NOTE: For customers who have ordered and paid for pickup packages of bees, our package bee pickup date has been moved to Sat. May 3 from 9am-6pm. Thank you.
Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. Today I want to share about the tragic mistakes beekeepers make now that it is spring. But before I do I want to share a bit about our family. Here’s some of our family eating supper. We are one large, hard working family. We work hard together and often we eat together. This week we have been so blessed by several customers who have called in just to tell us how much they appreciate us and enjoy our classes or our website on beekeeping.
This is a very stressful and busy time of the bee year so we always enjoy it when customers have encouraging things to say. One man from California even told my wife to give me a kiss on the cheek. If you got to know us more you’d really like us. Our family is fun and funny. Many families being featured in reality shows no longer do what the show depicts them doing. Much of it is a reflection of what they used to do before they became rich and famous. But we are still living REAL life! See that table we are eating on? My Uncle Charlie in Stamps, Arkansas cut down those trees and dried out oak planks. My brother-n-law, Alan in Martin, Tennessee went down and got the wood and built me that table in 2002. It’s beautiful.
If you were to wake up and follow us throughout the day you’d agree we are the best reality family around. The stuff we do and run into is a hoot. We put together a bunch of video we took of some things that happen around here with our family, a glimpse into our reality, “American Beekeeper”.
Sheri is a sweetheart. Last weekend we had two bee classes back to back, all day Saturday then from noon to 6 on Sunday. But she still managed to make an awesome home cooked supper. She writes books, gardens, raises chickens, rides a Harley, talks all day to beekeepers on the phone and still has time to read a good book at the end of the day.
She has notebooks for each of our six children and almost everyday she’ll writes down what we did so that when we’re gone the kids can know what our days were like (as if they don’t already because they are usually here). She earned her college degree in Business Administration/HR, and is even a certified firearm instructor. She has traveled to Haiti, Mexico and Israel doing mission work. She has a real sense of compassion for people. She is the star of our reality show! She’s the queen bee of our lives and operation. What’s also fun about having Sheri as a wife is she jumps in and enjoys whatever new endeavor I tackle. Every time I start a new hobby she involves herself with me in that hobby. Consequently we are best friends. Today I was driving through Danville, Illinois with pulling a 25’ trailer and she rode up beside me on her Harley. I yelled, “Nice bike! You married?”. She nodded that she was, and I said, “Lucky guy!”
Next year will be our 10th year as a bee business. And those first few years were really tough. We have put our time in trying to make things happen. If it had not been for Sheri, my daughter Karee and our oldest son David, our business could not have survived the rapid growth we’ve experienced. But unlike most reality families on TV, we are still doing it. We are still making hives, raising queens, removing hives from homes, teaching beekeeping classes because we love bees! Like a reality show, sometimes there is lots of drama! Sometimes there is lots of laughter. We’ve all cried at one point or another. But we are a family, making our living from your generosity as great customers and we appreciate that so much. Thank you. We know there are other places you can purchase your beekeeping supplies from so thank you for choosing Long Lane Honey Bee Farms.
When you call in you’ll either speak with Leah, Karee or Sheri. Usually they keep me too busy to take a break and talk on the phone. If you get Sheri you’ll know alittle more about her now. Remember Sheri loves to laugh, and know alittle more about you too.
Come and enjoy the reality of Long Lane Honey Bee Farm for a whole week at our 2nd Annual Beekeeping Institute, June 9th-13th, 2014. Click here to sign up now. If you cannot stay the entire week, pick and choose which day or days you can come:MON June 9th-Basic Beekeeping
Want to take an Advance Beekeeping Course with us?
Join us for our Advance Beekeeping Course Saturday May 23-24, 2014. This class opens with our Friday night dinner buffet at 6pm on Friday. This is a two day Advance beekeeping course. Friday 6pm-9pm, then Sat. 9-noon.Some people have kept bees for years, but continue repeating the same mistakes and are not gaining beekeeping experience. Instead they are stuck in being a first year beekeeper year after year. Take the next step, and leap into becoming a better beekeeper! We'll take a more in depth look at swarm prevention, splits, overwintering hives, pests & disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention, increase honey yields and tricks of the trade. Join David Burns, EAS certified Master Beekeeper for a day of advance learning. Please bring protective gear to examine hives. We have 4 seats left. Click here to register now.
LESSON 152: Tragic Mistakes Made In The Spring
WAIT! Before you jump into your hive now that it has warmed up, lets talk about some tragic mistakes beekeepers make in the spring.
1. BUYING PACKAGES TOO EARLY
Every year more and more beekeepers start packages too early only to lose them to cold nights. Every year we stress how important it is to wait until late April or early May to make splits and start packages. We are holding our packages back until May 3rd. But beekeepers in the north are calling us because their suppliers provided very early packages. Many have called and reported that their bees froze out when temperatures dipped into the 20s last week.
I know we all want to capitalize on early spring nectar flows but please be patient. A new package cannot build up fast until the nights are warm. If you are installing a new package on undrawn (new) foundation, the bees have no comb to store resources even if you do feed them. It will take a couple of weeks until the bees have drawn out substantial comb that can help them store resources and keep warm. Not to mention that in late March and early April there are very few days warm enough for bees to forage. When it does warm up, there really is no nectar sources yet.
It is very challenging for package bee providers to produce early queens that have been mated sufficiently. Later mated queens mate with more drones. You can roll the dice and try to beat the odds, but why not wait. A package resembles a swarm, and bees are not swarming in central or northern states yet. Install a package when swarm season starts, in May.
2. REVERSING DEEP HIVE BODIES TOO EARLY OR INCORRECTLY
Colonies that survived the winter have moved up into their stored honey, usually up into the top brood box. A tragic mistake is to rotate the hive bodies too early or when there is brood in both boxes. By reversing the hive bodies I am referring to taking the more empty bottom brood box and placing it on top of the top brood box where most of the cluster resides coming out of winter.
Doing this too early places the cluster down, away from the upper part of the hive which can chill the brood as the heat rises up into the top empty brood box. And if there is brood in both the top and bottom box then the brood nest area is broken up. Here in Illinois I never rotate hive bodies until after May 1, and then only after I ensure that there is absolutely no brood in the bottom hive body box. If there is then I leave it as is. Take a look at our article on Reversing Hive Bodies
3. REUSING OLD COMB
We are constantly asked if it is okay to use comb after bees have died during the winter. It is practically impossible to know why bees die in the winter. Usually we conclude that it was from varroa mites, starvation or the loss of the queen in the fall. Sometimes it is the result of the population being too small to stay warm. These are benign issues and comb can be reused. However, sometimes bees can die in the winter from nosema. Spores stay alive and can infect the new package of bees. It is very hard to clean nosema ( a microsporidian). Of course American foulbrood is always a concern too. Sometimes overwintered bees die from mice that overwintered in the hive too. In this case bees cannot stand the smell of mice and can abscond and entirely vacate the hive. If you have any doubt start with new frames and foundation.
4. FAILING TO FULLY UNDERSTAND BEEKEEPING
Spring management of an overwintered colony is so important. This overwintered colony may be fine, but it also might never fully recover from a hard winter without advance beekeeping skills. A basic beekeeping class can never fully prepare a beekeeper for everything they will encounter with their hive. Varroa mite control must start immediately in the spring. Green drone comb trapping should be started now! We are offering our Advance beekeeping class May 23rd-24th. This class opens with our Friday night dinner buffet at 6pm on Friday followed by advance beekeeping teaching, then more on Saturday. This is a two day Advance beekeeping course. Friday 6pm-9pm, then Sat. 9-noon.Some people have kept bees for years, but continue repeating the same mistakes and are not gaining beekeeping experience. Instead they are stuck in being a first year beekeeper year after year. Take the next step, and leap into becoming a better beekeeper! We'll take a more in depth look at swarm prevention, splits, overwintering hives, pests & disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention, increase honey yields and tricks of the trade. And we’ll be visiting the new Pollinatarium at the University of Illinois. Join David Burns, EAS certified Master Beekeeper for a day of advance learning. Please bring protective gear to examine hives. We have 4 seats left. Click here to register now.
Thank you for reading our lesson today. We look forward to hearing from you soon. We apologize if you have difficulty reaching us by phone or email this time of the year. Remember we are on central time and our customer support hours are:
Are you prepared to capture swarms in your area? It’s a great way to increase the number of hives without having to purchase bees. But swarms only hang around a few days and if you do not have a hive to put them in, they’ll be gone. Consider purchase an empty hive so it will be ready to catch that swarm! Click here for our fully assembled and painted hive.
And if you call in, we’ll ship anywhere in Illinois Free. This hive comes with two deep hive bodies with wood frames and foundation, 1 medium honey super with wood frames and foundation, a screen bottom board, inner cover and a telescoping top cover. Also comes with an entrance feeder and a queen excluder. Fully painted and assembled! Ready for your yard.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms