Friday, June 20, 2014

Lesson 155: How Honey Bees Work 217-427-2678


Understanding why bees do what they do and what work they do at various ages is important to the beekeeper. Today, we’ll take a look at how honey bees work and at what age they do different work. Hi, we are David and Sheri Burns proprietors of and Long Lane Honey Bee Farms located in central Illinois. We are real beekeepers helping beekeepers with their honey bees.

I’ll be speaking at the Heartland Apicultural Society Conference July 10-12, 2014, at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. This conference is open to everyone interested in beekeeping, including beginners. Regional & national vendors, as well as experts in the field of beekeeping, will be present. Hope to see you there. Click here for  more information.  Then July 28-Aug. 1 I’ll be at the Eastern Apicultural Society meeting at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky assisting with the testing of future master beekeepers. The EAS is a great conference. Consider attending by clicking here. 

We are on Facebook. It’s fun to follow us there. Click on the Facebook icon below to get daily updates from us on Beekeeping.


Learn To Raise Your Own Queens

Our next Queen Rearing Class is July 27-28. This is a two day queen rearing course. This class opens with our Friday night dinner buffet at 6pm on Friday. David will be teaching Friday 6pm-9pm, then Sat. 9-noon here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. With constant struggles with queenlessness and queens vanishing it's time to take the next step and stop buying queens and start raising your own! It will be worth the investment.  Hurry, class is limited and we have 4 seats left. Spread the word and bring a friend. Due to limited space, spouses or friends must be a paid student. Click here to sign up now or go to:

Our customers are more than just a database number. Our customers quickly become family and friends and we become mentors to our customers, walking them through the joys and challenges of beekeeping. We did just that over the last week during our week long 2nd Annual Beekeeping Institute at our apiary near Fairmount, Illinois.  We had students from Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota and Massachusetts. My good friend and fellow EAS master beekeeper, Jon Zawislak, joined me from Arkansas to teach for a very full week learning about honey bees.

On Monday we presented Basic Beekeeping. Tuesday we went a little deeper with Practical Beekeeping. Wednesday we went a bit deeper with Advance Beekeeping and finished up on Thursday with teaching students how to raise their own queens. The most meaning moment for me was on Thursday. I grilled some brats and burgers and a group of us were eating lunch on a picnic table. The weather was perfect and the conversation went beyond bees and on to how to enjoy life. It was a great lunch. Here’s a photo tour of our 2014 Beekeeping Institute week.

David Teaching small David Marking Queen2 David Shakes Bees Off Frame Egg

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We are excited about next year’s 2015 Beekeeping Institute June 12-14. It will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The beekeeping institute is very limited and seats go fast, so sign up now! Click here.

Finally, A Class To Help You Get Your Bees Through The Winter  Registration Now Open

The winter of 2013-2014 was very hard on colony survival and losing hives was hard on beekeepers. Maybe you lost your hive last winter. It can be confusing trying to figure out why your bees died. They may have had plenty of stored honey and still died. Maybe they had a great queen and were very populated but still died. Will all your hard work to get your bees going strong be lost this winter? Are you making mistakes now that will lead to your bees dying this winter? Join us for an all day class that focuses on Getting Your Bees Through The Winter. Most winter losses are caused by a lack of knowledge or preparation on the part of the beekeeper. Finally a 6 hour course on common reasons why bees die in the winter and what you can do to improve your bee's chances of survival. This class will cover topics such as: fall preparation, mouse protection, mite reduction, wind blocks, wrapping hives, heating lights, winter feeding, insulation, moving hives into buildings or shelters, the biology of fat bodies, the timing of a new fall queen, pros and cons of double walled hives, dynamics of both Langstroth and top bar hives in the winter, the winter cluster, vitellogenin protein, and more. Saturday Sept. 6th  2014  9am-3pm. An email will be sent to all registered students with hotel information, directions and other important information. Click here or go to:

LESSON 155: How Honey Bees Work, Age Progression Labor Force

It is important for beekeepers to think like a bee and to fully understand how the colony works. A colony is made up of usually just one queen, several hundred or more drones (male honey bee) and nearly 60,000 female worker bees. What’s crucial to understand is that at specific ages bees perform specific labor tasks.

After the egg is laid a queen emerges in 16 days, a worker in 21 days and a drone in 24 days. This is essential to know for raising queens and for varroa mite trapping on green drone comb. Let’s take a look at what worker bees do once they emerge on day one and beyond.

Day 1-2  Clean cells and keep brood warm

Young bees are limited in what they can do because various glands have not developed. So for the first few days these new, hairy bees clean cells and keep brood warm.

Day 3-5  Feed Older Larvae

Still too young for their glands to produce royal jelly they can only carry food over and feed the older larvae.

Day 6-11 Feed Young Larvae

For the first three days, larvae eats only royal jelly produce by the hypopharyngeal gland of female worker bees at this specific age. Therefore, bees 6-11 days old utilize the secretion of this gland and feed young larvae royal jelly.

Day 12-17  Produce Wax, Build Combs, Transport Food

At around day 12, bees have another gland that matures and it is the wax gland located on the underside of the abdomen of female honey bees. It takes the consumption of about 8-11 pounds of nectar for bees to produce 1 pound of wax. This is why a first year hive may not produce excess stored honey. It takes a large amount of incoming nectar to be consumed for wax production.

Day 18-21 Guard Hive Entrance

Guarding the entrance is important to hold out foreign insects such as wasps, yellow jackets. Guard bees also guard against larger attackers such as skunks, and bears.

Day 22-34 Forage for pollen, nectar, propolis and water

Finally once the worker bees reaches the age of around 22 days old they begin flying, foraging for pollen, nectar, propolis and water

Day 35-45 Dies (In The Summer)

Bees basically work themselves to death and die after about one month of work in the summer. Bees live longer in the winter due to less work requirements.

Thanks for joining us today for another lesson in beekeeping. We hope to see you soon at one of our upcoming beekeeping classes. If you are not one of our customers, we encourage you to support our effort to meet the needs of beekeepers by providing education, hives, bees and more. We’re building hives right here in our own shop in central Illinois. Next year we celebrate 10 years in the beekeeping supply business thanks to wonderful customers like you.

With the 4th of July coming up soon, check out our Freedom kit which comes with two hives and all the supplies. Similarly our Liberty Kit comes with supplies but only one hive. Why not purchase your equipment from a small beekeeping family where you know it’s made in the USA! Our hives are built with the beekeeper in mind. With the potential of catching a swarm or needing to make that split, consider purchasing our One Complete Hive, which comes assembled and painted with frames and foundation.

a1545 With the possibility of summer drought or dearth, consider our new Burns Bees Feeding System. 

We provide the patties and the jar lid and the board to place above your bees. This is especially good during a drought or a summer dearth or on new packages and nucs.

See you next time!

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
Fairmount, IL 61841
217-427-2678  M-Thu  10am-4pm  Fri 10-Noon