Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How To Perform A Complete Hive Inspection

DavidSheri Hello from (Long Lane Honey Bee Farms). We are David and Sheri Burns and we are located in central Illinois. We’ve been a beekeeping business for a decade with online lessons, YouTube video, beekeeping blogs an podcasts. We also offer onsite beekeeping classes. All of these resources are available to beekeepers around the country and through our efforts we have introduced and trained thousands of new beginners and experienced beekeepers alike.

In addition to our online store, we have a small store at our location and this time of the year people are pouring in buying equipment like extra honey supers and hives to hive swarms.

We are trying to stay ahead on building honey supers because we know when you need them, you need them yesterday. And with the rain, most of us only have a small window of good weather to place them on our hive. If you even think your hive may need more supers, order early!

youtube1 Everywhere I go someone will tell me they have watched my videos or listened to our podcasts and they feel like I’m an old friend. Our beekeeping YouTube channel has received over 1.2 MILLION views and has attracted production companies who make reality shows, commercials and more. But I just keep making videos that can help people enjoy beekeeping. If you haven’t enjoyed our YouTube channel you can check it out at:

I’m making a new video showing beekeepers how to properly inspect a hive, find the queen and more. I’ll be posting it in a couple of days.

Of everything we do with bees, what we enjoy the most is interacting with our students who come from around the US to take our beekeeping classes. I’m getting ready for my second beekeeping institute of the year starting Friday and runs through Sunday. You have to register very early in the year to get a seat. We will be posting our 2016 dates soon. However, we just received a cancellation due to an unexpected health issue. So if you want that seat, call Sheri. It is this Friday, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 3pm each day. 217-427-2678. Sheri is in the office today between 1pm-3pm central time. Many of you wanted me to offer a 3rd Institute, but I just couldn’t work it into the schedule this year. We may offer three in 2016.


 july17Two new awesome classes I’ve added are, “A Day In The Bee Yard”. I will show you, in the field, a variety of ways to work bees andJuly19  manage colonies. Imagine spending 4 hours in hives with a certified master beekeeper teaching you how to split hives, prevent swarms, find queens, manipulate frames, mark queens, how to use a cloake board, feeders, patties, mite tests, and much more.

We only have 2 spots left on Friday, July 17, 2015 9am-1pm so we’ve added another class on Sunday July 19th, 2pm-6pm. Now that you’ve been in your hive and you’ve seen things that you cannot identify or figure out, why not come and let me walk you through some answers to help you feel more confident in working your hive. We’ll have fun together. Each photo above is a link to that particular day, so click on the image for more info. If you cannot get off work on Friday, come spend Sunday afternoon and let me teach you a thing or two. Or register by going to:

In this lesson, I want to walk you through a proper inspection of a hive. But before I do, let me WARN you that as we enter the month of July, nectar flow will start to slow down and as we enter late summer and fall, your bees will get hungry and not have very much incoming food. Many beekeepers reported this to be the case last year and there were many hives that went into winter very low on winter stores. DON’T MAKE THAT MISTAKE. A colony of honey bees consumes the same amount of protein and carbohydrates as a medium size dog. So do not assume bugs don’t need food. Especially 40,000+. They do. We have two feeding system we’d like to offer that are big sellers already:

BBFS Burns Bees Feeding System – This is an awesome way to feed bees in late summer and fall. Remember, 2 parts sugar to 1 part water in the latter part of the year. We created is feeder to accommodate 2 jars of sugar water and one space for sugar or pollen patties. No more smashing bees between boxes with your patties. And what’s cool is, that when you lift up the jars, there is a protective screen to hold the bees down so you can add more pollen or sugar water and not have bees boiling out of the holes. Since the video below we have modified this system to have a smaller rectangle hole for the patties and only two holes for jars as shown in the photo. But the video demonstrates how to use them. Get these ordered so you have them before the nectar flow ends.

Ultimate Feeder The Ultimate Hive Feeder works the same way and we sell a lot of these. It fits on the frames of the upper brood box.  Place a medium super box around it and the top cover on and look how the bees feed. You may want to place this above your inner cover, then place an empty super box around it and top cover on the box. This way bees will not build wax in the open space around it. Just be sure not to block the oval shape hole on the inner cover so that the bees can gain access to it.. We are proud to carry this product, so click on the image for more info or go to:

Here in Illinois I have had ten and a half inches of rain in the month of June. That means my bees have missed a lot of flying time to harvest nectar. This is true for a large part of the US. With more rain in the forecast, bees might get behind on winter storage so keep an eye out on feeding your bees August through November.

Now before our lesson today, let me encourage you to watch our facebook page. We usually post important information daily of practical beekeeping tips, photos, news reports and more.

How To Perform A Complete Hive Inspection

1. Inspect The Outside

Rainbowhive As you walk up to the hive, look for anything unusual such as skunk scratches on the ground in front of the hive or on the front of the hive. Look for any broken pieces on the hive that may need repaired. Make sure your stand is solid. For example, if you are using pallets, make sure they are not deteriorating. If you are using concrete blocks, make sure they are not broken and that the hive is still level and solid.

2. Smoke The Entrance And Under The Top Cover

Smoke the guard bees a few times at the entrance then smoke under the top cover2 or 3 times to help calm the bees.

3. Remove Top Cover And Smoke Under The Inner Cover

I like to set my top cover upside down so that I can place my boxes on it as I inspect. As soon as you remove the top cover be looking to smash any fast moving small hive beetles. Smash them with your hive tool.

Institute4 4. Smoke lightly over the top of frames in top box.

You really don’t need a lot of smoke, just enough to calm the bees, so usually three or four gentle puffs that floats over the top of the frames is sufficient.

5. Inspect each frame looking for the queen as you go.

Keep a record of what you see on each frame. Eggs, larvae, sealed brood, nectar, honey etc.  Make sure you keep a close eye on the queen. When I see my queen, I will remove that frame Nuc1and place it in a nuc box for safe keeping during the inspection. I place the entire frame, queen and all the bees in the nuc box and place the top cover on. Now I can inspect without worrying about killing the queen accidently. Once I’ve inspect all frames, then I place them back in the box and remove the entire box and place it on the lid.

6. Inspect the next box repeating step 5.

7. Inspect next box and repeat based on how many boxes you may have.

What  you are looking for is:

1. Healthy and abundant brood

2. Evidence of a healthy queen

3. Sufficient nectar/honey and pollen

A beekeeper called me today who has two hives, one is doing great and one is low in population. I told him to inspect the hive that is low in numbers to see if there are several frames of sealed brood. If so, just be patient because these bees will emerge soon and increase population. If no sealed brood is found, then replace the queen immediately because without sealed brood, the hive will go even longer without adequate population. Now if it is full of eggs and young large everywhere, then certainly there is no need to replace a good laying queen. If that’s the case, pull a few frames of capped brood from the strong hive so this weak hive can have immediate population growth within a few days rather than waiting 24 days for the eggs to finally produce adult bees. These are the kinds of things you are evaluating as you inspect your hives.

Thanks for joining us today!
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Monday, June 15, 2015

Summer Management


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms we are David and Sheri Burns. We are enjoying spring and it will finally be summer next week. Colonies are looking good and building up  nicely. Spring was wet and cooler for us than normal and bees were a little slower in getting started. It was great seeing everyone at our package bee pickup day. Since then we have been teaching beekeeping classes almost every weekend. 

Sheri and I are amazed at the phenomenal surge of interest in beekeeping this year alone. We thought previous years were really strong, but so many people are getting into beekeeping. In fact, normally we start to see things slow down by this  time of the year, but we are still busy shipping out lots of equipment. Thank you.

beeinstitute2015 Last week and last weekend we had our Beekeeping Institute. This is the third year we have offered the institute. And in two weeks we are offering another institute which has been sold out since winter.  We had a beginners class on Thursday, and the institute ran Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Jon Zawislak was great to help out again.  Jon and I are friends and have a lot of fun teaching together.  Students came from Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee. We worked between storms on several days.  One day, after class was over, a storm moved through and blew tops off of three hives. Jon and I ran out in the middle of pounding rain and wind and put the tops back on. We were soaked. Here in Illinois we have received over 7 inches of rain in a week just from popup thunderstorms. And that’s what is in the forecast for the next several days, possibly 5 more inches.

Bees cannot fly in the rain so if it rains a lot honey production (and wax build up on comb) will be slower. And when it rains, it may take a day or two for some flowers to regain their nectar. We typically say that rain washes out the  nectar. But on a positive note, all of this rain means that clover will bloom longer and stronger to help with the honey crop.

jondavid Jon and I have been friends since we became EAS certified master beekeepers about 8 years ago. We’ve spoken at conference together, written articles and wrote a book on how to raise quality queens.

Jon and I also host Hive Talk, a live beekeeping podcast. When Jon isn’t up here, he spends his time as the apiculture instructor with the Entomology Department, University of ArkansasQueen book Division of Agriculture in Little Rock, Arkansas.

A few years ago, Jon asked me to teach him everything I know about raising queens and we  both decided to capture the images and write a book on raising quality queens. We wanted to provide a FREE book for beekeepers to download and be able to use as their main resource for producing queens. We have had so many people tell us how much this book has helped them start a queen rearing business or just raise a few queens. You can click on the cover image to get your copy.

Today, I want to encourage you to think about summer management. Summer will be arriving this weekend. Those of you who follow my lessons know that I cannot stress enough the importance of monitoring and eliminating varroa mites in your hive. Ignore mites and chances are your hive will perish in the winter. But you can review my previous lessons on mite control.

Honey Super What about summer management? Here in Illinois we only have 4-6 weeks left for bees to gather nectar. It varies from year to year, but our main floral sources are over by mid to late July. Sometimes we may stretch into August. Therefore, summer management means you must place supers on your hives! If you place supers on now, the bees have a better chance at adding wax to undrawn foundation. If you wait and give your colony an undrawn super in late July here in Illinois, the bees will likely not have time to draw out the wax and gather nectar and dry it into honey. So get busy today if you want honey! He are trying to ship medium super orders out about 3 business days after we receive the order. We are limited by our supply of frames, but if you don’t have supers, get them now! Click here for more info on our medium honey supers.

I recommend that you give an extra hearty coating of beeswax to your super foundation. Melt wax down and brush it on. You will witness a remarkable difference in how fast the bees will draw out the comb, possibly giving you the edge you need to get some honey this year.

Monitor the fecundity of your queen, how well she is laying. In the month of July you should make a decision if you like your queen’s production or not. If she is not laying well or she is more than 2 years old, you should consider replacing her in July. This will give you time to make sure your hive is queenright and strong before going into winter. If you wait too long, you will have trouble finding a queen and it is a little harder to introduce her when there is not a honey flow occurring. 

As the summer gets hotter be sure to place watering stations for your bees gather water and keep your hive cool. Don’t place them too close to the hive or they may have trouble locating them. Bird baths in the shade with sticks to help the bees not drown will work well.

Colonies could still swarm, so monitor the brood boxes for swarm cells and overcrowding. It’s getting too late to split in time for winter, but you might make it work. If you can’t split your overcrowded colony, and you have a crowded hive ready to swarm, you can move frames to other hives to balance your colonies resources.

Speaking of swarms, if your colony swarms do you have a hive to place them in? What if a neighbor calls you to remove a swarm, do you have an extra hive? Be prepared to expand your operation by collecting swarms. We sell complete hives, assembled and painted. It’s better to have a hive before you catch a swarm than to catch a swarm and have to wait days for your hive to arrive. Plan ahead for the bees’ sake.

Finally, summer management should include winter preparation. I know, I know! No one wants to think or mention winter during the summer. Winter is long enough and we all just want to enjoy summer. But if you want your bees to survive winter, you need to prepare in the next few months, not wait until October.

We have classes focusing just on How To Get Your Bees Through The Winter. They are all filling up fast. Don’t wait or you may be unable to sign up. Here’s the list of classes coming up, so just click on the link.

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Aug 22, 2015

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Aug 29, 2015

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Sept 12, 2015

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Sept 26, 2015

ADAY This year I’m offering a new class in my line up. “A Day In The Field”.  9am-1pm. Spend 4 hours with me in the bee year for hands on bees! This class will be in one month, Friday July 17th. This class is limited to 10 students. If July 17th is rainy, the rain date is July 24th. The agenda is for me to show you a variety of ways to work bees and manage colonies out in the bee yard. Bring your own snacks and water bottles to stay hydrated. You must wear protective gear even if you are superman. No one will be allowed in the yards with short pants, or without at least a hat and veil and long sleeve shirt or bee suit or jacket. No exceptions. Bring your smoker but NO HIVE TOOLS. We provide hive tools. This is a new class and if it goes well and there is a strong interest we may have more this year. Click here for more information. All students must be registered in advance.

Prior to the class, you will receive a letter via email with detailed information. Please read thoroughly to know what to bring. We will hold the class at our education center located at our office at 14556 N 1020 East Rd., Fairmount IL 61841. Please follow these directions (some GPS units do not work for our location). Off I-74, take the Oakwood Exit 206. Go south into town, to 2nd stop sign (Catlin-Homer Rd). Turn left onto Catlin-Homer Rd., going down two country roads to 1020 East. Turn left, go down another 1/4 mile until you see our signs. If you need hotel information, we suggest either the Best Western in Danville (217-431-0020) Holiday Inn at 217-442-2500 or our own Sleepy Creek Vineyard at 217-733-0330 (only about 2 miles away). Please bring protective gear but NO HIVE TOOLS. Remember we are on central time. We will not start until 9am central time no matter how early you arrive. 

Thanks for reading our blog today and remember to check us out online at

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Custom Painted Hives 217-427-2678


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We are busy making sure beekeepers get off to a great start for 2015! Many beekeepers are well prepared and awaiting to pick up their packages of bees this weekend. Other beekeepers haven’t thought of everything and are desperately trying at the last minute to get everything in order.

Things are very hectic as we prepare for this weekend. However, Sheri and Karee have found some time to custom paint two hives.  We are doing a “test” to see if people are interested in hand painted hives of various colors. They will be custom painting a few hives a month to see what the interest might be.

camo Currently they have two custom hives painted. The first one Sheri painted camouflage. She spent several hours painting it and after she was done I was really amazed. Obviously she is able to only paint a few a month, so only this one is for sale.  Some people may not want to draw attention to their hives, or maybe they don’t want to break up the natural appearance of a yard or garden with a large white box. This will blend right in.  Click here now to be the one who purchases this camouflage hive.

Pink Karee custom painted second hive, a beautiful pink hive. Sometimes your yard needs a special color that “pops” making your hive soft, yet a beautiful attention getter. This hive may appeal to those who have a colorful area just waiting for bees with color. We only have this one, so be the one who purchases this pink hive. Click here now.

paintedhives Way to go Sheri and Karee! They’ve had this idea for over a year and were finally motivated to try it. Sheri and Karee are committed to paint several of these a month and more if the demand is there. Each one will not be identical and different colors and designs will be posted online as they are available.


David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Do You Know What You Need To Know To Be A Good Beekeeper? 217-427-2678


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms ( 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
M-Thur 10am – 4pm Central Time
Fri 10am- Noon
Closed Sat & Sun

Monday, March 30, 2015

Best Practices For Over Wintered Colonies 217-427-2678


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:

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:  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

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Feed Bees Liquid In The Spring 217-427-2678


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:

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,

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.


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

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Count Down To Bee Season 217-427-2678

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.
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: 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.

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