Monday, October 7, 2013

LESSON 141: I’ve Always Wanted To Keep Bees, But…


Hello, we are David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, located in central Illinois. For years now we’ve been making and selling hives, nucs, packages, queens, beekeeping supplies and holding beekeeping classes at our bee farm. In today’s lesson we want to speak to those who have always thought about keeping bees but have never taken the plunge due to obstacles or concerns. We want to resolve those hindrances so you can finally start keeping bees.

This year we’ve held 14 classes in our new education center with one more Basic Beginner class coming up on October 19th. THIS CLASS IS FILLED TO CAPACITY. This year we held classes in many other places such as community colleges, bee associations and clubs. We are excited about the increased enthusiasm toward our classes and the success beekeepers are having once they are equipped with sound and proven beekeeping instructions.

Not only do we offer beginner, practical, advance and queen rearing classes, but we also offer these free online lessons as well as podcasts.

Our newest addition is HIVE TALK, a call-in beekeeping internet/radio podcast. Each week I join my good friend and bee expert, Jon Zawislak for a 30 minute program. Last week was our debut episode and the response overwhelmed Jon and me and our engineer, Jesse March. We had some glitches with the technology but the program turned out fine and we had many nice responses from those who either called in or listened live from their computers. If you missed the program, it’s available in two ways:

If you have an iPhone or use iTunes, download the Podcast APP from iTunes. Once the app is downloaded, search for Hive Talk. You can even have new episodes downloaded to your smart phone automatically to listen at your convenience.

On TalkShoe by clicking on the link below:

Our next episode is tonight at 7pm central time. Please help us promote this new beekeeping program by inviting others to join in. Send out a group email to your bee club with the information below.  The success of this program depends largely upon you, callers who will call in and ask beekeeping questions. Here’s what you do. Around 6:50 p.m. central time tonight, Dial 1-724-444-7444. A voice recording will ask you to enter you “CALL ID” for our show which is: 129777, then press the # sign. When asked to enter your pin, enter 1 followed by the # sign.  It’s that simple. Signing in again is simple:

  1. Dial: (724) 444-7444
  2. Enter: 129777 # (Call ID)
  3. Enter: 1 # or your PIN

For our call in guests, if you’d like to ask a question you must select * 8 from your phone keyboard when you are ready to ask your question. This will indicate on our screen that you’d like to ask your beekeeping question. Otherwise we will keep your mic muted.

If you want to just listen from your computer, go to: Hope you can join us!

LESSON 141: I’ve Always Wanted To Keep Bees But …

Beekeeping has really taken root in recent years. More and more people are starting to realize the importance of honey bees in pollinating our fruits and vegetables. Some people might only view honey bees as just another annoying stinging insect. Yet, without honey bees our diet would change drastically. Here are a few foods that we’d have less of if we lost our honey bees: coffee, milk, ice cream, melons and most of our fruits and vegetables. So many of our students are from large cities, so it isn’t just rural people with lots of land. More and more people want to do their part in saving the honey bees and the best way is to become a beekeeper. But maybe you’ve thought about it but you have never taken the plunge because of concerns.

In our class on Saturday, a new beekeeper said he has been putting it off year after year and finally his wife told him to take our class and get started!

Here are common concerns we hear.

1) I’m not sure if I have the time.

We always find time to do the things we enjoy. Beekeeping really isn’t all that time demanding. We have dogs and chickens and they always need fed and watered. But bees don’t require daily attention. You can even take a three week vacation and never worry about your bees. We recommend you check on your queen every two or three weeks to be sure she is laying good. Even though time is a concern for some people, most find themselves enjoying spending time with their bees. You can even wait until fall and take off the honey all at one time and enjoy the fall harvest season bottling honey.

2) Will the bees bother my neighbors?

Whether you keep bees are not, bees are still flying around all summer pollinating. There are hives all around, in trees, abandoned buildings and barns. These are called feral colonies because they are not kept by a beekeeper. These feral bees are still making visits to your neighbors flowers even if you do not keep bees. Bees fly up to 3 miles on average to gather pollen and nectar so imagine how many potential feral hives are within a 3 mile radius of you. Honey bees outside of their hive are rarely defensive. They simply travel from hive to flower, in a bee line, gathering resources.  Usually by offering your neighbors a free jar of honey each year you can keep the relationship sweet.

3) I’m still afraid of being stung.

Honey bees are not to be compared to more aggressive insects such as yellow jackets and waps. Honey Bees are bred to be manageably gentle. They do have a stinger, and it does happen occasionally, but we teach our students how to best work a hive to avoid most stings. Of course you can always purchase protective suits, gloves and head gear to put your fears to rest.

4) Can I afford it?

Beekeeping, like any business or hobby, does have an initial investment. Our complete hive and a package of bees with a queen will run you just over $300. We sell our honey for $6 per pound and our average hive produces around 70 pounds a year. That’s $420 in honey a year for one hive. The second year that hive is paid for and makes more profit. And once you gain more experience you can sell nucs, queens, wax and pollen from that hive and make more money if you want. It’s not only affordable but can actually turn into a nice sideline money maker.

5) I don’t want the honey. I just want to keep bees to help with pollination.

Yes, you can keep bees just for fun or for pollination without harvesting the honey. Many people do just that. Some people have found a tremendous property tax savings from having hives on their property.

The new season is fast approaching. Beekeepers are purchasing their equipment now getting ready for bees to arrive in the spring. Do NOT wait until spring to order your equipment and bees. They will be sold out. Order your equipment now, and your bees in Jan-Feb. Call us at 217-427-2678 or visit us online at:

Take the next step! Get started in the spring of 2014 finally becoming a beekeeper. We are here to help!

No comments: