Wednesday, May 8, 2013

LESSON 137: What Do Bees Need Most In The Spring? 217-427-2678


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois! Wow, what a great start to another beekeeping season. Bees are finally experiencing some warmer temperatures, natural nectar and pollen so things are finally feeling pretty good.

Sheri and I have had so much fun over these last few months teaching hundreds of new beginners about beekeeping. Our business is operating so much better each year thanks to great customers like you. We are flooded with beekeeping questions from all over the US. Sometimes all lines are ringing at once. So when you call in, please be patient with us as two of our daughters who work for us have had surgery and are off for a while. We are excited that Karee and Jesse are expecting their first child, but there are complications and Karee is on indefinite best rest. Please keep her in your prayers, thank you.


Packages1 We had a wonderful response to our first ever package bee pickup class. Our regular beginner classes are held all day Saturday but we decided to test a 3 hour class on the same day as new beginners were picking up their bees. It was great. I took them out and showed them how to install a package with a real package, then we inspected a hive one week after installation, and then we opened up an overwintered hive. I could hear the students responding with excitement over what they were seeing for the first time, face to face with a live hive with bees flying around and seeing a queen at work on comb. It was a hoot!



Our next exciting adventure in bees will be our week long Beekeeping Institute June 17-21, 2013.
Alex Wild taught me how to use my iPhone for a very close up shot I took last week. Click on the image to see the detail. Alex will be teaching a class at our Beekeeping Institute. Check it out below.

INSTRUCTORS: David Burns EAS certified master beekeeper, Sheri Burns Colony Problem Solver and beekeeper, Charlie Nye Bee Researcher and Bee Lab Manager at the University of Illinois Bee Lab and Alex Wild, biologist, insect photographer and beekeeper. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE WEEK LONG BEEKEEPING INSTITUTE or Click below to sign up for one or several of our classes that week:

Day 1- Basic Beekeeping Taking Registrations Now

Day 2- Practical Beekeeping Taking Registrations Now

Day 3 - Advance Beekeeping Taking Registrations Now

Day 4 - Queen Rearing Taking Registrations Now

Day 5 - Insect Photography Taking Registrations Now

Maybe you’ve heard all the reports and chatter about recent reports about why bees are dying. I’M ON THE TALK SHOW, FOCUS, TOMORROW FROM 10am-11am to discuss all of this. You can call in and ask a question.

This Wednesday (May 8th) I'll be on the Radio Talk Show, FOCUS with May Berenbaum, Professor of Entomology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. It's a call in or email in 1 hour radio program at 580 on the am dial. Here's how you can call in or email your questions during this live broadcast: During the show, you can call us at 217-333-9455 or toll-free at 800-222-9455 or send an email to: with your beekeeping questions.

For those of you outside the Champaign/Urbana, Illinois listening area, we'll post a link on our website to the archive of this one hour discussion about why bees are dying.

"The US Agriculture Department said yesterday that the honey bee population declined by more than 30 percent last winter, continuing a decrease in honey bee numbers that began in 2005. That's a problem as more than 20 billion dollars worth of annual harvests rely on bees for pollination. No one really knows exactly why bee populations are dropping, although many speculate it's due to what scientists are calling colony collapse disorder. Researchers have pointed to pesticides, stress and microbial organisms  as possible causes but conclusive answers have so far been elusive.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with May Berenbaum, Professor of Entomology at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign about colony collapse disorder, what it is, and what might be causing it. According to new research, high fructose corn syrup could also play a role. We'll also hear from David Burns, a Master Beekeeper and owner of Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in Fairmount." –FOCUS580


Our cedar hives have become a smashing hit! They are beautiful and our customers and loving them. Some are using Tung oil as a natural preservative. I build each top of the cedar hive myself. It has insulation in the top, along with a piece of copper along the peak. We had requests for 8 frame cedar hives too, shown in the picture. To purchase a cedar hive for your garden or yard, click here.



Seth44 We’ll be taking a much needed break so Our offices will be closed May 22 - May 29. Our middle son is a Marine and will be deployed to Afghanistan in a few months so we'll be taking a few days off to spend with him. I’ll be riding my motorcycle from Illinois to California too see him. No orders will be shipped during this time and any orders placed during this time will be shipped within 10-14 business days after we return so please place your orders with this in mind. Hope to see you at our Beekeeping Institute June 17-21 here at our honey bee farm. Come spend the week with us!

LESSON 137: What Do Bees Need Most In The Spring?

The answer to this question is, a well educated beekeeper who makes regular inspections.  If you do not feel you are well educated in the beekeeping area, let’s have a crash course, some fundamental starting points.

First, now that it is spring and you are starting with a new package or a nuc, you must monitor you queen. Queens are fragile and can be killed by the clumsy movements of a beginner. Early queens can die and no one knows why other than living things do die. So DO NOT allow more than two weeks to go by without inspecting the health for your queen.

Most of you have installed your package but let me give two tips. Use a screen bottom board and when you install your package, place an entrance feeder in the front of your hive with 1:1 sugar water and block off the entrance so no bees can exit for 48 hours after installing the package. After 2 days, allow a small opening for the bees to fly in and out. It is not uncommon for a small percentage of new packages to abscond, which is when the entire hive leaves. By keeping the colony blocked in for 2 days it gives them time to release the queen and start building a small amount of comb for the new queen. The second tip is to use an entrance reducer all year. I set mine to the largest setting. This restricts the opening to around 3 inches giving the guard bees the ability to keep out unwanted pests. That’s still plenty of room to go in and out even during a heavy nectar flow.

HEALTH OF THE QUEEN is evaluated by inspecting her brood pattern. Look at frames of sealed or capped brood. Make sure it looks dry and not many cells missed. Now, look for larvae and eggs. Please take time every 2 weeks to ensure your queen is laying eggs. If you do not see eggs or larvae order a queen immediately. Every day without a queen means your hive is declining in population by 2,000 bees a day!  Everything you do now is getting your hive ready to survive the winter.

While you do not have to feed you new colony as long as the weather is good and the flowers are producing, some suggest it is a good ideal to feed 1:1 sugar water as long as the bees are drawing out the comb on your new foundation.

Finally, the success of your hive will be determined by how aggressive you are toward the varroa mite. This is what we teach in all our classes. The varroa mite is our number one enemy. Start now using your green drone comb, powdered sugar drops and screen bottom boards.

Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson! Don’t forget to join us Wednesday on 580AM and call in with some good questions. Sheri and I believe the honey bees will only continue to make a comeback if more and more citizens take up beekeeping. Hobbyist can step forward and make a huge impact on the survival of the honey bee by keeping bees, allowing weeds and flowers to grow, never poison honey bees and sharing the important role honey bees play in pollination.

We hope you’ll visit our website at, buy some hives and get started in beekeeping! It’s not too late. Now is a great time to dive in. Though we are sold out of packages, we’ll provide you with the numbers of reliable package providers that will ship bees to you. We are ready to be your friend and mentor in beekeeping. See you next time!
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
 facebooktwitter iconYoutube