Thursday, August 28, 2014

Honey Bees Are Telling Us Now What They Need To Survive The Winter 217-427-2678


I know ragweed has a bad reputation, but I like it. Or should I say my bees like it. Every morning they head out and pack in the pollen. The dust (pollen) from ragweed just falls from the flowers as the bees fly about it.

Hi, we are David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, and we want to thank you for joining us for another beekeeping lesson/article/blog, whatever you want to call it.

Popup thunderstorms have been the name of the game for the last two weeks. Hot and humid weather has put an end to our bees foraging for nectar. Now, they have only be gathering water to keep the hive cool. They deposit the droplets of water on the shallow parts of the brood comb and then fan it. This is called evaporative cooling. Around noon today it was so hot! I observed one hive in direct sunlight and the bees were pulling air through it as fast as they could. There was no wind and the sun was beating down on the hive; plus it was humid.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been pouring over studies, research, and scientific articles putting he final touches on our new class, “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter.”  I am PUMPED about teaching this class. Man, I cannot wait!  I’m two weeks full of awesome findings and now I can’t wait for winter to try and weaken my hives. Bring it on winter. We still have 8 seats left in our Oct. 5th class. Click here for more information. And we’ve been putting together more and more YouTube Beekeeping videos that we should be posting before long.

We still have a few spots left in our Basic Beekeeping Class on Oct. 25th. Click here for more info.

HiveTalk Our next Hive Talk will be August 28 (Wednesday) at 10 a.m. central time. We’ll be talking about honey. Join us and ask questions live on air or just listen in. The number to call is:


When you call in you'll be asked to enter our SHOW ID which is: 129777 followed by the # sign. Then the automated system will ask you for your Pin number which is 1 followed by the # sign. At that point, you'll be on the show with us so you can ask your questions. You will be muted unless you press * 8 on your phone and that will allow us to unmute you so you can ask your question. Call in around 10 minutes prior to broadcast, at 9:50 a.m. central time.  If you want to just listen from your computer, go to:

LESSON: 163 Honey Bees Are Telling Us Now What They Need To Survive The Winter

Today, I want to warn you that your bees are telling you NOW if they will survive the winter. All signs are visible. All surveys and polls are in. You can find out this week how well your bees will do this winter, and prognosticators are calling for another cold and long winter (Farmer’s Almanac). 

Here in Illinois we hit our summer dearth a week or so ago. There is now minimal foraging compared to a month ago. The honey flow is over. In fact, the bees are acting very hungry. The golden rod is starting to bloom, but I have not seen any bees on my .5 acre plot of golden rod. Maybe they have a bigger and better patch they are going to.

I will go over this more in our upcoming “Get Your Bees Through The Winter” class, but right now the colony must raise a lot of brood between now and December. The eggs being laid over the next few weeks will be the bees that will overwinter the colony. BUT, for there to be good brood production now, the hive must have a surplus of nectar and pollen coming in the front door. I’m not going to wait and gamble on a golden rod and aster flow. I am going to stimulate brood rearing starting tomorrow by feeding my bees 2:1 sugar water and my own sugar/pollen patties. Do not use the entrance feeder now or in the fall. That’s only for spring. If you use it now you will likely cause your hive to be robbed by another hive.  It’s time to break out the big guns and bulk up the colonies for winter. 

You may not think so, and you may prefer to wait to see how things go, but here in Illinois our first frost usually hits the end of September or the first of October. That means the bees only have 4 weeks tops to do much. I’ve gambled before on fall nectar flows and lost.

I’m bringing out the big guns and I want to share with you three things my bees are telling me now about winter. It’s all located on my website, and you’ll find it as #12 in my list of important beekeeping information on my main page. It’s your choice. You can ignore these early warning signs, but if you do, it will be a miracle if your bees survive the winter.

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

Mon-Thur  10am-4pm central time
Fri- 10-Noon

Call us today: 217-427-2678

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

LESSON 162: Coating The Inside Of Hives With Propolis 217-427-2678


Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, we are David and Sheri Burns. We are located in east central Illinois. With a passion for beekeeping, we’ve dedicated a big part of our lives to promote beekeeping.

In December 2011 I wrote a lesson/article on propolis and in that lesson I said, “Many people are now recommending that we score or scratch the smooth surfaces of the insides of our hives, forcing the bees to add propolis as they would in a natural hive in a tree.” Since that time I have been evaluating more and more studies and the results are very promising. So today I want to share why coating the inside of a hive with propolis can make a difference and I’ll show you how to do it. Before I get into today’s lesson, here’s a few pre-lesson comments.

In 2010 I became a certified master beekeeper to insure our classes are accurate, informative and thorough. One such class is a new class we are offering this year, “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter.”  Our first class, coming up on Sept 6th,  quickly filled up. Then we offered the same class for Sept. 7th and that class quickly filled up. So now we are offering yet a third date for this upcoming class, “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter” on Sunday Oct. 5th from Noon-6pm. Click here to sign up now. It is a good feeling to come out of winter with strong colonies. Beekeepers are making many mistakes that can lead to colonies dying in the winter. In this one day class we’ll discuss the major causes for winter die-outs and what steps beekeepers can take to give their colonies a better chance to survive winter. Don’t wait until the first frost to get your hive ready for winter. Start now because the first day of winter is only 122 days away. Make an investment to be a better beekeeper.

Our Winter-Bee-Kind orders are pouring in! If you have not placed your order yet, please do so soon. We sell both 10 frame and 8 frame WBK, so be sure to order the correct size.  Click here for more information. Our video demonstrating our Winter-Bee-Kind has had nearly 9,000 views! Check it out below. If you cannot view it below go to:

We started harvesting honey from our hives this week and it was a great honey year. It’s always so rewarding to watch the honey pour out of the extractor. We have the footage, and will soon put together a video on how to extract honey. We’re also making a video for a step by step guide on how to break the queen’s brood cycle in order to help control varroa mites. We just completed footage and that video will be forthcoming soon.

Our recent video and experiment on adding additional wax to plastic foundation generated nearly 1,000 views in a week. I received a lot of emails asking for specifics, so I made another video on specifically how I add wax to frames. You can view it now by clicking here or go to:

LESSON 162: Coating The Inside Of Hives With Propolis

Propolis is more than just sticky stuff on frames. Actually more and more studies are showing that colonies with ample amounts of propolis do better by benefiting the bees immune defensive (Simone-Finstrom, et al, 2009). So the idea is to add something to the walls of the hive in order for the bees to coat them with propolis, like they do in a tree in nature. There are several ways to accomplish this:

1) Cut to size a plastic proplis trap screen and staple it onto the inside walls of your hives.

propolis162 2) Gather and save propolis and dilute it in alcohol then brush it on the inside walls of your hives. Ok! I’ll make a video of this too :) Meanwhile, I have posted a complete description on my website on how to do this, step by step. Visit for complete details. It is located as item number 39 on our main front page if you scroll down. This method has proven to be more controllable for me. It really isn’t hard to do. The first method may take more time for the bees to actually add propolis to the traps. This second method works great. I’m so impressed. Check out my website for the complete method.



Prop2 3)  Score or scratch the inside walls of your hive bodies causing the bees to add propolis to smooth it out. Notice what the bees have done to this rough area near a knot on the inside of the hive. The scoring does not have to be very excessive as shown in this photo.

It seems that bees will more readily forage for propolis during a dearth or a slow nectar flow period. So now would be the time to use a trap to gather propolis or staple traps or scratch the inside walls of your hive.

It is important to view propolis as part of the colony’s immune system. Last year Renata Borba , Entomology, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN, spoke at the Entomological Society of America (November 2013) about this very subject. She’s been doing a lot of work on this very subject. She basically discovered that bees in hives with propolis treatments did not have to use their immune systems as much. Also her study found that colonies with more propolis had significantly more brood.

Marla Spivak, PhD, wrote an article on the value of adding propolis to hives and refers to the work of one of her previous graduate students, Mike Simone-Finstrom, “He found that bees exposed to a propolis envelope for just seven days had lower bacterial
loads in and on their bodies, and had ‘quieter’ immune systems compared with bees in a colony with no propolis envelope. In other words, the propolis in the colony was killing off microbes in the nest, so that the bees’ immune systems did not have to gear up and make peptides and cellular responses that fight off infection.”

In a day when everything seems to be working against the bees, why not throw one more thing in their favor.

Here’s my first lesson on propolis:  Or go to: 

Thanks for joining us for another beekeeping lesson. Tell your friends about us. See you next time.

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

LESSON 161: Part 2 Adding Wax To Frames To Speed Up Drawing Out Plastic Foundation


Welcome from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms and

We just celebrated another wedding as our middle son, Seth married Leah on Saturday. I drove up to O’Hare in Chicago Saturday and picked up Seth at 6 a.m. It was a great wedding and now Leah and Seth are at Twenty-nine Palms, Ca. living in their home off base. Congratulations!


Beginners Class Saturday Oct 4 9am-3pm

Beginners Class Oct 25 Saturday 9am-3pm

Sept 7 “Getting Bees Through The Winter” Sunday Noon-6pm

June 12-14 “Annual Beekeeping Institute”

Taking a class is paramount in being successful at keeping bees. Come and enjoy a day with us. We always enjoy meeting beekeepers from around the US who take our classes. Winter is fast approaching so start thinking now about preparing for winter.

LESSON 161: Part 2 Adding Wax To Frames To Speed Up Drawing Out Plastic Foundation

wax test In my last lesson I demonstrated how to add extra wax to beeswax coated plastic foundation. I showed a picture of the shallow super I used for my experiment. After 7 days, it is now time for the results.

The results were amazingly impressive! The frames with extra wax were pulled out completely and filled with nectar and some were starting to be capped over in just 7 days!

I discovered that it did not help to over do it with excessive wax. The frames with excessive amounts of wax added were no different than ones with a small amount added. Both were pulled out the same.

The challenge is that most new beekeepers do not have extra wax. There is no need to worry. The wax that comes already on the frames is more than enough to get things started, especially in the brood nest area. However, if you are wanting honey in a hurry, it does pay to add a thin layer of wax to the honey super foundation.

I had one frame that I experimented with where I stapled in a 1” strip of worker plastic foundation. The bees added drone size comb below it and filled it with nectar since my bees are no longer raising drones this late in the year.To see the results of my experiment, watch the video below or go to: 


propolis162 The experiment I’m conducting now is to measure the health of a hive by coating the inside walls of the brood nest area with a thin coating of prepared propolis. I’m preparing my propolis now by making up my solution over the next two weeks. I’m making a propolis tincture by letting it “dissolve” in 190 Proof Grain Alcohol. 

Thanks for joining us again! Please visit our website at: as we have lots of supplies and we make our own beekeeping woodenware just for you!

And our Winter-Bee-Kinds orders have been phenomenal. Order now as orders will be shipped in the order in which they are received starting in Oct. Also, we appreciate word of mouth promotion of our Winter-Bee-Kinds as well.

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Hours Mon- Thu  10am-4pm
Fri 10am-Noon
Sat by appointment

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

LESSON 160: Adding Wax To Frames To Speed Up Drawn Comb

(This entry is time sensitive, meaning  prices and items are subject to change. Visit our website for current items and prices:

MB Pin I want to share today about adding wax to foundation to help the bees draw the comb out faster. But before I do, let me tell you about the great time I had at the Eastern Apicultural Society in Richmond, Kentucky. The pin pictured here is what is awarded to those who pass the four tests to become a master beekeeper. The master beekeeper certification runs parallel with the EAS conference. 

Dr. Dewey Caron serves as the advisor to the MB program. Dr. Caron is the author of, Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping. 7 more master beekeepers were certified and earned their MB pins. New bee research findings were revealed and the workshops were great. The best part for me is hanging out with people in the halls or at supper and talking bees.


Here I am (yellow shirt) field testing master beekeeper applicant Andrew Joseph, Iowa state bee inspector at the Eastern Apicultural Society conference. Andrew is now a newly certified EAS Master Beekeeper, along with 6 others tested this year. Congratulations to all! To find out more about becoming a master beekeeper go to:

Andrew was the first person I’ve ever tested who scored a 100 on the field test. It was a pleasure watching Andrew demonstrate a hive inspection. The master beekeeper certification consists of 4 areas of testing: Field, Lab, Written and Orals. This year the oral panel that I served on tested Louie from France. I was really impressed with his mastery of the English language in his short time in the US.

All the applicants were enjoyable to meet and talk with. It is encouraging to see so many people wanting to know as much as possible about keeping bees.


winterbeekindclick Our Winter-Bee-Kind winter feeding system is on sale now. Orders will start shipping in Oct once the weather becomes cooler. Orders will be shipped in the order they were received. We usually have several hundred orders placed prior to our shipping date, so order soon! We have a video online that you can view prior to purchase. Just click here. We sell both 10 frame and 8 frame Winter-Bee-Kinds, so BE SURE you are clicking on the correct size when you order. If you’ve never heard about this item it is a candy board with sugar and pollen substitute. It also has a 1” insulation for the top of your hive as well as an entrance/exit to help with winter condensation.


We almost post something daily on our Facebook page. Go to: and Like Us while you are there please and thank you.

My good friend Jon Zawislak and I produced another HiveTalk episode when we were at EAS. Take a listen as our guests were: Dr. Jeff Harris, Dr. Dianna Sammataro, Kent Williams, Steve Repasky, Erin MacGegor-Forbes, and Karessa Torgerson. Go to:

HiveTalk Our next Hive Talk will be August 28 at 10 a.m. central time. Join us and ask questions live on air or just listen in. The number to call is: 1-724-444-7444. When you call in you'll be asked to enter our SHOW ID which is: 129777 followed by the # sign. Then the automated system will ask you for your Pin number which is 1 followed by the # sign. At that point, you'll be on the show with us so you can ask your questions. You will be muted unless you press * 8 on your phone and that will allow us to unmute you so you can ask your question. Call in around 10 minutes prior to broadcast, at 9:50 a.m. central time.  If you want to just listen from your computer, go to:

NEW CLASS:  A Better Way To Get Your Bees Through The Winter

And while we are talking about winter survival of bees, why not take our over wintering class. Sunday Sept. 7th Noon-6pm. Get Your Bees Through The Winter Class.  The winter of 2013-2014 was very hard on colony survival and it 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. Join certified master beekeeper, David Burns, for an extensive 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 and more. Sunday Sept. 7th  2014  Noon-6pm. An email will be sent to all registered students with hotel information, directions and other important information. Click here for additional information. Our Sat. class filled up and we are offering this Sunday class, but only a few seats are still available.

LESSON 160: Adding Wax To Frames To Speed Up Drawing Out Comb

We are in that time of year when we want every last drop of nectar bees can carry in. But, this means we need supers on the hive with drawn comb. Beekeepers around the country are buying up supers like a gold rush in order to capture the honey stores for this summer.

Waxtest If the colony does not have drawn comb nectar gathering can be lost, and no honey harvested. Here’s what I do to help speed up my bees to draw out the comb. I clean my wax cappings gathered from when I harvested my honey supers. I melt it in a skillet, then I brush the wax on to my plastic foundation. It comes with wax, and usually that is fine. But to give my bees an extra edge it doesn’t hurt to add some wax if you have it.

When you add additional wax to plastic foundation it can greatly increase the chances that the bees will draw out the comb faster. They will use the extra wax you’ve given them along with making more of their own and drawing out the combs for faster use.

By using your own wax, you know the quality of your wax. Be careful not to brush on the wax if it is very hot or it will warp the plastic. Let the wax cool enough to where it is thicker and cooler.

If you do not want to heat your extra wax cappings you can ball it up and then rub it into the plastic foundation. As you rub the wax into the foundation small amounts will catch and adhere to the cells.

wax test There are several ways to place wax on plastic foundation and you can even add extra wax to wax foundation too. I’ve tried sponge brushes, paint brushes and they all work fine. I started using a drywall sander because it is spongy and it was all I could find one day. Currently I’m running an experiment to see how much faster it is to add additional amounts of wax to foundation. In my case, I took 7 frames and configured them with various degrees of wax and foundation and some with no wax. I started this experiment on our anniversary, Aug. 3rd. It might be too late in the season, but I’ll see how the bees will do. What I mean by too late is that it is more challenging to get drawn comb later in the summer. However, as long as there is a nectar flow, it works. The heavier the nectar flow the better.

Soon, summer nectar flows will stop until fall nectar flow starts. A good rule of thumb is try and get all the wax in your supers pulled out before fall. I have had some wax building in the fall, but bank on spring and summer.

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

Contact Us By Phone

Mon-Thur 10am-4pm Central Time
Fri- 10-Noon Central Time