Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Lesson 127: Beekeeping For Beginners www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

Hello from Long Lane honey Bee Farms. We are David and Sheri Burns. We specialize in making beekeeping for beginners as easy as possible. Today, our lesson focuses on Beginners: 4 Tips. Then, our next lesson will be, “What Did My Bees Die From?”

With a little 5 year old son, Christmas at our house is always special. We enjoyed having family and friends over, eating delicious food, a candle light service, gifts given and received and the time off to relax. We hope all went well for you this Christmas season.
Merry Christmas!
Seth Sheri and I rain up to Chicago to pick up our Marine son, Seth, who flew home for Christmas. Seth is out at Camp Pendleton, California and will graduate from the School of Infantry later next month. Seth’s Military Occupation Specialty is rifleman in the infantry.Our prayers go out to all our service men and women and their families.
Tomorrow, I’m looking forward to teaching a private bee class. I was asked by a family to teach a beginner’s course at their home to family and friends interested in beekeeping. The number is up to around 20 now! While we offer most of our classes here at our honey bee farm, we are always open to travel and offer a class in your area. Whether it is a beginners, advance or queen rearing class, give us a call and we might come to your area or local bee club.
(217) 427-2678
 Shipping Hives UPS We offer beekeeping classes, bees and equipment. We’re on the phone all day speaking with current and prospective beekeepers.  So many people call us and say, “I found your site and we’re interested in getting started in beekeeping”.  We live for calls like this.  We want to share our passion and love for bees with you. For 2013 we’ll have more experienced beekeepers available to take your calls. We’ve also increased our production of hives which should mean faster order fulfillment. We work hard to encourage more people to become new beekeepers, and we want to thank our customers who share us with others. You can also forward these lessons to others, or send them a link to our website: www.honeybeesonline.com We appreciate it so much!

Wouldn't it be nice to have a certified master beekeeper on the other end of the phone or email whenever you had a question. I started my new membership program and members are loving it. Beekeepers around the country have jumped on board. We still have room for more.

-  1 New Instructional Videos Each Week.
-  My Personal Email and Cell Phone. You'll be a phone call away from a certified master beekeeper.
-  Picture/Video Evaluation Of Your Hive When Needed. Send me a video and/or pictures of what concerns you and I'll advise you on the next step to take.
-  Weekly Tips Of What You Should Be Doing With Your Bees.
-  Your Choice Of 1(one) Item From Our Membership Gifts List
   Below: (After 6 months subscribed)
   - 1 Free class at our location per year (Does NOT Include Bee Institute)
   - 1 Free Winter-Bee-Kind
   - 1 Free Burns Bees Feeding System

facebook One of the ways we can share with you on a daily basis is through our Facebook page. Sheri and I add something new to our Facebook page daily. Sometimes we talk about our family, sometimes about bees, honey recipes and much more. And our Facebook page is a great way for us to keep in touch with our customers and friends. Click here to like us on our Facebook page today. For every 100th like, that person will receive a gift certificate.

LESSON 127: Beekeeping For Beginners

Let me be perfectly honest. I did not start keeping bees the right way. I started without taking a class or studying how to do it. I thought I could just learn as I went.  Oh I learned as I went along, but I paid the price in many ways, unnecessary stings, wastefulness in harvesting honey, lost some hives due to a lack of management knowledge etc. Almost all of my early mistakes could have been avoided had their been beekeeping classes offered back then. Now, every year Sheri and I  teach a dozen beekeeping classes. We invest so much of our time preparing the best information to provide to our beekeeping students, whether we are teaching a beginners,  advance or queen rearing course.
I remember the first time I started keeping bees. It was nearly two decades ago.  I was invited into beekeeping by a friend who kept bees. A tree with bees had fallen. We cut the tree open, transferred the bees into one of his empty hives and I became an eager but totally clueless beekeeper. Though many people start keep bees the way I started, it is not the best way. It’s difficult and sometimes painful removing a live hive from their natural nesting place, a tree. A better way is to start with new equipment and a 3 lb package of bees.
The same year I started keeping bees, I also started tagging along to bee association meetings, reading the limited books on beekeeping and learning to keep bees the hard way, trial and error. There was no YouTube or Internet back then.  Even though I made many mistakes my bees from the tree did well. I lived in central Ohio in an Amish community surrounded by large fields of clover. It was beekeeper heaven. My bees were pretty defensive. I thought all bees were that defensive. I’ve never had another hive that defensive. They always found a hole in my suit or the distance between the bottom of my suit and the top of my shoe, stitching my socks to my ankles. I got in and out as fast as I could. Even though I didn’t know what I was doing,  I had more honey than I knew what to do with. Now, we do our best to provide gentle bees. We all get a hot one now and again. After all they are bees.
Beekeeping for beginners is much easier now. There are so many local clubs and beekeeping classes to help people learn to keep bees. Today I want to put out a clarion call for new beekeepers! Those of us who are experienced beekeepers must rally the troops to see if we can help encourage more people to start keeping honey bees. Our honey bees are vitally important to our fruits and vegetables, not to mention that honey is so good for us. I can’t imagine my coffee without honey. Each week we roast our own green coffee bees, grind them and make fresh coffee every morning. For years friends told me how great honey is in coffee, but I failed to try it. Now I cannot drink coffee unless I have my own honey to add to it. When I travel I have to travel with my own honey. I believe in eating honey and cinnamon on my toast every morning. I’m not making any kind of medical claim, but my opinion is that honey has been good for me. And keeping bees has been even better for me.
I love everything about beekeeping. The smell of wax, propolis or a package of bees. Such unique and pleasant smells. The joy of seeing the hive grow. The thrill of catching a swarm and the excitement of observing more frames being drawn out into full combs is so fun!  But the greatest thing is harvesting the honey. Cutting off the cappings and spinning out the honey and pouring it into bottles seals the deal.
As a beginner beekeeper, let me give you three important tips.

First, chill out!

Don’t take everything so seriously. Relax and appreciate what you are doing. It’s fun watching your bees fly in and out of the hive, working to carry in all that nectar and turn it into honey. There are some beekeepers who are very negative and they’ll almost scare you out of keeping bees, always talking about how bad everything is. Don’t pay them any attention. Sure it can be challenging but even the challenges make it more fun. So  make a commitment that you will enjoy your new hobby.

Secondly, learn as much as you can.

The 2013 new bee season is only 16 weeks away. There is much to do between now and then. The first thing you should do is start learning. Read all of these lessons starting with Lesson One. You’ll especially want to read Lesson Seven, as it tells you step by step how to install your package of bees. Take one of our classes. For a complete listing, click here or go to: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/classes.html
Our next beginners class is February 9, 2013 in our new educational center. Click here for more information or go to: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/servlet/Detail?no=151


So many people decide to start keeping bees in the spring and by then, almost all bees have been sold out. Make sure you purchase your equipment and bees in the winter. Currently we are selling three different kits, which are fully assembled and painted. CLICK HERE or go to: http://www.honeybeesonline.com for our complete easy to following listing of hives, bees and other beekeeping supplies. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL SPRING. It will most likely be too late.

Fourthly, continue learning.

There is so much to learn about the honey bee. The longer you keep bees, the more you’ll learn and the better beekeeper you’ll become.  It is an amazing creature. They fly out two or three miles to gather nectar and yet fly right back to their hive, even when there are many other hives near their own. The queen lays over 1,000 eggs a day. Drones, the male honey bee, does not have a stinger. Bees make their own wax from wax glands. They never go to the bathroom in the hive. Everything is always clean and tidy. So much more to learn about the honey bee. You’ll find it very enjoyable to attend conferences such as the Eastern Apicultural Society Conference. Read beekeeping articles in Mother Earth News and Country Woman Magazine or see what the national news is saying about honey bees. Read about bees in the big apple. There are so many ways to continue learning more about honey bees.
TIP OF THE DAY: Do not leave a queen excluder in an overwintering hive. The colony may move above the queen excluder and strand the queen to freeze to death below. And, never leave a partially filled medium super on an overwintering hive. Only leave the super on top if it has a minimum of 7 frames of sealed honey, otherwise the colony may move up but quickly run out of food.
Winter-Bee-KindEMERGENCY FEEDING: In the event that your weak hive goes into winter, but runs out of food, we suggest you use one of our WINTER-BEE-KIND boards that feeds the bees, provides insulation of the top to reduce moisture and allows trapped moisture to escape through the top. Order our Winter-BEE-Kind board by clicking here. You can put them on quickly even during the middle of the winter.
Thanks for joining us today and please pass this on to others who are interested in starting beekeeping.
Feel free to contact us at:
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
14556 N 1020 East Road
Fairmount, IL 61841
(217) 427-2678
Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. We appreciate your business and interest in Long Lane Honey Bee Farms.
Please visit our online beekeeping store and lessons at: www.honeybeesonline.com
That’s all for now and thank you for joining us for another beekeeping lesson! Please let others know about these lessons and our business. We appreciate you spreading the word! TipJarYour donations help us continue our work and research on the honey bee, such as our recent development of our Winter-Bee-Kind. These lessons are free and will provide you with as much if not more information than you would find in a $30 book. So consider making a $30 donation so that we might continue these lessons, CLICK HERE TO DONATE $30 or go to:

Thank you in advance.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
217-427-2678 Website: www.honeybeesonline.com

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

LESSON 126: Frequently Asked Beekeeping Questions www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

Hello From Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, we are David and Sheri Burns. We’re glad to be with you for another beekeeping lesson.Today, we’ll have fun answering some commonly asked questions that we’ve collected over the last beekeeping year.
 Here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, we have spent the last few months making hives and an unbelievable amount of Winter-Bee-Kind candy boards. Please consider using our Winter-Bee-Kind on your hives this winter. No order of Winter-Bee-Kind is too large as we have expanded our production of these candy boards. Customers have found the importance of this product that we invented that can insulate, ventilate and provide food for the hive during the winter. I’ve also observed that my hives will use the upper vent in the winter to take cleansing flights while hives with lower entrances will not. It is because as the cluster moves up into the hive, they cannot break cluster enough on cold days to go down, but can easily go up.
And, if you visit us over the next month, please be patient with our construction dust. We are undergoing a major overall of our buildings and the addition of a new beekeeping education center for our classes. We are re-working our phone system as well, so be patient with us for a few more weeks. You know how it goes, you always think the construction will be done sooner than possible, but we are making progress.
photo We’ve listened to our customers and so many of you have enjoyed our classes at the Farm Bureau building, but there’s something special about being at the honey bee farm. We have a full list of beekeeping classes scheduled for 2013 and look forward to having them in our education center here at our bee farm. We are always looking for volunteers that may want to come out to help work on our building. So give us a call if you can volunteer putting on the finishing touches, dry walling or some plumbing.  Click here to see our full list of 2013 classes or go to: www.honeybeesonline.com/classes.html
The 2013 beekeeping season has officially started. Orders for hives and bees is on the increase. We’ve never seen it this busy in December before. Do not be caught having waited too long to get started in beekeeping. Some people get inspired to keep bees in the spring. But by then, everyone has sold out of bees and equipment orders can be back logged. Please read our article on how to get started in beekeeping.
We have some great hive kit specials for the 2013 season: Check them out at: www.honeybeesonline.com

We are really excited about our Royal Hive Kit Special.  (These prices are for 2013 only)

(Bees not available to be shipped to CA, WA, AZ, UT, NV, ID, MT)
3 lb package with marked Italian queen. Plus a standard complete hive which includes 2 deeps, 1 honey super, screen bottom board, telescoping top cover, entrance cleat, 30 frames and and foundation, FULLY ASSEMBLED and PAINTED, FREE feeder included, FREE queen excluder included. Bees ship UPS OVERNIGHT May 1 or 2, 2013. FREE SHIPPING!
Wooden hives ships 7-14 days after order is placed. Bees ship first week in May. CLICK HERE to see more about our Royal Hive Kit Special With Bees.  Check out all our 2013 hive kit specials at: www.honeybeesonline.com 
Nuc We are now taking orders for 4 frame nucs, bees and frames from our hives with our Illinois Pioneer Queens. We only have a limited number of nucs. All nucs are for PICKUP ONLY. All nucs are inspected by the state inspector and health certificates and moving permits accompany each nuc. Click here to pre-purchase your nuc now. Each nuc contains frames of honey, pollen, brood and a queen that is mated and laying in the nuc. Nucs are only available to be picked up in June. Please DO NOT order a NUC unless you can wait and pickup one in JUNE.
photo Finally we are selling our honey now online. This was a good year for honey production. If you’d like to buy a 1 lb jar of our honey in a beautiful and famous Muth jar, click here. These jars are sealed with a cork and a safety seal wrap. The jar has a raised impression in the glass of a honey bee hive.
LESSON 126: Frequently Asked Beekeeping Questions Answered
1. How Many Hives Should I Start With?
Multiple Hives The number of hives to start with is entirely up to the individual. We recommend at least two hives because with two hives you can share resources between hives. If one hive becomes queenless and fails to replace their queen, a frame of eggs can be carried over from the other hive. If one hives becomes low in numbers, frames of brood from the strong colony can be moved over to strengthened the weak hive. Certainly starting with one hive is acceptable, but there is a an advantage to starting with more than one.
2. How Far Apart Should The Hives Bees From Each Other?
In commercial operations, four hives are placed on a single pallet. For the hobbyist, the distance between hives is usually determined based on the comfort of the beekeeper. The beekeeper may want to work all the hives without walking a considerable distance between each hive. I usually recommend at least two feet between hives.
3. Which Direction Should My Hives Face?
Traditionally, we recommend the opening of the hive should face south or southeast. However, it really doesn’t seem to matter.
4. How Close To The House Can I Put My Hives?
Use good judgment. Bees will fly miles away from their hive to find nectar. If a hive is near your house, the bees will still fly up and away. However, it may take six feet from the hive for bees to gain six feet in altitude. Keep this in mind so that hives are not placed near sidewalks, decks and clothes lines. Place them so that when the bees leave the hive, they will not be immediately near people or pets.
IMG_1163 5. What Should I Plant To Help My Bees?
Bees will pollinate plants around your house, but not in huge numbers. In other words,  if you have 10 tomato plants you will not see thousands of bees in your tomato garden. Certainly many bees will help pollinate your flowers and garden. However, most of your bees will fly out to an area of abundant nectar such as an apple orchard, acres of clover or a large grove of basswood or black locust trees. If you have a half acre or more, planting buckwheat, clover and other flowering plants will certainly help your bees, but it is not necessary. Bees are quite capable of flying two to three miles to gather nectar.
6. Should I Buy Medication For My Bees?
When various pests and diseases were identified among bees, many chemicals became available. However, some of these chemicals proved to be harmful to bees over time. Certainly some medications do fight certain pests and diseases. However, we prefer not to use chemicals or medication in our hives. This is a personal choice.
Hot Knife On Comb 7. How Much Honey Will I Get My First Year?
First year beekeepers should not expect  much honey from a new hive. It takes eight pounds of nectar for the bees to produce one pound of wax. The first year the colony is producing a lot of wax to build up their comb. Certainly some first year hives can produce a full crop of honey, maybe 70-200 pounds of honey. But this would be in a perfect situation, or from a second year hive. So it is better to have no honey expectations the first year, but if your bees do produce extra honey for you, it is an unexpected surprise. Year two is when you can expect much more.
8. How Much Honey Can One Hive Make Each Year?
An average hive in Illinois produces around 70 pounds per year. This can change to more or less depending on the weather and the health of the bees and the skill of the beekeeper. The most I’ve produced from one hive in one season is 210 pounds. We sell our honey for $6 per pound.  If a hive produces 70 pounds and you sell it for $6 per pound you make $420. My record hive earned  me $1,260 in honey sales.
Hives In Water 9. Can I Save Money By Using Old Equipment?
There are several diseases that can linger in old equipment. American foul brood is one of the more deadly diseases and AFB spores can live 50-80 years in old comb. It isn’t worth taking a chance unless you are absolutely sure the old equipment was not exposed to diseases. There is really no way to test old equipment.
Hives In Winter 10. Should I Leave My Screen Bottom Board Open In The Winter?
This is a personal preference. However, we prefer to have plenty of ventilation in the hive even during the winter. We leave our screen bottom boards open. If you prefer to close the screen bottom board, simply slide in a thin piece of metal or plastic.
Mite On Drone 11. What Do You Recommend To Combat Varroa Mites?
Varroa destructor will be found in all bee hives. We recommend these natural methods:
a. Screen bottom boards, so that mites fall out of the hive.
b. Green Drone Comb Trapping.
c. Powdered Sugar. See our article by clicking here.
d. Removing the queen to break the mites’ brood cycle. For more information, click here.
SHB 12. How Do I Treat Small Hive Beetle?
Since we prefer not to use harsh insecticides in the hive, the best method is to smash and trap. We have extensive teachings (CLICK HERE FOR OUR LESSON ON SHB) and videos on trapping small hive beetles.
13. What Do I Do If I Want Northern Bees But Can Only Find Southern Packages?
All package bees come from the sunshine states, southern states and California. There is absolutely NO WAY anyone in the north can provide packages prior to May, and probably not then. Many northern beekeepers like the idea of a nuc, which is four or five frames from a strong hive, and a queen. But nuc producers can never produce the volume of bees to ever replace the number of packages sent to new beekeepers. Therefore, many northern beekeepers purchase southern packages, and if the queen fails, they replace her with a northern produced queen.
TBH 14. Should I Start With A Top Bar Hive Or Langstroth Hive?
We believe new beekeepers should start with a traditional hive and only try a top bar hive after they have become more familiar with beekeeping.
15. Which Feeder Is Best?
There are many types of hive feeders all serve a different purpose.
a. An entrance feeder is placed in the entranced of a hive in the spring. 1:1 Sugar/Water is used. This feeder does not need to be used in the summer and certainly not in the fall or it may cause other hives to rob and kill a hive. But this is the preferred feeder in the spring.
b. A top feeder is a large feeder placed on top of the hive and sugar water is held in a large reservoir. This works well, but sometimes stray bees can get under the top cover and drown in the reservoir.
c. Frame Feeders are used inside the hive in place of a frame. It’s a frame sized plastic reservoir and requires opening up the hive to refill. It cannot be used in the winter because you cannot open the hive to refill it if the temperature is below 60 (F).
Check out our recent article on Feeding Bees. Click Here.
16. How Important Is It That I Take A Beekeeping Class?
Class Taking a class is not required or essential, but the more you know the better beekeeper you’ll be. We have a host of classes coming up in just a few months. Click here to visit our 2013 class list in our new educational center.
17. Should I Register My Hive?
Check your local state requirement. Most states require hives to be registered and we recommend beekeepers register their hives with their state’s department of Ag or Department of Natural Resources.  Registration affords you the opportunity to receive helpful, free advice from state bee inspectors. This is always a good thing!
Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. We appreciate your business and interest in Long Lane Honey Bee Farms.
Please visit our online beekeeping store and lessons at: www.honeybeesonline.com
That’s all for now and thank you for joining us for another beekeeping lesson! Please let others know about these lessons and our business. We appreciate you spreading the word! TipJarYour donations help us continue our work and research on the honey bee, such as our recent development of our Winter-Bee-Kind. These lessons are free and will provide you with as much if not more information than you would find in a $30 book. So consider making a $30 donation so that we might continue these lessons, CLICK HERE TO DONATE $30 or go to:

Thank you in advance.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
217-427-2678 Website: www.honeybeesonline.com facebooktwitter iconYoutube

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lesson 125: The Winter-Bee-Kind and Winter Preparations www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678

Hello from David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. It’s November!
We are a unique family business with a passion to help more and more people start keeping bees. We provide beekeeping classes, mentoring, equipment, hives and even the bees and queens.

Our 2013 Classes are online now!
February 9, 2013 Basic Beekeeping
February 23, 2013 Basic Beekeeping
March 9, 2013 Basic Beekeeping
March 23, 2013 Basic Beekeeping
June 17-21, 2013 The Beekeeping Institute
    Day 1- Basic Beekeeping
    Day 2- Practical Beekeeping
    Day 3 - Advance Beekeeping
    Day 4 - Queen Rearing
    Day 5 - Insect Photography
June 29, 2013 Queen Rearing Workshop
July 20, 2013 Advance Beekeeping
October 19, 2013 Basic Beekeeping
SethbluesThe big news for our family is that our son Seth is now a US Marine.  He’s built hives since he was 12 and now he’s grown into a Marine. We flew out to San Diego a few weeks ago and enjoyed participating in his graduation from Marine boot camp. Marines have 13 weeks of boot camp, the hardest of all ending with the infamous crucible, 54 hours of little food or sleep covering 40+ miles on foot while battling through many “battle” stations. We are proud of Seth for his service to protect our country! His platoon was awarded Honor Platoon and Seth earned and is wearing an EXPERT SHOOTER metal in the photo.
In just a few short weeks, the 2013 beekeeping year begins. Beekeepers and prospective beekeepers will begin purchasing equipment and securing bees for the spring. Before it all breaks loose again, we are fine tuning our production equipment, hiring help and modifying our systems for maximum quality production. Lots of work to still be done.
IMG_1807We are also staying busy removing honey bee colonies from buildings. Seems like we are usually pulling out one or two hives a week from homes. We’ve done this for several years, and with the help of our expert carpenter, Roger Faulkner, we’ve really perfected the skill of removing the bees and comb and repairing the structure. Our last job required the use of a lift and we removed the well established colony from the roof top while in a crane bucket.
IMG_1803Removing colonies during the fall can really be a challenge due to robber bees that will instantly attack the exposed combs of delicious honey. We’ve developed many skill sets perfecting the art of this type of removal.
I hope you enjoy today’s lesson, as it is written by my youngest daughter Karee that many of you have spoken to with your beekeeping questions. She is very knowledgeable of honey bees and today she’ll shed some light on winter preparations.
LESSON 125: The Winter-Bee-Kind and Winter Preparations
It’s now November and a lot of you beekeepers are already thinking of the necessary steps for overwintering your bees. It's getting cold! Good for you. Getting bees through the winter can sometimes be a task. This year’s Farmer’s Almanac says most of the US can expect much colder winter temperatures this year, so how can we intervene with our bees for their benefit?
kareeeeeHi, my name is Karee Marsh and I am the daughter of David and Sheri Burns and (co) General Manager at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. I was the one who eloped to Montana during one of the busiest times of the year (in March). Somehow the rest of the Long Lane employees all managed to steer the ship while we were away. When I was visiting Montana it made me think how a lot of new beekeepers who live in colder areas similar to Montana often worry their bees won’t make it through the winter. But while we were visiting Montana (my husband is a Montanan native), we concluded that bees probably do well in this part of the US during the cold months because its drier during the winter. Two big causes of colony deaths in winter is a lack of food, and condensation. Bees create condensation inside the hive, but a dry climate (like in Montana) is definitely an advantage to the bees.
But here in Illinois, our winters have more moisture. So we try to let our customers know that the cold is rarely what kills a strong overwintering colony. 
iceontopcoverA major contributing factor is excessive moisture in the hive and a lack of proper nutrition. In this photo, inside the hive during the winter, we found without proper upper ventilation, condensation freezes on the bottom side of the top cover, which drips down on the bees on a warmer winter day. This photo shows 1/4” of frost on the top cover inside the hive ready to fall on the colony.
Lesson112eHere in central Illinois, our spring was dry and our summer was extremely hot. We actually had a good number of nectar flows, but a lot of you told us that your bees weren’t producing much in the way of food this year. I noticed this in one of my hives as well. My husband Jesse and I live in Champaign, Illinois where we keep two hives in our backyard. One hive has done incredibly well. A quick peek every now and again at the queen, and maybe some beetle blasters here and there to lower the number of small hive beetles is all the tending this hive needs. We have 4 supers stacked on top and are waiting until the end of October to extract all the honey. Our other hive, however, did very poorly.
Bee in flight2The number of bees in this colony was very small. When referring to our hives, we call them the “big hive” and the “small hive.” Last year, these names were switched!  Our current “small hive” had the biggest numbers last year, but this year the numbers dwindled. As a queen rearer, I immediately suspected the queen. I was seeing little brood production. This hive has re-queened itself a couple times and it wasn’t long before I noticed the hive had produced two queens who had no problems cohabitating. While the queens looked great, I still saw very little brood production.
Pioneer QueensWhy is the queen laying such a small amount of eggs? I transferred honey frames as well as capped brood frames from the big hive, over to the little hive as I realized the small hive simply did not have enough resources to produce brood. I believe the queen was well-mated as she was large and had eggs literally falling out of her. She was laying; the bees were just eating the eggs!  “Um,” one of the nurse bees might say, “thanks for laying and everything, but yeah, we do not have enough food for us to eat, let alone try and raise more larvae to feed. If you don’t stop, we are just going to eat them.” Tough stuff! Contrary to popular belief, the queen bee does not rule the roost of a bee hive. The bees do! There is no dictatorship in the hive, it’s a democracy. The bees aren't going to desperately try to feed all of the eggs the queens lay. They know their demand for resources and will eat her eggs right out of the cell if need be.
If you are a new beekeeper and had a hive like I did this year, you’re probably asking yourself where you went wrong, and how you should overwinter this hive. I’ve been raising bees for 4 years and have been around them a lot longer than that. These things happen. The question is, what can I do now? If your bees have low honey stores, you need to feed them. They will die out if they can’t get enough food stored up to actually let brood progress to the egg stage. Feed them to get their numbers up! I don’t suggest using an entrance feeder in the fall because it’s robbing season. Your hive does not need that risk. An entrance feeder is fine in the spring and during nectar flows, but in the fall during a dearth it will attract robber bees and you could lose the entire hive. Use a top feeder or frame feeder as long as there are no freezing temperatures where you live.
winter2If you are experiencing freezing temperatures, try our Winter-Bee-Kind candy board! It contains sugar, pollen, insulation and an upper vent for moisture.

There is a difference between liquid candy that has frozen, and hard candy! Liquid sugar goes right through the bee. If you are feeding them liquid, make sure it’s warm enough for your bees to fly. They do not defecate in their hive and they can hold it for while, but if they hold it too long it can make them sick and can kill them. Hard candy, however, does not go through a bee nearly as fast. It’s thick consistency sticks in their gut better, making it possible for them to stay inside the hive longer without much issue.
So feed your bees! A lot of you have asked, “Should I just let them go?” That is up to you, but I’m going to do my best to get my bees through the winter.
olivehoneyThe other overwintering issue is condensation. A lot of beekeepers think their hive needs to be air tight in the winter, keeping the heat in, and the cold out. Don’t go through this winter thinking that! We have a few very old bee boxes at Long Lane. Some have huge holes in the sides. We’ve noticed that these hives go through winter the best! I’m not suggesting blowing a hole through your hive this winter, but I do suggest ventilation! Upper entrances are a great way to do this. Not to mention, in the winter it’s easier for bees to exit out of the top since it is closer to the cluster. Even if it’s 2 degrees outside, your bees need air circulation. A screen bottom board is also a great ventilator. Did I mention our Winter-Bee-Kind has an upper ventilation hole? It also has a piece of insulation on the top to prevent most condensation. What moisture may collect helps to break down the hard candy a little, too. The biggest problem with condensation is drops falling down onto the cluster of bees and chilling them. Imagine being out in the cold and having a bucket of water thrown on you. Air circulation prevents this from happening to your bees!
wrapWhen our customers ask us about wrapping the hives up with insulating paper (roofing paper), we tell them that a wind block is better. If your hive is sitting in the middle of a field in Nebraska with no tree or hill in sight, make your hive a wind block! The constant wind against the hive chills the bees more at 32 degrees than no wind does at 3 degrees. You could find anything to create a wind block. Stacked up hay bales, fencing, etc.
Thank you all so much for the huge number of orders for our Winter-Bee-Kinds! We officially started production on September 17th and are pumping out around 100 a week! So if you're on the waiting list, they are on their way! Please make sure when storing your board, that you keep it laying flat and not on its side (or upside down, for that matter). Also, if bugs or mice are an issue where you are storing the board, we suggest you freeze the Winter-Bee-Kind until you're ready to use it.
JesseExtractingMy husband and I plan on getting hundreds of pounds of honey off our one hive and selling it! We’re a little late, but we’ve been busy. Recently while checking this hive, we stacked the supers on top of each other on the ground. Somehow one super got completely flipped over on its top. If we had lifted the box, all the frames would have fallen out. Somehow, with the help of a shovel and an inner cover, my husband Jesse got it flipped right side up. Let’s just say we both got a good dose of apitherapy that day. What are some of your embarrassing bee stories? Ever did something silly while working a hive that made you ask yourself what you were thinking? Let us know and we may share your story in an upcoming podcast! E-mail me at karee@honeybeesonline.com.
I hope you enjoyed this blog! Please go feed your bees (if they need it)!! That’s all for now and thank you for joining us for another beekeeping lesson! Please let others know about these lessons and our business. We appreciate you spreading the word! TipJarYour donations help us continue our work and research on the honey bee, such as our recent development of our Winter-Bee-Kind. These lessons are free and will provide you with as much if not more information than you would find in a $30 book. So consider making a $30 donation so that we might continue these lessons, CLICK HERE TO DONATE $30 or go to:

Thank you in advance.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
217-427-2678 Website: www.honeybeesonline.com facebooktwitter iconYoutube

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lesson 124: The Minimal Beekeeper

Welcome to autumn from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms! Yes, it is fall and time to think about getting our colonies ready for bed, prepared to ride out winter.
We are David & Sheri Burns, owners and operators of Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. We love everything to do with bees. We have been chemical free for years and raise and sell our own queens that we call the Illinois Pioneer Queen. We believe the stock of queen, especially local stock, can make a big difference. We also work diligently to encourage more and more people to start keeping bees.

We are passionate about beekeeping. It is a hoot! We love it. Everywhere we go we promote beekeeping. We need honey bees for our food. One out of three bites of food is from the pollination of a honey bee. If you are reading this and are not presently keeping bees, then you have come to the right place.
WebWe’ve added a new feature to our website. Now you can log in to our website through your iPhone or other smart phone and our website will detect it is a mobile phone and make the website larger and easier to navigate. Just log in from your smart phone to: www.honeybeesonline.com and check it out. We listen to our customer’s suggestions. 240 million Americans shop on smartphones. 75% of smartphone shoppers never get past the first page of any site that’s not mobile friendly.  People are 51% more likely to purchase from business that have mobile friendly websites.
We are not a big beekeeping box store. Rather we are real beekeepers who manufacture beekeeping equipment, sell equipment, bees, queens and teach beekeeping classes so students can be responsible and successful beekeepers. Our classes are renown and fill up fast. My husband, David, is a master beekeeper, certified in 2010 by the Eastern Apicultural Society of North America. He knows bees. Every class he teaches shows his knowledge and passion for the honey bee. Before David shares an important lesson today on the “Minimal Beekeeper,” let me share with you what’s been going on here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms and with our family.
Newbuild3Here’s our 5 year old son, Christian, inspecting the newly poured concrete. Several years ago, we built a bee lab-store-classroom. However, while it seemed large enough at the time, we’ve outgrown it. Now we are adding a much larger building to hold our beekeeping classes.
Newbuild2Construction is underway! We are joining our two buildings together by adding a new building between them. This new addition is larger than any building we have now. This will allow us to have more students attend each class.
NewBuilding4We feel it is crucial for every beekeeper to take a thorough class on beekeeping prior to keeping bees. Our new building will give us much more space for classes and special projects. We hope to have it completed in one month.
David has several speaking engagements coming up in the next few months in the surrounding states. We’ll keep these posted on our website (www.honeybeesonline.com) for those nearby that want to attend.
Candy board Mass ProductionWe are now into full production of our popular Winter-Bee-Kind candy board. We have installed larger production equipment to try and keep up with demand. If this is your first time to hear about our Winter-Bee-Kind candy board, it is a way to feed your bees sugar and protein during the winter, and it provides an upper vent and entrance slot as well as a sheet of insulation to reduce winter water condensation in the hive. The insulation can also assist in holding in heat that is often lost through the top of a hive. For more information click here or go to: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/servlet/Detail?no=145
Those who have used our Winter-Bee-Kind in the past and would like to give us a testimonial that we can use, please drop us an e-mail: david@honeybeesonline.com.
Thanks Sheri. One other part of our business that has kept us busy is removing bees from homes, buildings, trees and various structures. Look at some of our recent jobs. Click on images to enlarge:
Concrete porch
BeesInA Tree
Bees In Column
BeesIn TreeFalls
Today, I want to share a beekeeping lesson that I’ve entitled the “Minimal Beekeeper.”
LESSON 124: The Minimal Beekeeper
To many people, beekeeping is a fun hobby. To some it is a business, a livelihood. Whether a hobbyist or a commercial beekeeper, we all want to see our bees succeed with minimal help from us. However, bees do face many challenges which requires more of our help than was required 50 years ago.
Today there is much more to offer the beekeeper in the way of tools, hive medication, chemicals to kill mites and beetles, not to mention battery powered mite zappers, traps, solar powered cooling systems, fancy hive tools and the list goes on and on. Like any hobby, there are hobby tools and accessories a beekeeper can buy. Some of these work well and even prevent the hive from perishing. Others gizmos show little sign of improving colony health.
Most of us want to find the minimal that we can do to help our bees. We want to buy the minimal, treat and interfere with the hive minimally.
DSC00096An ultra-minimal approach can be detrimental though. For example, a prospective beekeeper may decide to save a few dollars and buy used equipment. The danger in using old equipment is that it could be contaminated with diseases such as American foul brood, European foul brood and Nosema. Spores can become dormant in old equipment and “come alive” again when bees are added. It really isn’t worth the risk. It can lead to loss of time and money.
IMG_7278Many new beekeepers jump into beekeeping hoping to save money by building their own hive. For someone who has good carpentry skills this can be enjoyable. However, a slight mis-measurment can lead to a violation of bee space. Any time bee space is violated, it can be detrimental to the hive. Bee space is the space which bees allow for travel. If it is too large, the bees place stray comb to fill the gap. If it is too small, the bees will add propolis to seal it off. Bee space must be monitored throughout the entire hive when building your own equipment.
Foxnews9Others take a more “affordable” approach and build a top bar hive from scrap wood. Top bar hives are fun to experiment with for the experienced beekeeper. However, they can be frustrating to a new beginner. Harvesting honey cannot be accomplished the traditional way of uncapping and spinning the honey out of frames in an extractor. A TBH requires pressing or draining the honey from comb. Because a TBH is a horizontal hive, winter survival is risky because the colony cannot move up into the warmer honey above. TBHs are more successful in tropical climates.
At the other end of the spectrum are the beekeepers who throw everything at the hive, chemicals, medications and new gadgets, but don’t really achieve better results.
I’d like to answer the question, “What is absolutely necessary to keep bees?”
Minimal or Natural?
I like the thought of being a minimal beekeeper. Some might think I’m talking about being a natural beekeeper, but I like the term minimal. I like for my hives to get along mostly without me. Sometimes this is possible for several years, but at other times, they need my help. When a hive replaces a queen but fails, they need my help to give them a new queen. Once they no longer have young larvae, they cannot raise their own queen. We must intervene.
Minimal Feeding
beeflyingI like to minimally feed my bees. Often I hear beekeepers complain that their hive has become dependent upon the sugar water at the entrance of the hive. They often say their bees seem lazy and not so willing to go out and forage. Bees are opportunists. If the sugar water is close, why go farther? Another reason I try not to feed my bees much is because it does cost. Sugar isn’t cheap, nectar is FREE! I only feed my bees when I determine they need my help. For example, maybe a new package is installed on a cold week in April. It rains all week so the new hive doesn’t have anything in the comb and no way to fly because it’s cold and rainy. They need fed. But once the weather turns around and flowers are blooming, I stop feeding.
Some of my hives demand minimal assistance. Not because they are defensive, but because they are so large and doing so well. Doctors don’t treat healthy people.
Minimal Equipment
Equip SpecialWhat is the minimal equipment needed to keep healthy hives? Smoker, hive tool, hat and veil. These are a must! A hive and one or two extra supers for honey. If you only have one super, you can wait until it is full and capped, remove it, extract it and put it back on in the same day. Doing this only requires one super. However, most of us need two or three supers, because we might not extract the same day we remove a super. So if we have two or three, we can pull one off and spend a few days extracting it while the others are on the hive getting filled up.
For extracting honey, minimal equipment is needed too. Essential tools are a knife to cut the cappings open, and an extractor to spin the honey out. Certainly crushing the comb or letting it drip can work, but not as much honey will be harvested from the comb as with an extractor. Hot uncapping knives are a luxury.
beetleblasterSmall hive beetle traps are a must. Screen bottom boards for mite reduction is a must. Green drone comb for mite trapping is a must, one per deep hive body.
Maximum Education
classdanvilleSuccessful beekeeping is born in the classroom. 50 years ago, beekeeping was easier since there were no mites, small hive beetles, CCD etc. But now, an educated beekeeper is a more successful beekeeper. It is vital to attend a beekeeping class taught by an experienced beekeeper with good credentials. Not everyone has to be a master beekeeper to teach a class. However, a first year beekeeper cannot possibly have the experience and knowledge necessary to teach a beekeeping class. That said, there are some veteran beekeepers who are asked to teach a class because they have 30+ years of experience keeping bees, but haven’t expanded their knowledge of beekeeping since 1972. You may want to watch out for these beekeepers, too.
If you are considering becoming a beekeeper, take a class. It is best to start with a thorough beginners class and then an advanced class. Throughout the year we offer these two important classes.
Some of my friends in the bee business will not sell queens or bees to new beekeepers until they have taken a class. I’m not quite that firm, but I do highly recommend all beekeepers take a beginners and advance course.
Pouring a large concrete pad for your hive is not necessary. Use more affordable concrete blocks.
A huge smoker is not necessary if you only have a few hives. Large smokers are for working a lot of hives at one time. A small smoker works just fine for 10 hives or less.
Lesson89jRefractometers are used to measure moisture content in honey. It is accurate and very useful, but again it is a luxury. The best way to know you’re extracting honey at the right moisture content is to wait until the honey is sealed.
Chemicals can be helpful sometimes. But, chemicals are expensive and may not always save the day. Using chemicals and medications should be carefully thought out.
Fancy log books and software to keep beekeeping records are fun if that’s your thing. But a permanent marker for notes on top of a hive is pretty affordable.
So, before you get head over heels involved in beekeeping just remember you don’t have to buy all the fancy stuff. Start out with the minimal: A beekeeping beginners class, smoker, hive tool, hat and veil, a hive with a super or two and a package of bees. Things will probably go just as well for you as a minimal beekeeper.
Check out some of our more popular lessons:
-How to harvest honey
-Wax moths
That’s all for now and thank you for joining us for another beekeeping lesson! Please let others know about these lessons and our business. We appreciate you spreading the word! TipJarYour donations help us continue our work and research on the honey bee, such as our recent development of our Winter-Bee-Kind. These lessons are free and will provide you with as much if not more information than you would find in a $30 book. So consider making a $30 donation so that we might continue these lessons, CLICK HERE TO DONATE $30 or go to:

Thank you in advance.
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
217-427-2678 Website: www.honeybeesonline.com facebooktwitter iconYoutube