Wednesday, February 26, 2014

LESSON 150: The Transition From A Hard Winter Into Spring 217-427-2678


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms and thanks for joining us for an important beekeeping lessons. We’re David & Sheri Burns and we operate Long Lane Honey Bee Farms here in East Central Illinois. We manufacture and sell beekeeping equipment, package bees, nucs, queens, honey and everything to do with bees! As an EAS certified Master Beekeeper I offer these lessons, answering hundreds of beekeeping questions all FREE.  But, if you want to help us pay the bills, consider buying hives,  beekeeping supplies, packages and queens from us. We appreciate your business. We are a family business with a personal touch. Thank you in advance for your business.

Like most of us here in the north we’ve been waiting for warm weather and we are becoming impatient! Temperatures tomorrow night here will be –1 below (f) and even a week from tomorrow the low is 9 (f). We have a lot of winter still left. It’s going to be important for beekeepers to transition their colonies out of this hard winter into the spring season. In today’s lesson I want to give some important feeding information as well as cleaning out the hive and how to rotate hive bodies to help give the colony a good start to spring.

2014Class Before our lesson let me tell you how excited we are at the number of students taking our beekeeping classes and getting into beekeeping. While many of our students at our basic classes are new, other students have been keeping bees for a few years and decided it was time to take a class to learn more. Students, this year, have been very inquisitive and passionate about getting into beekeeping. It is very good to see.

buildroom As usual, this time of the year through June is very hectic trying to keep up with the equipment demand from our shop. Needless to say we stay very busy building hives and equipment. We purchase wood from a local hardware store and custom cut all hive equipment to our specs and then assemble and paint everything here. It takes a lot of effort and hard work. We’d like to thank all our wonderful customers for ordering from us, keeping our family busy and helping others to have jobs. We know you could go to other places, so thank you for your business. We appreciate it.

Busybee We are offering FREE SHIPPING to all hives shipped within Illinois. This is for phone orders only, not onlineFreeshipping orders. Call 217-427-2678 to take advantage of this special offer. Limited time only. Please order your hives as early as you can to avoid the busy bee season when shipping times may take longer.



Two Seats Left For March 8th Basic Beekeeping Class

Our beekeeping classes always sell out. We have two seats left for our March 8th basic beekeeping class. Click here to register. Time: 9am-3:30 Central Time. Bring your own lunch. Registration includes student workbook. We have 3 lb packages of bees with mated queens available for purchase for our class students only.Upcoming Classes:

April 12th Basic Beekeeping - 4 seats left

May 23-24 Advance Beekeeping - Open

June 27-28 Queen Rearing Course -Open

October 3-4 Basic Beekeeping -Open

October 25 Basic Beekeeping -Open




Do You Have The Knowledge Necessary To Keep Your Hive Alive And Strong?

Imagine spending 5 days with certified master beekeeper David Burns, Jon Zawislak, University of Arkansas Div of Agriculture Apiculture, Charlie Nye from the University of Illinois Bee Lab and Alex Wild, renown insect photographer!  Long Lane Honey Bee Farms Beekeeping Institute will be Monday-Friday, June 9-13, 2014. This is our second year to offer our Beekeeping Institute and last year was a smashing success.

The Beekeeping Institute is a series of classes over the course of five days to make you a well rounded, knowledgeable beekeeper. This week long institute is held at our honey bee farm in our new classroom building. Here's the approximate schedule (which may change due to weather):
Day 1 Monday: Basic Beekeeping
Day 2 Tuesday: Practical Beekeeping
Day 3 Wednesday: Advance Beekeeping
Day 4 Thursday: Queen Rearing
Day 5 Friday: Insect Photography with Alex Wild
Lunch each day is included as well as workbooks. Click here for more information. If you want to attend only one day, please call in to secure you seat. 217-427-2678.

I’ll be speaking at the Tri-County Beekeepers conference in Wooster, Ohio this weekend. Hope to meet some of you there.

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Lesson 150: The Transition From A Hard Winter Into Spring

 beepoop2 Most of us in the north really aren’t sure how our hives have done this winter. It’s still too cold to inspect. All we can do is keep feeding our colonies and keep waiting for spring. This time of the year we start becoming optimistic that our bees are fine because spring is right around the corner. However, now is the time colonies die. Winter has been very cold and we’ve had only one or two days all winter for the bees to take a cleansing flight. Since bees do not defecate in their hive, they wait until it is warm enough to take a cleansing flight. If they are confined too long, they will show signs of defecating in the hive.Brown spots will appear on the frames and comb. If the weather is warm enough for a cleansing flight bees usually potty all over the front of the hive and top of the hive on that first flight after winter. And they carry bees that died over the winter out of the hive and deposit them in front of the hive.

beepoop If the ground is covered with snow and it warms up, the bees will carry out the bees that died over winter and deposit them into the snow. This usually alarms new beekeepers, but rest assured it is as normal as spring cleaning.

What measures need to be taken by the beekeeper to help an overwintered colony going into spring? 1) Proper Feeding 2) Clearing Out The Bottom Board 3) Rotate Hive Boxes

First, proper feeding will help bees remain well fed between winter and spring when there is very little resources available. Until the temperature outdoors rises above 45 (f) bees usually remain clustered to keep warm. When bees cluster it is best to use our Winter-Bee-Kind and place it above the cluster. Our Winter-Bee-Kinds contain both carbohydrates and protein. It is very important to feed bees during the crucial time between late winter and early spring because the queen is laying more which requires more resources to feed young developing larvae and bees. Do not try to use an entrance feeder during cold weather because the bees are unable to break cluster and move down. The Winter-Bee-Kind placed above the cluster allows the bees to gain easy access to the food.

Once temperatures rise into the 40s and 50s (f) bees will break cluster and move more freely in the hive. Any time bees fly they can be fed liquid sugar as with an entrance feeder with 1:1 sugar water. I would never feed bees liquid sugar until bees are flying outside the hive. Until that time, use the Winter-Bee-Kind, hard sugar.

Secondly, it can help to clean out the bottom board of the overwintered hive. Usually the bees will clean dead bees out just fine, but it can save them the trouble. It works best to wait until it is warm enough to remove the hive bodies off the hive and to dump out all the debris. During a really hard winter there can be an exceptionally high number of dead bees on the bottom board. One year I made a special steel rod with a curve so I could drag out the debris on the bottom board without disturbing the hive. Be careful because bees may come out and investigate who is at the other end.

3) Rotating the hive bodies in early spring can be helpful. Below watch my video of how to rotate the hive bodies during the early days of spring.

Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. Check out all of our beekeeping hives and kits specials at

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms