Saturday, November 28, 2015

Basic Beekeeping Skills Trumps Gizmos And Gadgets 217-427-2678


Hello from David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms located in central Illinois. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Here’s our youngest son, Christian, taking the first slice on our Thanksgiving turkey. I’m sitting in the middle watching and Sheri’s dad is next to me. We are thankful for our honey bees that made our Thanksgiving meal taste so good. Think of which foods we would not have had without honey bees. Most fruits and vegetables and certainly that wonderful pumpkin pie we owe to the honey bees.

Nov20151 We had a local Girl Scout troop tour our farm. I have a set of frames that have close up photos in the frames instead of foundation. This way I can teach inside my building without opening a hive. This is a very good teaching tool for younger audiences. I enjoy speaking to groups because honey bees always fascinate people.  Their parents asked many questions too and showed an interest in getting started in beekeeping. Passing out some free honey straws is always a winner too.

We have been shipping out our Winter-Bee-Kinds as fast as lightning! Thank you for your patience.

I’ll be speaking December 5th at the University of Illinois Extension workshop entitled, “Getting the Most out of Small Acreage.” 9 AM–2 PM at the 4-H Memorial Camp located at 499 Old Timber Road, Monticello, Illinois. You have to register by November 30th by calling (217) 877-6042 or register online at:

I’ll be speaking at the American Beekeeping Federation at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach (Jacksonville), Florida January 5-9. Leave winter behind and come get some sun and learn more about beekeeping.

I’ll also be teaching at the short course at the Eastern Apicultural Society Conference held this year July 25-29, 2016 at Stockton University, Galloway, NJ, just minutes west of Atlantic City, NJ. This short course is taught by four certified master beekeepers. If you are new to beekeeping or experienced and want to improve your skills mark your calendar.

These are a few things to start putting on your calendar. While you are planning the year, be FOREWARNED that our classes are filling up fast, especially our Beekeeping Institute and our Spring Management class. Every year people are disappointed that our Beekeeping Institute fills up so fast, so don’t delay if you are planning on attending. Check out all of our classes at:

Our first Basic Beekeeping Class is Saturday February 20th from 8am-1pm.

Maybe you stood in long lines and battled crowded parking lots on black Friday looking for a few bargains. Maybe you lucked out and single handedly carried that 92” TV out on your shoulder for half price. But maybe there are still gifts to buy for a few hard to buy for folks in your life. Beekeeping is an awesome Christmas gift. Imagine getting your special someone a hive or two, beekeeping equipment and a package of bees. It is the present that will intrigue them for months, maybe years. We have three kits available now that includes bees. Hives and equipment are shipped now in time for Christmas and bees are picked up here in the spring. Here are a few examples. Every year we sell many kits as Christmas presents. Please let us know, so that we can keep it a secret. Some people have us ship them to an friend’s house so the spouse doesn’t look inside when UPS delivers a huge box.  Click on the images below for more information.

Freedom Kit 2016a Liberty Kit 2016a Independence Kit 2016a

We also carry  T-Shirts, Jewelry and Skin Care for women at our sister site. These make cool gifts!

1994First HiveThis photo of me appeared in a newspaper article when we lived in Ohio. I have so many fond memories of starting as a new beekeeper. Look at that flume of smoke. I was scared to death! This was probably my first time to open a hive. ‘94 was before YouTube, the Internet, beekeeping classes and there were very few books on beekeeping. I’m standing right in front of the hive, a rookie mistake. I made many more mistakes that year. Obviously I’ve learned so much more in two decades.

To be a successful beekeeper requires learning and implementing skills and techniques that can only be gained by years of keeping bees. Is there a fast and easy way to keep bees? A button to push? A ton of gizmos and gadgets have come and gone since I started in 1994. Tools, devices, different styles of hives, battery powered stuff, solar powered things, not to mention a host of natural oils and potions leave beekeepers wondering which is best. Some of these probably have helped. But the truth is you can never replace solid beekeeping skills and experience with new gizmos and gadgets.

This spring a surge of new beekeepers will enter the playing field. This is mainly due to the increase interest in beekeeping but partly due to major stores now carrying beehives. These prospective beekeepers are now racing to buy the coveted package of bees to shake in their new hives. Unless these new beekeepers complete a thorough beekeeping course we are likely to see one of the largest die outs of honey bees ever. When bees are mismanaged they usually die.

When you go to a large box store and buy your beekeeping equipment it is unlikely that the clerk can answer your beekeeping questions from years of experience. You may not have any idea where to buy your bees. Or you may be an experienced beekeeper and have friends that will be starting soon. Please lead them to credible classes where they can learn about controlling varroa destructor, seasonal management and when and how to feed bees.

While beekeeping is fun and enjoyable it also requires a certain amount of responsibility as in caring for any animal. The more we are armed with knowledge and skills the more we will enjoy beekeeping.

Here are several suggestions for the new year for both new and experienced beekeepers.

1. Don’t immediately fall for the newest trend or fad. New ideas and discoveries can certainly improve how we keep bees but these should never replace the hard and fast proven principles of beekeeping.

2. Find a credible source, an expert beekeeper, who can evaluate new information and discoveries. People are constantly calling me and asking my opinions on new discoveries because they know I am cautiously optimistic. Most of us are gullible and fall for fancy advertisements that promise easy success. But slow and steady wins the race.

3.  You can read all the beekeeping books in the world but you’ll never gain as much experience and skill as you will when you open up a hive and have an expert beekeeper walk you through it and answer your questions.

4.  Do not put all your hope in the package bee or queen producer. In other words don’t think that if you buy so and so’s bees or queen that your bees will make it through the winter. Bees are bees. The differences between types of bees are so marginally in comparison to the huge challenges that pests, diseases and winter present.

5. Put in the time necessary to keep bees. Every two weeks take a look and see how your hives are doing. Not knowing the health of your queen and colony usually results in a hive dying in the fall or winter. Be taught how to properly inspect your hives and what actions to take to keep your bees healthy.

6. Be careful not to make wrong choices in the spring. You will be elated in the spring if your bees survive. But one or two spring mistakes may cause your overwintered hive to crash and die in the spring. For example, if you divide or split your hive too early, both hives may die. If you feed them liquid too soon nosema can spread. This year we are offering a class specifically for Spring Management: Spring: Splits, Swarms, Supering and Survival

7. Have the right equipment on hand before you need it. You need extra equipment to catch that swarm, a nuc box to keep a spare queen in, a queen cage to carry that queen to the queenless hive etc. Be prepared for anything and everything.

Thanks for letting us share these thoughts with you today. Be sure and check out our following beekeeping media tools:

Videos, Podcasts, Lessons

Happy Holidays!

David and Sheri Burns

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Questions Your Bees Are Dying You Will Ask 217-427-2678

2016 Cal Trip

Hello from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms!  We made it back from our trip to California. We went through 9 states and we posted flyers and promoting our business at various places along the way.

I took this picture from high atop Mount San Jacinto looking out over Palm Springs, California. We enjoyed riding the Tram to the top and back. We had fun observing bees on flowers that we do not have here in the Midwest,

While I was in California I spent a day near Piru, California. Not too far from where I was I saw a few hundred hives pollinating the beautiful crops in that area. You know me, I wanted to get out and inspect the hives, but a NO TRESSPASSING sign kept me out. We ate supper in Gallup, New Mexico where we got  a taste of true New Mexico culinary. They showed us how to tear some fried bread open and fill it with honey. It was real honey too! It was a fun trip but there’s no place like home. Karee and Haley kept things running for us back home.

David Holding Luke Nov 2016 Our daughter, Jennifer, who answers the phones and works in the office, had her baby. Say hello to Luke, our 10th grandchild and our 3rd grandson. Everyone is doing fine and we are excited to see our family growing.

Today we will answer some of the more common questions beekeepers ask us from around the country.

When Should I Feed And Stop Feeding My Bees?

It's never a bad idea to feed bees especially when installing a new package of bees. As long as bees need to draw out new foundation 1:1 sugar water is always a good idea.

Stop feeding bees when their consumption of sugar water is greatly reduced. This means they are relying on natural floral sources for food.

Bees ALWAYS need fed in late summer and fall. Do not use an entrance feeder at this time or it may cause other hives to rob your hive. Feed from inside the hive from the top during late summer and fall. Check out our suggested feeders.

Always use a candy board during the winter to ensure your bees do not run out of food.

Do not feed bees when they are filling honey supers because you want real honey from flowers, not sugar honey.

When Do Your Packages Go On Sale?

We are excited to offer 3 lb packages of bees for 2016. We've been doing this for 7 years so we know a thing or two about packages of bees. Many people have called us and are concerned that due to the new surge in beekeeping, packages will be more difficult to come by this year. It's possible. We are now selling packages with our hive kits today! See our complete line of available hive kits with and without bees by clicking here or by going

Our hive kits make awesome Christmas gifts. They will never guess what that huge box is under the tree. And, sign them up for a class in the winter and they’ll be pumped up for spring beekeeping.  Check out our package bees kits today.

Freedom Kit With Bees

Liberty Kit With Bees

Independence Kit With Bees

Does Beekeeping Take Much Time?

Caring for bees does not take as much time as caring for other animals such as chickens, dogs or horses. Bees are insects and are able to get their own food and water. There are key times of the year when bees may need fed. Most beekeepers enjoy spending time caring for their bees because they enjoy the activity.

Why Is Taking A Beekeeping Class So Important?

Books, YouTube videos and other beekeepers may be a big help. However, learning the craft of beekeeping hands on from a certified master beekeeper can make it much more understandable. This week I spoke to several beekeepers whose hives are failing due to a lack knowledge and understanding as to how to inspect hives and what to do. Their hives could have been saved had they paid closer attention to their queen’s productivity and varroa mites. Taking a class can really make the difference. We now have our 2016 classes online. Registrations fills up fast so reserve your class spots today!

Feb. 20th  Saturday 8am-1pm  Basic Beekeeping Class

Addition Basic Classes are also offered on Saturday March 12th, Friday March 18th, Saturday April 2nd, Sunday April 3rd, Thursday June 1 and Saturday October 15th. For full details on all our classes visit:

Swarm on ladder Spring: Splits, Swarms, Supering, & Survival Saturday March 19th 9am-1pm Once your bees survive the winter, knowing what to do next is crucial. When to split? How to prevent swarming? When to add supers? Join us for this exciting new spring class. There are many decision that must be made in the spring for the health and well being of your hives. We’ve listened to our customer’s suggestions and finally a class specifically directed at answering spring issues.

Bee Institute June 10, 11, 12th

The Bee Institute is one of our more popular courses we teach. It fills up very fast. It is taught over three days covering in depth teachings on honey bee anatomy, understanding the colony, specialized beekeeping equipment, package bees verses nucs, how and when to feed bees, pests and diseases, best seasonal management practices for each season, how to raise and sell queens, swarm prevention, making splits, field work, mite tests, how bees communicate via pheromones, bee stings and reactions and more. You'll learn how to find your queen, how to mark her, and how to perform a thorough hive inspection, how and when to best add supers for maximum honey production, understanding the waggle dance, catching swarms and removing bees from structures, hive placement, how to work bees with minimal protection, how to move a hive to a new location, robbing and how to prevent it, reversing hive bodies in the spring, what to do about laying workers, royal jelly, characteristics of the different types of honey bees, how to keep bees in the city and much, much more.

Should I be Scared?

Some people are scared of bugs and especially ones that can sting. While honey bees can sting, you'll soon realize that honey bees are not like hornets and wasps. Bees are easy to work provided you take the necessary precautions and learn how to work your bees to minimize stings. I have leaned to work my bees without gloves or a suit. Take a class with me so I can teach you.

Is It Safe To Use Old Equipment?

used equipment Used beekeeping equipment is empty because the bees that once were in there died. Why? It is anyone's guess. But, since you don't know if they died of a disease it is best not to take the chance unless you know for certain that no disease was ever present in the used equipment. No matter how much you try and clean used equipment, spores of some diseases cannot be destroy with bleach or freezing.


When Should I Put On My Winter-Bee-Kind?

As the weather begins to cool down across the US we begin to ship the Winter-Bee-Kinds. We ship in the order in which the orders were placed. There is really no need to place them on a hive as long as your bees can fly. If it is warm enough for bees to fly, usually above 50 degrees (f), you should consider feeding your bees sugar water. Once it turns so cold that bees will not fly again for the winter, then the Winter-Bee-Kinds can be placed on the hive.

If you call first, you can stop in and pick up winter-bee-kinds. Some days we may ship everything we have made so do call first.

When Do I Add My Next Hive Box?

Always start with only one deep hive body with a new package. When the bees draw out or add wax to 5 or 6 frames it is time to add the next hive body box. Use the same principle for each box. When 5 or 6 frames are drawn out add the next box. Use this same principle when adding supers. If you give the bees all the boxes at once, they may "chimney" up the middle rather than pulling out frames from side to side.

When To Add The Next Box

New eBook On Getting Your Bees Through The Winter

"Getting Your Bees Through The Winter." Available on Amazon or from our website.

Don't Be Fooled. Your Bees Need Fed This Fall

Use Our Fall Feeding System

Burns Bees Feeding System

Feeding Your Bees In The Fall

Feeding Your Bees In The Fall

66% of new beekeepers are women! So come browse, shop and read awhile. Besides quality beekeeping equipment, you'll see a complete line of jewelry, shirts, bags and skin care. Be sure and check out Sheri's new website geared more for women beekeepers.

Check Out More Questions And Answers

Our website is full of additional answers to all your questions...Learn More

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bottom Board Openings 3/4” or 3/8”?? 217-427-2678

Fall Thanks for joining us here at for some more beekeeping insights. Every time we make a beekeeping post they rapidly circulate through the beekeeping community. We find our materials and insights published in books, articles and on other beekeepers’ websites. There is a famous quote that says, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” We enjoy posting these lessons because we know it will help beekeepers become more successful.

Our first beekeeping blog was posted September 6, 2007. We’ve been sending out vital beekeeping information now for over 8 years. It requires a great deal of research, writing, testing and experience to be able to publish each of these blogs/lessons/articles. Thank you for joining us and keeping track of us through this blog. And a big thank you for those who support us through making us your main source for all of your beekeeping needs. We make our living from you buying our hives and beekeeping equipment and we appreciate it.

pumpkins Here in Illinois we are having a very typical fall. Most asters are drying out, grass is slowing down, and the nights are getting cooler. While our bees are preparing for winter, so are we. We are looking for any cracks around windows and door that need caulked to keep cold air from getting in. I told a friend that up north, our homes are similar to bee hives. While bees need about 70 pounds of stored honey to make it through the winter,  we have to provide about 1,000 gallons of propane to our house to make it through the winter. I have to replace a couple of windows, place some snow plow markers around, and the list goes on.

We are also having our last beekeeping class for 2015 coming up this Saturday. We still have two spots open, so sign up today if you are thinking about taking a basic beekeeping class for beginners. Click here for more info. Our 2016 class schedule is being arranged now and will be posted within the next month. Our first round of classes usually is not offered until February 2016, so this is your last chance for a class this year.

Christian corn maze 2015 If you can not think about winter coming then fall can be a very fun time of the year. We enjoy fall because it is a time to celebrate the bounty of summer. Harvest time means that everything went pretty well during the summer. Harvesting honey means that the bees did well all year. We enjoy pumpkins, the beauty of mums and the fun of going through corn mazes. Here in Illinois, there are places that will make huge corn mazes. This one was shaped like an eagle and was made in honor of our service men and women. I took this picture of Christian standing next to the marine marker.

Fall is baseball at its best with playoffs and the World Series! My oldest son is a big Cardinal fan and this year he forced me and Christian to go to a few games with him in St. Louis. It was Christian’s first time to go to a major league baseball game so we were teaching him the traditions such as the unique claps, corn dogs, overpriced cokes and the words to “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” 

Christain Home run ball My oldest son David and my middle son Seth do nothing but think about the Cardinals. They never get an autograph, never catch a fly ball, never get close to the players but boy, would they love that. If any of you have connections, hook ‘em up. Anyway, on Christian’s second game a Cincinnati Reds’ player hit the longest left-handed home run in the new Stadium’s history. Well the ball bounced around in the stands and fell back on the field. An out fielder threw it over toward the guy sitting along the foul line and he stood up and tossed it right to Christian and he caught it! They were jealous.

Speaking of our marine son, Seth, he’s made it safely through his second deployment in the middle east and will be getting home soon. We are looking forward to seeing him again soon.

While fall is a fun time it does make us evaluate our hives and decide whether they are ready for winter. Have you noticed how different bees behave in the fall after the nectar flow ends? They are desperately scouring your property looking for anything sweet. I spilt a little bit of sugar in the back of my truck and I had a hundred bees on it. This is the season when hives rob smaller hives which has caused me to consider the bottom board. Let’s talk about this for a minute.

Okay beekeepers, here are two tips for you.

Yellow Jacket Know the difference between a yellow jacket and a honey bee. People will be calling you asking you to remove honey bees from their compost piles and homes, but when you arrive you will quickly see the difference. Bees have NO yellow on them at all. I always ask the homeowner to send me a picture. Here’s a picture I took of a yellow jacket eating with honey bees. See the difference? The yellow jacket has clear yellow and black markings and look at how long the yellow jacket antennae are.Entrance2

The second tip is to be sure to place your entrance reducers on your hives now. Mice are  starting to find a warm home now that the nights are cooler.

BBFS Once again we are hard at work making our Burns Bees Feeding Systems which are a great way to feed your bees in the fall.  It comes with 2 holes for jars and one hole for patties. I like to feed my bees one jar of 2:1 and the other jar with 1:1. The first is for storage of honey and the 1:1 is to help build up fall brood for healthy spring and summer bees. These systems are screened so that you can change your jars and patties without bees bothering you.Maximize your effort to feed your bees prior to winter.

I recommend using these and feed your bees liquid as long as they can fly. I just posted a new video online so you can see how to place these on your hive. If the video doesn’t play, here’s the link:

When the temperature dips below 50 degrees (f) in the day, bees will stop foraging and that’s when I recommend feeding them with our Winter-Bee-Kind candy board all winter.


Let’s talk about the opening of the bottom board spacing without a reducer. Years ago the bottom board was referred to as a reversible bottom board. This meant that if you flip it over on one side the entrance opening would be 3/4 of an inch. Flip it over on the other side and the entrance opening would be 3/8 of an inch. We’ve always made our bottom boards this way, only we do not place a back piece on the 3/8 side because hardly anyone flips the bottom boards any longer.

BB Let’s talk about why they used to flip the bottom boards. The reversing of the bottom board was a practice where you would actually flip it to the 3/8” (smallest opening) during the summer and the larger 3/4” opening in the winter. The thought was that during the winter, the larger spacing of 3/4 of an inch allowed an area inside on the bottom board for dead winter bees to fall and collect away from the winter cluster. And the smaller opening of 3/8” in the summer was believed to reduce robber bees.

Over the last 20 years most people have forgotten the reversible idea and strictly run a 3/4” opening when making bottom boards. After all, it does take a great deal of work to take the hive apart down to the bottom board in order to reverse it. And let’s be practical. First, a healthy colony is very good at removing dead bees from their hive on the first warm winter day. Secondly, a strong colony can defend itself against other colonies attempting to rob its honey stores. But there’s another part of this idea that is starting to intrigue me.

A friend of mine observed that bees land on the bottom board, go to the nearest wall and walk up and then cross over. This is why we see most foragers land toward one side of a bottom board. They are attempting to grain faster access to their wall so they can gain faster access to going up into their hive and then walking across. That’s a slew of walking. It’s not impossible for bees to enter a wall or tree and walk to where their comb is located. However, to be able to enter a colony and immediately gain access to comb does seem more practical to me. This can be achieved by reversing the bottom board to the smaller 3/8” opening because it drops the bottom of the deep hive body frame down closer to the screen bottom board. A foraging bee can land, walk it and simply raise up onto the comb and walk up on any frame rather than having to go to the wall.

EntranceForager bees usually enter a colony and hand off their payload to house bees who walk it up into the honey super. So I really do not know where this transfer takes place. On the wall? Or does the forager have to walk into the comb where house bees are waiting? By my observation, it appears it does not take place on the wall but within the comb which makes sense. If this is the case, then it makes sense that bees would rather enter and choose which comb to gain access to from the bottom rather than having to walk up above the first deep and then back down or up from there.

I observed this activity for some time and I did not see one single bee fly up from the bottom board onto frames. Bees cannot jump, so they were indeed heading to the side wall to go up.

Before you jump to conclusions and form a rigid opinion, wait!  I am NOT saying that 3/4” openings reduces a colonies healthy or ability to store resources.  Nor am I saying that a smaller opening will improve a colony’s honey production. At the most I am simply suggesting it may reduce the distance bees have to walk to get to where they are going. Whether or not that changes things, I simply do not know.

But, if you want to try it why not. You can see if it makes any difference. We are now adding the extra back piece to all our bottom boards we sell simple to give customers that option if they so choose.

Now, my own person perspective. I like the idea of the smaller opening year round for several reasons. First, reducing the walk time of foragers. Secondly, the smaller opening should reduce robbing in the fall, and mice in the winter. I said “reduce,” not eliminate. Mice are very hard to keep out of hives. In their natural habitat bees always choose smaller openings and will even add propolis to reduce entrances. However, there are less pieces of equipment that support the 3/8” spacing. Most feeders, pollen traps, etc., are made to fit the standard 3/4”. Again, this is something that you can make up your own mind about.

66% of new beekeepers are women! So come browse, shop and read awhile. Besides quality beekeeping equipment, you’ll see a complete line of jewelry, shirts, bags and skin care. Be sure and check out Sheri’s new website geared more for women beekeepers.


Check out our complete line of beekeeping supplies at and call or come by and see us. 217-427-2678
David and Sheri Burns

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Fall Is The Most Dangerous And Challenging Season For Honey Bees 217-427-2678


Hello from David and Sheri Burns. Can you believe it will be fall on Wednesday. I believe fall is the most challenging and dangerous season for honey bees. In this lesson I’ll share what those dangers and challenges are and what you can do to better prepare your hives for fall.

Before we begin, let me remind you that our last “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter” class is this coming Saturday and we still have two spots opened. Register online, or call us between 10am-3pm central time and get those two spots. 217-427-2678

If you cannot attend our final class, be sure and get this class via our new ebook available on Amazon or from our website.

2014Class Fall is a great time to take a Beginners Beekeeping class and we have one coming up Saturday October 10th. This class is almost full but some spots are still available. If you are thinking about becoming a beekeeper or you are keeping bees but have never taken a formal class, this class is for you. Register online or call us. Taking a fall Beginners class will give you the tools you need to be better prepared and ahead of the game in the spring.

Recently someone asked me what are the 3 most important hive components to have as a beekeeper, besides the obvious smoker, hive tool and protective gear. That’s a good question, but I didn’t have to think twice.  1. A complete hive for when your hive has a growth explosion and needs to be split. Or to have a home to put the swarm in that you captured. 2.  A 5 frame nuc hive. It’s a 5 frame (deep size) box with a screen bottom board for ventilation, 5 frames and foundation and a top cover. These are great baby hives to have a stand-by queen available in case of an emergency queen event. They are also useful to support observation hives or to pull frames out to support weak colonies. It takes very little effort to have 4 or 5 nucs running to support your hives.  3. Medium supers.  This year I have seen so many beekeepers fail to place enough supers on their hives to capture the maximum amount of honey for the year. The hives here at our training center actually filled up 4 supers each. If I had only placed one or two on, I would have missed the chance to harvest more honey.

We continue to make improvements to our website. We work hard to provide our customers with an easy to navigate and very secure website. Shopping online is fun, easy and convenient. I love to do it. Security issues are at the forefront of our work. You’ll see a new image at the bottom of our website that says,  GeoTrust QuickSSL. Our site has always been secure but GeoTrust SSL certificate lets our customers know that our site provides the highest level of encryption and security possible.  This means you can rest assured that communications between your browser and our website is private and secure. We’ve got the certification to prove it.

Drones1 Every morning I walk around my hives and just see how the bees are flying. This morning, from a distance I noticed dead bees on the bottom board entrance. Sometimes you see this the day after you inspect a hive, but I did not open them this week due to the heavy nectar flow. As I approached the hive, my fears were relieved when I saw that those were drones. They are killing the drones! This is what a colony does this time of the year, in the fall in preparation for winter. Drones are useful during the spring and summer to mate with virgin queens. But now, queen rearing is over. It’s too late in the year to raise new queens so they are getting ride of their male population. Occasionally a few drones may overwinter, but usually a colony doesn’t overwinter with drones because drones are not workers and are heavy consumers of precious winter stores of food. A colony must be very protective of their winter pollen and honey or they might starve in March or sooner.

Drone3 You’ll start seeing dead bees around your entrance but don’t panic. Just double check to be sure they are drones. A drone has a larger body and their eyes are larger and touch in the middle.  Also, you may notice worker bees will pull out drone pupae. Before the drone can even mature, the house bees open up the cells and drag them out, making more room to store resources or for the queen to lay eggs for winter bees. Winter bees can live 6-9 months. A summer worker bee only lives about 40 days.


Pollen1 Again, we are getting a lot of phone calls about funny smells from the hive. This is the smell of aster honey being cured by the bees. Again, stay calm and enjoy this fall odor from the hive. Can you harvest golden rod honey? Yes, at first the taste may be noticeably different than clover, but as the honey sits in buckets or is mixed with clover the taste and smells is minimized.

If you are worried about harvesting funny tasting fall honey simply open up the hive, and poke your finger in a frame of sealed honey and evaluate the taste. If you can’t stand it, leave it for the bees. They’ll enjoy it. If you like it, make sure you leave 80 pounds of honey on the hive if you live in north and harvest the rest.

Now, can fall really be a dangerous and challenging time for your hives? Yes, here’s 6 reasons why:

1. Accidently killing the queen when harvesting honey frames.

In the fall, beekeepers are harvesting honey. The risk of killing the queen or accidently removing her in a super of honey is greatly increased. Before I harvest my supers, I find my queen and temporarily cage her so that I can work my hives fast in the fall to prevent robbing. Then I release her back into her hive after I’m finished working my hive. Remember, the drones are dead. So if you kill your queen they cannot raise a replacement queen because she cannot mate with drones. If you see a queen cell, it just means you’ll get stuck with a virgin queen all winter. She will never mate if she does not mate after she is 21 days old. She will not mate in the spring if she failed to take a mating flight late in the year.

2. Failure to keep mice out of the hive.

Mouse2 Mice are licking their chops, and their mouths are watering wanting to consume your bees. As soon as nights turn cold mice move in. We are already having nights in the mid 40s. Mice are looking for warm places and your hive is a perfect place. The warmth produced by the bees, fresh pollen and honey and bees to munch on is perfect for mice.  NOW IS THE TIME to take action. This week!! Don’t delay. Reduce your entrances. Our hives come complete with entrance reducers. Set it to the smallest opening.

3. Harvesting too much honey.  It’s so tempting to keep taking more and more honey off the hive. It looks so nice in your bottles with your fancy label. Your customers are throwing tens and twenties at you for that precious gold. But if you harvest too much,  your bees will not have enough to tied them over through late winter and early spring. I try and leave one full super on each hive for winter.

winterbkind But I also place extra insurance on my hive by placing our Winter-Bee-Kinds on my hives all winter. This ensures me that they will not run out of food. We will begin shipping these in November in the order that orders were placed.

You need to leave 60-80 pounds of honey on the hive for winter. Don’t be too greedy.



While golden rod keeps bees all covered with pollen, pollen baskets packed and honey stomachs full, it will soon stop.

4. Fall starvation. This is different than taking too much honey. Some falls have been proceeded by a long dearth. Bees eat through their winter stores during fall and have nothing in the winter. That’s why I feed my bees in the fall. Once I see that the nectar flow has ended I start feeding my bees sugar water and pollen patties. They will for sure need fed after the first frost kills all the flowers. I run our Burns Bees Feeding System that has two jar holes and one pollen patty hole. All holes are protected with screen so you can change your jars and patty without bees getting out. I place 2:1 in one jar to help the bees cure it into “honey.” The other jar has 1:1 so the bees can consume it and use it for brood stimulation to help me build up my brood of spring bees. Feed! Feed! Feed!

5. Mites are shifting from drones to workers and increasing in number, spreading viruses in your colony. If you think you do not have varroa mites, you are wrong. All colonies have mites. In our winter classes we actually teach you how to test for mites and calculate your hive’s percentage of infestation. Do not think you do not have mites simply because you do not see any. You have them! Get rid of them. Mites prefer drones, but now that drones are being killed, mites are now parasitizing your worker brood. And when mites have viruses, they spread them to worker bees which shortens the life of that winter bee from 6-9 months to 3-4.5 months. That means a bee born in October would have lived until May or June will now only live to January or February. Sound familiar? Do nothing to get rid of mites and your hive will probably not make it to see March or April.

6. Improper inspection can cause the hive to be robbed out. You go out to inspect your hive or remove honey supers. There’s no nectar flow. You separate your boxes stacking them around your hive. Pretty soon you seem engulfed by robber bees swarming around you hive. Those desperate fall bees have gotten a sniff of honey from your opened hive and they have plotted a course to rob it out.

I plan to make a video on how to make these inspections in the fall. The trick is to keep all boxes covered that are separate from the colony. Use extra top covers to encase open boxes while you inspect. Don’t keep your hive open in the fall, during a dearth for more than 10 minutes. Do NOT leave your queen excluder on for winter. Place your entrance reducer on the hive before you start your inspection.

Final fall tips:

Never use entrance feeders at the front of the hive in the fall. It will cause robbing.
If you break the top propolis seal after it turns cold use a heavy rock or brick to prevent the top from blowing off.
Prepare some sort of wind break for winter.
Combine weak hives with large ones. Kill the queen in the weak hive and place newspaper between the different combined boxes. The bees will eat through the paper and by that time they will get along.

Thank you for ordering from us here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. We know you can go to the big box stores but we’d like to thank you for ordering from a small, family business.

Sheri has created a great sister website for women beekeepers called  She has colorful beekeeping suits, jewelry and more. Check it out.

David and Sheri Burns

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fall Inspections Can Be Rough

DSWelcome from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms located in central Illinois. Happy Labor Day Weekend!

This lesson will be timely because you might be inspecting your bees or taking off honey and it might be rough! We are harvesting and extracting honey and filling up jars. It’s been a fantastic year for honey production here in central Illinois. Colonies are healthy and strong and golden rod is full of nectar. Hives are smelling funky already. The nectar from golden rod and other asters cause the hive to have a unique and suspicious smell. Some beekeepers fear the smell might be American foulbrood, but rarely can you smell AFB several feet outside of the hive.

Hello everyone, we are David and Sheri Burns and today we want to bring you up to date on what’s going on at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms and also share about how a fall inspection can be rough. We’ll give you some pointers on how to make your final fall inspection easier.

We now have had 2 classes on how to get your bees through the winter. These have gone really well. Students have commented on how much they have learned. Remember the price of a class is cheaper than a new package of bees in the spring. So if this class helps your colony survive the winter, you are that much ahead. Our final class on How To Get Your Bees Through The Winter is Saturday Sept. 26. We have 5 spots left. If you cannot attend this class, it’s in an ebook on Amazon and on our website.

Of course our Winter-Bee-Kind is a primary winter survival tool. Check them out.

SheriBack To Work We are glad to have Sheri back in the saddle. She was out for a few weeks having a knee replacement. She’s really recovering well. Several people chipped in and covered for her but no one knows the ends and outs to this operation like Sheri does. Sheri loves to ride her Harley, but after her knee replacement she has decided to give that up.

So, I bought her the  next best thing, a Mustang convertible. She has enjoyed cruising around with the topconvertible down. To me, she looks better in a Mustang than a Harley.  In October we’ll be driving it out to see our Marine son, Seth, as he returns home from his second deployment in Kuwait. 

Sheri used her down time to create a new website/store just for women beekeepers. Check it out:

I’ve been watching my bees work an acre of golden rod and I’ve noticed that very few bees are on it much before 9 or 10 a.m. After 10 a.m. more and more bees begin to work it, gathering nectar and pollen. Last year, my bees were never on golden rod at all. It was very disappointing. I suspect the plant did not receive moisture at the right time and it had little to no nectar yields. But this year, bees are all over it.

Golden RodIt makes sense as it takes the heat of the day to draw out the nectar. All day long the bees are working the golden rod hard.  Also, I’ve notice how much more water the bees are consuming during the end of summer. Not so much because it is hotter, but because they require additional water to add to the honey for using it as food within the colony. If you have never seen golden rod  it is everywhere here in Illinois. Here’s one of my bees working it.

I have mowed a path so I can walk through my acre of golden rod because it will grow over six feet in height. While I was taking pictures of bees on it I saw a very interesting insect. It looked like a long colorful spotted beetle.

Spotted Moth Look what I found! It is the Ailanthus webworm moth. These moths are rare unless there are Ailanthus trees (Tree of Heaven) around. I don’t have any of these trees, but here is Atteva aurea, a member of the Family Yponomeutidae, the ermine moths. It’s really cool looking because when this moth lands it covers its body with its wings. The wings are spotted and resembles ermine fur that royalty uses to line their robes. That’s how this little bug got its name.

This is why beekeeping is fun. You learn so much more about plants, trees and other insects. I remember being in southern Illinois years ago and I walked past a tree that was just buzzing with honey bees and it was the tree of heaven. It is a short tree and very invasive. It’s called a tree of heaven because it grows quickly up to heaven.

Golden rod and other asters can be an excellent source of fall nectar for honey bees. The nectar will make the hive smell funny. The honey tastes different too. Most people leave it on the hive for the bees to use during the winter. Some people harvest it and mix it with clover honey and the taste is muddled.  I personally pull off all my honey supers before golden rod blooms. After that,  if the bees want it, they can have it.


Okay, let’s be honest. Most hives will behave differently in late summer and fall. Every fall new beekeepers call and ask us why their bees seem more defensive in the fall. Here’s why:

1)  It’s hotter and more humid.

2) There is usually a nectar dearth.

3) Because there is a dearth, more bees are robbing other hives, thus, hives are more protective against being robbed.

4) Your colonies are running at maximum populations. There are no longer 10,000 bees, but close to 60,000!

Here are a few tips on making inspections during late summer or fall.


bees in flight I try never to work a colony more than 10 minutes tops during late summer or fall! If you do, most colonies will begin to become more flighty, loud and protective. If you keep a hive open longer than 10 minutes during a dearth, other bees will quickly smell the honey and start landing to rob. Remember that not all the bees you see flying around the opened hive in the fall belongs to that hive. Many can be robber bees which makes your bees more defensive.


If you remove a super or the top deep, other bees will quickly find them and begin robbing. I place a top cover upside down, then I stack my boxes inside the inverted top cover. I take another top cover and place it over the top of those boxes. Now, no bees can fly in or out. You might think it will get hot in those boxes and it will. That’s why you need to inspect fast during this time of the year. You can use a screen bottom board if you want to provide more air, and just close it off. In other words, place the boxes you are removing on to another screen bottom board, but have the entrance closed, then place a top on those boxes while you inspect the final deep. This will greatly cut down on the amount of your own bees flying in the air and protect against robbing.


Pinksuit Be prepare to take a few more stings. It’s hotter, more humid, limited nectar sources and robber bees are everywhere.Your hive is finally huge in numbers.  In the spring your colony will be nice again, but for late summer and fall, suit up more than usual.

Sheri’s new website has several different colors of bees jackets and suits.

I know it is hot, and suits can be hot, but the better protected you are the more you will enjoy working your bees.


BBFS Our Burns Bees Feeding Systems can be used as a cooling system during a summer dearth too. Here’s what I’m doing this week. It’s in the high 90s each day this week and through next week. I’ve placed these feeding systems on some of my hives but instead of giving them sugar water, I am simply providing water in one of the jars. The other jar hole I am leaving opened as well as the pollen hole. I have a deep hive body surrounding this feeder on top so hot air can rise into this box away from the colony. I also add a small 1/8” wedge under the top cover to help exhaust heat. Plus the water is available on top of the cluster to help the bees cool the hive.


Smoke will always calm bees and you might need to use a bit more than normal. The funny thing is, in late summer and fall, you will start inspecting your hive and all will seem the same. But, after a few minutes you will see a rise in defensive behavior, something you are not used to seeing in the spring during a nectar flow.

In my new ebook “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter” I have a section on what to do during your last hive inspection of the year and when to do it.

If you are a hands of person and you don’t like to read, then come over and take our class, “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter.” We still have spots open for our class on Sept 26. Click here fore more information.

Enjoy Your Labor Day Weekend!
David and Sheri Burns

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