Monday, November 2, 2009

LESSON 66: Become a Better Beekeeper Through Books, Conferences, Magazines & Mentorship

We are David & Sheri Burns from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms located in Central Illinois and it is nice to join you for another lesson in beekeeping.

Before we get started today, we are happy to announce that we are now taking online orders for packaged bees!! That's right, interest was so strong, we jumped in a week early. CLICK HERE to order your packaged bees online now. Don't delay too long as last year many people called us too late and we could no longer supply bees.
You can click on all images and enlarge them. Have you ever wondered how we make up packages of bees. Here's a video I took in April outside of Orlando, Florida. We will do it all again in just 5 months. These packages are available for local pickup from our apiary here in Illinois but must be pre-ordered online or by phone.

L673 We spent the summer adding on a new build room to our operation, and it will be a very nice addition to our production of bee hives. L674
We are already having an unusual increase in orders, which leads me to believe that it will be another year of extraordinary interest in beekeeping.
In our next lesson, I want to share some special and unique touches we have incorporated into our beehives. I can't wait to share those things with you.

And we have a new edition of our Podcast, Studio Bee Live available, so check it out at:
One more thought before we jump into today's lesson. Feed your bees on these nice fall days. Use 2:1 sugar water with Honey-B-Healthy. Several days this week will be perfect days to feed bees here in our apiary, and so I've already mixed my syrup. I'm feeding them now with chicken waterers. L672 I do have to modify the opening by placing in a piece of 1/8 hardware cloth to keep the bees from going up into the jar. They will get up into the jar and then they drown. Every beekeeper needs to have a roll of 1/8 hardware cloth available to keep bees either in or out.
L671 As you can see in the picture, since the syrup mixture is so thick, I've started heating mine on the stove to dissolve the sugar. I also add several other spices and such that I've found to be helpful. I will not share my secret receipt, not because it is a secret, but because what I do has not been tested or written up about, but I believe it in. I add a natural mineral and spice along with Honey-B-Healthy.

L675 As you can see, the bees go crazy over it. I did review various scientific research that has been done on this particular mineral to help bees, so that gave me the idea to add it to my fall syrup.
In most parts winter is setting in, the bees have kicked out all the drones and soon the bees will form their winter cluster. The bees have done all they can do to prepare for winter and we hope as beekeepers we have done our part to help them make it through the winter. There is very little we can do now except wait for spring and see how well the bees go through, what many are saying, is going to be a harsh winter.
But, why waste your time worrying and wondering about your bees! You did a good job as a beekeeper, now relax and use this winter to become a better beekeeper by reading good beekeeping books, which I want to tell you about two books that are really good, and by attending conferences and association meetings where you will find those willing to mentor you along.
First, let's look at two books that I highly recommend. HONEY BEE BIOLOGY AND BEEKEEPING by Dr. Dewey M. Caron. This is an excellent book. With some books on beekeeping, they are either oversimplified or overcomplicated. But this book finds a good balance so that it is helpful to the new beekeeper and to the experienced beekeeper as well. Dr. Caron is Professor of Entomology at the University of Delaware where he was presented the University's Outstanding Teaching Award.
Here's what Dr. Caron says about this book. "My intent is to explain bee and beekeeping basics in a manner meaningful to a person who lacks an extensive background or knowledge of biology. Yet I have not oversimplified bee biology to the point where it is meaningless to the serous beekeeper or informed biologist."
I will suggest where you can purchase this book, but first let me tell you about another great book because you can purchase both books from the same place.
The second book is another book that I highly recommend. "What Do You Know" by Dr. Clarence H. Collison. I met Dr. Collison in August at the Eastern Apicultural Society conference in New York. Dr. Collison heads up the master beekeeping program. Dr. Collison is Professor of Entomology and Head of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS. He has also had a column in the magazine, BEE CULTURE, for over two decades.
This book is fun! It allows you to answer questions to see how much you really know about beekeeping, then the next chapter gives you the answers so you can see how well you did and learn the correct answer.
Both books are available at WICWAS PRESS. Dr. Lawrence Connor is WICWAS PRESS. He's an Entomologist and is always on the cutting edge of beekeeping and has a column in the magazine, AMERICAN BEE CULTURE. Contact Larry today and order these two books. You can email Larry at or call him at: 269-344-8027 or online at
These two books will greatly advance your beekeeping knowledge!
Most state beekeeping associations offer conferences and classes. Most areas have small affiliate beekeeping associations. To find one near you, you should contact either your state's Department of Agriculture or Department of Natural Services. You can also contact your local county extension office. Attending local bee clubs and state associations is a great way to meet other beekeepers, learn from knowledgeable and experienced beekeepers and develop friendships that can turn into mentorships. By subscribing to the beekeeping magazines, you can read all about the conferences, workshops and classes in your area.
I used to think that subscribing to beekeeping magazines were expensive. But, when you consider the information you gain and how much money that information can save you through better beekeeping practices, it is well worth the investment. There are two major and well known monthly magazines: AMERICAN BEE JOURNAL also know in conversation as ABJ. It's a product of Dadant & Sons in Hamilton, Illinois. The second magazine is BEE CULTURE. It's a product of the A.I. Root company. Both journals provide the latest discoveries. I highly recommend that the serious beekeeper invest in subscribing to both magazines. Click on the links below for more info on each:

Finally, let's talk about mentors. Every new beekeeper could benefit from having a more experienced beekeeper to lean on. Of course, not everyone who keeps bees is a beekeeper. Some are bee-havers, meaning they just have bees but they have not gained experienced through the above mentioned points of learning. So here's what to look for in a mentor:
1) Has kept bees for at least 5 consecutive years.
2) Attends regular club meetings or state association meetings, classes or conferences.
3) Is well read in beekeeping.
4) Lives near you or has email and you have the ability to email digital pictures of your hives when you have questions.
5) Is willing to help you.
It really is nice, when you first start keeping bees, to have someone that can answer what you might call "silly questions". I think that new beekeepers would enjoy beekeeping faster if they spent the first year being tutored by a seasoned and well informed beekeeper.
Thanks for stopping by for another lesson in beekeeping. Do keep us in mind for all your beekeeping needs.
Click here to order your hives today. Remember two hives are always better than one. If one hive begins to weaken or loses their queen, you can use bees and frames from your other hive to strengthen the weaker hive.
For those of you wishing to drive out and pick up your supplies but not sure of our location, the easiest way to find us is to go to and type Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, then click on MAPS
Here's our contact information:
PHONE: 217-427-2678
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
14556 N. 1020 East Road
Fairmount, IL 61841
Until next time, BEE-Have yourself!
David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms