Friday, June 24, 2011

LESSON 106: Festooning & FoxNews (LONG LANE HONEY BEE FARMS 217-427-2678)

Welcome to Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, we are David & Sheri Burns with a passion to help others become beekeepers, and a compassion toward honey bees.
In today’s lesson, I’ll take a look at honey bees festooning. To me it is almost as much fun to watch bees festoon as it is to say the word, festoon. But before we get into today’s lesson, we’ve had lots going on around the apiary!
FoxNews was here for a whole day on Thursday doing a story about the rapid increase in honey prices. It was really fun for us to hang out with the news team. They brought a large satellite truck from Chicago and several others, like reporters and producers and a sound tech.
Foxnews1Their goal was to produce some “teasers” live, and then to have 3 live segments on beekeeping. The rain held off and the bees were very cooperative.

Foxnews9They installed a small camera in one of our Top Bar Hives and they called it the honey cam. They ran large cables and set up a couple of satellite dishes and wireless antennas for camera and mics…our farm has never seen such technology!
Foxnews6The fellow setting up the honey cam never wore a hat or veil and never got stung. In fact, the only person that was stung was the camera woman. That’s pretty common because those large cameras are black with a huge black fuzzy bear like mic cover and cameras usually give off a vibration which the bees can detect. She took a sting on the arm, but took it like a beekeeping pro.
Foxnews3The interviewer was Jeff Flock, a well-known reporter who actually worked and help start CNN. Jeff was amazed that he could touch bees and not get stung.

Foxnews7They were reporting on the rapidly rising price of honey, showing that it’s gone up about 11% and may continue to climb due to the stresses placed on producing honey.
Foxnews4I always welcome the opportunity to promote beekeeping nationally. I was on FoxNews a couple of years ago with Nel Cavuto talking about bees, so this was another fun time at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms! There are two archives of the live broadcasts:
Click here for the first broadcast Click here for the second broadcast
cw2And, we were featured in Country Woman Magazine in their August/September edition which is due out any day, so watch magazine stands and get a copy of this 4 page article on how we raise queens! Look for the cover to the left for the magazine that we are in.
This was another great opportunity to promote beekeeping in a national magazine as this magazine has a annual circulation of over 3 million!
CWMany people have asked us where they can find Country Woman Magazine, and it’s available in bookstores, farm stores and most places that sell magazines.
But if you can’t find the magazine, you can read a condensed version of the article online. The article is called "Bow To The Queens (Illinois bee farmers raise royalty for hives nationwide.)"

LESSON 106: Festooning Of The Honey Bee
Img_7281The word festoon usually relates to flowers or fabric that is loosely linked together with ribbon and is extended between two points. So when we say that bees are festooning, we mean that they are linked together by hanging on to each other’s legs forming a long line or bee web, sometimes extending the full size of a frame.
festoningTo teach a lesson on this, I researched why bees festoon. I found several speculations, but more serious research reveals that the reason for festooning is somewhat unknown. Some claim that bees festoon in order to build new comb or to pass along wax scales, certainly that is true. Some research found that bees build as much comb and produce as much wax without having to festoon.
Worker honey bees are able to build wax combs because of their wax glands on the underside of their abdomen. Bees between 12-18 days old secret wax scales from these glands. The last four visible sections of the abdomen secret these wax scales, two on each side, making a total of 8 small oval wax chips. But here’s the catcher!  In order for bees to build comb they have to produce lots of wax scales AND in order to produce lots of wax scales they must consume large amounts of honey or nectar. Bees must eat about 8 ounces of honey to then be able to produce 1 ounce of wax.
Due to a cold and rainy spring and a late start to summer, our bees are far behind on wax building because they have not been able to fly and gather as much nectar. The less incoming nectar, the less wax can be made and the less wax, the less combs are drawn out. The less nectar, and wax, the less the queen is fed, and the less she will lay. The entire colony’s progress is stunted. And to really build comb nicely, it  must be hot, not cool outside. So hot, dry days with lots of flowers to forage on makes a healthy, growing hive of honey bees. Anything short of that and the colony will suffer.
The entire process for a bee to remove 1 scale from it’s abdomen and manipulate it and attaching it to the comb takes 4 minutes.
Normally, bees do not need fed after sufficient natural nectar sources are available. However, during poor weather, feeding bees 1:1 sugar water can help compensate for a lack of nectar or rainy, cool days when bees cannot fly and gather nectar.
Thanks for joining us for another popular lesson on beekeeping from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. Visit us online at: or call us during our regular business hours.


Gotta run now and deal with a bunch of swarm cells. See you next time!

Friday, June 17, 2011

LESSON 105: Best Advice In Beekeeping ( 217-427-2678)

Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. We are David and Sheri Burns, beekeepers helping beekeepers enjoy beekeeping. Thanks for joining us today for our 105th lesson in beekeeping.
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms is a family operated beekeeping farm business. Rather than being a large box store or warehouse of parts, we are a hands on, personal beekeeping business/farm. Folks who return to do business with us do so because they like the personal and friendly atmosphere and the accessibility of information through a master beekeeper. And since we have less overhead as a family farm business, we can offer great pricing.

While beekeeping is easy, it can go much better when you are armed with knowledge and experience. But, we all start out lacking some degree of knowledge and experience that only time can bring. During those early years when we are trying to figure things out, we make mistakes or fail to manage our hives correctly. Often, beekeepers do not want to admit their mistakes or neglect and want to blame the bees, the weather or point the finger at having been sold a poor queen or package.
Lesson74iFor example, recently I have become more uncomfortable using marked queens. I don’t mind marking them…it’s kinda fun. But, off and on over the years I’ve heard beekeepers suggest that a mark on the queen might cause the queen to be viewed as having a infirmity. Thus, they might replace her. I can’t say I’ve seen that. Occasionally the queen is missing, but how can I be sure it was because she wore a blob of paint on her thorax?
Marking A QueenBeekeepers like to have marked queens. Why? For selfish reasons of course. We want to find her faster and easier. But, does a farmer paint his female cows? There are some things about being a beekeeper that we just have to learn, develop and improve upon as we gain more experience, and finding the queen is one. I have not found any research to prove that a marked queen is more quickly superseded, but I hear that often. One thing that I have noticed is that the queens retinue, those bees surrounding the queen, work at trying to remove her marking. This bothers me greatly. Instead of feeding her, and allowing her lay continually, bees are picking at her marking. Twice I’ve noticed this activity caused her thorax to cave in. Though we do sell marked queens upon request, I don’t run marked queens in my hives, simply because queens are not marked in nature.
So I have narrowed down my best advice I can give into two:
1. Take responsibility for the welfare of your bees.
good broodCertainly you can rely for a while on fellow club members, these lessons and books. But when it comes down to it, you have to know your hive and the biology of bees well enough to make decision which are best for your bees. If your bees aren’t building up fast enough, should you move them to a place that has better nectar sources? Should you feed? Maybe you need to requeen.
I was inspecting my hives yesterday and became concerned that several hives showed low pollen and honey stores for this time of the year. If I choose to do nothing, brood will diminish. So I will have to decide if I should feed them, or wait to see if a flow will pick up soon. Or I can choose to do absolutely nothing. But if my decision results in my bees not building up good, then it’s my responsibility. My management style determines the welfare of my bees. If a provider gives me a package, nuc or a queen, I cannot blame them for poor stock if my management style is poor.
Lesson74hWhen you see or don’t see mites, but you have them, you have to make a decision if you are going to do something or not. We have to accept responsibility of our choices. If we have mites, and choose to do nothing, our hives are less likely to build up or survive the winter. Our management style caused our hive to die in the winter.
2. Keep A Strong Colony! 
lesson74bAs I travel and attend various conferences on beekeeping, I keep hearing over and over that keeping strong colonies is the answer to everything, and I believe that to be true! Strong colonies keep out small hive beetles, wax moth, and many other pests and diseases. But, let a colony become small, and the battle begins. Beekeepers are responsible for colonies becoming small. For example, if a queen fails, the beekeeper should quickly identify that and take immediate action. Discovering a failing queen too late now means the colony is failing.
Lesson1fIf a beekeeper allows a colony to replace a queen that was accidently killed or a queen that simply failed, then it will take 30 days for the queen to emerge, mate and start laying. That’s 30 days without new brood. A queen lays around 2,000 eggs a day, so in 30 days, a decision to let the bees requeen the hive lost 60,000 bees! You could have purchased a queen and maybe only lost a week of laying instead of one full month. To keep a colony strong the beekeeper must always have a very strong queen in the hive.
It’s not uncommon for beekeepers to struggle at keeping hives strong. With today’s challenges it takes extra care, attention and work to keep colonies strong. There are several basic requirements in order to keep strong colonies:
1) Keep varroa mite levels down. As beekeepers, we must take responsibility and become aggressive in keeping mite levels down. Green drone comb, screen bottom boards, powdered sugar dustings and briefly removing the queen to break the brood cycle are non-chemical approaches to controlling the varroa mite. Formic acid is becoming an effective treatment if conditions call for the use of chemicals.
2) There must be an ample amount of a variety of nectar and pollen within 2 miles of your colony.
Bee On FlowerThe more nutrition and variety of nutrition available to your bees, the healthier and stronger they will be. Of course the weather must cooperate in order for the bees to be able to forage and gather nectar, but there is little the beekeeper can do about that.

3) The colony must have a very prolific queen at all times.
broodviabilityWith queens mating with 15-20 drones, no one can control genetics to the point of making a perfect queen. We can certainly improve upon certain qualities, but we must continually monitor our queens and replace them the minute they start to fail.
4) The colony must have room to expand into additional frames preferably, drawn comb, as opposed to undrawn foundation.  This is another important aspect of beekeeping…knowing when to add additional frames for the bees to expand onto. If too many frames are given too soon, the bees seem to stall and not expand. However, if additional frames are not given soon enough, the bees can become crowded and congested and swarm, thus greatly reducing the numbers in the hive.
Finally, I’ve created a FREE inspection sheet for you to use when inspecting your hives. It’s a .pdf file that you can download and print off as many as you need. Use this inspection form to gather and use information on each hive to help you make good and responsible decisions on what to do next.
Thanks for joining me today or lesson 105. Remember you can have these lessons arrive in your Inbox of your email FREE. And as always, you help us greatly when you tell others about these free lessons and about our business. We appreciate it.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Friday, June 3, 2011

LESSON 104: Slatted Bottom Racks (217-427-2678

Hello, we are David & Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, beekeepers helping beekeepers. We are a family business and spend our time manufacturing beekeeping equipment, producing queens and holding classes on beekeeping, advance beekeeping, queen rearing and more.
These free lessons are a big hit within the beekeeping community. So, please help us pass this site on to other folks who would enjoy learning about beekeeping on a regular basis. These lessons can be sent right to your Email inbox--FREE.  Sign up now!

I’ve mentioned slatted bottom racks briefly in previous lessons, but I want to dedicate an entire lesson to this mysterious invention. When you look at it, you really aren’t sure what it is, how it works, or even how it fits on the hive. Just what is it good for?
slatted rack
We make these here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, and we cannot keep them in stock. They are challenging to build with 15 different pieces.
slatted rack2If you look at it carefully, you’ll notice that on one side the slates are very close to top and if you flip it over there is a larger opening underneath.
So let’s find out what all the talk is about regarding slatted racks.
It fits on the top of a bottom board just below the bottom deep hive body. Carl Killion used a similar idea to allow space for bees and extra ventilation. C. C. Miller believed in the idea but he simply made 2” bottom boards but found that the bees would build comb on the bottom of the frames to fill the extra space provided. But with a false bottom (the slatted rack), the bees are tricked not to build comb.
People are always confused which way to place these on the hive because on one side the slats are close to the top and the other side they are a over an inch away. Place it on the hive with the slats as close as possible to the frames.
The slatted bottom rack is also thought to help reduce swarming by giving extra space for bees to hang out. Those who use the racks really believe in them, and use them on all their hive. Perhaps you should try one and test it for yourself to see if there is any difference.
Some claim that since the rack keeps the end of the frame 2 inches from the opening that the queen will lay to the bottom of the deep frames.
Click here to order a 10 Frame Slatted Rack.
Please remember to have a hive ready when you get that swarm call. We are selling our popular completely assembled and painted hive so, consider having one ready by clicking here. Don’t be fooled by catchy ads that show cheaper pricing. Compare apples to apples. Our hives have two coats of exterior latex (Valspar) paint, glued wooden frames, frame rests, plastic foundation that has been sprayed with bees wax in the US and our inner covers are not thin pieces of Masonite. Instead, our inner covers are made from 1/2 plywood and have 4 vent slots cut into the rails. Order your complete hive now!
Until next time….

beesDavid and Sheri Burns
14556 N 1020 E. Rd
Fairmount, IL 61841
(217) 427-2678