Wednesday, July 31, 2013

LESSON 138: What Keeps Beekeepers Keeping Bees? 217-427-2678


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We are David and Sheri Burns and today we’ll share an important lesson about why beekeepers keep on keeping bees. You’ll pick up some helpful tips on how to stick with it even when times get tough. You may even learn how to avoid some pitfalls that are sure to happen unless you are properly prepared.

Before we start today’s lesson, Sheri and I want to say that it’s nice to be with you today and have this time to share with our wonderful friends and great customers. We’ve been very involved in so many new projects in beekeeping along with our daily beekeeping work.

jd Some big news for us is that Karee and Jesse had their baby, a baby boy. Jesse David Warren Marsh. We have six granddaughters and now a grandson too. He was born premature at 26 weeks, three months early. Of course he has been in the NICU and remains there for a few more weeks until he can eat and breathe on his own. He was born on June 14th, 2 lbs 7.6 oz and 14.5 inches long. Mom and dad’s hands bring his size into perspective in this photo.

jdnow Today he’s 17 inches long and weighs 4 lbs. Many of you have probably missed speaking with Karee on the phone but she’s slowly working her way back to regular hours. We’ve really missed Karee at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms and Sheri has picked up so much of her work during the summer and Sheri is ready for a break. So Sheri is glad to see Karee back. Of course, please keep JD in your prayers.

(Photo By: Cpl. Ali Azimi)Marine I rode my motorcycle out to see our Marine son Seth in Twenty-nine Palms, Ca. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. I covered nearly 5,000 miles, got lost at night in the Mojave desert (stupid GPS), got way too close to tornadoes and rode through 12 states. On one mountain I froze at the top and burned up at the bottom.

Riding a motorcycle from Illinois to California and back was on my bucket list. Check mark. It took me 12 days.  baseballmarines I’m adventurous! Once I made it out I enjoyed getting a rental car and taking Seth and a member of his fire team to a baseball game. (Seth in middle). Seth deploys to Afghanistan next month.

Once I made it back to the bee farm, it was crazy. Splitting hives, making up nucs and queens and trying to keep up with orders. This was our absolute best year ever.

Institute4 This year we offered twice as many beekeeping classes and all classes sold out quickly. We even added our first ever week long Beekeeping Institute. Beekeepers came from Illinois, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri and I can’t remember them all.

Institute3 The weather was beautiful and hats off to my fellow instructors, Sheri, Charley Nye (University of Illinois Bee Lab), Alex Wild, world renown insect photographer, and our good friend and field and classroom assistant Tony Gedritis. Our institute lasted 5 days. Already the interest for next year’s week long Beekeeping Institute is soared. Stay tuned for the date, but it should be in June of 2014.


NYPhoto1 Wow! Sheri and I have been overwhelmed with the growing interest in our beekeeping classes. Here’s a list of our final batch of classes for the 2013 season:

October 5th – Basic Beekeeping. This is perfect timing for those wishing to start beekeeping in the spring of 2014 or those who started this year but did not take a class but now realize they should have. Click Here To Register Now!

NYPhoto7 Oct 12th – Insect And Honey Bee Photography With World Renown Photographer Alex Wild. Alex’s insect photos appear in most books and literature. What a privilege for us to partner with Alex to have him personally mentor you for a day! Alex travels the world photographing insects. As an entomologist and a professional photographer you’ll enjoy learning from Alex how to capture that perfect shot! Click Here To Register Now!

NYPhoto4 October 19th – Basic Beekeeping. This is perfect timing for those wishing to start beekeeping in the spring of 2014 or those who started this year but did not take a class but now realize they should have. Click Here To Register Now!

It’s The Season For Winter-Bee-Kinds!

Wow! The response to the effectiveness of our Winter-Bee-Kinds has been phenomenal. For years beekeepers knew hives were often getting too much condensation inside during the winter. And for years we knew we needed a better upper vent and entrance/exit for better overwintering.

winterbkind So a few years ago we created the perfect solution, the Winter-Bee-Kind. It’s a modified candy board that includes upper insulation to reduce condensation, keeping cold water from dripping on bees, and a mixture of pollen, sugar and honey-b-healthy to feed bees in the winter. Read our complete page of questions and answers for our Winter-Bee-Kind candy boards by clicking here. Plus we added an upper vent that also serves as an entrance and exit for bees so they can take easier cleansing flights in the winter. Customers and bee inspectors have reported  how hives with a Winter-Bee-Kind came out of winter stronger than colonies without them.

Now, Winter-Bee-Kinds are online for pre-order purchase. The demand is so strong all through the winter that it is important for your to order yours as early as possible. We will begin shipping WBKs in September. Click the link below to pre-order:

10 Frame Winter-Bee-Kind

8 Frame Winter-Bee-Kind

LESSON 138: What Keeps Beekeepers Keeping Bees?

As beekeepers we have every reason to not keep bees. It takes time and money plus there are natural challenges with pests and diseases. Not to mention that some winters are hard and some summers are wet and we have no honey for our efforts. While we have every reason not to keep bees something keeps us going. Maybe it’s knowing that we need bees to pollinate our food. Maybe it’s the hives that pull through and do fantastic even though we thought they would not make it. Maybe it’s the unquenchable demand for honey or maybe it’s just fun.

Here’s a list of 5 things that keep me keeping bees.

1. Bees Are Fascinating

NS1 How do they do it? It is fascinating how bees build comb. People often think bees gather wax outside the hive, but bees make wax from their wax glands and it takes 8-10 pounds of nectar consumed to produce 1 pound of wax. They grab the little wax flakes and work them in their legs and mandibles and somehow construct magnificent walls of comb with thousands of perfectly created hexagonal cells. Notice in this picture I took, the bees lined the tops of the cells with propolis for structural strength. Propolis is absolutely an incredible product the bees make from sources outside the hive. See my article on propolis. Then there is the honey, and how bees forage, the wag dance, pollen, replacing queens, swarming and on goes the list. I keep on keeping bees because they are fascinating.

2. Bees Give Us An Outlet From Stress And Boring Routines

IMG_2648 Boring routines are my worst enemy. I realize some people like a very quite and safe life, but I like a challenging adventure. Beekeeping gives me a healthy dose of adventure and challenge. And if we are stressed, we can pull up a chair by a hive with a class of sweet tea and relax and watch the girls fly in and out. Sometimes I sit with my binoculars and try and follow a bee as long as I can to see where she’s going. (I’m sure I’m not the only one to do this). I keep on keeping bees year after year because I don’t ever want to succumb to boring routines.

3. As A Beekeeper I’m Helping Provide Pollination For The Food I Love

I’ve seen the benefit of fruits and vegetables pollinated by honey bees and it is awesome. I take great pleasure in knowing that my bees are pollinating towns near me, my gardens and my neighbor’s gardens. My bees are even pollinating wild flowers, raspberries, blueberries, and trees. I keep on keeping bees because we need them to pollinate our foods.

4. Beekeeping Forces Me To Learn More

Other than the Bible, I’ve never learned so much from anything thing else than keeping bees. I’ve learned about pollination of flowers, farm chemicals, other bees similar to honey bees, queen rearing, types of honey, biology, and botany to name a few. I’ve also learned much about people through honey bees. Going to conferences and local club meetings has given me great insight into why other people keep bees. I keep on keeping bees to learn something new, to keep my brain working.

5. Beekeeping Allows Me To Be A Citizen Scientist

lesson138 Beekeeping produces citizen scientist, people who are always looking for a fresh approach to contribute to the success of beekeeping. I’ve made some amazing discoveries in my little bee lab. It’s real easy to run tests on bees and make scientific observations. You don’t have to be a University expert. I’ve invented some neat things that make my operation so much easier. That’s the neat thing about beekeepers is that we can adapt and make our own experiments and discoveries. I have a strong desire to wipe out varroa destructor single handedly if I have to. Of course there are hundreds of other people much smarter than me doing the same thing, but I’m not giving up. I may never come close, but I’m having fun running my own experiments and tests. I shared how to break the queen’s broad cycle last year and some commercial beekeepers are finding this more effective than treatments for varroa. Jon Zawislak and I discovered after plowing through various reports and studies that southern bees are no more worse off than northern bees. The American Bee Journal is currently running our discovery in a 2 part series. I keep bees because I like being a citizen scientist.

Whatever the reason is that you started keeping bees I hope you have expanded it and will stay with it. We need you!

Thanks for joining me for another lesson in beekeeping and remember Sheri and I would love to meet you personally. Drop by our farm and see us soon, but please call first because we are often away at meetings, conferences and bee work.

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.

Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. We hope you’ll visit our website at, buy some hives and get started in beekeeping! The 2014 bee season is fast approaching. Decide now to do it! We are ready to be your friend and mentor in beekeeping. See you next time!
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms


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