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