Wednesday, June 24, 2015

How To Perform A Complete Hive Inspection

DavidSheri Hello from (Long Lane Honey Bee Farms). We are David and Sheri Burns and we are located in central Illinois. We’ve been a beekeeping business for a decade with online lessons, YouTube video, beekeeping blogs an podcasts. We also offer onsite beekeeping classes. All of these resources are available to beekeepers around the country and through our efforts we have introduced and trained thousands of new beginners and experienced beekeepers alike.

In addition to our online store, we have a small store at our location and this time of the year people are pouring in buying equipment like extra honey supers and hives to hive swarms.

We are trying to stay ahead on building honey supers because we know when you need them, you need them yesterday. And with the rain, most of us only have a small window of good weather to place them on our hive. If you even think your hive may need more supers, order early!

youtube1 Everywhere I go someone will tell me they have watched my videos or listened to our podcasts and they feel like I’m an old friend. Our beekeeping YouTube channel has received over 1.2 MILLION views and has attracted production companies who make reality shows, commercials and more. But I just keep making videos that can help people enjoy beekeeping. If you haven’t enjoyed our YouTube channel you can check it out at:

I’m making a new video showing beekeepers how to properly inspect a hive, find the queen and more. I’ll be posting it in a couple of days.

Of everything we do with bees, what we enjoy the most is interacting with our students who come from around the US to take our beekeeping classes. I’m getting ready for my second beekeeping institute of the year starting Friday and runs through Sunday. You have to register very early in the year to get a seat. We will be posting our 2016 dates soon. However, we just received a cancellation due to an unexpected health issue. So if you want that seat, call Sheri. It is this Friday, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 3pm each day. 217-427-2678. Sheri is in the office today between 1pm-3pm central time. Many of you wanted me to offer a 3rd Institute, but I just couldn’t work it into the schedule this year. We may offer three in 2016.


 july17Two new awesome classes I’ve added are, “A Day In The Bee Yard”. I will show you, in the field, a variety of ways to work bees andJuly19  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.

We only have 2 spots left on Friday, July 17, 2015 9am-1pm so we’ve added another class on Sunday July 19th, 2pm-6pm. Now that you’ve been in your hive and you’ve seen things that you cannot identify or figure out, why not come and let me walk you through some answers to help you feel more confident in working your hive. We’ll have fun together. Each photo above is a link to that particular day, so click on the image for more info. If you cannot get off work on Friday, come spend Sunday afternoon and let me teach you a thing or two. Or register by going to:

In this lesson, I want to walk you through a proper inspection of a hive. But before I do, let me WARN you that as we enter the month of July, nectar flow will start to slow down and as we enter late summer and fall, your bees will get hungry and not have very much incoming food. Many beekeepers reported this to be the case last year and there were many hives that went into winter very low on winter stores. DON’T MAKE THAT MISTAKE. A colony of honey bees consumes the same amount of protein and carbohydrates as a medium size dog. So do not assume bugs don’t need food. Especially 40,000+. They do. We have two feeding system we’d like to offer that are big sellers already:

BBFS Burns Bees Feeding System – This is an awesome way to feed bees in late summer and fall. Remember, 2 parts sugar to 1 part water in the latter part of the year. We created is feeder to accommodate 2 jars of sugar water and one space for sugar or pollen patties. No more smashing bees between boxes with your patties. And what’s cool is, that when you lift up the jars, there is a protective screen to hold the bees down so you can add more pollen or sugar water and not have bees boiling out of the holes. Since the video below we have modified this system to have a smaller rectangle hole for the patties and only two holes for jars as shown in the photo. But the video demonstrates how to use them. Get these ordered so you have them before the nectar flow ends.

Ultimate Feeder The Ultimate Hive Feeder works the same way and we sell a lot of these. It fits on the frames of the upper brood box.  Place a medium super box around it and the top cover on and look how the bees feed. You may want to place this above your inner cover, then place an empty super box around it and top cover on the box. This way bees will not build wax in the open space around it. Just be sure not to block the oval shape hole on the inner cover so that the bees can gain access to it.. We are proud to carry this product, so click on the image for more info or go to:

Here in Illinois I have had ten and a half inches of rain in the month of June. That means my bees have missed a lot of flying time to harvest nectar. This is true for a large part of the US. With more rain in the forecast, bees might get behind on winter storage so keep an eye out on feeding your bees August through November.

Now before our lesson today, let me encourage you to watch our facebook page. We usually post important information daily of practical beekeeping tips, photos, news reports and more.

How To Perform A Complete Hive Inspection

1. Inspect The Outside

Rainbowhive As you walk up to the hive, look for anything unusual such as skunk scratches on the ground in front of the hive or on the front of the hive. Look for any broken pieces on the hive that may need repaired. Make sure your stand is solid. For example, if you are using pallets, make sure they are not deteriorating. If you are using concrete blocks, make sure they are not broken and that the hive is still level and solid.

2. Smoke The Entrance And Under The Top Cover

Smoke the guard bees a few times at the entrance then smoke under the top cover2 or 3 times to help calm the bees.

3. Remove Top Cover And Smoke Under The Inner Cover

I like to set my top cover upside down so that I can place my boxes on it as I inspect. As soon as you remove the top cover be looking to smash any fast moving small hive beetles. Smash them with your hive tool.

Institute4 4. Smoke lightly over the top of frames in top box.

You really don’t need a lot of smoke, just enough to calm the bees, so usually three or four gentle puffs that floats over the top of the frames is sufficient.

5. Inspect each frame looking for the queen as you go.

Keep a record of what you see on each frame. Eggs, larvae, sealed brood, nectar, honey etc.  Make sure you keep a close eye on the queen. When I see my queen, I will remove that frame Nuc1and place it in a nuc box for safe keeping during the inspection. I place the entire frame, queen and all the bees in the nuc box and place the top cover on. Now I can inspect without worrying about killing the queen accidently. Once I’ve inspect all frames, then I place them back in the box and remove the entire box and place it on the lid.

6. Inspect the next box repeating step 5.

7. Inspect next box and repeat based on how many boxes you may have.

What  you are looking for is:

1. Healthy and abundant brood

2. Evidence of a healthy queen

3. Sufficient nectar/honey and pollen

A beekeeper called me today who has two hives, one is doing great and one is low in population. I told him to inspect the hive that is low in numbers to see if there are several frames of sealed brood. If so, just be patient because these bees will emerge soon and increase population. If no sealed brood is found, then replace the queen immediately because without sealed brood, the hive will go even longer without adequate population. Now if it is full of eggs and young large everywhere, then certainly there is no need to replace a good laying queen. If that’s the case, pull a few frames of capped brood from the strong hive so this weak hive can have immediate population growth within a few days rather than waiting 24 days for the eggs to finally produce adult bees. These are the kinds of things you are evaluating as you inspect your hives.

Thanks for joining us today!
David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Monday, June 15, 2015

Summer Management


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms we are David and Sheri Burns. We are enjoying spring and it will finally be summer next week. Colonies are looking good and building up  nicely. Spring was wet and cooler for us than normal and bees were a little slower in getting started. It was great seeing everyone at our package bee pickup day. Since then we have been teaching beekeeping classes almost every weekend. 

Sheri and I are amazed at the phenomenal surge of interest in beekeeping this year alone. We thought previous years were really strong, but so many people are getting into beekeeping. In fact, normally we start to see things slow down by this  time of the year, but we are still busy shipping out lots of equipment. Thank you.

beeinstitute2015 Last week and last weekend we had our Beekeeping Institute. This is the third year we have offered the institute. And in two weeks we are offering another institute which has been sold out since winter.  We had a beginners class on Thursday, and the institute ran Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Jon Zawislak was great to help out again.  Jon and I are friends and have a lot of fun teaching together.  Students came from Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee. We worked between storms on several days.  One day, after class was over, a storm moved through and blew tops off of three hives. Jon and I ran out in the middle of pounding rain and wind and put the tops back on. We were soaked. Here in Illinois we have received over 7 inches of rain in a week just from popup thunderstorms. And that’s what is in the forecast for the next several days, possibly 5 more inches.

Bees cannot fly in the rain so if it rains a lot honey production (and wax build up on comb) will be slower. And when it rains, it may take a day or two for some flowers to regain their nectar. We typically say that rain washes out the  nectar. But on a positive note, all of this rain means that clover will bloom longer and stronger to help with the honey crop.

jondavid Jon and I have been friends since we became EAS certified master beekeepers about 8 years ago. We’ve spoken at conference together, written articles and wrote a book on how to raise quality queens.

Jon and I also host Hive Talk, a live beekeeping podcast. When Jon isn’t up here, he spends his time as the apiculture instructor with the Entomology Department, University of ArkansasQueen book Division of Agriculture in Little Rock, Arkansas.

A few years ago, Jon asked me to teach him everything I know about raising queens and we  both decided to capture the images and write a book on raising quality queens. We wanted to provide a FREE book for beekeepers to download and be able to use as their main resource for producing queens. We have had so many people tell us how much this book has helped them start a queen rearing business or just raise a few queens. You can click on the cover image to get your copy.

Today, I want to encourage you to think about summer management. Summer will be arriving this weekend. Those of you who follow my lessons know that I cannot stress enough the importance of monitoring and eliminating varroa mites in your hive. Ignore mites and chances are your hive will perish in the winter. But you can review my previous lessons on mite control.

Honey Super What about summer management? Here in Illinois we only have 4-6 weeks left for bees to gather nectar. It varies from year to year, but our main floral sources are over by mid to late July. Sometimes we may stretch into August. Therefore, summer management means you must place supers on your hives! If you place supers on now, the bees have a better chance at adding wax to undrawn foundation. If you wait and give your colony an undrawn super in late July here in Illinois, the bees will likely not have time to draw out the wax and gather nectar and dry it into honey. So get busy today if you want honey! He are trying to ship medium super orders out about 3 business days after we receive the order. We are limited by our supply of frames, but if you don’t have supers, get them now! Click here for more info on our medium honey supers.

I recommend that you give an extra hearty coating of beeswax to your super foundation. Melt wax down and brush it on. You will witness a remarkable difference in how fast the bees will draw out the comb, possibly giving you the edge you need to get some honey this year.

Monitor the fecundity of your queen, how well she is laying. In the month of July you should make a decision if you like your queen’s production or not. If she is not laying well or she is more than 2 years old, you should consider replacing her in July. This will give you time to make sure your hive is queenright and strong before going into winter. If you wait too long, you will have trouble finding a queen and it is a little harder to introduce her when there is not a honey flow occurring. 

As the summer gets hotter be sure to place watering stations for your bees gather water and keep your hive cool. Don’t place them too close to the hive or they may have trouble locating them. Bird baths in the shade with sticks to help the bees not drown will work well.

Colonies could still swarm, so monitor the brood boxes for swarm cells and overcrowding. It’s getting too late to split in time for winter, but you might make it work. If you can’t split your overcrowded colony, and you have a crowded hive ready to swarm, you can move frames to other hives to balance your colonies resources.

Speaking of swarms, if your colony swarms do you have a hive to place them in? What if a neighbor calls you to remove a swarm, do you have an extra hive? Be prepared to expand your operation by collecting swarms. We sell complete hives, assembled and painted. It’s better to have a hive before you catch a swarm than to catch a swarm and have to wait days for your hive to arrive. Plan ahead for the bees’ sake.

Finally, summer management should include winter preparation. I know, I know! No one wants to think or mention winter during the summer. Winter is long enough and we all just want to enjoy summer. But if you want your bees to survive winter, you need to prepare in the next few months, not wait until October.

We have classes focusing just on How To Get Your Bees Through The Winter. They are all filling up fast. Don’t wait or you may be unable to sign up. Here’s the list of classes coming up, so just click on the link.

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Aug 22, 2015

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Aug 29, 2015

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Sept 12, 2015

Getting Your Bees Through The Winter Sept 26, 2015

ADAY This year I’m offering a new class in my line up. “A Day In The Field”.  9am-1pm. Spend 4 hours with me in the bee year for hands on bees! This class will be in one month, Friday July 17th. This class is limited to 10 students. If July 17th is rainy, the rain date is July 24th. The agenda is for me to show you a variety of ways to work bees and manage colonies out in the bee yard. Bring your own snacks and water bottles to stay hydrated. You must wear protective gear even if you are superman. No one will be allowed in the yards with short pants, or without at least a hat and veil and long sleeve shirt or bee suit or jacket. No exceptions. Bring your smoker but NO HIVE TOOLS. We provide hive tools. This is a new class and if it goes well and there is a strong interest we may have more this year. Click here for more information. All students must be registered in advance.

Prior to the class, you will receive a letter via email with detailed information. Please read thoroughly to know what to bring. We will hold the class at our education center located at our office at 14556 N 1020 East Rd., Fairmount IL 61841. Please follow these directions (some GPS units do not work for our location). Off I-74, take the Oakwood Exit 206. Go south into town, to 2nd stop sign (Catlin-Homer Rd). Turn left onto Catlin-Homer Rd., going down two country roads to 1020 East. Turn left, go down another 1/4 mile until you see our signs. If you need hotel information, we suggest either the Best Western in Danville (217-431-0020) Holiday Inn at 217-442-2500 or our own Sleepy Creek Vineyard at 217-733-0330 (only about 2 miles away). Please bring protective gear but NO HIVE TOOLS. Remember we are on central time. We will not start until 9am central time no matter how early you arrive. 

Thanks for reading our blog today and remember to check us out online at

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms