Sunday, January 11, 2015

What Does Dead Bees In The Snow Mean? 217-427-2678


During the last two weeks, winter has tortured us! Unseasonably cold temperatures with strong gusty winds pushed our wind chill near - 30 (F).  Be calm as healthy colonies with plenty of food are quite capable of sailing through the winter without any problems.

Hi, we are David and Sheri Burns of Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central Illinois. We take our partnership with our bee students and customers very seriously. That’s why we are particular about the equipment we make and we sell only the best products. And if there isn’t one, we invent it! If you are interested in becoming a beekeeper, please check out our complete webpage on what to do next at:


We have an entire webpage dedicated to quickly answer questions beekeepers may have.


Freedom Sheri has informed me that we are getting low on the number of packages of bees that we can include in our Freedom Kits and Early Bird Specials. If you are wanting to start keeping bees or know someone who is thinking about it, the time is short to make plans. Act now or you will be disappointed in several weeks. See our complete line of products at

In less than one month we will offer our first beginners class for 2015 bee season. We still have several seats open for Feb. 7th Beginning Beekeeping. It’s here at our honey bee farm and the nice thing about taking this early class is that you can return to any other beginner’s class during the year at no cost.  We offer this opportunity for those who need to hear it again as a refresher course. Check out all of our classes at:

temp As beekeepers we really keep an eye on the weather. A week ago I saw where the temperatures were going to drop fast and the wind was going to be brutal. Some of my hives had no wind protection, so I decided to implement several experiments. I address the pros and cons of wrapping hives in my classes on, “Getting bees Through The Winter” and wrapping can be a disadvantage if not monitored and adjusted according to the weather. But wind protection can go a long way. And, I believe it can also be an added bonus to keep the hive dry in the winter.  Of course, not doing anything sometimes works just fine too. But most beekeepers lost about 50% of their hives last winter, so I’m using this winter to observe the benefits of wind breaks. Already, I have made an interesting observation. My hives that had my experimental wind cover on them carried out house cleaning in temperatures well below freezing.


What I mean by house cleaning is that the colony removed dying or dead bees and dropped them away from the hive. Hives without this wind protection did not carry out house cleaning choirs. What house cleaning says to me is two things. 1) The bees are warm and healthy enough to work inside the hive. 2) If they can move around to clean up dead bees, then they can also move around and consume pollen, bee bread and honey. This week I’ll be receiving some additional monitoring equipment that will allow me to gather precise data to make better correlations.

Again this fall, we will be offering the same “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter” class on four different days. When we offer this class on September 26, this class will be removing most older bees from a colony and working to produce a colony that has minimal older bees that could potentially be carrying viruses from mites or be worn out from foraging. It will be an attempt to see how a colony overwinters with 80% new bees born in the fall into a colony with less than 3% mite infestation.

Dead Bees In The Snow

beepoop3The interesting thing about dead bees in the snow is that they always seem to be slightly down in the snow as if they were warm enough to melt a little bit of the snow when they were first dropped. This just means that no matter when these bees died (usually of natural causes) they were above freezing in the hive. What I am also observing is the amount of dead bees that are dropped. This is interesting to me because I worked hard all fall to reduce mites and specifically raise brood that was not parasitized by mites and did not forage at all. These bees were raised in three specific time periods by caging my queen, giving me the brood exactly when I wanted it. It worked flawlessly. The dead bees I’m seeing now I hope are the older bees that were alive prior to the fall bees that I raised.  This week, temperatures will be in the mid 30s (f). I plan to go out to change my Winter-Bee-Kinds candy boards.

winterbkind Just a reminder, do not remove frames from your hives in the winter. You can replace Winter-Bee-Kinds, and take a quick look down into the hive, but you cannot remove frames for inspection until the outside temperature reaches at least 60 degrees (f). Also, wear protective clothing when opening a hive in the winter. They are quite capable of  flying out and defending the colony.

Worry or Not Worry?

Should you be concerned about dead bees showing up in the snow around your hive? It is very benign during the winter. It can be a good sign as I noted above. However, excessive dead bees may indicate the hive is getting smaller in number and may be losing their ability to heat the colony’s cluster in extremely cold temperatures. In my drops last week, I counted 17 in the snow in front of one hive and 25 near another hive. That is benign. However if you count 200 or more, that may not be a problem if this was their first chance to clean house after a long winter. But if they are constantly dragging out hundreds a week, it could indicate the colony has a microsporidian or virus. If this is the case it is best not to worry, because there is nothing you can do in the winter anyway. However, if hundreds are dying a week from starvation, you can and MUST do something. Feed them with a Winter-Bee-Kind immediately to stop the starvation.

In the north, we experience a high number of bees dying in the winter, mainly because our winters are so long and so cold. It is not unusual for colonies to be reduced down to 20,000 or less in the spring as it starts to warm up. This is not always the case, but winters are hard.

Also, without snow on the ground, you might not ever notice or see dead bees because they blend in to the dirt or grass. A snowfall is when we notice them. However, they are being drop every day it is warm enough. You can build a board and place it in front of your hive. I’ve made them from OSB with 2x4 edges on the top edges to keep the bees from blowing off. Place it next to the hive about 4-5 feet out. You can count your bees daily and see if there is a correlation between cold snaps and number of dead bees.

If you have any questions this week or need to order hives or kits, please give us a call this week.  217-427-2678

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Monday, January 5, 2015

Beekeepers’ Resolutions For 2015 217-427-2678

Happy New Years from all of us at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. It is 2015 and in just 3-4 months the bee season will be in full swing.  The Bible says, “You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new.” (Leviticus 26:10)  I hope this is true for you and we hope that all of our bees will still be alive in the spring and we’ll have to make room for more hives!

We had so much fun being with family and eating everyone’s best food and desserts. Some of you have followed this blog/lesson for several years before you finally dove into beekeeping. Some of you enjoy following this blog because over the years you have gotten to know us through this blog and you enjoy hearing how we are doing. Others read the blog only for vital beekeeping information only.  Whatever the reason, thanks or joining us today.

This is the time of year that we “re-tool” everything for the upcoming year. The weather is cold, snowy and we don’t like to work outside unless we have to. Those of you who live in the north know what cabin fever is all about. Once the holidays are over it’s a long haul until spring. We work hard all winter to be ready for spring.  In the winter our land is either frozen or muddy and messy. Since we are in the country, we have to sweep the snow off our satellite receivers to keep our internet working.

Route663 We spend a lot of time on the phone working with new beekeepers placing orders and helping them figure out what they need. My wife, Sheri, is so good on the phone.  She is personable, extremely knowledgeable about beekeeping, and is so good about keeping track of orders and the special needs of our customers. She’s manning the phones today until 4:00 p.m. central time if you need something.

Sometimes when all lines are busy I answer the phones to help out, but Sheri is your girl to talk to. If you cannot get through, just know that we are answer all lines and cannot get to your call. Just call back if you can’t get through. We want to talk with you. 217-427-2678


IMG_1161 When we are not working, we fall back and enjoy our hobbies. Sheri has taken up playing the violin so maybe I can talk her into playing something at the next beekeeping class.  I seem to have only summer hobbies, like riding my Harley. In the winter, I usually stay busy fixing up our 1876 farm house. There’s always another window to replace, or something that needs fixed or repaired. I have three drywall spots to keep mudding and sanding from some changes we made. I usually do all the work myself unless I get too busy.

The Bible says, “You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new.” (Leviticus 26:10)  I hope this is true for you and we hope that all of our bees will still be alive in the spring and we’ll have to make room for more hives!

71013 From iPhone 065Over the last month, there has been a surge in beekeeping interest. We’ve sold an unbelievable amount of  FREEDOM KITS (2 Hives) for this time of the year, to NEW BEEKEEPERS!! This excites us to see more and more people jumping into beekeeping.  And our beekeeping classes are filling up so fast too. Our Beekeeping Institute is over half full 5 months out. Speaking of selling out, we have sold out of packages of bees. However, we have reserved packages of bees to be sold with our hive kits and for students who take our beekeeping classes.

Over the last few years I’ve learned so much more about honey bees and beekeeping. That’s the neat thing about being a beekeeper, you just keep on learning year to year. My interaction with customers has truly taught me a lot too. Every time I talk with a customer, I hear what they have been trying and how well it has been working. Beekeeping is about educational growth.

class3 A common phone call is someone who has kept bees a few years but continues not to be successful. They call to sign up for a class because they know they need to be a better beekeeper. There are many challenges today facing honey bees and continued education gives us an edge to face these challenges more successfully. This might mean that  you need to now take what you’ve learned and make some resolutions for 2015 to be a better beekeeper.

I’ve thought of a few resolutions that would benefit most beekeepers.

1. Resolve To Plan Ahead. During the fall and winter, beekeepers ask me if it is too late to do anything about varroa mites. Sadly, I have to inform them it is too late. Once the temperature is below 60 degrees (f), we can no longer lift frames out of a hive in fear it will kill brood (developing pupae). This year, decide how you will aggressively keep your mites levels low. In our classes we give you a four part non-chemical approach. The longer you wait to purchase your bees, take a class or buy hives you risk having to wait or totally missing the boat.

BBFS1 Plan ahead in using the Burns Bees Feeding System. We sold a lot of these in the fall, but they cannot be used in the winter. So plan now to purchase these because you’ll want to start using them in Feb (for southern states) and March or April in the north. You can purchase them now and avoid back logged orders in the spring. We now make these from a higher quality wood which we are also using for our inner covers too. Click here to order now in planning ahead for spring feeding. Give your bees a boost in the spring. Works great on new packages, overwintered colonies or nucs.

2.  Resolve To Know As Much As You Can. Take all the classes you can. Attend seminars and conferences. Read books and magazines. For example, many of you watched my video on how to add additional wax to foundation to speed up the bees drawing out new foundation. This is something you can implement with your new hives this spring. Had you not read my lesson or watched my video you would not know to do this. So resolve to know as much as you can.

beepoop 3.  Monitor Your Hives Throughout The Winter. Keep Winter-Bee-Kind candy boards on your hives. Last year some beekeepers failed to replace empty WBKs on the hive and the bees starved out. So many hives were low on food going into winter. Resolve to monitor their winter stores of food. Keep mice out. Make sure your entrances are not allowing mice to enter. Mice can destroy your hives.  Provide a wind break. Keep something heavy on the top so winter winds do not blow the top off.

4. Resolve To Inspect Your Bees More Often In The Spring And Summer.  We recommend inspecting your hive briefly every two weeks in the spring and summer. This inspection is to take a quick look to be sure your queen is laying good. You do not have to find the queen, but just make sure you have plenty of brood of all stages, eggs, larvae and pupae. You can do a more thorough inspection every 6 weeks for pests and diseases.

L1538 5. Resolve To Deal With Issues. If  your queen is slacking off, replace her quickly. Prevent swarming. Trap small hive beetles. Keep your bees in their hives during pesticide applications nearby.

6. Resolve To Support Other Beekeepers. Often beekeepers can become territorial and threatened by other beekeepers. Resolve to encourage and support other beekeepers. Speak positively about associations, clubs and what other beekeepers are doing. Offer to help a struggling beekeeper. If a beekeeper suffers a loss, offer to take over a nuc to help them back into the game. We need to work together.

Class33 7. Resolve To Introduce More People Into Beekeeping. Are you coming to one of our beginner classes? If so, why not think of a friend nearby that you can inspire to become a beekeeper and join you for class too. It’s always fun tackling a new hobby with a buddy or a girlfriend. The more people start beekeeper, the closer we are to restoring the population of our much needed pollinator, the honey bee. Have them visit a special page we have just for beginners:

Thanks for joining us today. Check out some cool trivia we have on our main page at:


See you next time,
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

pH Balance In Honey And What We Feed Bees | Packages Of Bees Available For Purchase 217-427-2678

In today’s beekeeping lesson we’ll be taking a look into pH. What is the pH balance of honey and how does that compare to vinegar, water, milk, coffee and other things in my kitchen. Is it important to raise the pH balance in what we feed our bees? Read on!

Hello, are David and Sheri Burns and here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, we are a family business working hard to help more people discover and enjoy keeping honey bees. We manufacture beehives and sell everything related to beekeeping. Our hives are built according to our specific required specs right here in central Illinois.

It’s fall and if you are new to beekeeping you are just in time to get started keeping bees in the spring of 2015. We have 3 lb packages for sale now. Bees are so precious and essential to nature. We are excited to offer packages again this year. They will sell out fast. Last year we sold out within 45 days after going online. Click here to order your packages of bees. Packages include 3lbs, about 10,000 bees and one mated queen.

Busybee Now is the time to order your hives and we always appreciate your hive orders. Purchase your hives (woodenware) now, and you’ll receive them within a few weeks. Order your bees now to be picked up in the spring.

Remember when we were young and we’d take catalogs from major department stores and circle everything we wanted for Christmas? Only 36 days until Christmas. We have two special hive kits with bees that would make a great Christmas gift for that special someone in your life. These starter hives are affordable, includes bees and there is no shipping charge. One comes with startup equipment like a smoker, bee brush, frame hanger, frame grip, smoker fuel and a hive tool. The other does not come with equipment for those who already have equipment but are adding more hives. Click on the image below for more information.



HiveTalk Join us tomorrow, Wednesday November 19th at 10 a.m. for another live episode of HiveTalk. We’ll be  talking about   feral colonies trap-outs and cut-outs. These are terms referring to trapping and cutting bee hives from structures. We’ll also talk about how to establish them into hives and related subjects like principles of the bee vac, mistakes to avoid, laws and regulations. Here’s how to join us:

We promise to make this educational and fun. You can make Hive Talk more interesting by calling in and asking questions live, or by logging in on your computer and texting us your question. Here’s how:

The number to call is:


When you call in you'll be asked to enter our SHOW ID which is: 129777 followed by the # sign. Then the automated system will ask you for your Pin number which is 1 followed by the # sign. At that point, you'll be on the show with us so you can ask your questions. So you don’t have to worry about keeping your kids or dogs quite. You will be muted unless you press * 8 on your phone and that will allow us to unmute you so you can ask your question. Call in around 10 minutes prior to broadcast, at 9:50 a.m. central time.  If you want to just listen from your computer, go to:

Set your alarm and your smart phones. Nov 19th, Wednesday at 10 a.m. central time.

LESSON 166: pH In Honey And What We Feed Bees

pH stands for the power of hydrogen. When you write it, the “p” is lower case and since hydrogen is an element, it is capitalized. Water has a pH of 7. Anything 7 and above is considered an alkaline and anything below 7 is consider to be acidic.

So I grabbed my pH meter and tested different things in my kitchen this morning. Remember, the lower the number the more acidic. I snapped some pictures below so you can see for yourself.

pHCoffee pHgingerale pHHoney pHmilk pHOJ pHvinegar        pHwater

It’s hard to see, but there is a decimal point after the first number. So Coffee is 5.66. My ginger ale is a special kind that I buy that has real, fresh ginger so it is really tart and burns your throat when you swallow. Honey is close to that same pH level. Haven’t you noticed that honey does sometimes make your throat burn just a little. It’s because honey is acidic. That is what aids in preventing bacterial growth. Water is considered having no acidic trace and is around 7 pH. The higher the number the more alkaline. 

I discovered that by adding sugar to water, it actually raised the alkalinity by.09 elevating it further away from the level found in bees’ natural food, honey.  If bees eat honey at a pH of 3.52, then is it possible to increase the acidic content in sugar water to nearly match honey and still be healthy for bees?  I found a great study about this and how adding vitamin C to sugar water increased winter survival by 33%. I explain this today in more detail on my main website at: where I’ll show you how I increased the pH in sugar water. Be sure and read my entire article there on my website.

Thanks for joining us for another lesson in beekeeping. See you next time,

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Beekeeping In 2015: What To Expect For Bees in 2015 217-427-2678 LESSON 165

HellDSo fellow beekeepers and prospective beekeepers! We are David and Sheri Burns and we are excited to share what’s happening with Long Lane Honey Bee Farms and with honey bees in general. Be sure and visit our main website where you can take a beekeeping quiz, reading about swarming, varroa mite control, small hive beetles, how to extract honey and more.

Today’s lesson will touch on the subject of what to expect in beekeeping in the upcoming 2015 beekeeping season. Before we begin, let me tell you what we’ve been up to lately.

We are wrapping up our beekeeping classes for this year and they were so much fun. We met new beekeepers from all over the US. We had our last beginners class for this year last weekend. We trained prospective beekeepers from Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, New York, Iowa and Kentucky. We taught over 30 classes this year with our newest class addition, “How To Get Your Bees Through The Winter” which we had to offer three times due to increased interest.

Dr. Jeff Harris I spent two weekends in a row in Arkansas this month. I spoke at the Arkansas state association meeting and I learned a lot from Dr. Jeff Harris and Audrey Sheridan from Mississippi State University. Also in this photo, allow me to introduce my good friend, Jon Zawislak. Jon and I have studied bees together since 2009. Jon is a fellow EAS certified master beekeeper and is the apiculture instructor with the Entomology Department, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture in Little Rock, Arkansas. Jon has taught several of our classes and speaks at our Beekeeping Institute that we hold each year. We are excited about this year’s beekeeping institute in June. Registration is filling up fast. Click here for more information.

HiveTalk Jon and I also produce Hive Talk, an internet radio/podcast program about honey bees. In our last episode we tackled some tough topics about bees, that most people would avoid. But we waded in and had a good time. You can listen to our past episodes on iTunes: or Google “Hive Talk”.

Join us on Wednesday November 19th at 10 a.m. for another live episode of HiveTalk. We’ll be  talking about  71013 From iPhone 255 feral colonies trap-outs and cut-outs. These are terms referring to trapping and cutting bee hives from structures.  We’ll also talk about how to establish them into hives and related subjects like principles of the bee vac, mistakes to avoid, laws and regulations. Here’s how to join us:

We promise to make this educational and fun. You can make Hive Talk more interesting by calling in and asking questions live, or by logging in on your computer and texting us your question. Here’s how:

The number to call is:


When you call in you'll be asked to enter our SHOW ID which is: 129777 followed by the # sign. Then the automated system will ask you for your Pin number which is 1 followed by the # sign. At that point, you'll be on the show with us so you can ask your questions. So you don’t have to worry about keeping your kids or dogs quite. You will be muted unless you press * 8 on your phone and that will allow us to unmute you so you can ask your question. Call in around 10 minutes prior to broadcast, at 9:50 a.m. central time.  If you want to just listen from your computer, go to:

Set your alarm and your smart phones. Nov 19th, Wednesday at 10 a.m. central time.

Jon and I wrote an article for the American Bee Journal and we published a booklet on queen rearing and we continue to hear positive responses on it. It’s entitled, “Raising Quality Queen Bees.” You can download the .pdf at:  It was published by the University of Arkansas, Division of Agricultural, Research and Extension. Queen rearing is either made complicated, or not detailed enough so we went to work to produce an easy to follow guide to raise queens. Check it out.

farm fall3 Farm Fall2 farm fall4 winterbkind

We are spending every spare minute making our Winter-Bee-Kind candy boards. The weather finally turned cold enough for us to ship them out.  A customer from Chicago has used our Winter-Bee-Kinds on her hives for 2 years and has never lost a hive. She bought 5 more and brought her empty ones to be refilled. We hear more and more of these stories. Remember though, no matter how much good nutrition bees have during the winter, if the varroa mites are spreading viruses, the hive can still perish during the winter.

Our new Burns Bees Feeding System was very well received, so much so that we were overwhelmed with orders and had to take them temporarily offline. Now we have an Amish business near us making them for us so we have placed them back online.

LESSON 165: What To Expect For The 2015 Beekeeping Year.

packages I believe we are faced with some good problems. First, packages, nucs and queens will, once again, be in big demand. Last year beekeepers around the country saw how difficult it was to find bees. It wasn’t impossible, but it took a bit more effort, especially new beginners.  This may very well be the case for 2015. Already one large supplier of packages is sold out.

Secondly, I am hopeful that with the increase in beekeeping conferences, workshops and 71013 From iPhone 281 classes that we’ll start to see healthier bees. Beekeeping can no longer be viewed as hands off. Beekeepers must be well informed to overcome the challenges facing honey bees.

Thirdly, science will continue to reveal more and more insights into how to keep healthier hives. Research and studies are exciting and show a promising future for honey bees. These are days where information and studies are coming out so fast that unless you are connected to this information, you’ll get left behind. Like, did you know, now we are changing the way we understand royal jelly influencing queen development.

Fourthly, the President, Governors, cities and states are starting to protect honey bees. The general public is now awake when it 71013 From iPhone 287comes to the importance of the honey bee. Therefore, 2015 I believe will be a very promising year for honey bees.

Lastly, beekeeping has been elevated to rock start status. When you tell people you are a beekeeper a very common response after the fascination is, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” That when we say, “come on” and encourage others to start keeping bees.  Why not encourage more of your friends and family to keep bees. Do it for the pollination.  Do it for the bees. Do it for the enjoyment.

We impacted thousands of new beekeepers over the last 10 years and we are passionate about continue our efforts to energize the beekeeping hobby. If you are wondering how to energize your family, friends or your bee club or association then check out our list of resources below:

farm fall5 Nov – March Buy Equipment & Bees. Get the word out to order things early. The later you wait, the more likely you’ll miss out on availability or speedy deliveries. We have kits available now that includes packages of bees. Click here.

Jan – Apr Study. We’ll be posting our 2015 classes soon, so keep an eye out and be sure to take a class. Our classes are thorough and complete.

Apr – May Install package or nuc and monitor growth.

May– June continue to provide extra room for growth.

June – Aug provide enough supers.

Aug – Sept remove honey.

Sept – Oct prepare for winter.

Remember, we exist because of the loyalty of our customers who purchase beekeeping equipment from us. Our hives are made right here in central Illinois. For example our Winter-Bee-Kinds are made from wood purchased at a local lumber yard, and our foam insulation is made 45 miles from us in Charleston, Illinois. We appreciate your support of these US made items. Click on the items below to place an order today, and we thank you. Christmas is coming and we know beekeeping will really surprise them!

Two Complete Hives. It’s always better to start with two hives.








Once Complete Hive


Equipment Kit


Burns Bees Feeding System

-10 Frame Feeding System

- 8 Frame Feeding System

BBFS 3hole

Thanks for joining us, and visit us online at: or call us Mon – Thur 10-4 central time and Fri- 10 – Noon. 217-427-2678. If you call and cannot get through, please be patient as this indicates we are helping other beekeepers. Just keeping calling back during our regular hours.

Visit our main website where you can take a beekeeping quiz, reading about swarming, varroa mite control, small hive beetles, how to extract honey and more.