Lesson 135: March Is One Of The Hardest Months For Bees In The North www.honeybeesonline.com 217-427-2678


Beekeeping is so enjoyable! It not too late in the season to start beekeeping in 2013. We are here to help. We build all the hive equipment right here in east central Illinois. We are a total turn key operation, meaning we’ll get you started in beekeeping the right way through our classes, equipment and bees. When you call you will be speaking to a well trained beekeeper. We will not try and sell you things you do not need or things that do not work just to make a sale. We want you to be a successful beekeeper. If our beekeepers cannot answer your beekeeping question, they’ll turn you over to me. I started keeping bees in 1994 and I’ve been a certified master beekeeper for 3 years. We are here to help answer all your questions.

I have written 135 beekeeping lesson from years of my own experience, research and experiments. In today’s lesson, I will be teaching you the dangers of losing your bees in late winter or early spring from cold snaps resulting in starvation. But before I dive into today’s lesson, I want to introduce ourselves more and introduce you to the wonderful world of beekeeping.

Sheri and I own Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We named it that because we live down a long lane with beehives scattered down our quarter mile lane. We have hives in several other places, but this is where we raise our Illinois Pioneer Queens, winter hardy, chemical free survival bees. We are a mid-west, hard working family in our 50’s employing many of our grown children and some friends from our church to help get the job done. We are a home school family and have been blessed by God with a bee business to provide for our family. Our business is driven by our strong Christian values from Scriptures like, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” (Colossians 3:23). We do our best to treat our customers by the Golden Rule, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”(Matthew 7:12).  So we appreciate all of our fantastic customers who choose to help support our business by purchasing from us. Thank you!  We know you may have other choices so thank you for giving us a chance to serve you.

 StoreShelves Once again we are gearing up for our next beekeeping class this Saturday, March 23rd. This class has been full for several weeks. We are remodeling our store to make the flow of things go better during our classes. We are stocking the shelves getting ready for the spring season. Local beekeepers appreciate that they can stop in and purchase the hives and equipment they need locally. Beekeepers around the US benefit from our online store, shipping needed beekeeping hives and equipment throughout the country.

HexStamp HexWall Sheri wanted our store to have honey bee comb hexagonal cells painted on the wall. Jesse made a large stamp and I dipped it in painted and away I went!  It was fun and turned out better than we thought.

Cedar Over a year ago we began to add an additional hive to our line of beekeeping equipment. Up until now we have built our hives of Langstroth tradition, with the occasional top bar hive. A year ago we purchased some cedar boards and began exploring the idea of building our hives out of cedar. Cedar is a slightly thicker board and is smooth on one side and rough on the other. We wanted to make sure we could keep the traditional sizes of our hives and frames and still retain bee space.

Cedar1 Also, we had to design our own peaked top rather than our flat tops. Jesse spent several months thinking through a cedar top and finally came up with a top that is peaked and has a strip of copper across the top. We decided that our Langstroth cedar hive will come with two deep hive bodies and two medium supers, with wooden frames and foundation. Our cedar hives are fully assembled and untreated and unpainted. They are absolutely beautiful. The natural color of cedar is gorgeous. Cedar is very expensive, so our cedar hives are more expensive than our traditional pine hives. However, if you’re looking for beauty, it’s worth the price. Remember these are built right here in our shop, no middle man here. We take pride in our work. If you’d like to purchase one of our cedar hives, CLICK HERE.

Hive1 Of course our most popular hive is our standard Langstroth hive. Many people ask me how we got into making bee hives. Well, years ago, I made a hive and put it on eBay. It sold immediately.  I built another one and it sold immediately. When we first started we only sold on eBay because we didn’t have a website. Now that’s all changed. I made my hives with a few special features that I wanted in my hives as a beekeeper. We still make these hives the same way.  We love them and so do our customers. Our Langstroth hives are fully assembled and painted. We also include metal frame rests in all boxes to help the frames more more freely when inspecting the hive. Our hives are all built with screen bottom board to assist with ventilation and Integrated Pest Management. Our special inner cover provides upper ventilation. Painted with a high quality exterior paint this hive will stand proud in your yard for years to come. We ship hives all over the US. Look at our shipping cost to ship a hive in the US (except Hawaii or Alaska) Only $29. Click here to order today! This offer only applies to our traditional hive, item #1.



We’ve listened to our customers and so many wanted a class on package bee pickup day. So here it is. May 4th, our basic beginners 3 hour class. 9am until noon.  Come pick up your bees and equipment and take our 3 hour class. Be sure to order equipment in advance. This is a very introductory class and does not go into as much detail as our all day classes. But if you just need to learn about beekeeping equipment,  how to install a package, and how to inspect a hive, you’ll enjoy this three hour class. You must have protective gear to go into the bee yard. All students must be paid and registered to attend. Click here to register now.

LESSON 135: March Is One Of The Hardest Months For Bees In The North

We all want our bees to survive the winter. Beekeepers in the south have a much shorter winter than we do in the north. I live near the 40th parallel, map jargon which means I’m in central Illinois. It gets cold here. Many beekeepers make the mistake that since March doesn’t seem like a cold, brutal winter month that the bees are out of the woods. But nothing could be further from the truth. In the north, queens begin laying more which requires much more honey and pollen consumption. But, there is nothing much left and nothing yet to gather. It’s too cold to forage even if there was something blooming.

To make it even harder, most of the northern US has had challenging bee weather over the last few days. This is when it warms us in the day but drops quickly and drastically at night. For the last week, and sounds like all next week, our temperatures have been in the 40s in the daytime and in the teens at night. The reason this can be hard on bees is because at 40+ degrees the bees will break cluster in the hive, move around and eat honey. But as the sun goes down and the temperature drops suddenly the bees may fail to regroup into a tight cluster. Sometimes they get separate into several clusters and then cannot generate enough heat to keep from freezing to death if temperatures plummet into the teens and the bees are low in numbers or short of food.

Hive with blanket Bees need food to generate heat. They eat honey so they can vibrate and make heat. What you can do to help shave off the sudden evening chill into the teens and give the bees a better opportunity to cluster correctly is use a heavy blanket and lay over the hive at sundown. Place some bricks on the blanket to keep it on the hive. Do not cover the hive completely as this might not allow enough air for the hive. Do not cover the front entirely with the blanket. In preparation of this lesson, I placed a blanket on one of our hives. I remove it during the day. Do not let it get rained on or it will hold too much moisture near the hive.

Watch my complete video on how I use a Winter-Bee-Kind and blanket.(In the last 30 days 35,000 people have watched our YouTube Beekeeping videos.) I only recommend the blanket when the day is warm but the evening temperature will drop into the lower 20s or teens and your bees  might be low in numbers. Small clusters can die when temperatures drop into the teens. That’s why we recommend not installing new packages of bees in the north until mid April. A 3 lb package only contains 10,000 bees on new foundation with nothing stored in the comb to heat. And a lake of drawn comb makes it hard for the bees to stay warm. This makes a cold night.

Please be careful not to feed bees too much liquid sugar if the day will be too cold for the bees to fly. They will be unable to relieve themselves. We prefer to feed the Winter-Bee-Kind candy boards to bees in late winter because it is an emergency feed for when the bees start to run out of food without overloading their guts.

Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. We hope you’ll visit our website at www.honeybeesonline.com, buy some hives and get started in beekeeping! It’s not too late. Now is a great time to dive in. Though we are sold out of packages, we’ll provide you with the numbers of reliable package providers that will ship bees to you. We are ready to be your friend and mentor in beekeeping.

See you next time!
David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

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