Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bottom Board Openings 3/4” or 3/8”?? 217-427-2678

Fall Thanks for joining us here at for some more beekeeping insights. Every time we make a beekeeping post they rapidly circulate through the beekeeping community. We find our materials and insights published in books, articles and on other beekeepers’ websites. There is a famous quote that says, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” We enjoy posting these lessons because we know it will help beekeepers become more successful.

Our first beekeeping blog was posted September 6, 2007. We’ve been sending out vital beekeeping information now for over 8 years. It requires a great deal of research, writing, testing and experience to be able to publish each of these blogs/lessons/articles. Thank you for joining us and keeping track of us through this blog. And a big thank you for those who support us through making us your main source for all of your beekeeping needs. We make our living from you buying our hives and beekeeping equipment and we appreciate it.

pumpkins Here in Illinois we are having a very typical fall. Most asters are drying out, grass is slowing down, and the nights are getting cooler. While our bees are preparing for winter, so are we. We are looking for any cracks around windows and door that need caulked to keep cold air from getting in. I told a friend that up north, our homes are similar to bee hives. While bees need about 70 pounds of stored honey to make it through the winter,  we have to provide about 1,000 gallons of propane to our house to make it through the winter. I have to replace a couple of windows, place some snow plow markers around, and the list goes on.

We are also having our last beekeeping class for 2015 coming up this Saturday. We still have two spots open, so sign up today if you are thinking about taking a basic beekeeping class for beginners. Click here for more info. Our 2016 class schedule is being arranged now and will be posted within the next month. Our first round of classes usually is not offered until February 2016, so this is your last chance for a class this year.

Christian corn maze 2015 If you can not think about winter coming then fall can be a very fun time of the year. We enjoy fall because it is a time to celebrate the bounty of summer. Harvest time means that everything went pretty well during the summer. Harvesting honey means that the bees did well all year. We enjoy pumpkins, the beauty of mums and the fun of going through corn mazes. Here in Illinois, there are places that will make huge corn mazes. This one was shaped like an eagle and was made in honor of our service men and women. I took this picture of Christian standing next to the marine marker.

Fall is baseball at its best with playoffs and the World Series! My oldest son is a big Cardinal fan and this year he forced me and Christian to go to a few games with him in St. Louis. It was Christian’s first time to go to a major league baseball game so we were teaching him the traditions such as the unique claps, corn dogs, overpriced cokes and the words to “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” 

Christain Home run ball My oldest son David and my middle son Seth do nothing but think about the Cardinals. They never get an autograph, never catch a fly ball, never get close to the players but boy, would they love that. If any of you have connections, hook ‘em up. Anyway, on Christian’s second game a Cincinnati Reds’ player hit the longest left-handed home run in the new Stadium’s history. Well the ball bounced around in the stands and fell back on the field. An out fielder threw it over toward the guy sitting along the foul line and he stood up and tossed it right to Christian and he caught it! They were jealous.

Speaking of our marine son, Seth, he’s made it safely through his second deployment in the middle east and will be getting home soon. We are looking forward to seeing him again soon.

While fall is a fun time it does make us evaluate our hives and decide whether they are ready for winter. Have you noticed how different bees behave in the fall after the nectar flow ends? They are desperately scouring your property looking for anything sweet. I spilt a little bit of sugar in the back of my truck and I had a hundred bees on it. This is the season when hives rob smaller hives which has caused me to consider the bottom board. Let’s talk about this for a minute.

Okay beekeepers, here are two tips for you.

Yellow Jacket Know the difference between a yellow jacket and a honey bee. People will be calling you asking you to remove honey bees from their compost piles and homes, but when you arrive you will quickly see the difference. Bees have NO yellow on them at all. I always ask the homeowner to send me a picture. Here’s a picture I took of a yellow jacket eating with honey bees. See the difference? The yellow jacket has clear yellow and black markings and look at how long the yellow jacket antennae are.Entrance2

The second tip is to be sure to place your entrance reducers on your hives now. Mice are  starting to find a warm home now that the nights are cooler.

BBFS Once again we are hard at work making our Burns Bees Feeding Systems which are a great way to feed your bees in the fall.  It comes with 2 holes for jars and one hole for patties. I like to feed my bees one jar of 2:1 and the other jar with 1:1. The first is for storage of honey and the 1:1 is to help build up fall brood for healthy spring and summer bees. These systems are screened so that you can change your jars and patties without bees bothering you.Maximize your effort to feed your bees prior to winter.

I recommend using these and feed your bees liquid as long as they can fly. I just posted a new video online so you can see how to place these on your hive. If the video doesn’t play, here’s the link:

When the temperature dips below 50 degrees (f) in the day, bees will stop foraging and that’s when I recommend feeding them with our Winter-Bee-Kind candy board all winter.


Let’s talk about the opening of the bottom board spacing without a reducer. Years ago the bottom board was referred to as a reversible bottom board. This meant that if you flip it over on one side the entrance opening would be 3/4 of an inch. Flip it over on the other side and the entrance opening would be 3/8 of an inch. We’ve always made our bottom boards this way, only we do not place a back piece on the 3/8 side because hardly anyone flips the bottom boards any longer.

BB Let’s talk about why they used to flip the bottom boards. The reversing of the bottom board was a practice where you would actually flip it to the 3/8” (smallest opening) during the summer and the larger 3/4” opening in the winter. The thought was that during the winter, the larger spacing of 3/4 of an inch allowed an area inside on the bottom board for dead winter bees to fall and collect away from the winter cluster. And the smaller opening of 3/8” in the summer was believed to reduce robber bees.

Over the last 20 years most people have forgotten the reversible idea and strictly run a 3/4” opening when making bottom boards. After all, it does take a great deal of work to take the hive apart down to the bottom board in order to reverse it. And let’s be practical. First, a healthy colony is very good at removing dead bees from their hive on the first warm winter day. Secondly, a strong colony can defend itself against other colonies attempting to rob its honey stores. But there’s another part of this idea that is starting to intrigue me.

A friend of mine observed that bees land on the bottom board, go to the nearest wall and walk up and then cross over. This is why we see most foragers land toward one side of a bottom board. They are attempting to grain faster access to their wall so they can gain faster access to going up into their hive and then walking across. That’s a slew of walking. It’s not impossible for bees to enter a wall or tree and walk to where their comb is located. However, to be able to enter a colony and immediately gain access to comb does seem more practical to me. This can be achieved by reversing the bottom board to the smaller 3/8” opening because it drops the bottom of the deep hive body frame down closer to the screen bottom board. A foraging bee can land, walk it and simply raise up onto the comb and walk up on any frame rather than having to go to the wall.

EntranceForager bees usually enter a colony and hand off their payload to house bees who walk it up into the honey super. So I really do not know where this transfer takes place. On the wall? Or does the forager have to walk into the comb where house bees are waiting? By my observation, it appears it does not take place on the wall but within the comb which makes sense. If this is the case, then it makes sense that bees would rather enter and choose which comb to gain access to from the bottom rather than having to walk up above the first deep and then back down or up from there.

I observed this activity for some time and I did not see one single bee fly up from the bottom board onto frames. Bees cannot jump, so they were indeed heading to the side wall to go up.

Before you jump to conclusions and form a rigid opinion, wait!  I am NOT saying that 3/4” openings reduces a colonies healthy or ability to store resources.  Nor am I saying that a smaller opening will improve a colony’s honey production. At the most I am simply suggesting it may reduce the distance bees have to walk to get to where they are going. Whether or not that changes things, I simply do not know.

But, if you want to try it why not. You can see if it makes any difference. We are now adding the extra back piece to all our bottom boards we sell simple to give customers that option if they so choose.

Now, my own person perspective. I like the idea of the smaller opening year round for several reasons. First, reducing the walk time of foragers. Secondly, the smaller opening should reduce robbing in the fall, and mice in the winter. I said “reduce,” not eliminate. Mice are very hard to keep out of hives. In their natural habitat bees always choose smaller openings and will even add propolis to reduce entrances. However, there are less pieces of equipment that support the 3/8” spacing. Most feeders, pollen traps, etc., are made to fit the standard 3/4”. Again, this is something that you can make up your own mind about.

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 our complete line of beekeeping supplies at and call or come by and see us. 217-427-2678
David and Sheri Burns

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Fall Is The Most Dangerous And Challenging Season For Honey Bees 217-427-2678


Hello from David and Sheri Burns. Can you believe it will be fall on Wednesday. I believe fall is the most challenging and dangerous season for honey bees. In this lesson I’ll share what those dangers and challenges are and what you can do to better prepare your hives for fall.

Before we begin, let me remind you that our last “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter” class is this coming Saturday and we still have two spots opened. Register online, or call us between 10am-3pm central time and get those two spots. 217-427-2678

If you cannot attend our final class, be sure and get this class via our new ebook available on Amazon or from our website.

2014Class Fall is a great time to take a Beginners Beekeeping class and we have one coming up Saturday October 10th. This class is almost full but some spots are still available. If you are thinking about becoming a beekeeper or you are keeping bees but have never taken a formal class, this class is for you. Register online or call us. Taking a fall Beginners class will give you the tools you need to be better prepared and ahead of the game in the spring.

Recently someone asked me what are the 3 most important hive components to have as a beekeeper, besides the obvious smoker, hive tool and protective gear. That’s a good question, but I didn’t have to think twice.  1. A complete hive for when your hive has a growth explosion and needs to be split. Or to have a home to put the swarm in that you captured. 2.  A 5 frame nuc hive. It’s a 5 frame (deep size) box with a screen bottom board for ventilation, 5 frames and foundation and a top cover. These are great baby hives to have a stand-by queen available in case of an emergency queen event. They are also useful to support observation hives or to pull frames out to support weak colonies. It takes very little effort to have 4 or 5 nucs running to support your hives.  3. Medium supers.  This year I have seen so many beekeepers fail to place enough supers on their hives to capture the maximum amount of honey for the year. The hives here at our training center actually filled up 4 supers each. If I had only placed one or two on, I would have missed the chance to harvest more honey.

We continue to make improvements to our website. We work hard to provide our customers with an easy to navigate and very secure website. Shopping online is fun, easy and convenient. I love to do it. Security issues are at the forefront of our work. You’ll see a new image at the bottom of our website that says,  GeoTrust QuickSSL. Our site has always been secure but GeoTrust SSL certificate lets our customers know that our site provides the highest level of encryption and security possible.  This means you can rest assured that communications between your browser and our website is private and secure. We’ve got the certification to prove it.

Drones1 Every morning I walk around my hives and just see how the bees are flying. This morning, from a distance I noticed dead bees on the bottom board entrance. Sometimes you see this the day after you inspect a hive, but I did not open them this week due to the heavy nectar flow. As I approached the hive, my fears were relieved when I saw that those were drones. They are killing the drones! This is what a colony does this time of the year, in the fall in preparation for winter. Drones are useful during the spring and summer to mate with virgin queens. But now, queen rearing is over. It’s too late in the year to raise new queens so they are getting ride of their male population. Occasionally a few drones may overwinter, but usually a colony doesn’t overwinter with drones because drones are not workers and are heavy consumers of precious winter stores of food. A colony must be very protective of their winter pollen and honey or they might starve in March or sooner.

Drone3 You’ll start seeing dead bees around your entrance but don’t panic. Just double check to be sure they are drones. A drone has a larger body and their eyes are larger and touch in the middle.  Also, you may notice worker bees will pull out drone pupae. Before the drone can even mature, the house bees open up the cells and drag them out, making more room to store resources or for the queen to lay eggs for winter bees. Winter bees can live 6-9 months. A summer worker bee only lives about 40 days.


Pollen1 Again, we are getting a lot of phone calls about funny smells from the hive. This is the smell of aster honey being cured by the bees. Again, stay calm and enjoy this fall odor from the hive. Can you harvest golden rod honey? Yes, at first the taste may be noticeably different than clover, but as the honey sits in buckets or is mixed with clover the taste and smells is minimized.

If you are worried about harvesting funny tasting fall honey simply open up the hive, and poke your finger in a frame of sealed honey and evaluate the taste. If you can’t stand it, leave it for the bees. They’ll enjoy it. If you like it, make sure you leave 80 pounds of honey on the hive if you live in north and harvest the rest.

Now, can fall really be a dangerous and challenging time for your hives? Yes, here’s 6 reasons why:

1. Accidently killing the queen when harvesting honey frames.

In the fall, beekeepers are harvesting honey. The risk of killing the queen or accidently removing her in a super of honey is greatly increased. Before I harvest my supers, I find my queen and temporarily cage her so that I can work my hives fast in the fall to prevent robbing. Then I release her back into her hive after I’m finished working my hive. Remember, the drones are dead. So if you kill your queen they cannot raise a replacement queen because she cannot mate with drones. If you see a queen cell, it just means you’ll get stuck with a virgin queen all winter. She will never mate if she does not mate after she is 21 days old. She will not mate in the spring if she failed to take a mating flight late in the year.

2. Failure to keep mice out of the hive.

Mouse2 Mice are licking their chops, and their mouths are watering wanting to consume your bees. As soon as nights turn cold mice move in. We are already having nights in the mid 40s. Mice are looking for warm places and your hive is a perfect place. The warmth produced by the bees, fresh pollen and honey and bees to munch on is perfect for mice.  NOW IS THE TIME to take action. This week!! Don’t delay. Reduce your entrances. Our hives come complete with entrance reducers. Set it to the smallest opening.

3. Harvesting too much honey.  It’s so tempting to keep taking more and more honey off the hive. It looks so nice in your bottles with your fancy label. Your customers are throwing tens and twenties at you for that precious gold. But if you harvest too much,  your bees will not have enough to tied them over through late winter and early spring. I try and leave one full super on each hive for winter.

winterbkind But I also place extra insurance on my hive by placing our Winter-Bee-Kinds on my hives all winter. This ensures me that they will not run out of food. We will begin shipping these in November in the order that orders were placed.

You need to leave 60-80 pounds of honey on the hive for winter. Don’t be too greedy.



While golden rod keeps bees all covered with pollen, pollen baskets packed and honey stomachs full, it will soon stop.

4. Fall starvation. This is different than taking too much honey. Some falls have been proceeded by a long dearth. Bees eat through their winter stores during fall and have nothing in the winter. That’s why I feed my bees in the fall. Once I see that the nectar flow has ended I start feeding my bees sugar water and pollen patties. They will for sure need fed after the first frost kills all the flowers. I run our Burns Bees Feeding System that has two jar holes and one pollen patty hole. All holes are protected with screen so you can change your jars and patty without bees getting out. I place 2:1 in one jar to help the bees cure it into “honey.” The other jar has 1:1 so the bees can consume it and use it for brood stimulation to help me build up my brood of spring bees. Feed! Feed! Feed!

5. Mites are shifting from drones to workers and increasing in number, spreading viruses in your colony. If you think you do not have varroa mites, you are wrong. All colonies have mites. In our winter classes we actually teach you how to test for mites and calculate your hive’s percentage of infestation. Do not think you do not have mites simply because you do not see any. You have them! Get rid of them. Mites prefer drones, but now that drones are being killed, mites are now parasitizing your worker brood. And when mites have viruses, they spread them to worker bees which shortens the life of that winter bee from 6-9 months to 3-4.5 months. That means a bee born in October would have lived until May or June will now only live to January or February. Sound familiar? Do nothing to get rid of mites and your hive will probably not make it to see March or April.

6. Improper inspection can cause the hive to be robbed out. You go out to inspect your hive or remove honey supers. There’s no nectar flow. You separate your boxes stacking them around your hive. Pretty soon you seem engulfed by robber bees swarming around you hive. Those desperate fall bees have gotten a sniff of honey from your opened hive and they have plotted a course to rob it out.

I plan to make a video on how to make these inspections in the fall. The trick is to keep all boxes covered that are separate from the colony. Use extra top covers to encase open boxes while you inspect. Don’t keep your hive open in the fall, during a dearth for more than 10 minutes. Do NOT leave your queen excluder on for winter. Place your entrance reducer on the hive before you start your inspection.

Final fall tips:

Never use entrance feeders at the front of the hive in the fall. It will cause robbing.
If you break the top propolis seal after it turns cold use a heavy rock or brick to prevent the top from blowing off.
Prepare some sort of wind break for winter.
Combine weak hives with large ones. Kill the queen in the weak hive and place newspaper between the different combined boxes. The bees will eat through the paper and by that time they will get along.

Thank you for ordering from us here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We know you can go to the big box stores but we’d like to thank you for ordering from a small, family business.

Sheri has created a great sister website for women beekeepers called  She has colorful beekeeping suits, jewelry and more. Check it out.

David and Sheri Burns

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fall Inspections Can Be Rough

DSWelcome from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms located in central Illinois. Happy Labor Day Weekend!

This lesson will be timely because you might be inspecting your bees or taking off honey and it might be rough! We are harvesting and extracting honey and filling up jars. It’s been a fantastic year for honey production here in central Illinois. Colonies are healthy and strong and golden rod is full of nectar. Hives are smelling funky already. The nectar from golden rod and other asters cause the hive to have a unique and suspicious smell. Some beekeepers fear the smell might be American foulbrood, but rarely can you smell AFB several feet outside of the hive.

Hello everyone, we are David and Sheri Burns and today we want to bring you up to date on what’s going on at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms and also share about how a fall inspection can be rough. We’ll give you some pointers on how to make your final fall inspection easier.

We now have had 2 classes on how to get your bees through the winter. These have gone really well. Students have commented on how much they have learned. Remember the price of a class is cheaper than a new package of bees in the spring. So if this class helps your colony survive the winter, you are that much ahead. Our final class on How To Get Your Bees Through The Winter is Saturday Sept. 26. We have 5 spots left. If you cannot attend this class, it’s in an ebook on Amazon and on our website.

Of course our Winter-Bee-Kind is a primary winter survival tool. Check them out.

SheriBack To Work We are glad to have Sheri back in the saddle. She was out for a few weeks having a knee replacement. She’s really recovering well. Several people chipped in and covered for her but no one knows the ends and outs to this operation like Sheri does. Sheri loves to ride her Harley, but after her knee replacement she has decided to give that up.

So, I bought her the  next best thing, a Mustang convertible. She has enjoyed cruising around with the topconvertible down. To me, she looks better in a Mustang than a Harley.  In October we’ll be driving it out to see our Marine son, Seth, as he returns home from his second deployment in Kuwait. 

Sheri used her down time to create a new website/store just for women beekeepers. Check it out:

I’ve been watching my bees work an acre of golden rod and I’ve noticed that very few bees are on it much before 9 or 10 a.m. After 10 a.m. more and more bees begin to work it, gathering nectar and pollen. Last year, my bees were never on golden rod at all. It was very disappointing. I suspect the plant did not receive moisture at the right time and it had little to no nectar yields. But this year, bees are all over it.

Golden RodIt makes sense as it takes the heat of the day to draw out the nectar. All day long the bees are working the golden rod hard.  Also, I’ve notice how much more water the bees are consuming during the end of summer. Not so much because it is hotter, but because they require additional water to add to the honey for using it as food within the colony. If you have never seen golden rod  it is everywhere here in Illinois. Here’s one of my bees working it.

I have mowed a path so I can walk through my acre of golden rod because it will grow over six feet in height. While I was taking pictures of bees on it I saw a very interesting insect. It looked like a long colorful spotted beetle.

Spotted Moth Look what I found! It is the Ailanthus webworm moth. These moths are rare unless there are Ailanthus trees (Tree of Heaven) around. I don’t have any of these trees, but here is Atteva aurea, a member of the Family Yponomeutidae, the ermine moths. It’s really cool looking because when this moth lands it covers its body with its wings. The wings are spotted and resembles ermine fur that royalty uses to line their robes. That’s how this little bug got its name.

This is why beekeeping is fun. You learn so much more about plants, trees and other insects. I remember being in southern Illinois years ago and I walked past a tree that was just buzzing with honey bees and it was the tree of heaven. It is a short tree and very invasive. It’s called a tree of heaven because it grows quickly up to heaven.

Golden rod and other asters can be an excellent source of fall nectar for honey bees. The nectar will make the hive smell funny. The honey tastes different too. Most people leave it on the hive for the bees to use during the winter. Some people harvest it and mix it with clover honey and the taste is muddled.  I personally pull off all my honey supers before golden rod blooms. After that,  if the bees want it, they can have it.


Okay, let’s be honest. Most hives will behave differently in late summer and fall. Every fall new beekeepers call and ask us why their bees seem more defensive in the fall. Here’s why:

1)  It’s hotter and more humid.

2) There is usually a nectar dearth.

3) Because there is a dearth, more bees are robbing other hives, thus, hives are more protective against being robbed.

4) Your colonies are running at maximum populations. There are no longer 10,000 bees, but close to 60,000!

Here are a few tips on making inspections during late summer or fall.


bees in flight I try never to work a colony more than 10 minutes tops during late summer or fall! If you do, most colonies will begin to become more flighty, loud and protective. If you keep a hive open longer than 10 minutes during a dearth, other bees will quickly smell the honey and start landing to rob. Remember that not all the bees you see flying around the opened hive in the fall belongs to that hive. Many can be robber bees which makes your bees more defensive.


If you remove a super or the top deep, other bees will quickly find them and begin robbing. I place a top cover upside down, then I stack my boxes inside the inverted top cover. I take another top cover and place it over the top of those boxes. Now, no bees can fly in or out. You might think it will get hot in those boxes and it will. That’s why you need to inspect fast during this time of the year. You can use a screen bottom board if you want to provide more air, and just close it off. In other words, place the boxes you are removing on to another screen bottom board, but have the entrance closed, then place a top on those boxes while you inspect the final deep. This will greatly cut down on the amount of your own bees flying in the air and protect against robbing.


Pinksuit Be prepare to take a few more stings. It’s hotter, more humid, limited nectar sources and robber bees are everywhere.Your hive is finally huge in numbers.  In the spring your colony will be nice again, but for late summer and fall, suit up more than usual.

Sheri’s new website has several different colors of bees jackets and suits.

I know it is hot, and suits can be hot, but the better protected you are the more you will enjoy working your bees.


BBFS Our Burns Bees Feeding Systems can be used as a cooling system during a summer dearth too. Here’s what I’m doing this week. It’s in the high 90s each day this week and through next week. I’ve placed these feeding systems on some of my hives but instead of giving them sugar water, I am simply providing water in one of the jars. The other jar hole I am leaving opened as well as the pollen hole. I have a deep hive body surrounding this feeder on top so hot air can rise into this box away from the colony. I also add a small 1/8” wedge under the top cover to help exhaust heat. Plus the water is available on top of the cluster to help the bees cool the hive.


Smoke will always calm bees and you might need to use a bit more than normal. The funny thing is, in late summer and fall, you will start inspecting your hive and all will seem the same. But, after a few minutes you will see a rise in defensive behavior, something you are not used to seeing in the spring during a nectar flow.

In my new ebook “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter” I have a section on what to do during your last hive inspection of the year and when to do it.

If you are a hands of person and you don’t like to read, then come over and take our class, “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter.” We still have spots open for our class on Sept 26. Click here fore more information.

Enjoy Your Labor Day Weekend!
David and Sheri Burns

Saturday, August 15, 2015

My Cohort Study And Preparing For Winter


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. Today I want to invite you to follow my cohort study that I’ll be doing this fall, winter and spring. I’ll tell you more about it below. But first, hasn’t this been a great beekeeping season? Here in Illinois it could not have been better for us. We had mite levels below 3% without doing anything on most of our hives. We saw less than 2 or 3 small hive beetles all year, and no beetles in traps between frames. And honey production has been 100+ pounds per hive!  The bees are very strong and healthy. They are still working the clover.

Every day, the colonies stop foraging between 4-5pm. I suspect they are on clover and by late afternoon nectar yields in clover diminishes considerably. So, the foragers just knock off work early.

Many of you have asked about Sheri after her knee surgery. Thank you. She is doing very well. Some of you have had knee surgery and you know that recovery is pretty tough. But she is doing well and ahead of schedule. In a couple of weeks she will probably be walking unassisted. She is really pushing herself and doing a great job with her therapy.

I’m getting excited to hold our first “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter” class for 2015. We held 5 sold out classes for the first time last year. Our first class will be this Saturday but it is sold out. However, we are offering several more to accommodate the growing interest:

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Aug 22, 2015—Sold Out

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Aug 29, 2015
nly 5 Spots Left

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Sept 12, 2015

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Sept 26, 2015

Amazon Book And if you live too far away to attend our class onsite, I have made this material available for purchase through an ebook. This book is available on Amazon. When you purchase our book on Amazon you raise our ranking. In fact, after we published the book on Amazon, your purchases made us the number one selling book on Amazon under Biological Science of Insects in just two days. Thank you! You can also purchase this ebook on our site as a .pdf file.

Hover Fly Now, many people have been asking me about sweat bees. Here in Illinois we’ve had an invasion of hover flies.  They are about 1/4” long and will hover and land on you.  They are not bees. The easiest identifier is that they only have one wing on each side and bees have two wings per side. They cannot sting or bite although while they are licking you, you can feel it and you might think you are about to be stung, but they are after your sweat.  They are actually syrphid flies which is a term that includes a lot of flies. If you are like me, you’ve allowed your yard to grow taller because you don’t want to cut the clover. You’ve helped out your bees and hover flies. They both feed on the same thing, pollen and nectar. I took this picture as one landed on my finger. Probably our wet spring provided a good breeding season. These flies are pollinators too and their larvae feed on dead organic matter. The larvae are predators of aphids. You’ll see less of them as we enter the gap between summer and fall nectar flows. You will not see any after the first frost. I’ve seen birds and dragonflies catching them. No, they will not bother your bees. It is useless to attempt to reduce their numbers. Bug spray usually doesn’t keep them off. Just enjoy them for a few more months.

hot bees One more thing before today’s lesson. On hot and humid nights during the summer you may notice how your bees are hanging out on the front of your hives. I took this picture at night with a flash. With screen bottom boards it will not be as bad. This means your colonies are strong in numbers and to help control the temperature and humidity inside the hive, some bees sit out on the porch and enjoy the nice summer air, like you do! Maybe they are sipping a little nectar like you do.

HONEY PRODUCTION TIP: On real hot days I will place a 4x4’ piece of plywood on top of my hives to help provide shade. This will reduce the effort foragers will have to put in to bringing water back to cool the hive so instead they can continue to forage for nectar. It’s my way of providing shade while keeping my hives in open sun.


Looking at the above picture of bees hanging outside at night tells me I have plenty of bees on the inside. So, now the time is right to capture my queen and keep her caged for 10 days. I want to create a gap between my older foraging bees and my new bees that will never forage. Also by caging the queen I provide a break in the brood cycle of honey bees which means I also reduce varroa mites as well. Varroa mites break down the bees’ immunity and allow viruses to kill the colony during the winter. I keep the queen in a cage in her colony. She is fed through her cage. Last year I noticed that once I released her, she laid like a spring queen. By that I mean she was a lean, mean, laying machine. My goal is to allow my older foragers to die off of old age and to stimulate my colonies to raise a huge amount of bees that will begin emerging in October and November. These are the bees I will see in the spring. This process is explained in detail in my new book. 

Marking A Queen_thumb This leads me to tell you about my  cohort study that I will be doing this fall, winter and spring. In medical research cohort studies are common studies. For example, you might follow women over 70 for several years. I’ll be applying this to honey bees. I spoke with Dr. Jeff Harris last week and he didn’t think there has ever been a cohort study to monitor which generation of bees are strongest in the spring.  So, every 21 days I will be collecting 100 bees that are one day old and marking them a unique color.  I will have 3, maybe 4 groups of bees the same age according to their grouping. I will also mark 100 foragers this week even though I am confident they will die of old age in 10-20 days max. Just want to be sure. I will run a collection board in front of my winter hives to catch bees that are carried outside the hive or fly out to die and I’ll keep track of which colors are dying and when. My ultimate goal is to determine which color or colors make it into April, May and June. Can a November bee still be around in June or July? Just how long will these fall bees live into next season. My ultimate goal is to use this information to allow me to target the specific time in the fall that I should concentrate on raising spring bees. I will be conducting other studies on overwintering banked mated queens. I’ll keep you posted.

Come to think of it, maybe I should have this Saturday’s class students mark those 1 day old bees :)

I want to thank all of our customers who feel more like friends than customers. You guys are so supportive of all the work that we do to promote beekeeping. We know you could buy your equipment from larger box stores but many of you continue to only buy from us which allows us the financial means to continue to do research and invent new and helpful items for beekeeping like our Winter-Bee-Kind.

Our Winter-Bee-Kinds are awesome. We continue to hear so many great testimonies about our Winter-Bee-Kinds. Make sure you get yours ordered soon. Also, you can call in and place an order if you want to pick them up. 217-427-2678. Or order online.

If you live in the area, stop in and buy our new, fresh honey!

See you next time.
David and Sheri Burns

Monday, August 10, 2015

Problems With Honey Production and I Published My First Bee Book

Bee in Flight

Hello! We are David and Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms and we are really enjoying summer. We love the sights, sounds and smell of summer. There is nothing like watching the flashing glow from a large thunderhead cloud miles away. The sound of fireworks, parades and lawn mowers can only be enjoyed in the summer. The smell of freshly mowed grass, fresh fruits and vegetable right out of the garden makes summer so special.

Watching a beehive during the summer is something we all love to do. Bees going in and out puts our minds at ease that all is well and our bees are happy and hard at work.

The colonies we use here at our training center have produced a ton of honey. I’ve harvested one round and I think they will be filling up my wet supers (supers I extracted and placed back on the hive the same day) in the next few weeks. The torrential spring rains seemed to have extended our nectar flow into August. We are keeping our fingers crossed for a whole bunch more supers filled up with honey.

While we have been enjoying summer, you may have missed speaking with Sheri. She has been struggling with a bad knee for a year and finally had a knee replacement. She’s doing good, working through therapy and looking forward to getting all healed up before the next bee year starts up again. She teases me that this bee business wore out her knee. And of course, she’s enjoying being waited on hand and foot, finally!

Bookcover3blog First I want to tell you about a book that I published and then I want to talk about how to overcome problems with honey production. First, the book. I am working on an extensive series of short books and the first one was published today! Beekeeping: Getting Your Bees Through The Winter.

This is an eBook available for download here or on

I’ve written a short and compact guide on one of our most pressing problems in beekeeping today, getting honey bees to survive the winter. Written so that even a beginner can understand, I have thoroughly researched this subject, breaking it down in understandable terms for both the new or experienced beekeeper. This book was compiled from our very popular Getting Your Bees Through The Winter course that we offer every fall at the training center at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. This book goes into the details of how to prepare your hive for winter, addressing such subjects as when and how to feed honey bees, the pros and cons of winter wrapping hives, reducing the spread of honey bee viruses, increasing young bee populations in the fall, testing and controlling varroa mites, wind breaks, spring and winter feeding solutions and more.

This book is also available on Amazon as an eBook for a few dollars cheaper, but does not contain photos as found here. After much encouragement from friends and customers, I agreed to put this class Getting Bees Through The Winter in book form so that beekeepers around the country and around the world could gleam these insights from the comfort of their homes, on smart phones, Kindles, computers or other devices. I am hopeful that this book will be very helpful to those of you who live too far to attend our “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter” classes.


Problems With Honey Bee Production. This year has been a great year for bees to pack in the honey for most beekeepers. But occasionally there are issues and beekeepers struggle with getting the top super started. What can slow down or prevent bees from storing honey in the upper super, the super you want to harvest?

1) Placed It On Too Late

Some beekeepers fail to realize that bees rarely build out comb by adding wax when there is not a strong nectar flow. Some beekeepers wait until late July and hope the bees have time to make the wax and draw out the comb. In an area of average resources this is not impressive. However, if the bees are in a location with lots of floral sources it is possible.

As a rule of thumb I like to place a minimum of 2 honey supers on my hives by mid May giving them plenty of time to draw out the wax on the comb having the space they need to bring in nectar.

2) Queen Excluder Is Creating A Barrier

Some people call the queen excluder a honey excluder. It does require more effort on the part of the bees to work their way through it to place honey in the super above. I like to place my supers on without a queen excluder and just monitor the queen and keep her down in her brood nest. If I see her in the super, I pick her up and move her down. Or you can wait until they have drawn out several frames then place the queen excluder below the super. This is like baiting the bees to start on the super. But be sure when you place the queen excluder on that the queen is not up in the super.

3) Colony Lacks A Strong Foraging Force

If you have tried everything and nothing is working, it might be that your queen is not prolific and you lack the population to give you the number of foragers you need. In this case you will just need to monitor your brood development and decide if you should replace your queen. It takes a very strong work force for a colony to be a honey producing hive.

4) Hive Is In A Poor Location Lacking In Nectar Sources

Sometimes your hive is just in a poor location. I have learned that colonies that produce a lot of honey are near an abundance of nectar sources. If your hives fail to produce a lot of honey each year you should consider placing them somewhere better. Look around and talk to land owners. You might hit upon a gold mine!

Don’t wait too long to order your Winter-Bee-Kinds. Orders are coming in by the hundreds, so get in line!!

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Harvesting Honey Is Right Around The Corner


Hello everyone! We are David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms also known as

WINTER-BEE-KINDS are now available online! Orders are pouring in. You In order to get ahead of the game, we have placed our Winter-Bee-Kinds online. PLEASE NOTE, orders will be shipped out starting November 1, in the order they are received. In other words, if you order your WBK this week, yours will ship the first week in November. However, if you order yours on September 1st, there will be hundreds of orders ahead of yours so you may not get your order until  . We do our best to stay caught up but the popularity of our WBKs is overwhelming.  Thank you. To order online go to:

Rain, rain, rain has been the story here in Illinois. Just when it starts to dry out and the bees start back up gathering nectar, we get more rain. However, bees are doing pretty good around the country, even here with all the rain. Honey supers are getting filled up. Clover is everywhere. There is so much clover, I just can’t bring myself to mow it!  Bees are all over it. One day my bees were enjoying a heavy nectar flow. The front of the hive was very hectic. But I just had to mow the area around the hives because it looked so unkept.  As soon as I finished mowing foraging was greatly reduced. Bees were really working the clover in my yard.

In this lesson, I want to provide some good information on harvesting honey. For some of you who are new beekeepers, you’ve never harvested honey, so we hope this information will be helpful.

Before we start the lesson, let me continue to speak about something that none of us want to talk about…WINTER. You only have less than 90 days to prepare your colonies. Bees rarely die in the spring, summer or fall. All beekeepers are happy campers watching their bees in these warm seasons. However, our disposition changes in the winter. We dread the cold weather our bees will have to endure. If you’ve kept bees for very long, you have suffered losses during the winter. Sign up for our Winter Class by clicking here or going to:

DANGER: If you wait until October to try to prepare your bees for winter, you’ve waited too late. Many beekeepers don’t think about whether their bees are ready for winter until after the first cold snap or hard frost. Then, they may learn the colony is queenless, or the hive has no stores of honey or pollen for winter. Worse, the beekeeper may not know that their colony is infested with varroa destructor, spreading viruses that will kill their hive in the late winter months.

winterbeekindclick If your hives are healthy but lack resources, consider overwintering your hives with our Winter-Bee-Kinds. They fit on the top of your brood nest area just under the top cover. They contain carbohydrates and protein for the bees, as well as an insulation barrier to reduce upper condensation that often develops just above the bees then drops down on them during the winter. The WBK also has an upper entrance/vent and we have found the bees often use this upper entrance to take winter cleansing flights when they would usually not go down and out the lower entrance. The come in either 8 Frame or 10 Frames sizes. Click here for more information.

Harvest Honey

1. Make sure the frames are 90%+ capped over or sealed. Anything less can result in a higher moisture content in the honey and can cause your honey to ferment and taste bad.

2. You can use several methods to clear the bees out of the frame in your supers. Fume boards, bee escapes placed in inner covers under a super, brushing bees off or blowing them can be effective.

3. Prepare your area. Have a clean extractor, knife, buckets and strainers ready.

4. Most of us use the wood on the frame as a guide for cutting the comb, allowing us not to cut too deeply into the comb as we slice open the wax cappings on the frames.

5. Spin out the honey in your extractor. If you are using all wax foundation (not plastic inserts) be careful not to spin to fast until much of the honey is out. Otherwise it will “blow out” the combs.

6. For small jobs, place a 5 gallon food grade bucket under your extractor gate (valve) and place a strainer on the inside top of your bucket. We use a 400 micron strainer.

7. Make sure your bucket also has a gate on the bottom because you want to let your honey sit a few days before bottling. Bubbles rise to the top of honey, making the lower part very clean and clear.

To assist you further, watch my video below for more detailed information and detailed visualization of the process.

Also, we have several past lessons that talk about different aspects of honey harvest. Here’s a list:

Using A Refractor To Test Moisture Content In Honey

How To Extract Honey From A Hive

How To Make Comb Honey

Thanks for joining us today!
Give us a call for all your beekeeping needs.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Video Lessons: Adding Wax, Eating Royal Jelly, Finding A Bumble Bee In The Hive, And A Bee In The Mouth


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. I made another cool beekeeping video. I intended to make a video on inspecting a hive that looked like it was getting ready to swarm. But while I was making the video, I found a queen cup that was torn open and a bumble bee in lower deep that the bees were attacking. So the video turned out to have some cool findings along the way. I even do my popular bee in the mouth trick. I posted the video on our front page of our website for you to watch and enjoy. These video lessons are designed to help beekeepers learn the art of inspecting colonies, what to look for and what actions to take. They are a lot of work, but I enjoy investing the time to help others in beekeeping. Our main website is:

2nd Institute We had a great time with our last Beekeeping Institute of the year. We had beekeepers from Indiana, Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin. We ran them through various beekeeping scenarios. They learned how to identify a failing hive and what course of action to take. They also learned all about various diseases and pests. At the Beekeeping Institute, we drill down deeper into common beekeeping facts, plus we explore and talk about more complex aspects of beekeeping that we cannot discuss in beginner classes.

2nd instituteb We did mite counts, marked bees, grafted queens, swarm prevention, and a little of everything bee related. We also trained them on how to get bees through the winter. 

We heard very positive feedback from students of both institutes and look forward to offering these again in 2016. These Institutes fill up very fast so be watching in 2016 when they become available so you can come join us.


Two new classes we've added this year are "A Day In The Bee Yard".

The first one on July 17 filled up fast. So I've added a second one on Sunday afternoon July 19th from 2-6. We only have around 4 spots left, so REGISTER TODAY.

I'll walk you through a variety of ways to work bees and manage colonies. Imagine spending 4 hours in hives with a certified master beekeeper teaching you how to split hives, prevent swarms, find queens, manipulate frames, mark queens, how to use a Cloake board, feeders, patties, mite tests, and much more.

Christians AlienWe had a very enjoyable 4th of July Holiday weekend and we hope you did too! We watched a parade and Christian had fun catching candy thrown off floats and loud fire trucks. Then Christian tried his hand at some fun activities and he was really good at shooting and won this gigantic alien for shooting down three cups in a row. And of course we ended the day watching fireworks.

Believe it or not, while we are enjoying summer, we are also using this time to prepare for fall and winter beekeeping activities. We are cleaning up shops and offices, organizing things that can’t be dealt with during the busy bee season. For us, everything gets hectic starting August 1st. Many customers are calling wanting to order our Winter-Bee-Kind candy/insulation and ventilation boards for winter. 

We will begin taking orders for our WBKs August 1st. But REMEMBER, these do not ship until November 1. We wait until November 1st for cooler shipping weather.

winterbkind PLEASE NOTE, orders will be shipped out in the order they are received. In other words, if you order your WBK on August 1st, yours will ship the first week in November. However, if you order yours on September 1st, there will be hundreds of orders ahead of yours so you may not get your order until December. We do our best to stay caught up but the popularity of our WBKs is overwhelming. We will inform our customers via our website and these newsletters when our WBKs go live online. Thank you.


I’ve made several videos showing how beneficial it is to add extra wax to frames to help the bees draw the foundation out faster. It really does make a difference and can prove this in my videos. If you are a first year beekeeper and you do not have extra wax, you can buy wax online, even organic wax too. We sell it at our store. It really doesn’t take alot to brush on your plastic foundation. It is something I strongly suggest.

In the video I posted on our website, I ate some royal jelly. I’ve eaten it before. That’s why I look so youthful :). I should say I’ve only tasted it. It is like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. It is very unique. I have spoken at conferences on the content of royal jelly and it is amazing. It is an enzyme which 6-12 day old bees secrete from their mandibular glands. An ample amount is fed to a larva when they want to raise a queen instead of a regular worker bee. Royal jelly can only be found in queen cells. You can see my reaction in the video when I ate some.

Also in the video, while I was inspecting the hive I found a bumble bee in the bottom deep. In the video you’ll see me spot a cluster of bees and upon further investigation I found a black and yellow bumble bee being attacked and killed by the bees.

Finally in the video you’ll see me do my famous bee in the mouth trick. The trick is that it is NOT a worker bee, but a drone bee. Drones do not have stingers. So I just place the drone on my tongue and close my mouth. In a few seconds I open my mouth and he flies safely away, being thankful he was not swallowed. Me too! But before you try this yourself BE SURE you know the difference between a drone without a stinger and a worker bee with a stinger! ( I recommend you do not ever place any kind of insect in your mouth because it can cause severe injury or death).

The hive we inspected in the video was a hive that had several swarm cells that were almost sealed. At the time I noticed the cells I manipulated the frames and added a honey super on top. 10 days later is when I filmed this video. I found one supercedure cell that had been recently torn open and one emergency swarm cup on a lower frame. I did not see the original swarm cell cups I saw 10 days earlier. I also spotted the old queen with the green dot, so I knew they had not left because they always leave with the old queen.

Cedar Cedar Hives-The beauty of cedar is an eye catcher. Our cedar hives are cut from cedar boards and assembled right here at our facilities.

We keep to the traditional Langstroth measurements and we designed our own cedar peaked top with a strip of copper to dress it up. Each hive comes with 2 deeps and 2 medium supers, and a screen bottom board.

Our special peaked top is an INSULATED top. Also includes wooden frames and beeswax coated foundation for all deeps and super boxes. Shipping is included!

CLICK HERE for more information on our Cedar Hives or go to:

Super Honey Supers - We have several weeks for bees to continue foraging for that precious liquid gold--HONEY!  Do you have enough supers? It's time now to put honey supers on and let your bees fill 'em up. Click here to order your supers. We are shipping them out in 3 business days after orders are placed. Our supers are assembled and painted and come with 10 assembled wooden frames with beeswax coated foundation. Take them out of the box and place them on your hive.

Thanks for joining us again for more beekeeping tips.

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms