Friday, May 16, 2014

LESSON 154: A Feeding System For Critical Times Of The Year 217-427-2678

Here in Illinois, rainy, cool weather has placed bees in neutral until warmer weather returns. Beekeepers with new packages, nucs, and splits are worried about how to combat the cooler nights. We have a remedy. Hello from David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in central  In today’s lesson I want to suggest a great way to feed bees when first starting out with your new hive or split.
Before our lesson today, I want to thank everyone for your encouraging emails welcoming home our son Seth from Afghanistan. We all had a great time on Tuesday catching up on his life. If you’d like to watch the news report, click here.

Hi we are David and Sheri Burns at  Please visit our Main Website at:

ADVANCE BEEKEEPING COURSE JUNE 11, 2014 9am-3pm Central Illinois!!

Have you considered the importance of taking our one day Advance Beekeeping Course?  I'll be joined by my good friend and fellow certified master beekeeper Jon Zawislak. Jon and I have written a book on queen rearing and we recently authored a two part articled published in the American Bee Journal on the difference between Northern and Southern bees. Jon and I will be teaching our Advance Beekeeping course June 11, 2014 here in Fairmount, Illinois and we have around 6 seats available. You don't want to miss this opportunity to be around me and Jon and learn about bees for a whole day. Click here for more information.

Check out our entire list of beekeeping classes we offer by clicking here.

Welcome to Long Lane Honey Bee Farms Online Lessons! Visit our MAIN WEBSITE AT: We have a complete line of hives that we build right here in Illinois. We offer classes, sell queens and much more. Give us a call at: 217-427-2678. Our hours are: M-Th 10am-4pm, Fri 10-Noon Central Time.

I wish we all could just let the bees find their own food sources all year. Sometimes they do. But our country has an obsession with killing weeds. Fence rows are sprayed and edges of mono-crop fields are sprayed or mowed. The bee’s natural food sources are quickly eliminated. Those studying Colony Collapse Disorder point toward poor nutrition as one of the many potential causes.
A colony actually requires a large amount of food like any living organism. And since a hive is considered a single living organism, its requirement for steady food is enormous. Bees are like us; they live on carbohydrates (nectar/honey) and protein (pollen).  We do not need to cite a study to know that bees are healthier when they are on a healthy diet of pollen and nectar.
There are critical times during the year when bees need food but it is limited. Take for example the installation of a package in the spring.  Over the last week here in Illinois packages were unable to forage for food due to rain, wind and colder temperatures. To care for the new brood, large amounts of stored nectar and pollen had to be used. When temperatures fall below 50 degrees (f) the bees cluster to stay warm and are no longer able to go down and eat from the entrance feeders. Resources are consumed in order to produce heat. Less brood is reared and less eggs are laid during cold snaps, thus reducing the building up of brood. We call this “brooding up”.  There are several reasons why brooding up is so important in the spring and early summer. A colony’s large population is essential for gathering nectar, building comb, storing honey and fighting pests and diseases. Weaker colonies usually become weaker which increases the risks of wax moths, small hive beetles and winter die-outs.

Without large numbers of foragers they will not have large amounts of nectar coming in. Without large amounts of nectar, they will not be able to produce large amounts of wax to build comb. Without comb there is no place for the queen to lay. Since we have placed a colony in our hive, on our property and want them to work on our terms, there are critical times during the year when we must feed our bees.
In the spring when it is cooler and rainier. In late summer during the inevitable dearth period between when summer flowers are done and before fall flowers bloom.  In the fall when bees need to store up food for winter but frosts have killed off all foraging sources. No matter how “good” your bees are, how perfect your queen is, these are critical times to ensure your bees are well fed so their numbers remain strong in preparation for winter and for fighting off pests and diseases.
I recently became overwhelmed with how many beekeepers were finding it difficult to feed their bees both protein and carbohydrates during these critical times. Last year I was at the Eastern Apicultural Society meeting in Pennsylvania when a friend of mine received a call that her bees were starving. This was in late summer during a dearth. She was in a panic to figure out how to quickly get food in the hives. Then, in the winter I was speaking at the the Tri-County Beekeepers annual conference in Ohio when another friend and fellow master beekeeper told me how much he liked my Winter-Bee-Kind feeding system, but that I should make one for the summer dearth.
We both discussed how this is one of the more critical times that bees need to continue building up on needed resources in preparation for winter. So for nearly a year I’ve been designing and trying out different methods and systems to meet this demand. I finally did it!  It took several prototypes but I finally developed the Burns Bees Feeding System. So often new beginners call us in a panic saying they just installed their new package but they are worried about the cold nights.
Some people try to place an entrance feeder on the frames of a deep and surround it with a shell of a deep hive body and place a lid on it. This can work if all conditions are right, but the fact that you need to do this means that all conditions are not right. In other words, it is too cold for the bees to go down to the entrance feeder at the opening which means there is way too much heat loss. Heat escapes from the cluster up into the open shell of the hive body. Also the bees need more than just sugar, they also need pollen to keep building up.
So let me give the details the Burns Bees Feeding System. First we provide you with two pollen/sugar patties that go into the system. And the board also accommodates a lid with pre-drilled holes for your small moth jar of sugar water. 1:1 in the spring and summer and 2:1 (2 parts sugar to 1 part water) in the fall. The board holds in the heat during the spring. In our video and pictures you will see how we recommend the patties are smashed through the screen in order to create more texture so the bees can consume patties more effectively.
We also include a recipe so you can continue to feed your bees as needed.  Take a look through the follow pictures. Traditionally entrance feeders and patties are placed on top of frames and a shell is placed around the food source. a1541
However, as seen in this picture, bees begin festooning and building comb in the open space above the cluster making unwanted comb. And significant heat is lost as it rises away from the cluster into the open space above them. Also if you’ve ever fed patties like this, you’ll notice that they are unable to eat the part of the patties directly resting on the top of the frames.
Push the provided patties through the screen as shown above.
a1543This allows the patty to be cut into tiny attached sections making it easier for the bees to consume. This is a view of the patties facing up, but when placed on the hive, the patties pictured above is placed upside down and hangs directly above the cluster.
a1544Here is a new package on undrawn foundation. A green drone comb is seen for varroa mite trapping. The Feeding System is placed directly on top of the cluster.
a1545As pictured above the sugar water is added in the specially cut cap hole. We suggest laying a piece of cardboard or rag over the pollen patties and screen area for maximum heat retention. This is not necessary in temperatures above 50 degrees (f).
You can use used equipment, like a deep hive body shell to place on the feeding system. The reason you have to do this is because of the jar of sugar water that sticks up. This is not necessary if you are merely wanting to feed a pollen patty in which case you can push it through the screen and then place the top feed on the feeding system without a shell. A shell is to add space for the jar feeder.
a1548Notice how the jar lid does not allow the sugar water to spill out, but simply bubbles up due to a vacuum seal. The bees are able to drink from this effectively.
a1547Finally place the lid on the system. Be sure a use a weight like a rock or brick incase of a strong wind.

To order our NEW BURNS BEES FEEDING SYSTEM, click here now.  Thank you.

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Monday, May 12, 2014

LESSON 153: How To Inspect Your Bee Hive 217-427-2678


Hello from David and Sheri Burns at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms in Illinois! How are you?Thank you for supporting our family business with your beekeeping needs. We know you can go elsewhere, so we value your loyalty. When you purchase from Long Lane, you are supporting a hard working, small family business. It’s harder to find small family businesses anymore but it’s what America was built on. We appreciate your business. Spring has sprung and we are off to a great start for another bee season. We’ve hit a milestone because last week was our package bee pickup weekend.

L1531 All year long we build up to that one big day when we distribute packages of bees. The day went very well. We had some of our past helpers here as well as our family and some new folks helping like Joe and Scott. We had several calls and emails thanking us for having a great staff to make the chaotic day go as well as possible. With hundreds of customers and over 6 million bees to keep straight, it really did go well.

L1533 This year we used a new package, a plastic cage system. Overall we really do prefer these cages. It provides better ventilation for the bees, finger grooves for easier candy can removal and we hope that people will be more likely to return them to us. Cages have always cost us alot and unlike some places we do not charge a deposit on our cages. But if you can bring back your cage, that’s one less we have to buy next year. 

Now that the bees are installed and growing I want to provide a lesson on how to inspect your new bees, what to look for, what you can correct now, how to feed and how to use the Green Drone Comb Varroa Traps.

Freedomekit It’s not too late to start beekeeping! There’s still time to buy a hive from us and call my friend for a nuc. As of Friday, he had several nucs of bees still left. We recommend starting with two hives, and we sell our freedom kit which is two hives and all the supplies you need (bees not included). Call us first so we can make sure nucs are still available. We are on central time: M-Thu 10am- 4pm and Friday 10-Noon. Please call us after Tuesday because tomorrow is an exciting day for our family and we’ll be closed.

SethAfThis Tuesday our Marine son Seth will be SethAfgh home for three weeks for his post-deployment leave from Afghanistan. We will be picking him up in Indy at 9am EST time and then meeting up at Lynch Rd Big Boy Restaurant just inside Illinois to be escorted into Catlin by the Patriot Guard Riders. We will then be meeting at the American Legion in Catlin for lunch. After I finish this lesson I’ll be poking some flags in the ground down our long lane. It is amazing the courage and sacrifice these young men and women have to serve our country. Welcome home Lance Corporal Seth Burns. Needless to say we’ll be closed on Tuesday.

We still have openings in our week long Beekeeping Institute. Click here to see all our upcoming classes. There are so many classes being offered everywhere. There are some very good teachers out there, but to really receive a thorough teaching it takes at least 6 hours. If you took a 1 or 2 hour class you still have so much your instructor did not have time to teach. All of our classes are 6 hour courses. Please consider taking one of our classes. I am an EAS certified master beekeeper and we have a strong focus on beekeeping education. Time and time again we receive calls from beekeepers who lost bees in the winter and we ask if they took a class. So many have not. Taking a class does not mean bees will not die in the winter, but it will give you greater strategies to prepare your bees for winter.

Our next class is an advance beekeeping course May 23-24. Friday night and then Saturday morning. Click here for more information. We still have a few spots open.


LESSON 153: How To Inspect Your Bee Hive

After you install your new package of bees or nuc, you’ll want to inspect your bees. Here’s what you are looking for:

1. Is the queen out of her cage (packages not nuc) ?

2. Is the queen laying eggs?

3. Are the bees drawing our new foundation and making comb on the frames?

4. Monitor the green drone comb trap.

5. Is there sufficient sugar water to assist the bees in drawing out comb?

6. Several things should be corrected if not noticed.

L1539 First, on new packages, you’ll need to inspect your hive about 5-7 days after you install your package to insure the queen is out of her cage. Notice that you’ll probably have worker bees playing in the queen cage so do not be alarmed if you see bees in the cage. It probably isn’t the queen. Start your inspection with the frame nearest the outside wall of the hive. Remove it slowly and set it aside.

L1535 Do the same on the next frame. Now you have enough room to slide the third frame against the wall because you’ve removed two frames. Slide frames gently until you create enough space to lift out the queen cage from between two frames.  Set the queen cage aside on top of the other frames for a moment while you continue to inspect frames for the presence of your queen. Always manipulate frames in slow motion to keep the bees as calm as possible, avoiding sudden movements.

L1537 Once you find the queen on a frame, be extra careful to hold the frame with the queen over the hive should she fall off. Look for the presence of eggs on this frame.  Once you spot your queen, please be very careful not to inadvertently kill her. Make sure she is near the center of a frame and not near the edge when you place the frame back into position or you may smash her.  Place all frames back in the same order and position you took them out.  Take a count of drawn comb so that you can evaluate the colony’s progress the next time you inspect.

We highly recommend you use green drone comb to trap varroa mites. Pull out your drone comb and monitor how much the bees have drawn out the comb and if the queen has laid in this special green comb. Keep an eye on it so you’ll know when to remove it to kill the mites.

The heavier you feed bees, the faster they will draw out their comb. The more sugar water they consume the more wax they produce. If they are not building much comb, feed more or check feeders to ensure the colony has access to the 1:1 sugar water. Perhaps a lid on an entrance feeder is clogged or a round pale feeder is empty. I add Honey-Bee-Healthy to my sugar water because it stimulates the bees to find and consume this food source.

Let’s go through some scenarios that could indicate a problem.

1. Funky comb being drawn out in columns rather than evenly. Now is a good time to fix this. These columns can be built on the foundation and if left will make the hive impossible to inspect in the future. I remove the columns, spray the foundation with sugar water, and ball up the wax I removed and rub it evenly across the undrawn frame to encourage the bees do draw out foundation evenly.  This is a tough call when this may be the only frame with eggs. Sometimes I am forced to leave a funky drawn comb because it may contain my only brood. I wait until later to deal with it after the hive is more populated.

L1534 2. No presence of the queen. Don’t jump to conclusions just yet. Are there eggs in the cells? Maybe she is walking on the wall or floor of the hive, sometimes I’ve even seen her on the lid or inner cover. Check for eggs or larvae. If you see brood, assume you have a queen, and just look for her in two weeks when she will probably be back on a comb.  If you do not see any eggs or larvae, purchase a new queen ASAP! Do not delay. If you can purchase a queen quickly, this would be more advantageous than waiting for a queen cell to emerge. Every moment your hive is not “queen-right” increases the chances that your hive will not make it through the winter. They need to be large in numbers before winter. Every day you go without a queen you are losing out on 1,000 plus new bees A DAY!!! Winter prep starts on your first inspection.

3. Watch out for cold nights! This week, here in Illinois we will have several nights in the low 40s which means these new packages will be clustering at night to stay warm. Even in Amarillo, Texas the low Wednesday night is 41. The low on Thursday night is 45 in Tennessee. I try not to just make this a “northern” lesson, so we’ll have some cold night around the country this week. In some places it will warm up enough for the bees to fly the next day, but some parts of the country bees will not be able to fly in the day due to rain. In this case the colony will rapidly run out of food stores. I strongly recommend you make sure all new colonies from packages be fed heavily during this cold, rainy snap. I make up protein and sugar patties and lay on top of frames. When colonies are clustered they will usually not be able to break cluster to go down and eat from the entrance feeders. Top feeders are good for cold nights, or my patty idea. I’m already placing my patties on my hives to get them use to eating them prior to this upcoming cold snap and rainy period. Remember if bees can’t fly out on a rainy day, they consume so much of what they have already gathered. This is only an issue for a new colony on undrawn foundation. Established colonies or nucs do not demand as much attention during brief cold snaps.

L15310 4. You have mites! Do not assume you do not have varroa mites and make the mistake of doing nothing. I will do my first powdered sugar dusting on my first inspection and in combination with my green drone comb and screen bottom board I will attempt to stay ahead of the mites. In one week my bees from a new package pulled out the comb on a green drone comb as seen in the photo. 

If you ignore your mites, the chances of your colony dying in the winter is greatly increased. Bees bitten by mites only live half their life span, 22 days instead of 45 days in the summer.

L15311 5. One of my new packages already needs a second deep hive box, but because cool nights are in the forecast and rainy days, I’m going to wait and keep them tight, in one box, one more week.

To all our new beekeepers, relax and stop worrying. Do not fret over your bees. Enjoy the hobby. I’ll keep walking you through this and maybe you’ll pick up some wisdom you can apply to your hive.

Freeshipping26. Now that everyone knows you are a beekeeper have a spare hive so that you can respond to a swarm hive. This time of the year bees multiply by sending out half the colony with the old queen. This is rare with new packages, but is expected with healthy second year colonies.  Having that extra hive for quick response can make all the difference on whether the swarm will stay or swarm again. Click here to order now.

Extract Finally, are you prepared for a honey harvest in a few months? We have a new harvest kit that comes with some new and effective ways to harvest your honey. It is a plastic device that fits on top of the honey bucket with a valve at the bottom. Also comes with a strainer and lid and a cold uncapping knife. See all the details by clicking here.

Thank you for supporting our family business with your beekeeping needs. We value your loyalty.  It’s harder to find small family business anymore but it’s what America was built on. We appreciate your business.

David and Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
Fairmount, Illinois
(217) 427-2678