Monday, December 22, 2014

Test Your Knowledge Of Honey Bees 217-427-2678


It’s Christmas week! Happy Holidays from David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.

Children and grandchildren will fill our house on Christmas Eve and we'll enjoy talking around the fireplace, eating wonderful food and opening a few gifts. All of our six children will be able to be here except our middle son who is in the Marines. Seth is preparing to leave on his second deployment in March, so we will miss seeing him this Christmas.

We will be closed Dec. 22-26. While phone support will not be available, you can continue to shop and order online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We still have packages available for students who take our classes and for those purchasing our hives and hive kits. However, we are sold out of individual packages by themselves. We are working at selling nucs this year, but details will not be finalized until after the first of the year.



1. How many miles do honey bees fly to bring us 1 pound of honey?

2. During a honey bee's life (about 40 days) how much honey will she gather?

3. Bees must fly to  _??_ million flowers to gather 1 pound of honey.

4. How many bees are in a 3 lb package of bees?

Answers are at:
Just below "How To Start Beekeeping."


winterbkind Some of our customer's bees have eaten all the food in the Winter-Bee-Kinds. They are bringing them back to be refilled. Keep an eye on your Winter-Bee-Kinds and make sure they are not empty. Many colonies were low on food going into winter and are eating up the food fast, even though winter has just arrived today. Some of my hives will consume three or four WBKs during the winter. Tomorrow, I place to go out, and replace some of mine. I’ll video the process and post it on YouTube this week. We refill them for $7. If you just need to buy an additional one you can click here


For many years Sheri and I have held beekeeping classes at our honey bee farm. We love the opportunity to introduce new people into beekeeping or to help experienced beekeepers gain more knowledge to enjoy beekeeping more.

I studied hard to earn my EAS certification as  master beekeeper in order to present  thorough and complete information in our classes. 

Most of our classes are held on Saturday and start at 9 a.m. People arrive from surrounding states and here in Illinois. Sheri and I work hard to prepare for each class. All week we are preparing the educational facilities, having the student books printed and refreshments in place.

Many students are also picking up orders and so we make sure during the week that all orders are prepared for pickup.

When we wake up on Saturday morning, we are excited for another opportunity to meet folks from all around who are interested in beekeeping. We've made so many wonderful friends through our classes. We keep our classes small, between 15-20, so we can be as personable as we can.

We hope you can join us for one of our Beginners classes, Advance beekeeping class, Queen Rearing or Getting Your Bees Through the Winter class.

If you are driving far or flying in, Danville, Illinois has major hotels such as Holiday Inn Express, Best Western etc.

For a complete list of our beekeeping classes, click here, or go to:

We look forward to meeting you and welcoming you to our place.

Join Us At Our 3rd Beekeeping Institute June 12-14, 2015

Imagine spending 3 days with certified master beekeeper David Burns, and other bee experts. Long Lane Honey Bee Farms Beekeeping Institute will be Friday-Sunday, June 12-14, 2015. This is our second year to offer our Beekeeping Institute and every year it gets better.

The Beekeeping Institute is a series of classes over the course of several days to make you a well rounded and knowledgeable beekeeper. The institute is held at our honey bee farm in our new classroom building. 

A Basic Beekeeping class is a prerequisite to this 3 day Beekeeping Institute. (We offer a Basic Beekeeping class the day before this institute on June 11th). During this three day beekeeping institute we will cover in depth teachings on pests and diseases, best seasonal management practices, queen rearing, swarm prevention, making splits, field work such as nosema field test, mite tests and more. You'll learn how to find your queen, how to mark her, and how to perform a thorough hive inspection and much, much more. David will have several bee experts assisting him during this institute.

"I love the institute week. I enjoy the interaction between students. We all become good friends and enjoy learning about bees together. You have me at your disposal for 3 days to pick my brain. Come join me"—David Burns

Come join us and we'll take you through three days of training that will help you leave as an expert.
Lunch is included as well as workbooks. Click here for more information. If you have any questions, please call us at: 217-427-2678.

Busy Bee Special

We have worked with new beekeepers for nearly a decade. We know you are busy, and sometimes too busy to think of everything to do to get started in beekeeping. That's why, several years ago we created the Busy Bee Special.  And we still have packages of bees available with our Busy Bee Special, which is one hive and one package. The hives are shipped to you now, but the bees are picked up here in May.



Honey Bees

Beekeeping Trivia

How To Keep Bees

Beekeeping Store

Beekeeping Classes

2015 Beekeeping Institute

Beekeeping Videos

Thanks again for joining us, and have a wonderful and Happy Holiday Season!

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Monday, December 8, 2014

Beekeeping: Winter Wind Break 217-427-2678 217-427-2678


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. How are your bees holding out so far this fall?  Winter doesn’t even start for another two weeks. Fortunately, the forecast in central Illinois for next week is perfect for bees. Highs around 40 degrees (f) and lows in the lower 30s (f). Because it is warm enough during the day, the bees are able to enlarge the cluster and move around a little and maybe gather resources a frame or two over.

Have you gone out and put your ear up against the hive yet? Doesn’t it bring a real sense of satisfaction when you knock on the side of a hive during winter and you can hear buzzing inside?  Yeah, they are alive! In this lesson, I want to talk about the importance of wind breaks and give a few suggestions about making a wind break or possibly moving the hive out of the wind.

winterbkind Before we begin, let me share that our Winter-Bee-Kinds are only $29 when you pick them up at our store this week only. It takes a lot of work to prepare the WBKs for shipping. So we’ll pass on the savings to you if you pick them up. We usually have a surplus available on hand but you might want to call if you are driving a long distance, to be sure we have them available. 217-427-2678. We are open Mon. – Thur. 10 a.m. –4 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m. until noon. If you live too far away click here to order your Winter-Bee-Kind today. It is more than a candy board as it also contains insulation to reduce condensation in the top of the hive, and an upper vent so that bees can more easily take that needed cleansing flight on warmer winter days and to reduce upper condensation from building up.

In this picture, we are testing our Winter-Bee-Kind mixture with one of our Special Taste Inspectors. windbreak2 We’ve spent years getting our mixture the way the bees want it. It’s challenging, because in order to make it for bees, we cannot make them too hard. If we cooked the mixture to 300 degrees (f) they would ship much easier as they would not be moist. However, it would be more difficult for the bees to eat candy that hard. So we have experimented and have landed on what the bees like and will consume every drop but can still be shipped. Don’t be concerned when it arrives moist or even wet. The bees will consume the moist or liquid parts.

winter444 Even though we add protein to these, it is not enough to stimulate brood rearing. When bees are going through winter, they are governed by other factors when it comes to raising brood, such as photoperiod. Before I started making the winter-bee-kind I overwintered colonies here in the north with the aid of pollen patties. Even though bees would consume the pollen patties, I saw no visible increase in brood production until the length of days (photoperiod) increased in the spring. For bees to ramp up brood production, there are several essential factors necessary such as successful foraging providing incoming nectar and pollen, warmer nights and room to grow. An over wintered cluster does not have the room to rapidly expand their brood area within the cluster. That is why most colonies only have a small amount of brood during cold months. Colonies usually have a good amount of pollen in the hive anyway, and yet they do not over-brood. However, the extra protein we add to the sugar is simply to keep the bees alive until spring if they are running low.

PACKAGE BEES will be sold out soon.  We are holding back a certain number of packages for students who take our winter and spring classes, and packages for those buying kits with bees. So our individual packages are nearly sold out. I strongly urge you to purchase your individual packages from us this week.

SPECIAL KITS: Check out our hive kits. You can select if you need your kits with  or without bees:

FREEDOM KIT WITH BEES (2 Hives + 2 Packages + Equipment) or

INDEPENDENCE KIT WITH BEES ( 1 Hive + 1 Package of bees + Equipment)   or

LIBERTY KIT WITH BEES ( Starter Hive With Bees)   or



For those of us in the north, we know all about wind chill factor. The wind chill is basically how cold winter air feels blowing against our skin. If it is 10 degrees (f) outside but the wind is blowing 22 miles an hour, the wind chill is a negative 9.66. The NOAA calculation table for wind chill changed in 2001. Prior to 2001, the wind chill above would have been –26.39 (f). Now it is –9.66 (f).

Of course we all agree that wind makes a cold day feel much colder. Wind also can blow (or pull) away warmer air. Within a colony, the winter cluster is producing heat within the cluster itself to keep all the bees warm. Bees do not heat the inside of their hive like we do our homes. Instead bees only keep each other warm. Bees have to consume food to stay warm, just like us. That’s why bees need 60+ pounds of honey to survive a northern winter. Wind can pull heat away from the hive. A strong, healthy colony can compensate for this, but it does require more effort.

Winter Cluster In Tree Honey bees in their natural habitat, the tree, have 3”-6” of wood to shield the winter cluster from the cold, windy air outside. And where is this tree found? Among other trees which provide an additional wind break. But to put bees in a managed hive box usually made of 3/4” wood, out in the open wind, makes it more challenging for the colonies that are low in resources or small in numbers. Therefore, a wind block is a big help.

Now, what can a wind block be made of? It could be a doubled wall hive. These were experimented with back in Langstroth’s day (1800s) but they were too costly and heavy. Today, very few hobbyist would pay twice as much for a hive. Instead of $249, a doubled wall hive would cost $498. Other parts would not fit well either.

What about using buildings as wind blocks? Perfect. In fact, after a few weeks of bees being in their winter cluster, you can move your hive to a more sheltered location. Do not take the hive apart to move it. Keep it together and be gentle so as not to dislodge and break up the cluster.  We place a large bar on the top cover then use a large tie down strap that wraps all the way around the hive and bar. One person on each side of the bar can easily relocate the hive.

If you don’t want to move your hive, build a wind break. Remember, if you need a wind break it means it must really be windy where you live so you’ll need to build something that can withstand strong winds. I love wind breaks. It really can make a huge difference, in my opinion, on how well a hive overwinters.

A wind break can be as easy as a few bales of hay. Stack them up around a hive, but not too close or they will retain moisture and keep the hive too moist during the winter. This is an inexpensive way to go especially if you have a barn full of hay bales.

windbreak I like to make my own wind breaks. I take a few wooden sticks or small posts and beat them into the ground, then wrap visqueen (plastic sheeting) around the posts. I leave the front side open for the bees to fly in and out. On a warm summer day, when the wind isn’t blowing, the sun shining through the visqueen has a warming effect on the hive sort of like a green house effect.  I usually use 4 or 6 mil clear visqueen. Usually a roll of 4 mil, 10 x 100 feet is what I use, but I double it up for extra strength. This hive is facing east and we seldom get winter winds from the east.

But you can make it out of any materials, wood or metal, that would block the wind. Call Julie before you pound stakes in the ground. I am uncomfortable making 4 walls and completely surrounding a hive in fear that the bees may not find their entrance easily. I would hope they would, but I don’t want to take that risk.

I have built 4 walled wind blocks before as shown in the picture below, and I cut holes at the bottom so bees could go in and out but I noticed bees were confused and some clung to my black paper on warm winter days. But bees survived well in these boxed wind breaks. I just slide them down over the hive and the aren’t tight against the hive which allows moisture to evaporate away.

wrap33 You can still build a wind block around your hives no matter how cold it is. So take some of my ideas and run with them and see what you can come up with.

Before I finish, let me tell you how excited I am about our upcoming 2015 bee classes. These might make a great Christmas gift for that special someone in  your life. You can stay in a hotel, go out to eat and then take our Saturday class or our Bee Institute. Check out all our classes at:

Visit our online store at: for all your beekeeping needs.

David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bees May Be Working Harder In The Winter Than In The Summer 217-427-2678

Thanksgiving 2015


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. Our family enjoyed a great Thanksgiving day out at the honey bee farms. Sheri and I are blessed to have six children from 31 to 7 years old. Even Seth, our Marine son, was able to be home for a few days.

It’s neat to have our grown children to bring special holiday food to contribute to a great feast. We had a beautiful snow on Thanksgiving, not enough to accumulate much, but just enough to be beautiful falling from the sky. Sheri and I hope your family had a wonderful holiday weekend too.

We now have our 2015 beekeeping classes online. Beekeeping Classes

With Thanksgiving behind us, Christmas is not far away. It’s amazing how many people tell me they got started in beekeeping because they were given a hive as a Christmas gift. Maybe you have someone who has everything and you don’t know what to get them for Christmas. We have some great gift ideas. We have four hive kits that would make the perfect gift and they come with bees. Check them out: Freedom Kit, Independence Kit, Liberty Kit and Early Bird Special.

Welcome to the first day of December. Winter is officially 20 days away and I’m sure all beekeepers are wondering what will this winter be like. Will it be as cold and long as last winter? How much snow will we get. Last winter was hard on bees.

Most beekeepers wonder if there is enough food in the hive. Is the population numerous enough to stay warm all winter. Are the mites, within the winter cluster, spreading viruses? There is really nothing we can do for our bees when they are clustered for winter except wait for spring.


Here’s a picture of dead bees,

that died in the winter from



I did everything I could and what I’m banking on the most is providing enough food for my bees through the winter. I don’t want them to starve. Will they starve out and die? A colony must consume food to stay warm and feed small amounts of brood during the winter. If they run low on food, they cannot continue to generate heat and will perish.

Bees work hard in the summer, carrying resources into the hive, building comb, and raising brood. It doesn’t seem like there is much for the colony to do during the winter. However, there is still a lot of energy that is exerted during the winter. The queen will usually continue to lay a small amount of eggs throughout the winter months, and that brood must be fed and kept warm. And the cluster itself is busy regulating the temperature and humidity within the hive. This takes work!

Winterhives I read a USDA study by Charles D. Owens in the early 70s where he conducted research on hives located in Madison, Wis, from December 1 to March 31 over a 5 year period. It was interesting what he observed on a cold winter night, “On January 4 between 0700 and midnight when the outside temperature was between 2 and 9 degrees (f), the cluster moved sideways and down into the center body.” He observed that the winter cluster, with temperatures near 0 (f), moved down into honey, replenished their resources and moved back up into where they were.  He noted that large colonies can move their cluster into honey, whereas small colonies could not move. This proves that bees are not tucked away doing nothing for winter, but rather they continue to work hard to eat, stay warm and raise small amounts of brood. Honey bees do not hibernate.

How can we reduce the amount of energy colonies must put into surviving the winter? We can make sure they have food always near the cluster. That’s why we always recommend our Winter-Bee-Kind placed just above the cluster. Much discussion has taken place about wrapping hives in the winter. It can’t hurt. However, my research revealed that on warm days, insulated wraps work against their intended purpose. For example, if you have insulation around your hive and it warms up on a winter day, then the insulated wrap prevents the warm sun from hitting the hive and warming it. We want to take advantage of the occasional warm winter days that come along, and insulation could keep the warm out. A warm winter day allows the cluster to move within the hive onto new honey for food.A wind break, in very cold and windy areas, may reduce the amount of energy bees must exert to stay warm. My old farm house is much colder inside when it’s windy outside. The wind sucks the warm air from my house.

This is why I prefer a wind break rather than wrapping a hive. In Illinois the occasional warm, winter day is usually very windy. It’s warm enough for our bees to want to take a cleansing flight, but it is so windy they cannot fly out of the hive. In my next blog, I’ll show you the special wind break that I place around my hives to stop the wind, capitalizing on the warmth of the sun, allowing bees to take a cleansing flight and make it back into the hive without getting blown away.

Before I go, let me encourage you to click below to see our newest videos on beekeeping. We have new videos on extracting honey, Winter-Bee-Kinds, and more. See you next week.

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms