extra propolis being added to smooth the walls which is what bees do in their natural habitat, the tree. So we ruff up the inside walls of this hive to try and cause the bees to add more propolis to the walls. In one study , this increased survival of the hive by 30%.  When you take one of our classes, we go into greater detail on using Green Drone Comb to trap varroa mites and trapping small hive beetles.

41910 Zach scores the inside of the hives using a special tool, and he brushes on extra wax. This takes a lot of time and therefore these hives cost a bit more, but a pound of wax sells for $15 now. You can do it yourself, but usually new beekeepers don’t have wax or the tool to score the inside of a hive. By the way, Zach says he loves to read the comment section when you place online orders. So say hi to Zach when you place an order in the comment section. Zach will be the first person you will probably see on package bee pickup day as he will be helping to park cars.

How Hard Is A Spring Cold Snap On New Packages?

Spring came and went! It was so nice for several weeks but now it has turned cold. My bees have not flown since Saturday. It’s either been too cold or too windy. And for the next 8 nights we will be below freezing or slightly above it, in the low 40s. This is very hard no new packages on new foundation. A package of bees does not have drawn comb to aid in keeping the hive warm. And with minimal foraging, new packages do not have the resources stored for such a cold snap. It may not kill a colony, but it will retard their growth that could make the hive weak the rest of the year. I have learned this through studies and experience and this is why we prefer not to prepare our packages until the first of May.  Please think logically with me for a moment. If you get a package the first of April, but the weather turns off cold, the bees are stuck inside your hive eating sugar water for a month. Bees need warm nights to grow.  Had these bees been left in their warmer climate on natural forage during the month of April, they would be healthier eating a natural diet, then placed here in Illinois ( or the north) when there is a natural diet to thrive on. A decade ago I bought 40 packages the last week in March. I placed them in hives but that weekend the weather turned cold and 20 hives died two days after I installed them in foundationless hives. The 20 that survived were installed on drawn comb. Since then I prefer to play it safe. We all can gamble and sometimes do fine. But cold nights are hard on new packages on undrawn comb.

BBFS If you find yourself in this predicament it helps to feed bees. We stay warmer when we eat and so do bees. Place a Burns Bees Feeding System on top with sugar patties in the patty slot. This will allow the bees to consume food to stay warm. You can also add 1:1 sugar water in the jar slots as they will eat this even when clustered. This will keep the bees from weakening during a cold spell.

We make these for both 10 frame hives and 8 frame hives. All feeding ports are screened over to hold the bees down so you can change and add feed without bees flying out.

Do You Know What You Need To Know About Being a Good Beekeeper?

Armed with a few books, hours watching YouTube videos and a face lathered with anticipation newbies set out to start beekeeping. But are they really knowledgeable?  When beekeepers tell me why their hives die, they always blame the winter. Occasionally some will take responsibility. I can ask two questions to determine if the beekeeper knew what they were doing. 1) What were your mite counts throughout the year and 2) Was the colony heavily populated going into winter.  Newbies answer by saying, “I don’t think I had any mites because I didn’t see any.” And regarding heavy populations the answer is, “They had a lot of bees.”  These answers tell me the new beekeeper did not possess the knowledge they needed going into winter.

3 Mites Let me talk about not seeing mites. Don’t confuse mites with small hive. Mites are tiny. It’s easy to see them on this white drone larva but on the back of a honey bee which is the same color, it is very hard. So here’s how to know if you have mites. Say “Yes, I have mites.” It is not a matter of IF you have mites, but how many. All hives have mites. And remember, even if you don’t see the foundress mite walking on your bees, they reproduce under the pupae which is capped over. There can be up to 4-5 mites under each sealed brood cap. Mother mites spend most of their time under the sealed cell, 12 days, versus 4-5 days walking around on bees.

Regarding population of bees, most newbies misjudge the number of bees because they may fail to evaluate the brood and only visualize adult bees. Even then, can anyone really tell the difference between 20,000 bees and 40,000 bees scattered over 30 frames? Probably not. But 20,000 bees will not survive a northern winter.

It is very important for all beekeepers to take a thorough beekeeping class, one that spends time addressing varroa mites control, small hive beetle control and how to regularly inspect a hive and what to look for in addition to the other basic instructions. What you do over the next few months will determine if your bees will survive the winter. Keep your mite levels below 3% out of 100 bees and monitor your queen’s ability to build up the hive throughout the year in preparation for winter.

All of our classes sell out fast, but we still have openings in our June 11th Basic Beekeeping Class. Even if have already started this year, take this class! Also, we are offering our popular “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter” class in August and September.

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter: August 22nd

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter: August 29th

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter: September 12th

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter: September 26th

Both of our Bee Institutes are filled up for this year. We have a growing waiting list should we decide to offer a 3rd one this year, but I’m still considering this possibility. The Bee Institute provides ample opportunity for field work as well as classroom lectures.

If you cannot take a class with us, try to find a beekeeping class near you. Become as knowledgeable as you can as a beekeeper. Don’t lose your bees due to newbie mistakes.

Absconding can be an issue with some packages. This is when all the bees leave the hive. Swarming is when a mature colony reproduces and half of the bees leave with the old queen. But Absconding is when the entire colony abandons the hive. The percentage is very low, but it does happen. And when it happens to you, you are no longer a beekeeper. The bees are gone, no one has any more packages to sell you because it is too late in the year. Several things you should know about absconding: There is no refund because we provided you with bees and a queen and it is beyond anyone’s control. If you call us, there is nothing we can do to help you find more bees. There is really no explanation as to why this happens. I have seen it happen more often when colonies are lined up very close together and packages are installed in all hives at the same time. It might (maybe) help if you put some distance between new installs. Maybe at least 20-40 feet. Place some sort of drawing on multiple hives, like a triangle drawing on one by their entrance, on the front, a large black circle on another one. These symbols are easier for bees to identify than colors. If you have some brood you can take from another hive, this can help cut down on absconding. Just be aware it happens occasionally. It is not because you did something wrong or because the location or equipment was wrong. Bees are livestock and sometimes they’ll run off. Once they are established after two weeks, all is good.

Helpful Hints About Package Bee Pickup Day T-Minus 10 Days

We are on schedule for the weekend of May 2nd. We will start the Saturday at 8:30 am central time. We can use a few experienced beekeepers to help us on this weekend, so give us a call if you are free. If this is your first time to pick up your bees from us, it will be quite an experience. Many people find the event to be “surreal.” There are beekeepers everywhere, loading up cars and trucks. Make this an enjoyable event. We are hoping for great weather. Here’s a handful of helpful tips:

1) Be patient. Sometimes checkout lines can be long. While we have several people running several lines, be patient.

2) Parking. In dry conditions there is plenty of parking. In wet conditions everything changes. Please follow the instructions of our parking attendants. They will help you find a spot.

3) We have loaded up our inventory, but obviously we cannot stock every single beekeeping item. But feel free to look around. If you know what you need, it is best to call in and pay for it in advance so you can dodge the lines.

4) Meeting David and Sheri. Some of you are driving a long way to get here and it will be your first time here. You may be looking forward to meeting us, and we want to meet you. But be aware that it is an extremely busy day. If you cannot find us or we seemed rushed please do not be offended. We are just trying to keep everything flowing smoothly and it takes alot.

5) Carry your bees home carefully. Keep them in cool shade, never in the sun. If you are traveling for several hours, spray sugar water on the outside of the cage every 4 hours to help feed and cool the bees. If you have to hold your bees in their cage for a few days, try to keep them in a dark, cool room. They will stay much quieter. If you let them get hot in a bright room they will become very active. Try to keep them so they stay clustered.

6) If you need help installing your bees please refer to these lessons and videos:

Our Video page shows how to install a package.

Our Lesson On Installing A Package

How To Install A Package In Bad Weather

Calling Us For Support

If you are one of our customers we will go out of our way to answer your questions. Please call us (no emails please) during our business hours and we will be happy to help our customers. If you are not a customer, and have bought your bees or equipment from other suppliers we kindly ask that you call them so they can more accurately address your issues. Thank you.

See you next time!
David and Sheri Burns

Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
www.honeybeesonline.com
217-427-2678
M-Thur 10am – 4pm Central Time
Fri 10am- Noon
Closed Sat & Sun

Monday, March 30, 2015

Best Practices For Over Wintered Colonies www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

dslog

Spring has sprung, and though winter keeps trying to hang on, spring keeps gaining ground. Hello everyone, and welcome to another beekeeping lesson from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms located in central Illinois. We are David and Sheri Burns and thanks for joining us.

We’ve reached the beekeeping season where “all hands on deck” is a requirement. As a small family business, we are working hard to fill orders, build, paint, feed bees and meet the demands of another exciting beekeeping year.

We’d like to say hello to hundreds of new beekeepers who will be keeping bees for the very first time. I know you are both excited and concerned. Stay calm, watch our videos and enjoy! Remember, we have a ton of beekeeping information available on every subject of beekeeping available. I have turned down book offers so as to make this information easily available to you so please take advantage of this FREE beekeeping content, from videos to detailed how to lessons on our website: www.honeybeesonline.com

For those of you wondering what to do next with your hives that survived the winter, I want to share some best practices so you can help these colonies get a fast head start into spring. Before we begin, let me bring you up-to-date on what’s going on around the honey bee farm.

NYPhoto1 Our son, Seth, and his wife came home for his pre-deployment leave. It was great having them home for a few weeks. He’s on his way to the Middle East now for 7 months. We pray for all our men and women serving our country that they will come back safe.  Sheri and I have now taught lots of basic beekeeping classes and we have 20 more classes to teach throughout the year on queen rearing, getting your bees through the winter, advance beekeeping and our two Beekeeping Institutes. Check out all our classes at: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/bee-classes/  We still have a few spots in our second Beekeeping Institute on June 26-28. We’ve had people from all over the US attend our Institute, so consider joining us and learning everything you can about honeybees in 3 intensive days.

IMG_3039 Sheri and I cannot remember ever seeing this kind of interest in beekeeping. We are swamped with new beekeepers and all of our classes have bee sold out to capacity.  Every year beekeeping gains momentum. These are very exciting times to be a beekeeper. If you are still considering it, there is still time. Although we are sold out of bees, you can still purchase your hive and equipment from us and purchase your bees locally near you.

Things are looking good for package bee pick up weekend, May 2-3. Everyone who ordered packages of bees from us should have received a letter from us or will shortly with all the details. If not, please give us a call. If it is your first time to pick up bees from our farm, please be advised that there are a lot of people in one place at one time.

L1532 We have many people helping that day, from parking lot attendants to package bee handlers to check out people. But please bring your patience. We do our best to eliminate long lines but remember while you are just one person, there is a lot of logistics to work out to make it all happen so your patience is appreciated.

Now that it is spring and depending on where you live and how warm it is, it’s time to take a look at what to do next to get your bees as strong and as healthy as possible for spring and summer.

 

First, Feed, And Feed

And keep on feeding! Most people agree that bees should be eating 1:1 sugar water and pollen patties in the spring. All of us are attempting to “spark” our colonies to be ready for the first opportunity to harvest pollen and nectar, which is going on for our southern beekeepers, just about to start this week for our central US beekeepers and is a week or two away for our northern beekeepers. 

Some people become confused on how to feed bees in the spring. There are many different types of feeders and approaches to feeding spring colonies. There are top feeders, entrance (Boardman) feeders, frame feeders, and our new Burns Bees Feeding System. All work fine. Some have slight advantages over the others, but some have disadvantages too. It’s all about personal preference. An entrance feeders works fine. A disadvantage is that you have to reach to the front of the hive to change it and bees will be all over the top of the jar when you change it. Normally this is no big deal, but it can be intimidating to a new beginner. Top feeders occasionally malfunction and bees can drown in the reservoirs of sugar water. Frame feeders are labor intense because you have to open the hive up and fill the feeder while it is in the hive and bees can drown in the reservoir.

BBFS Our Feeding System has screen where the jars sit as well as well the patties are given to the hive so that no bees exit while adding patties or changing jars. The disadvantage is that you will need a spare deep box to put above the feeder giving you room to encase your jar and feeders below your top cover. I designed our feeder specifically to be used on new spring colonies because no matter how cold it may get on a spring night, the food is above the bees, not below them or outside of the hive. Our system provides an easy way to feed pollen patties rather than just smashing them between the boxes and frames. I just made a new video showing how to remove our Winter-Bee-Kinds and place our Burns Bees Feeding Systems on for spring. Watch my video below:

 

Aggressively Kill Mites

Even though it is spring and your bees made it through the winter, you must start immediately start your mite control program. I recommend all new packages are placed in hives with one Green Drone Comb in each deep hive body for mite trapping. We include instructions and timing on using your Green Drone Comb traps for mites. Our hives come with screen bottom boards and we have them separately if you want to replace your solid bottom board. Screen bottom boards help mites fall out of the hive. Powdered Sugar treatments can help dislodge mites from bees and later in the year we encourage beekeepers to break the queen’s brood cycle. These techniques are all taught extensively at our classes. If you choose to ignore mites in your hives, your colonies will most likely die a very premature death. There are “soft” chemicals such as organic acids. These include formic acid and oxalic acid. Oxalic was just recently approved in the US a few weeks ago for beekeepers to use in their hives. In our classes we teach how to do accurate mite counts. I recommend you do a mite count every 2-4 weeks to help you better decide on your level of treatment. It is a waste of time to evaluate why your bees died if you have not been tracking and treating for varroa mites.

You cannot pull out a frame of brood unless the temperature is warm outside, 60 degrees (f) or above. So you may not be able to begin your mite evaluations and treatments for several more weeks, but be prepared in advance.

Make Room For Rapid Growth. Have A Spare Hive For Swarms and Swarm Control

Busybee No one wants to see their hive swarm. If your hive does really well coming out of winter they will soon be congested and may reproduce into another hive through swarming. Over half of your colony will leave with your old queen to start a new colony. Your colony will stay behind and try to raise a new queen. For central Illinois this takes place in late April through May. It’s next to impossible to prevent swarming. However, I do my best to avoid it by creating the artificial swarm by splitting my congested colonies into additional hives. This, of course, means you need to have another hive to put your splits into, so think ahead and have a spare hive ready. What I find most effective is to pull out 4 or 5 frames from a strong colony in May and place them in a new hive. Since bees are ramped up in May to raise queens, I simply make sure both the old hive and new hive are given frames of eggs. That way I don’t even care which hive has the queen because the one who doesn’t will raise a queen from their fertilized eggs in the brood comb. I then give the congested colony 4 empty drawn comb to replace the 4 full frames I removed. This can help prevent a congested hive from swarming. If you were to carry the queen over with the new 4 frame hive, the old colony might be less apt to swarm due to the energy required to raise a new queen.

Reversing Hive Bodies

If the bees are all in the upper deep brood box and no brood is found in the lower deep brood box, it can help to swap the two boxes. But if brood is scattered through both boxes it is not a good idea to dislodge the configuration of the brood nest. And I only do this in Illinois after May 1 to avoid chilling the brood if the weather turns cold.

Well there you go. I’ve provided some good tools and techniques to help your over wintered colonies grow in the spring. Thank you for allowing Long Lane Honey Bee Farms to meet all your beekeeping needs. Give us a call today: 217-427-2678.

David and Sheri Burns
www.honeybeesonline.com

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Feed Bees Liquid In The Spring www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

dslog

Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. We are David and Sheri Burns with another lesson in beekeeping. It is important to start feeding bees liquid as soon as possible. I watch the temperatures and in this lesson I will show you how I have calculated the way to feed bees liquid sugar water as soon as possible.

Once again it is MYSTERY PHOTO time!  It’s going to be a little more difficult this time, so put on your thinking caps.

We have posted the MYSTERY PHOTO on our main website at: www.honeybeesonline.com

The winner will receive a nice pair of ventilated beekeeping gloves. Here are the questions that must be answered:

Mystery photo


1. What is this a picture of?
2. What is its purpose?
3. What is the scientific name?

Answers must be submitted on our Facebook page under the section where the black photo to the left appears on our Facebook page. The actual photo is only on our front page of our website, www.honeybeesonline.com

Good luck, and study hard.

I Put Together My Dream Hive

I put together my dream hive, a hive that comes with extra things that can help the colony along.  I have only built a limited number of these, but here is what it is. Our typical completely assembled and painted bee hive with wooden frames and foundation. But it also comes with 1) 2 Green Drone Comb for mite control (and information on how to use them for varroa control) 2) 4 beetle blaster traps to trap small hive beetles, 3) I have painted on extra wax on all 30 frames and 4) I have scored the inside of the hive to help encourage the bees to add propolis inside on the walls of the hive which has been shown to improve colony health.

Certainly you can buy the green drone comb and beetle blasters and add them to our Completely Assembled and Painted Hive, but my dream hive has the extra wax that I’ve coated on my frames and the scored inside walls. This takes time and is why we only can sell a limited number of my dream hive.

You can do these things yourself and save a buck if you have the time and wax. Remember our Completely Assembled and Painted hives comes ready to go and shipping is included for $279.

Snowy

We had another Basic Beekeeping Class last Saturday it was awesome. The students were so good and ask detailed questions and were very engaged. It was a nice day, but the threat of snow was looming over us for the evening. The storm held off until Sunday, but this is what it looked like one day after the class. Close one! We have another basic beekeeping class this Saturday 9am –3pm  with 2 openings still available. See a list of our classes for the year.

 

Now For Today’s Lesson

I want to get liquid sugar in my colonies as soon as possible to help clear their guts and to stimulate early spring build up of more brood. The earlier I can get my colonies strong in numbers the sooner I can split and make more hives, more nucs and queens in the spring. I’ve been watching the forecast and here in Illinois we are going to have several days where temperatures will rise above 50 degrees (f).  Here’s the temperature forecast for me:

Fri      High 26   Low  22
Sat     High 40   Low  24
Sun    High 41   Low  26
Mon   High 44   Low  28
Tue    High 52   Low  33
Wed  High 58   Low  38
Thu   High 48   Low  31
Fri      High 44   Low  32

So, after evaluating the temperatures, I plan to take off my winter wraps mid morning on Saturday so the sun can help warm the hives. Otherwise my wrap will work against the colony and prevent the warm sun from warming the hive. Insulation works both ways. On a cold day it can keep the cold out, but on a warm day, it can keep the warm out too.

Then,  I will take off my Winter-Bee-Kinds at noon on Monday and place on my Burns Bees Feeding System. I will feed my bees 1:1 sugar water and our patties. They probably will not fly much on Monday, but that’s fine because they will fly on Tuesday as highs will be in the low 50s. This will provide the needed cleansing flights after eating the patties and liquid sugar. I will stop feeding them this way on Wednesday until I can evaluate the forecast at that time. If it stays below 45 I will keep my Winter-Bee-Kinds on. But if it warms up I’ll keep feeding them with my feeding system. Again, my rule of thumb is the 50 degree (f) mark.

My strategy has a dual purpose. First, I want to feed my bees to stimulate early brood expansion. Secondly, I want to reduce the potential of the microsporidian, Nosema, by having the bees eat and take cleansing flights.

I realize this information varies depending on the temperatures where you live. My main trigger is sunny days above 50 degrees (f). I can feed my bees a day or two prior to a flight day. However, when I see that temperatures may drop to where bees cannot fly, I’ll stop feeding them a day or two prior to the cold snap. I don’t want to fill up the bees with sugar water and have the cold weather pin them in the hive for two weeks.I will not wrap my hives again unless lows drop below 10 degrees (f).

It is amazing what this approach will do to help strengthen the colony late in the winter. I will NOT remove any frames. It is still not warm enough to remove frames.

Now, let me give you a secret tip. It’s a little risky, so apply at your own risk. My bees will be used to going in and out of their Winter-Bee-Kind ventilation slot at the top of the hive. When I remove it and place on the Burns Feeding System, they will be forced to go in and out of the bottom opening as they do throughout the year. However, I will cut a slot in my Feeding System at the same location where the WBK slot was located. This will allow the bees to eat and fly without having to travel up and down so much. Why is this risky? In a warmer environment and where hives are not equal or not equally being fed, a starving colony might smell the slot on the Feeding System and rob out the hive with the upper opening, especially if you put Honey-Bee-Healthy in the sugar water. The smell could attract other colonies running low on food. I have never had this happen, but I want to warn that it could happen.

I can get by with doing this because I equally feed my colonies at the same time, thus reducing the need for them to go out and rob other hives. I could have feral hives in the area that might scout out the feeding slot, but I’ll keep an eye on it. If you want to play it safe, you should not worry about cutting a slot and make sure the Burns Bees Feeding System is sealed at the top, and your colony will soon use their lower entrance after removing the Winter-Bee-Kind.  This usually takes a couple of days for all the bees to orientate to the lower entrance.I will add additional pollen powder to my patties to help stimulate brood build up.

Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. Check out our website for all your beekeeping needs.  We have hive kits with bees still available.

David and Sheri Burns

Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
217-427-2678
www.honeybeesonline.com

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Count Down To Bee Season www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

DS
Okay, so we get it! Everyone is suffering from ice, snow, slippery roads, and cold winds. It’s impossible to think about spring right? Actually, we are looking forward to spring more than ever this time of year. Hi, we are David and Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We operate our family beekeeping supply business in central Illinois.  I taught a basic beekeeping class at Heartland Community College in Bloomington, Illinois last Saturday and when I left my house we had 5 inches of snow on the roads. It seemed odd driving on snow to teach on bees, but now is the time to plan ahead. Our next basic beekeeping class is this Saturday and the weather looks good. That class is full but Our next opened class is Saturday March 7th, 9am-3pm at our honey bee farm here in central Illinois. We have a few openings left for this class. See a list all of our classes.
We also added another Beekeeping Institute for 2015. Our first Institute filled up fast, and we already are filling up our second institute. We have 6 openings now. Click here for more information on our Beekeeping Institute June 26-28, 2015.
Hive2Here we go with our famed and legendary hive, completely painted and assembled. Comes with wooden frames and foundation. Shipping is included in this price. If you are comparing prices, please take in consideration that while you might find a similar hive for a few dollars less ask these questions: 1. Is it assembled? 2. Is it painted? 3. Does it include wooden frames and foundation? 4. How much is shipping? Our hives come completely assembled, painted with wooden frames and foundation included. Shipping is included in our price of $279. Click here to order. We have nearly 200 built and ready to fill orders. Don’t wait. Get your hive early so you can become familiar with it and place it where you will keep your bees.
L1532
Good News! Looks like we will be able to get more packages now that we are getting closer to spring. We have a large waiting list that we will attempt to work through as well. But for now, we will place another 50 packages online Sunday March the 1st 6 a.m. central time. First come, first serve basis. These will be for pickup only at our farm, estimated to be the first Sunday in May.
The information will be posted on our main page at: www.honeybeesonline.com at 6 a.m. Sunday march 1st.  for individual 3 lb packages with a mated, laying queen.

LA My brother just sent me a photo of his windshield from Ruston, Louisiana. Frozen over. My friend, Jon Zawislak called me yesterday and he’s off work in Little Rock, Arkansas again due to slippery roads and ice and snow. Bla, bla, bla, right?
Want to know what I do in the middle of winter when it’s cold, frozen and snowy outside? I take a lot of vitamin D and countdown until spring. As of today  (Feb. 24th), there are only 23 days until spring. Three weeks and two days.  Let the countdown begin.

The Beekeeper’s Countdown Until Bee Season

What does a beekeeper do in order to countdown and prepare for spring? Of course this is slightly different depending on where in the US you live. But you can make the adjustments and start counting down till spring.
1. Make sure you have the equipment and bees you need for spring. The longer you wait the less likely you will be able to get what Freedomekityou need when you need it. Every year there are beekeepers who somehow make the mistake of getting their bees before they order their equipment. Don’t let this happen to you. Get  your hives and equipment long before your bees arrive so you can become familiar with your hive and equipment. Remember, two hives are better than one. You can equalize your hives and build up a weak hive from the strong hive.
2. Use these next several weeks to read and educate yourself more on beekeeping. Take some classes. There is a misguided movement to have a hands off approach in keeping bees. This is not beekeeping, this is bee-having. There is a big different between having a hive and doing nothing and keeping a hive with best management and practices. If you do not inspect your hive regularly and combat varroa mites aggressively, your bees are likely to perish. The 21st century beekeeper must not only be well informed but well trained to keep bees alive.
3. Make a plan now how you will test for varroa mites. Will you use the powdered sugar shake or the alcohol wash to count mites. Which ever method  you choose, read up on it and become familiar now so you can start testing and dealing with mites soon after receiving your nuc or package in a few weeks.
comb

4. Formulate some plans for keeping bees this spring. For example, make a plan to go after varroa mites and keep to it. Make a plan now how you might split your strong colonies that made it through the winter. Make a plan now that you will be more proactive and inspect the condition of your queen and colony every two or three weeks.
Become familiar with spotting eggs in the bottom of cells as seen in my photo. If you see eggs, you have a queen.

BBFS 5. Have a plan to keep you colony strong and productive by feeding  your bees when needed, and promoting brood build up prior to the start of foraging season.  Each season I make an educated guess when ample nectar sources will first be available. Then, I back date 41 days. This is the magic date that I work to stimulate my colony to ramp up brood production. This is so that eggs that are laid on March 1 will be foragers on April 10th. I place a Burns Bees Feeding System on my hive, push patties through he screen and feed two different types of syrup. One jar is 1:1 sugar water, and the jar in the second hole is 1 part sugar and 2 parts water. This, along with our patties helps stimulates brood build up. We now have our sugar/pollen patties available again.
6. Finally, plan now to keep better records on your hives. We have a free inspection sheet that can help you keep good records on each hive.
So don’t be depressed over all the cold and icy weather. Plan ahead now to have an exciting spring enjoying beekeeping.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
www.honeybeesonline.com
217-427-2678

Friday, February 13, 2015

Adventures In Beekeeping www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

DS

Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, also known on the Internet as www.honeybeesonline.com  We are David and Sheri Burns and we own and operate a bee business. We carry a full line of beekeeping equipment, supplies, bees and queens. You’ll see that we provide a ton of free, up-to-date and accurate beekeeping lessons. Some of you have learned everything you know about honey bees from us, and we appreciate that a lot. Keep in mind that you can return the favor by purchasing your beekeeping hives and supplies from us. We really do appreciate every order. Our livelihood comes solely from great customers like you. The best way or us to get to know you better is for you to come and take a class with us. Not only will you get to hang out with us, but you’ll walk away knowing how to keep bees. We keep our classes under 20 students so we can be personable and answer all your questions.

Today I want to excite you about all the possibilities and adventures beekeeping may open up for you. But before I do, let me fill you in on what we’ve been up to.

Here in central Illinois our bees were flying like crazy on Sunday. It was a good sight to see now that we are half way through winter. Compared to last year our winter has been very mild. My bees are on their second Winter-Bee-Kind and some customers have now been back for 2 refills. Do not think that just  one is going to suffice. It might, but if your bees have eaten an entire Winter-Bee-Kind, they are hungry!  If you haven’t checked, pop the lid and see how much they have eaten. Refill it or order another one because we have many weeks of winter to go. Don’t forget as winter ends and the weather warms up, we’ll want to remove our Winter-Bee-Kinds and place on our Burns Bees Feeding Systems. This delivers maximum liquid and protein for late winter and early spring feed. Especially helpful for packages or nucs.

Mudroom We’ve lived here in this old farm house over 11 years this spring. It was built in 1876, eleven years after the Civil War ended (1861-1865). The builders left their name and date on a piece of siding we removed. Cool discovery. Over the past 10 years we’ve been making improvements to our home like most folks do. At first we made essential improvements, like getting the septic system to work and the roof fixed. But lately we’ve been remodeling eye sores. So I finally remodeled our mud room. In the early days, before we had the other buildings, people had to walk into this room to access the restrooms during beekeeping classes. So finally, I did some plumbing, tiled the floor and hid some ugly pipes. Sheri stained the wainscoting. How do you pronounce wainscoting? Some people say it like wains-coating. Others say wains-scot-ing, like the name Scott. Because we stay so busy with our bee business, we are like everyone else, we can only work on the house a few hours a week.  When does it every stop? Now I’m fixing things that I fixed 11 years ago. I’m starting over!!

web Speaking of remodeling…You may have noticed we took our website through a complete remodel. Wow! I lost a lot of sleep on this huge project. Technology keeps changing and to keep up with the times, we were forced to do a total re-write. It is functioning perfectly, but I will continue now to make minor improvements like colors and overall appearance over the next few weeks. At one point there were three of us sitting at a table, each with a laptop smashing code. Stop in and take a look at: www.honeybeesonline.com and along with that you can follow us on Facebook  and Twitter. Sheri spends a lot of time keeping things going on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Another cool thing that graces our home at night is the sweet sounds of violin music in the air. Sheri is a musician. She plays the piano and flute and several years ago she thought it would be neat to play the violin. This Christmas I surprised her with a violin. She is taking lessons and is getting really good.

Our beekeeping classes have started for the year. We offer beekeeping classes all year long. Many places only offer them in the early part of the year. Last weekend was so much fun. We had several people from Iowa, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois. Every year we improve our student books and accuracy of materials. We love meeting new people. The folks were just fantastic, like visiting with family. Come on and join us for a class. It’s more than a class, it is an experience. Check out all of our upcoming classes. We are getting closer to perhaps having two Beekeeping Institutes this year as several have expressed a desire to come to a second one. We’ll keep you posted.

Sheri and I are back in the Podcast Studio, producing podcasts again. We have a new one done! You can listen to it in the next day or two at: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/beekeeping-podcast/ or on iTunes at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/studio-bee-live/id400801201?mt=2

Mystery Photo

Test your beekeeping knowledge by taking a look at the honey bee leg on our website: www.honeybeesonline.com. Tell us if it is the front leg, middle leg or back leg of a honeybee. Tell us the reason for your answer. The first person with the most complete answer will win a Burns Bees Feeding System. Leave your answer on our Facebook page

Adventures In Beekeeping

I’m an adventurous person. Maybe that’s what got me started in beekeeping. What I love about beekeeping is that it’s not only helping to save the honey bee, but it’s fun. Every time I inspect my hives it is an adventure. The dictionary defines the word adventurous as “willing to take risks or to try out new methods, ideas, or experiences”.

David Marking Queen2 Beekeeping keeps us active and thinking. It motivates me to work out in the fresh air and to get some natural vitamin D. It provokes me to think, study and tinker around with new ideas. This keeps my mind stimulated to grow, expand and learn. I’ve known people who have retired but became bored and disenchanted with life. Their spouses became concerned about them because they all but gave up on life. They lost their enthusiasm for each day. It was for this very reason that Rev. Langstroth kept bees and eventually discovered bee space, giving us the removal frame hives used to this very day.

Being adventurous means trying new ideas and some times even taking a risk. I really don’t see beekeeping as a risk or dangerous, but I suppose it is to some. Certainly your bees could die, so you could risk losing your investment. However, haven’t we all taken this same risk in other areas? We took a risk and something didn’t work out the way we thought. That’s not a reason to become a fearful recluse. Sometimes we have to take a risk to enjoy the benefits that can only be achieved by stepping out of our comfort zone.

Beekeeping has opened up the opportunity for me to meet more great people, to speak around the country, to do things with bees that I never thought I’d do. All of that is a little risky, but sometimes taking a risk energizes us.

Route662 On the other hand, maybe you are done taking risks and you just want to keep bees to regain your sanity in the serenity of your apiary. That’s cool too. Life is challenging and sometimes very stressful and hard. Sometimes our world seems crazy and all messed up. It’s comforting, in light of the world’s problems, to light up the smoker, put on the suit, open up a hive and see thousands of individuals working in harmony with one another. Maybe beekeeping is just the adventure you’re looking for. It’s not too late to start beekeeping. Check out all of our hive kits and we have packages of bees available with our hives.

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
www.honeybeesonline.com
217-427-2678

FREEDOM KIT
Order with or without bees
Our Most Complete Beekeeping Kit
2 Hives & Equipment Supplies

Freedom Bee Hive Kit

WITH BEES
WITHOUT BEES
Celebrate the freedom we have in America, freedom to pursue our dreams. Perhaps keeping bees is part of your dream and your pursuit of happiness. Look at the beekeeping supplies included.

 
LIBERTY KIT
Order with or without bees
See below

1 Hive, & Equipment Supplies

Liberty Hive Kit


WITH BEES
W/O BEES
Same as FREEDOM KIT but only has one hive.

 
EARLY BIRD
SPECIAL

Packages of bees sell out so fast. We have reserved bees to go along with this hive kit special. We want to help you fulfill your dream of keeping bees.

earlybird2.jpg


CLICK HERE TO ORDER
Did you wait too long last year to start beekeeping? Take advantage of our early bird special. Maybe you are brand new to beekeeping and finding it hard to get a package of bees and a hive. You've come to the right place.

   
 
INDEPENDENCE KIT
Order with or without bees. See below
1 Starter Hive, & Equipment Supplies


WITH BEES
WITHOUT BEES

Starter hive.Buy other boxes as you need them.

   
                 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Winter and Spring Feeding of Honey Bees www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

DS

We are David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. I want to share some great things about feeding bees now and into spring. How is the best way to transition feeding bees from winter to spring?  Before I do, let me thank you for reading our blog about honey bees and beekeeping.

Since 2006 I have been writing these lessons in beekeeping. I enjoy sharing as much information as possible. It’s hard to believe I’ve published these teachings for a little over eight years. Some of you have been reading these from the beginning and though you may live too far away to visit us, you feel like part of the family. My first lesson was entitled, “I Can’t Figure Out Why Everyone Is Not A Beekeeper”. I start off saying, “For the life of me, I can't figure out why everyone doesn't keep bees. It is a blast! I suppose bees have been falsely portrayed as "killer bees" taking over homes and whole cities. That's Hollywood, not reality. Anyone can keep bees. It's easy. As you continue keeping bees over the years, you learn more and more…”  That was 8 years ago, and I feel more passionate about beekeeping now than I did then.

Christmas 2013 I want to thank you for being a part of our family and business over the past few years and we look forward to many more years to come. We know you can buy your beekeeping equipment from other places. Some even offer free shipping. We try never to use the word “free shipping”, because  you do know that it is NOT free, don’t you? With some of our hive kits we use words like, “Shipping is included.” If it comes down to you saving a buck because of “free shipping” and going somewhere else, I hope you’ll decide to buy from us, to support our family business so we can be here long into the future offering classes and all of these online lessons that I am sure have helped so many of you. Our bread and butter comes solely from you deciding to do business with us,  hard working, small family business. Thank you in advance. We have built a lot of hives in preparation of the 2015 bee season. They are ready to ship! Check out our hives at: www.honeybeesonline.com The more you purchase from us, the more resources we have to continue our research and inventing things like our Winter-Bee-Kind and our Burns Bees Feeding System.

Someone told us that if you have an Android smart phone (not an iPhone), you can say to Google Now, “How to start beekeeping” and she will recite back info from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. I tried it and it is cool. Speaking of the Internet, here is some important information about our website this week.

NOTICE: Our website is undergoing a refurbishing toward the end of this week. We are adding many new features. There may be intermittent downtimes during this revamp so please be patient. If you go to our website, www.honeybeesonline.com, but it is down, please feel free to call us (217-427-2678) during regular hours and place your orders with us over the phone. We will do everything we can to reduce downtime, but depending on where you live, it may be down only 10 minutes or up to 48 hours.  

beeinstitute We are getting ready for our first class for the 2015 beekeeping season. We’ve taught beekeeping classes for seven years now. Each year we add more classes and update materials to stay up to date on new findings and research about beekeeping. In preparation for our 2015 classes we are preparing our educational center. Some of you have been to our new facility for classes last year, and it is very nice. But we have slowly been finishing up the kitchen area and we hope to have it completed in a few weeks in time for our Feb. 7th class.

Our first class, Feb 7th, is sold out and our second class on Feb 28th has 2 openings left. We are excited about a full roster of classes we are offering throughout the year. Our Beekeeping Institute in June is completely filled up already. We are contemplating offering a second one this year. Several people were disappointed not to have registered in time before all seats were sold. If you were not able to sign up for the beekeeping institute, but are interested in attending our Beekeeping Institute, please call us to help us make this decision. Thank you. To see our entire list of beekeeping classes including, Advance Beekeeping, Queen Rearing, How To Get Bees Through The Winter and more, go to: www.honeybeesonline.com/classes.html

Winter and spring feeding of honey bees can be tricky especially for inexperienced beekeepers. The best winter option is or bees to live off of their own honey and stores of pollen. However, if a colony does not store up enough for winter, they die because they do not have enough food to generate heat. They starve and freeze to death. Our Winter-Bee-Kinds are an idea resource to place on a hive if they are out of winter food. But how do you make the transition from winter feeding to spring feeding?

I like to give my overwintered colonies liquid feed as soon as the weather permits it. In late winter and early spring, colonies need pollen and 1:1 sugar water. The tricky part is deciding when to go from hard candy to liquid candy. My rule of thumb is as soon as it is warm enough for bees to fly, it’s time to go liquid. I cannot feed them liquid now because not only would it freeze or crystallize, but it is not characteristic of the winter cluster to consume liquid feed.

As soon as I see that the forecast calls for low winds and mild temps so that bees will fly, I’ll start with 1:1 sugar water and patties. Sheri makes an unbelievable sugar/pollen patty for bees. Some of you purchased those last fall and  you know how well the bees loved them. We could not keep up with the demand of orders. I am trying to talk Sheri into making these available again in the spring because this is when bees need them, spring and fall. For now we include a recipe.

Burns Feeding System Now is the time to purchase your Burns Bees Feeding System. In some parts of the southern US, temps will be warming up enough to begin using this system real soon. It allows you to feed liquid and patties to your bees without needing spacers. Special screens hold the bees down so you can change out your feeder jars without bees flying up out of the holes. We now make them out of birch and have a better automated system to cut the perfect circle holes. In the central US we can start using these in about 6-8 weeks so don’t delay. Have them on hand when the weather provides the opportunity.

Here’s a video I made about this system. Man, don’t you wish we were back to short sleeves!

Feeding bees can really make a difference in how fast they build up in the spring. Sometimes bees survive the winter, but become so weak and hungry they never build up and eventually crash in the spring or summer. It is important to provide good nutrition to bees year round if they cannot obtain it on their own.

That’s all for now. See you next time!

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
www.honeybeesonline.com
217-427-2678
M-Thu  10am-4pm central time
Fri-       10am- Noon

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What Does Dead Bees In The Snow Mean? www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

DS

During the last two weeks, winter has tortured us! Unseasonably cold temperatures with strong gusty winds pushed our wind chill near - 30 (F).  Be calm as healthy colonies with plenty of food are quite capable of sailing through the winter without any problems.

Hi, we are David and Sheri Burns of Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. We take our partnership with our bee students and customers very seriously. That’s why we are particular about the equipment we make and we sell only the best products. And if there isn’t one, we invent it! If you are interested in becoming a beekeeper, please check out our complete webpage on what to do next at: www.honeybeesonline.com/howtostart.html

JUST FOR YOU

We have an entire webpage dedicated to quickly answer questions beekeepers may have. www.honeybeesonline.com/honeybees.html

HEADS UP!

Freedom Sheri has informed me that we are getting low on the number of packages of bees that we can include in our Freedom Kits and Early Bird Specials. If you are wanting to start keeping bees or know someone who is thinking about it, the time is short to make plans. Act now or you will be disappointed in several weeks. See our complete line of products at www.honeybeesonline.com

In less than one month we will offer our first beginners class for 2015 bee season. We still have several seats open for Feb. 7th Beginning Beekeeping. It’s here at our honey bee farm and the nice thing about taking this early class is that you can return to any other beginner’s class during the year at no cost.  We offer this opportunity for those who need to hear it again as a refresher course. Check out all of our classes at: www.honeybeesonline.com/classes.html

temp As beekeepers we really keep an eye on the weather. A week ago I saw where the temperatures were going to drop fast and the wind was going to be brutal. Some of my hives had no wind protection, so I decided to implement several experiments. I address the pros and cons of wrapping hives in my classes on, “Getting bees Through The Winter” and wrapping can be a disadvantage if not monitored and adjusted according to the weather. But wind protection can go a long way. And, I believe it can also be an added bonus to keep the hive dry in the winter.  Of course, not doing anything sometimes works just fine too. But most beekeepers lost about 50% of their hives last winter, so I’m using this winter to observe the benefits of wind breaks. Already, I have made an interesting observation. My hives that had my experimental wind cover on them carried out house cleaning in temperatures well below freezing.

 

What I mean by house cleaning is that the colony removed dying or dead bees and dropped them away from the hive. Hives without this wind protection did not carry out house cleaning choirs. What house cleaning says to me is two things. 1) The bees are warm and healthy enough to work inside the hive. 2) If they can move around to clean up dead bees, then they can also move around and consume pollen, bee bread and honey. This week I’ll be receiving some additional monitoring equipment that will allow me to gather precise data to make better correlations.

Again this fall, we will be offering the same “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter” class on four different days. When we offer this class on September 26, this class will be removing most older bees from a colony and working to produce a colony that has minimal older bees that could potentially be carrying viruses from mites or be worn out from foraging. It will be an attempt to see how a colony overwinters with 80% new bees born in the fall into a colony with less than 3% mite infestation.

Dead Bees In The Snow

beepoop3The interesting thing about dead bees in the snow is that they always seem to be slightly down in the snow as if they were warm enough to melt a little bit of the snow when they were first dropped. This just means that no matter when these bees died (usually of natural causes) they were above freezing in the hive. What I am also observing is the amount of dead bees that are dropped. This is interesting to me because I worked hard all fall to reduce mites and specifically raise brood that was not parasitized by mites and did not forage at all. These bees were raised in three specific time periods by caging my queen, giving me the brood exactly when I wanted it. It worked flawlessly. The dead bees I’m seeing now I hope are the older bees that were alive prior to the fall bees that I raised.  This week, temperatures will be in the mid 30s (f). I plan to go out to change my Winter-Bee-Kinds candy boards.

winterbkind Just a reminder, do not remove frames from your hives in the winter. You can replace Winter-Bee-Kinds, and take a quick look down into the hive, but you cannot remove frames for inspection until the outside temperature reaches at least 60 degrees (f). Also, wear protective clothing when opening a hive in the winter. They are quite capable of  flying out and defending the colony.

Worry or Not Worry?

Should you be concerned about dead bees showing up in the snow around your hive? It is very benign during the winter. It can be a good sign as I noted above. However, excessive dead bees may indicate the hive is getting smaller in number and may be losing their ability to heat the colony’s cluster in extremely cold temperatures. In my drops last week, I counted 17 in the snow in front of one hive and 25 near another hive. That is benign. However if you count 200 or more, that may not be a problem if this was their first chance to clean house after a long winter. But if they are constantly dragging out hundreds a week, it could indicate the colony has a microsporidian or virus. If this is the case it is best not to worry, because there is nothing you can do in the winter anyway. However, if hundreds are dying a week from starvation, you can and MUST do something. Feed them with a Winter-Bee-Kind immediately to stop the starvation.

In the north, we experience a high number of bees dying in the winter, mainly because our winters are so long and so cold. It is not unusual for colonies to be reduced down to 20,000 or less in the spring as it starts to warm up. This is not always the case, but winters are hard.

Also, without snow on the ground, you might not ever notice or see dead bees because they blend in to the dirt or grass. A snowfall is when we notice them. However, they are being drop every day it is warm enough. You can build a board and place it in front of your hive. I’ve made them from OSB with 2x4 edges on the top edges to keep the bees from blowing off. Place it next to the hive about 4-5 feet out. You can count your bees daily and see if there is a correlation between cold snaps and number of dead bees.

If you have any questions this week or need to order hives or kits, please give us a call this week.  217-427-2678

Thanks!
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
217-427-2678