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

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