Hello from David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms located in central Illinois. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Here’s our youngest son, Christian, taking the first slice on our Thanksgiving turkey. I’m sitting in the middle watching and Sheri’s dad is next to me. We are thankful for our honey bees that made our Thanksgiving meal taste so good. Think of which foods we would not have had without honey bees. Most fruits and vegetables and certainly that wonderful pumpkin pie we owe to the honey bees.
We had a local Girl Scout troop tour our farm. I have a set of frames that have close up photos in the frames instead of foundation. This way I can teach inside my building without opening a hive. This is a very good teaching tool for younger audiences. I enjoy speaking to groups because honey bees always fascinate people. Their parents asked many questions too and showed an interest in getting started in beekeeping. Passing out some free honey straws is always a winner too.
We have been shipping out our Winter-Bee-Kinds as fast as lightning! Thank you for your patience.
I’ll be speaking December 5th at the University of Illinois Extension workshop entitled, “Getting the Most out of Small Acreage.” 9 AM–2 PM at the 4-H Memorial Camp located at 499 Old Timber Road, Monticello, Illinois. You have to register by November 30th by calling (217) 877-6042 or register online at: http://go.illinois.edu/SmallAcres_Monticello
I’ll be speaking at the American Beekeeping Federation at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach (Jacksonville), Florida January 5-9. Leave winter behind and come get some sun and learn more about beekeeping.
I’ll also be teaching at the short course at the Eastern Apicultural Society Conference held this year July 25-29, 2016 at Stockton University, Galloway, NJ, just minutes west of Atlantic City, NJ. This short course is taught by four certified master beekeepers. If you are new to beekeeping or experienced and want to improve your skills mark your calendar.
These are a few things to start putting on your calendar. While you are planning the year, be FOREWARNED that our classes are filling up fast, especially our Beekeeping Institute and our Spring Management class. Every year people are disappointed that our Beekeeping Institute fills up so fast, so don’t delay if you are planning on attending. Check out all of our classes at: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/bee-classes/
Maybe you stood in long lines and battled crowded parking lots on black Friday looking for a few bargains. Maybe you lucked out and single handedly carried that 92” TV out on your shoulder for half price. But maybe there are still gifts to buy for a few hard to buy for folks in your life. Beekeeping is an awesome Christmas gift. Imagine getting your special someone a hive or two, beekeeping equipment and a package of bees. It is the present that will intrigue them for months, maybe years. We have three kits available now that includes bees. Hives and equipment are shipped now in time for Christmas and bees are picked up here in the spring. Here are a few examples. Every year we sell many kits as Christmas presents. Please let us know, so that we can keep it a secret. Some people have us ship them to an friend’s house so the spouse doesn’t look inside when UPS delivers a huge box. Click on the images below for more information.
This photo of me appeared in a newspaper article when we lived in Ohio. I have so many fond memories of starting as a new beekeeper. Look at that flume of smoke. I was scared to death! This was probably my first time to open a hive. ‘94 was before YouTube, the Internet, beekeeping classes and there were very few books on beekeeping. I’m standing right in front of the hive, a rookie mistake. I made many more mistakes that year. Obviously I’ve learned so much more in two decades.
To be a successful beekeeper requires learning and implementing skills and techniques that can only be gained by years of keeping bees. Is there a fast and easy way to keep bees? A button to push? A ton of gizmos and gadgets have come and gone since I started in 1994. Tools, devices, different styles of hives, battery powered stuff, solar powered things, not to mention a host of natural oils and potions leave beekeepers wondering which is best. Some of these probably have helped. But the truth is you can never replace solid beekeeping skills and experience with new gizmos and gadgets.
This spring a surge of new beekeepers will enter the playing field. This is mainly due to the increase interest in beekeeping but partly due to major stores now carrying beehives. These prospective beekeepers are now racing to buy the coveted package of bees to shake in their new hives. Unless these new beekeepers complete a thorough beekeeping course we are likely to see one of the largest die outs of honey bees ever. When bees are mismanaged they usually die.
When you go to a large box store and buy your beekeeping equipment it is unlikely that the clerk can answer your beekeeping questions from years of experience. You may not have any idea where to buy your bees. Or you may be an experienced beekeeper and have friends that will be starting soon. Please lead them to credible classes where they can learn about controlling varroa destructor, seasonal management and when and how to feed bees.
While beekeeping is fun and enjoyable it also requires a certain amount of responsibility as in caring for any animal. The more we are armed with knowledge and skills the more we will enjoy beekeeping.
Here are several suggestions for the new year for both new and experienced beekeepers.
1. Don’t immediately fall for the newest trend or fad. New ideas and discoveries can certainly improve how we keep bees but these should never replace the hard and fast proven principles of beekeeping.
2. Find a credible source, an expert beekeeper, who can evaluate new information and discoveries. People are constantly calling me and asking my opinions on new discoveries because they know I am cautiously optimistic. Most of us are gullible and fall for fancy advertisements that promise easy success. But slow and steady wins the race.
3. You can read all the beekeeping books in the world but you’ll never gain as much experience and skill as you will when you open up a hive and have an expert beekeeper walk you through it and answer your questions.
4. Do not put all your hope in the package bee or queen producer. In other words don’t think that if you buy so and so’s bees or queen that your bees will make it through the winter. Bees are bees. The differences between types of bees are so marginally in comparison to the huge challenges that pests, diseases and winter present.
5. Put in the time necessary to keep bees. Every two weeks take a look and see how your hives are doing. Not knowing the health of your queen and colony usually results in a hive dying in the fall or winter. Be taught how to properly inspect your hives and what actions to take to keep your bees healthy.
6. Be careful not to make wrong choices in the spring. You will be elated in the spring if your bees survive. But one or two spring mistakes may cause your overwintered hive to crash and die in the spring. For example, if you divide or split your hive too early, both hives may die. If you feed them liquid too soon nosema can spread. This year we are offering a class specifically for Spring Management: Spring: Splits, Swarms, Supering and Survival
7. Have the right equipment on hand before you need it. You need extra equipment to catch that swarm, a nuc box to keep a spare queen in, a queen cage to carry that queen to the queenless hive etc. Be prepared for anything and everything.
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David and Sheri Burns