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Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Beekeeping Lessons

dslogsmall.jpgBeekeeping Lessons


Hello, we are David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms located near Fairmount, Illinois. Thanks for stopping by to learn more about beekeeping and how to use your beekeeping equipment. You are about to read through our FREE online beekeeping lessons. Great! Before you begin, let me tell you that 40 of our available lessons are available here, on our main website. However, I write these lessons from my blog, and so over 170 more of the lessons can be found on my blog at:
If you are interested in getting started in beekeeping, YOU MUST think ahead.
Missed a class? WARNING: There is a push to make beekeeping appear practically hands free. New beekeepers are failing to implement best management practices. I want to be your mentor. I am currently accepting positions to mentor a limited number of beekeepers. You'll have access to my personal cell phone and private email. And you can send me videos or pictures of your hive when it just doesn't seem right or you don't know what's going on. You'll also receive 4 new instructional videos from me and a weekly tip of what you should be doing. Click here to see if spots are still available.

You may have met some clubs or beekeepers who are stingy with beekeeping information. We are not. As you can see by these lessons, we freely share all we know to help you become a better beekeeper. We hope that you'll show your appreciation by purchasing your beekeeping equipment from us. We know you have the big box store options. But before you run out, consider supporting us so we can continue to provide the beekeeping community with helpful and free videos, lessons and more.

Having trouble getting your bees through the winter? We are here to help. Make sure your colonies goes through the winter with our Winter-Bee-Kind system on top. Click here for full details.

Welcome To Your First Lesson In Beekeeping:
Introduction to Placement and Hive Components

Before you begin, please watch our video below to help you become familiar with the various hive components:

Before we talk about beekeeping, let's talk about the hive, the traditional white boxes we see that is home to honey bees. Beekeepers, for the most part, still use a hive that was designed by Rev. L. L. Langstroth in the early 1850s. Prior to this, beehives were kept in what looked like up-side-down baskets known as skeps. With skeps, the comb along with the total hive was destroyed when honey was harvested. Langstroth is credited with the removable frame hive and with specific bee space. In other words, he invented the ability to remove the frames of comb and place them back in the hive without damage to the hive or comb. Langstroth also discovered what is known now as "bee space" and is generally thought to be 3/8". Anything less, they will add their glue known as propolis. Anything greater than 3/8" and they will build comb. Almost all hive boxes today are modeled after Rev. L. L. Langstroth's design with slight modifications over the years. A typical hive consists of the following pieces, starting at the bottom and working up:

The Hive Stand
The Bottom Board
The Hive Bodies
The Medium or Small Honey Supers
The Inner Cover
The Top Cover

Today, let me explain the hive stand and the bottom board. The hive stand make up the very Image of Beekeeping Lessonbottom of the hive. However, many beekeepers do not find the hive stand necessary. I personally do not bother with hive stands. They appear impressive because they have a ramp leading up to the entrance. And, some people feel this helps the bees get into the hive. However, I have watched the bees land, and they really don't land on the ramp nor walk up. Bees are flyers and not climbers. In the natural, they don't have ramps. I would recommend not using a hive stand to reduce cost and it makes it easier should you need to move your hive.

So, in my opinion the first piece you need is the bottom board. But before we place our bottom board, we have to consider location, the direction the hive faces and how much to elevate the hive off the moist ground. I like to use wood pallets that I can obtain free from local factories. Usually one pallet is enough, but sometimes I'll place two pallets on top of each other to elevate the hive around 5-6" off the ground.

Then, I place my bottom board on the pallet. Pallets work well, but so do concrete blocks or any structure that will elevate the hive off the ground. You want the hive elevated for two reasons, your back and moisture. Bottom boards do draw moisture and so will be the first item to deteriorate over time. So, the drier they stay the longer they will last. Plus, it also means less moisture in the hive. Elevating the hive makes it easier on your back. But, do remember that eventually, you'll have lots of supers, and if you elevate the first hive body to a comfortable range, you may soon find you need a ladder when you are running all your boxes. 5-6" is a good range of elevation.

How about direction? Which direction should the hive face? It really doesn't matter. We typically try to avoid the North so that cold winter wind will not blow into the front. And we typically try to face the hive Easterly so that the early morning sunrise will get the bees out working faster.

Shade or Sun? AVOID SHADE!! When raising bees it is important to get your hive in total sunlight. This is extremely important. They can keep the hive cool. Don't worry about the heat. Shade can attract pests such as Small Hive Beetle, ants and wax moths. Place the hive in direct sunlight. If you cannot avoid the shade, try to place the hive where it will get the most sunlight.

Let's talk about bottom boards. There are many different variations of bottom boards. There used to be only one kind, a standard solid bottom board. Now, with the introduction of mites, we have found that screen bottom boards help reduce mite populations and the screen also improves overall hive ventilation. Screen bottom boards are part of what is known as IPM (Integrated Pest Management). Image of Beekeeping Screen Lesson

Now, there are many different types of screen bottom boards. Some are simple and some have lots of bells and whistles. Get the simple screen bottom board! If you want to slide in a white board or sticky board to count your mites, you can place it under the screen. And if you need to restrict the air flow when applying a medication, you can slide in a small piece of board.

We have put much time in designing our bottom board manufacturing to produce a simple, yet very effect screen bottom board. Our bottom boards come completely assembled with an entrance reducer cleat. Our bottom boards are designed for a 3/4" opening in the front of the hive. However, with a slight modification, the bottom board can be flipped over and a smaller opening can be used. It is not advised.

Sometimes new beekeepers ask which way the bottom board goes. When the bottom board is in the correct position, the screen is up. You can see the staples going into the screen. Also, the top of the bottom board has three edges.

Our bottom boards are made very strong, routed in such a way to lock sections together and are glued with exterior glue.

Finally, the bottom board's entrance is determined by the placement of what is called the entrance reducer cleat. It is a 3/4" x 3/4" piece of wood with two different sized openings. The cleat can be turned so that only one of the openings is used at a time.

In this picture, you can see the smallest setting of the entrance cleat. When would you use this small setting? 1) When installing your package of bees for the first time. They can still come and go, but it keeps them from wanting to fly away until they nest. 2) In the winter, when you are trying to keep mice out of your hive. 3) When the hive is being robbed by another hive. There is less entrance to protect.

The next picture shows the larger opening on the entrance cleat. When would you use this setting? Anytime you need a larger opening, but don't want to open it up all the way. This could also be used for all three reasons above.

Though the pictures shows the opening facing down, please remember to have the opening facing UP! When bees die during the winter, if the opening is down, then dead bees will fill up the opening. However, if the opening is facing up, then, the bees can still fly out over the dead bees which you can clean out later on a warm day.

However, once your hive is more than a few weeks old, and is not being robbed and the weather is warm, the entrance cleat should be removed and stored in a place where you can easily find it.

Okay...that's the end of lesson one. You've learned about hive location, placement and the bottom board. In our next lesson we'll discuss the next section of the hive, the deep hive body.

Here's a list of additional lessons available by topics:

Bees In The Winter

Candy Boards For Winter Feeding

Installing A Package of Bees
  -  Installing a package in poor weather

Where To Buy Packages

Beekeeping Record Keeping

Controlling Varroa Mites, Varroa Mites

Different Types of Honey Bees

  - How Bees Make Honey
  - Extracting Honey
  - Honey Moisture Level
  - Honey Production
  - Selling Honey

Differences In Frame Foundation

Help Save The Honey Bee

How Many Hives To Start With
  - How To Get Started In Beekeeping

Making A Spring Split

Marking Queens

Managing A Hive In The Spring That Made It Through The Winter

Pros and Cons of a Queen Excluder

Rotating Brood Hive Bodies In The Spring

Spring Management of Bees

Medicating A Honey Bee Hive

How To Inspect A Hive Part I

How To Inspect A Hive Part II

Bee Stings

Beekeeping Supplies

Requeening A Hive

Deep Hive Body (Brood Boxes)

Honey Super Box

Inner Cover and Top Cover

Honey Bee Biology

Bee Trivia

Queen Rearing Part  I

Queen Rearing Part  II

Queen Rearing Part  III

Frequently Asked Beekeeping Questions

Bee Nutrition