Saturday, November 28, 2015

Basic Beekeeping Skills Trumps Gizmos And Gadgets 217-427-2678


Hello from David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms located in central Illinois. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Here’s our youngest son, Christian, taking the first slice on our Thanksgiving turkey. I’m sitting in the middle watching and Sheri’s dad is next to me. We are thankful for our honey bees that made our Thanksgiving meal taste so good. Think of which foods we would not have had without honey bees. Most fruits and vegetables and certainly that wonderful pumpkin pie we owe to the honey bees.

Nov20151 We had a local Girl Scout troop tour our farm. I have a set of frames that have close up photos in the frames instead of foundation. This way I can teach inside my building without opening a hive. This is a very good teaching tool for younger audiences. I enjoy speaking to groups because honey bees always fascinate people.  Their parents asked many questions too and showed an interest in getting started in beekeeping. Passing out some free honey straws is always a winner too.

We have been shipping out our Winter-Bee-Kinds as fast as lightning! Thank you for your patience.

I’ll be speaking December 5th at the University of Illinois Extension workshop entitled, “Getting the Most out of Small Acreage.” 9 AM–2 PM at the 4-H Memorial Camp located at 499 Old Timber Road, Monticello, Illinois. You have to register by November 30th by calling (217) 877-6042 or register online at:

I’ll be speaking at the American Beekeeping Federation at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach (Jacksonville), Florida January 5-9. Leave winter behind and come get some sun and learn more about beekeeping.

I’ll also be teaching at the short course at the Eastern Apicultural Society Conference held this year July 25-29, 2016 at Stockton University, Galloway, NJ, just minutes west of Atlantic City, NJ. This short course is taught by four certified master beekeepers. If you are new to beekeeping or experienced and want to improve your skills mark your calendar.

These are a few things to start putting on your calendar. While you are planning the year, be FOREWARNED that our classes are filling up fast, especially our Beekeeping Institute and our Spring Management class. Every year people are disappointed that our Beekeeping Institute fills up so fast, so don’t delay if you are planning on attending. Check out all of our classes at:

Our first Basic Beekeeping Class is Saturday February 20th from 8am-1pm.

Maybe you stood in long lines and battled crowded parking lots on black Friday looking for a few bargains. Maybe you lucked out and single handedly carried that 92” TV out on your shoulder for half price. But maybe there are still gifts to buy for a few hard to buy for folks in your life. Beekeeping is an awesome Christmas gift. Imagine getting your special someone a hive or two, beekeeping equipment and a package of bees. It is the present that will intrigue them for months, maybe years. We have three kits available now that includes bees. Hives and equipment are shipped now in time for Christmas and bees are picked up here in the spring. Here are a few examples. Every year we sell many kits as Christmas presents. Please let us know, so that we can keep it a secret. Some people have us ship them to an friend’s house so the spouse doesn’t look inside when UPS delivers a huge box.  Click on the images below for more information.

Freedom Kit 2016a Liberty Kit 2016a Independence Kit 2016a

We also carry  T-Shirts, Jewelry and Skin Care for women at our sister site. These make cool gifts!

1994First HiveThis photo of me appeared in a newspaper article when we lived in Ohio. I have so many fond memories of starting as a new beekeeper. Look at that flume of smoke. I was scared to death! This was probably my first time to open a hive. ‘94 was before YouTube, the Internet, beekeeping classes and there were very few books on beekeeping. I’m standing right in front of the hive, a rookie mistake. I made many more mistakes that year. Obviously I’ve learned so much more in two decades.

To be a successful beekeeper requires learning and implementing skills and techniques that can only be gained by years of keeping bees. Is there a fast and easy way to keep bees? A button to push? A ton of gizmos and gadgets have come and gone since I started in 1994. Tools, devices, different styles of hives, battery powered stuff, solar powered things, not to mention a host of natural oils and potions leave beekeepers wondering which is best. Some of these probably have helped. But the truth is you can never replace solid beekeeping skills and experience with new gizmos and gadgets.

This spring a surge of new beekeepers will enter the playing field. This is mainly due to the increase interest in beekeeping but partly due to major stores now carrying beehives. These prospective beekeepers are now racing to buy the coveted package of bees to shake in their new hives. Unless these new beekeepers complete a thorough beekeeping course we are likely to see one of the largest die outs of honey bees ever. When bees are mismanaged they usually die.

When you go to a large box store and buy your beekeeping equipment it is unlikely that the clerk can answer your beekeeping questions from years of experience. You may not have any idea where to buy your bees. Or you may be an experienced beekeeper and have friends that will be starting soon. Please lead them to credible classes where they can learn about controlling varroa destructor, seasonal management and when and how to feed bees.

While beekeeping is fun and enjoyable it also requires a certain amount of responsibility as in caring for any animal. The more we are armed with knowledge and skills the more we will enjoy beekeeping.

Here are several suggestions for the new year for both new and experienced beekeepers.

1. Don’t immediately fall for the newest trend or fad. New ideas and discoveries can certainly improve how we keep bees but these should never replace the hard and fast proven principles of beekeeping.

2. Find a credible source, an expert beekeeper, who can evaluate new information and discoveries. People are constantly calling me and asking my opinions on new discoveries because they know I am cautiously optimistic. Most of us are gullible and fall for fancy advertisements that promise easy success. But slow and steady wins the race.

3.  You can read all the beekeeping books in the world but you’ll never gain as much experience and skill as you will when you open up a hive and have an expert beekeeper walk you through it and answer your questions.

4.  Do not put all your hope in the package bee or queen producer. In other words don’t think that if you buy so and so’s bees or queen that your bees will make it through the winter. Bees are bees. The differences between types of bees are so marginally in comparison to the huge challenges that pests, diseases and winter present.

5. Put in the time necessary to keep bees. Every two weeks take a look and see how your hives are doing. Not knowing the health of your queen and colony usually results in a hive dying in the fall or winter. Be taught how to properly inspect your hives and what actions to take to keep your bees healthy.

6. Be careful not to make wrong choices in the spring. You will be elated in the spring if your bees survive. But one or two spring mistakes may cause your overwintered hive to crash and die in the spring. For example, if you divide or split your hive too early, both hives may die. If you feed them liquid too soon nosema can spread. This year we are offering a class specifically for Spring Management: Spring: Splits, Swarms, Supering and Survival

7. Have the right equipment on hand before you need it. You need extra equipment to catch that swarm, a nuc box to keep a spare queen in, a queen cage to carry that queen to the queenless hive etc. Be prepared for anything and everything.

Thanks for letting us share these thoughts with you today. Be sure and check out our following beekeeping media tools:

Videos, Podcasts, Lessons

Happy Holidays!

David and Sheri Burns

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Questions Your Bees Are Dying You Will Ask 217-427-2678

2016 Cal Trip

Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms!  We made it back from our trip to California. We went through 9 states and we posted flyers and promoting our business at various places along the way.

I took this picture from high atop Mount San Jacinto looking out over Palm Springs, California. We enjoyed riding the Tram to the top and back. We had fun observing bees on flowers that we do not have here in the Midwest,

While I was in California I spent a day near Piru, California. Not too far from where I was I saw a few hundred hives pollinating the beautiful crops in that area. You know me, I wanted to get out and inspect the hives, but a NO TRESSPASSING sign kept me out. We ate supper in Gallup, New Mexico where we got  a taste of true New Mexico culinary. They showed us how to tear some fried bread open and fill it with honey. It was real honey too! It was a fun trip but there’s no place like home. Karee and Haley kept things running for us back home.

David Holding Luke Nov 2016 Our daughter, Jennifer, who answers the phones and works in the office, had her baby. Say hello to Luke, our 10th grandchild and our 3rd grandson. Everyone is doing fine and we are excited to see our family growing.

Today we will answer some of the more common questions beekeepers ask us from around the country.

When Should I Feed And Stop Feeding My Bees?

It's never a bad idea to feed bees especially when installing a new package of bees. As long as bees need to draw out new foundation 1:1 sugar water is always a good idea.

Stop feeding bees when their consumption of sugar water is greatly reduced. This means they are relying on natural floral sources for food.

Bees ALWAYS need fed in late summer and fall. Do not use an entrance feeder at this time or it may cause other hives to rob your hive. Feed from inside the hive from the top during late summer and fall. Check out our suggested feeders.

Always use a candy board during the winter to ensure your bees do not run out of food.

Do not feed bees when they are filling honey supers because you want real honey from flowers, not sugar honey.

When Do Your Packages Go On Sale?

We are excited to offer 3 lb packages of bees for 2016. We've been doing this for 7 years so we know a thing or two about packages of bees. Many people have called us and are concerned that due to the new surge in beekeeping, packages will be more difficult to come by this year. It's possible. We are now selling packages with our hive kits today! See our complete line of available hive kits with and without bees by clicking here or by going

Our hive kits make awesome Christmas gifts. They will never guess what that huge box is under the tree. And, sign them up for a class in the winter and they’ll be pumped up for spring beekeeping.  Check out our package bees kits today.

Freedom Kit With Bees

Liberty Kit With Bees

Independence Kit With Bees

Does Beekeeping Take Much Time?

Caring for bees does not take as much time as caring for other animals such as chickens, dogs or horses. Bees are insects and are able to get their own food and water. There are key times of the year when bees may need fed. Most beekeepers enjoy spending time caring for their bees because they enjoy the activity.

Why Is Taking A Beekeeping Class So Important?

Books, YouTube videos and other beekeepers may be a big help. However, learning the craft of beekeeping hands on from a certified master beekeeper can make it much more understandable. This week I spoke to several beekeepers whose hives are failing due to a lack knowledge and understanding as to how to inspect hives and what to do. Their hives could have been saved had they paid closer attention to their queen’s productivity and varroa mites. Taking a class can really make the difference. We now have our 2016 classes online. Registrations fills up fast so reserve your class spots today!

Feb. 20th  Saturday 8am-1pm  Basic Beekeeping Class

Addition Basic Classes are also offered on Saturday March 12th, Friday March 18th, Saturday April 2nd, Sunday April 3rd, Thursday June 1 and Saturday October 15th. For full details on all our classes visit:

Swarm on ladder Spring: Splits, Swarms, Supering, & Survival Saturday March 19th 9am-1pm Once your bees survive the winter, knowing what to do next is crucial. When to split? How to prevent swarming? When to add supers? Join us for this exciting new spring class. There are many decision that must be made in the spring for the health and well being of your hives. We’ve listened to our customer’s suggestions and finally a class specifically directed at answering spring issues.

Bee Institute June 10, 11, 12th

The Bee Institute is one of our more popular courses we teach. It fills up very fast. It is taught over three days covering in depth teachings on honey bee anatomy, understanding the colony, specialized beekeeping equipment, package bees verses nucs, how and when to feed bees, pests and diseases, best seasonal management practices for each season, how to raise and sell queens, swarm prevention, making splits, field work, mite tests, how bees communicate via pheromones, bee stings and reactions and more. You'll learn how to find your queen, how to mark her, and how to perform a thorough hive inspection, how and when to best add supers for maximum honey production, understanding the waggle dance, catching swarms and removing bees from structures, hive placement, how to work bees with minimal protection, how to move a hive to a new location, robbing and how to prevent it, reversing hive bodies in the spring, what to do about laying workers, royal jelly, characteristics of the different types of honey bees, how to keep bees in the city and much, much more.

Should I be Scared?

Some people are scared of bugs and especially ones that can sting. While honey bees can sting, you'll soon realize that honey bees are not like hornets and wasps. Bees are easy to work provided you take the necessary precautions and learn how to work your bees to minimize stings. I have leaned to work my bees without gloves or a suit. Take a class with me so I can teach you.

Is It Safe To Use Old Equipment?

used equipment Used beekeeping equipment is empty because the bees that once were in there died. Why? It is anyone's guess. But, since you don't know if they died of a disease it is best not to take the chance unless you know for certain that no disease was ever present in the used equipment. No matter how much you try and clean used equipment, spores of some diseases cannot be destroy with bleach or freezing.


When Should I Put On My Winter-Bee-Kind?

As the weather begins to cool down across the US we begin to ship the Winter-Bee-Kinds. We ship in the order in which the orders were placed. There is really no need to place them on a hive as long as your bees can fly. If it is warm enough for bees to fly, usually above 50 degrees (f), you should consider feeding your bees sugar water. Once it turns so cold that bees will not fly again for the winter, then the Winter-Bee-Kinds can be placed on the hive.

If you call first, you can stop in and pick up winter-bee-kinds. Some days we may ship everything we have made so do call first.

When Do I Add My Next Hive Box?

Always start with only one deep hive body with a new package. When the bees draw out or add wax to 5 or 6 frames it is time to add the next hive body box. Use the same principle for each box. When 5 or 6 frames are drawn out add the next box. Use this same principle when adding supers. If you give the bees all the boxes at once, they may "chimney" up the middle rather than pulling out frames from side to side.

When To Add The Next Box

New eBook On Getting Your Bees Through The Winter

"Getting Your Bees Through The Winter." Available on Amazon or from our website.

Don't Be Fooled. Your Bees Need Fed This Fall

Use Our Fall Feeding System

Burns Bees Feeding System

Feeding Your Bees In The Fall

Feeding Your Bees In The Fall

66% of new beekeepers are women! So come browse, shop and read awhile. Besides quality beekeeping equipment, you'll see a complete line of jewelry, shirts, bags and skin care. Be sure and check out Sheri's new website geared more for women beekeepers.

Check Out More Questions And Answers

Our website is full of additional answers to all your questions...Learn More

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