Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We are David and Sheri Burns and we operate a family owned beekeeping business. We make all our hives by hand. We DO NOT buy other hives and assemble them. We start with large pine boards and build hives. And as an EAS certified master beekeeper we offer beginner and advance beekeeping courses, as well as queen rearing classes in our education center here on our farm. Visit www.honeybeesonline.com/classes.html for a full list of our 2014 class schedule. We sell everything to do with bees, even the bees. So we appreciate your business.
We are a one stop place where you can get everything you need to get started in beekeeping. You’ve thought about it, and now it’s time to get started in the exciting world of beekeeping.
Years ago we started making our own hives. They meet traditional Langstroth’s measurements but we’ve tweaked our hives because we are beekeepers and we knew what improvements we could make to improve our hives. Our complete hive was one of the first hives to be completely painted and assembled and we still build and paint them the same way. If you need a hive for spring, check our hives.
Winter weather certainly brings concern to most beekeepers. Although healthy colonies can withstand brutal winter weather, colonies that are low in numbers or food supply can fall victim to such storms as we are witnessing across the Midwest and northeast. The low temperature in Chicago tonight will be minus 13 below zero (-13 f). The high temperature in Chicago tomorrow is predicted only to reach a negative 10 below zero…that’s the high temperature!
When blasts of cold, brutal winter weather threatens colonies around the US we get questions from beekeepers asking whether their bees will survive. Colonies that were already in trouble will probably fail. Small colonies with less that 40,000 bees will likely freeze and die. Larger colonies that are healthy will likely be unaffected by winter storm Ion.
The winter colony of honey bees does not hibernate, rather bees cluster together and generate heat to keep work. The queen will be in the center of the cluster as well as possible small amounts of brood. Remember, developing pupa needs to be kept around 92 (f) degrees. Bees will work hard to generate the heat needed around the brood area and in support of the winter cluster. The greater the number of bees, the more heat can be generated. This is why it is so important to start preparing for winter in the spring, making sure your bees are developing into strong colonies all year long in preparation for winter.
Tomorrow we will receive lots of calls from beekeepers in a panic over winter storm Ion, asking us what they can do to help their bees make it through winter. When Sheri and I were discussing how to answer these questions I jokingly told her she should answer, “buy more packages”. The tricky part of winter beekeeping is packages have to be ordered in January and February when you really don’t know yet how your existing hives will do coming out of winter. Will they make it or not? If you wait until March to find out, it’s practically impossible to buy packages this late in the year if you need replacement packages of bees.
Most people wonder if they should wrap their hive, or cover the hive with something to hold in the heat. A blanket may help your bees if they have no wind block and are in a very windy area. I would only use the blanket for short durations, taking it off when temperatures reach back into the 30s. Many insects survive winter by burring down under brush, leaves or dirt to avoid drastically cold temperatures. Of course, a blanket is feasible if you only have one or two hives but is impractical the more hives you have. A blanket on a cold night still may not help an unhealthy hive or a hive with inadequate numbers of bees. But, since you do not know how many bees are in your colony, it may be something worth trying. The reason you do not want to leave it on a hive is because it could become moist and hold too much moisture and stale air within the hive.
Should you put a heating pad or light around the hive? Again, this is a lot of work and excessive or unnatural heat can adversely affect the colony. Again, if you have a hive or two and it’s going to be –10 (f) for a night, some beekeepers claim this is helpful. Ideally, we want strong colonies going into winter so these attempts are not necessary with strong and healthy hives.
What about moving the colony into a barn or garage? Certainly this could be helpful if the hive does not have a wind block. But, a healthy hive is going to be very heavy to move. What if you move it and spill it and separate the boxes and break the propolis seal? Not good! What if you hurt your back? And if you do move them into a building, be sure to screen the front so no bees can fly out to investigate what all the shaking and groaning is about. Then, you’ll need to move them back out on a day of 50 (f) degrees or above so they can fly out from their old location. So again, this could be helpful but requires a lot of work and risk.
So what’s the best thing to do? Stay warm in your house and hope for the best. That’s really all we can do. Of course we believe in our Winter-Bee-Kind upper insulation/candy and protein board with an upper entrance/exit. Watch my video on how it works:
It’s never too cold or late in the winter to put the WBK boards on your hives. When ordering, be sure to specify whether you have an 8 frame hive or 10 frame. Look closely to order the proper size for your hive. Click here to order. In summary, there is very little left to do at this point. Winter preparation has to be completed during warm weather, now we sit and wait keeping our fingers crossed and saying our prayers.
Before I go, here’s some items and classes you need to know about:
BUSY BEE SPECIAL 1 Hive and one package of bees with mated queen. The hives are custom made by hand right here in Central Illinois. The packages of bees are shipped to you from Gardners Apiary in Georgia, who have agreed to help us help you fulfill your dreams of becoming a beekeeper in the spring 2014. Your hive will ship first from Illinois, then bees will ship approximately in May of 2014. CLICK HERE to read more about our BUSY BEE SPECIAL. VERY LIMITED NUMBERS.
Two complete hives. Each hive includes the following: CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO ORDER
1 screen bottom board with two different entrance cleats. One cleat is for use with the included entrance feeder. The other is used without an entrance feeder.
1 entrance feeder. Just add your small mouth glass jar and feed your bees sugar water if needed.
2 Deep Hive Bodies. This is the area where the bees live. Each deep hive body comes complete with 10 wooden frames with full 3/8 side bars, and are glued and stapled. Plus each frame is already assembled with plastic beeswax coated foundation. This is a total of 20 deep hive body frames.
1 Medium Honey Super. This is where the bees store their excess honey that you can
remove. This super comes with 10 wooden frames, glued and stapled, fully assembled
with plastic beeswax coated foundation.
1 Inner cover. This goes on top of the boxes, but beneath the final top cover. This inner
cover allows for upper ventilation and an vapor barrier.
1 Telescoping Top Cover. This is the final top cover with nice white aluminum metal to
help protect it from the weather.
LOOK WHAT ELSE IS INCLUDED:
1 Plastic Pith Beekeeping Hat.
1 Veil that goes around the hat to protect the face and neck.
1 hive tool. 1 Beekeeping Stainless Steel smoker with heat guard
1 Package of smoker fuel, though you can also use pine needles or other natural items.
1 Book, "First Lessons In Beekeeping" by Keith Delaplane.
2 Queen Excluder, used to keep the queen from entering into the upper super.
These hives are built right here at our honey bee farm in Central Illinois.
Stay warm and thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
217-427-2678 M-Thu 10am-4pm central time. Friday 10am-Noon