LESSON 115: Is A Warm Winter Good For Bees?

www.honeybeesonline.com  217-427-2678

Isn’t it time you improve your beekeeping knowledge and skills? Spend the whole day with certified master beekeeper David Burns, February 11, 2012.  Pick his brain, and advance you knowledge of beekeeping. Click here for class registration information.

DavidSheriNewHello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We are David and Sheri Burns. We live out in the country in central Illinois where we’ve enjoyed running a beekeeping business for 5 years now. We raise chickens, bees, queens and of course manufacture beekeeping equipment. In fact, David and a few others have been so busy building hives that they’ve become really fast at it. Watch this video of David in high speed!

(If the videos in this lesson do not play, view this blog directly at: www.basicbeekeeping.blogspot.com)

We take great pride in our work, building hives by hand for our customers. We view our customers as friends and David is one of two EAS certified master beekeepers in the state of Illinois so you’ve in good hands with us for all your beekeeping needs.  David will share his next beekeeping lesson with us, Lesson 115 and he’ll be talking about how a warm winter may actually not be so good for our bees. But before today’s lesson…

We’ve produced another Studio Bee Live podcast! Click here to listen.

valentine special

We have a Valentine Special now available. It includes one hive and one 3 pound package of bees with a queen.

Get One Complete Hive painted and assembled, 1 package of bees with queen an we’ll also include a FREE Queen Excluder and a FREE Entrance feeder with jar lid with holes.


This is an easy way to add to your hives or get started in beekeeping. This offer is good through Feb. 20th, 2012. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION



broodviabilityLong Lane Honey Bee Farms is offering an Advance Beekeeping Course Saturday February 11th, 2012 from 9am to 4pm. Take the next step, and leap into becoming a better beekeeper! We’ll take a more in depth look at swarm prevention, splits, overwintering hives, pests & disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention, increase honey yields and tricks of the trade. Stop repeating the same mistakes. Join EAS certified master beekeeper David Burns and go to the next level in understanding beekeeping. This course will be held in Danville, Illinois at the Farm Bureau building. Call 217-427-2678 or CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

classBASIC BEGINNING BEEKEEPING  MARCH 24th, 2012 DANVILLE, IL 9-4 Sheri and I are looking forward to the upcoming basic beekeeping class we are offering on Saturday March 24th, 2012. We have designed this one day beekeeping course to cover topics on basic beekeeping. David is an EAS certified Master Beekeeper, so this course is well worth your time. Those interested in becoming beekeepers as well as those who have kept bees for a few years will benefit from this class. Register now to reserve your seat! We have a maximum registration so register as soon as you can to reserve your spot! It will be held at the Farm Bureau in Danville, Illinois (Central Illinois). Get a few friends to come along with you! Lunch is on your own, but there are several places to eat lunch nearby. Also, why not save shipping cost and purchase all your hive equipment on this day? This course is team taught by David & Sheri and you’ll have a great day learning about beekeeping. Don’t let distance keep you away. We’ve had people from California to Louisiana and other states, so come on over. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

hive1SPECIAL TUESDAY BLOG READER SPECIAL! Our Complete Hive, assembled and painted is normally $199, but we are offering this special to our blog readers of only $179 to the first 10 callers on Tuesday. Calls will be answered starting at 8:30am central time. This offer is only good on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 to the first 10 callers. The 7th caller will receive free shipping of the hive. You must use CODE: 2VS

PACKAGE BEE UPDATE: We are sold out of our individually shipped packages. We have packages left that go with our hives and hives kits. We always save back packages for new beginners or beekeepers adding to their current hives. We’ve sold individual packages for the last four months. Call for availability or click on our valentine special which is one hive and one package.


Check us out on Facebook. Every Monday we post a picture of a malady of the hive and the first person to guess correctly wins  a prize from Long Lane Honey Bee Farm. This Monday’s photo is already posted.


Winter Cluster DrawingBees overwinter best when they are held at a temperature that keeps the cluster quiet and eating very little honey. That’s why sometimes say we are putting the bees to bed for the winter. Though bees do not hibernate like bears, they cluster, produce heat, eat and wait for warmer days. There is an ideal temperature between 30-40 degrees F that keeps the bees quiet and eating the least amount of food. The warmer the weather the more the bees eat. Oddly enough, the colder the weather the more the bees eat to generate heat. Does an unseasonably warm winter mean trouble for bees? Yes.

FullhiveDon’t panic just yet. If a colony is healthy, meaning they are not suffering from viruses, mite overload or high nosema spores, they always stand a better chance of making it through the winter. But remember this: They need numbers!  A colony must be heavily populated to provide the needed heat during extreme cold snaps. A large colony can generate more heat with less consumption of honey. In a smaller colony each bee will have to work harder to generate enough heat, which requires the consumption of more food.

It is not unusual for smaller colonies to die in the winter even though they had plenty of honey. It is because they could not maintain a survivable temperature in the cluster. In this case, the winter did not kill the colony, but poor summer and fall management of the beekeeper. The colony was just too small to overwinter.

Winter ClusterIn the winter, the colony’s cluster shrinks in size as temperature fall. The colder the temperature, the tighter and smaller the cluster becomes. This can be another explanation as to why bees die in close proximity  to frames full of honey. Let me explain. On day one, the outside temperature can be 30 degrees F resulting in the cluster compressing into a loose cluster. They will begin to consume honey in combs near them. The next day, the high temperature may drop  to 10 degrees F resulting in the bees compressing into a very tight cluster, shrinking in size even more. If the bees are held in this tight cluster for several days, they can quickly consume all honey near by. To complicate matters, winter can throw another punch and the temperature can continue to sink resulting in the bees being unable to break cluster to go to areas nearby containing honey. As the cluster tightens and shrinks the comb around them has been drained of honey. As a result, the bees can starve out with nearby honey in combs they cannot reach due to the cold temperatures.

Winter survival depends on these factors:
1) Low level of mites
2) Low level of diseases and viruses
3) Amount of bees that can generate heat
4) Volume of stored honey and pollen


1) Lift the rear of the hive to check the weight. If the hive is very light the colony is lacking stored honey and needs fed.

2) Do not remove frames unless the temperature is 60 degrees F or higher.

3) Do not feed liquid sugar during the winter. It will freeze. Also the bees will be unable to fly out and defecate due to being tightly clustered. Instead feed solid sugar such as our Winter-Bee-Kind Candy Boards. We’ve started the Beekeeping Video Institute and we featured our Winter-Bee-Kind in our first video. See our 1st Beekeeping Video Institute below.


4) Bees die in February and March when the weather begins to warm up a little, but there is still no available nectar or pollen. This is more common in northern states such as mine, Illinois. The queen starts laying more and the added brood requires much more consumption of resources that cannot be replaced. Late winter is the time to start feeding a liquid sugar mixture, one part sugar to one part water. It is only advisable to feed sugar water when you know the bees will be able to fly out of the hive once or twice a week. Pollen substitute is always a valuable resource to keep in the hive. Bees with a variety of pollen are always healthier. Yes, bees need pollen even during the winter. Pollen is the bee’s protein. In late winter, here in Illinois, bees are starved for protein and will begin eating almost anything that resembles pollen such as dog and cat food, dust from tiny bird seeds, and even our saw dust piles. Every spring I spread out dry pollen powder and the bees go crazy hauling it back to the hive.

Thanks for joining us for another lesson from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We are glad that we can provide these free and informative lessons to the beekeeping community.  We hope you’ll consider making a purchase from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We need your business. Buy a hive or two from us. Check out out hive kits. Attend one of our classes. Your future business helps us raise our family, enjoy life and pay bills.

TipJarYour donations helps us continue our work and research on the honey bee, such as our recent development of our Winter-Bee-Kind. These lessons are free and will provide you with as much if not more information than you would find in a $30 book. So consider making a $30 donation so that we might continue these lessons, CLICK HERE TO DONATE $30 Thank you in advance.

Here’s our contact information. We hope to hear from you soon.

Check out our website: www.honeybeesonline.com
Phone: 217-427-2678

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