writing and blogging

Honey Bee Suite is six!

Christmas Day 2015 marks the sixth anniversary of Honey Bee Suite. I don’t know how I feel about that. In some ways it seems like I’ve been writing posts for decades, and in other ways it seems like I just started. Then too, on some days I have endless ideas, and on other days the well seems dry. Writers are known to be moody, so I’ll just blame it on what? Hormones?

Regardless of the daily ebb and flow, Christmas, the winter solstice, and year-end always remind me of the good things. Of all the things to be grateful for, my readers are right up there—and having more than 2.2 million page views this calendar year requires a lot of grateful.

My readers make it happen

I can never say enough about all the help and support that comes from this vast sea of people, nearly all of whom I’ve never met. Most of the ideas for posts come from readers. In addition, I routinely receive photographs, stories, how-tos, suggestions, links, recommendations, and even some guest posts. Then there are those who send hard goods—things to try or experiment with. This year I received books, equipment, tools, jewelry, and even a box of syringes.

On top of that are the people who have donated money to keep the site going. As the site gets bigger and more complex, the expenses rise. I use the donations to pay for hosting, security, software, registrations, upgrades, internet services, and problem-solving. Every donation, no matter how small or how large, gets plowed back into the site in some way, so everyone who benefits from this site owes the donors a much-deserved thank you.

Bumps in the road

As with any large endeavor, some problems seem only to get worse. This week, for example, my photo organizer kept locking up. Every time I tried to open it, I had to close and restart. I assumed I had about 14,000 photos in there, but when I actually checked, it turns out to be 29,012! And that’s after mercilessly deleting while they’re still in the camera.

Lots of you say you like my photos, but the ones you see are the carefully edited cream of the crop. Of the 29,012 that are mucking up my computer, I would guess 28,000 are out-of-focus bee shots—in other words, 2.8 x 104 fuzzy bees. I can’t decide what to do but hate the thought of deleting something good.

Aside from photos, the most persistent problem is finding time to answer questions. I do pretty well in stretches, but once I start to get behind, things go down hill in a hurry. I want to help everyone who asks, and I feel terrible when I can’t keep up.

The year to come

In spite of a few hitches here and there, I’m looking forward to the next bee season. I have some ongoing try-its lined up, including using honey supers with access holes and platforms (Anthony Planakis), experimenting with double-queen hives (Bill Hesbach), and learning from the Broodminder (Richard Morris). In addition, I recently agreed to be a contributor to the experimental Apis Information Resource Center being developed by Malcolm Sanford. Lastly, I continue to be mesmerized by native and wild bees throughout North America and hope to keep publishing portraits and CVs of the ones I encounter.

My most attentive reader

The most important thank-you of all goes to my husband, Rich. He puts up with scads of bee-related nonsense from me. He helps me lift things, build things, move things, and re-think things. He’s the first to yell “Typo!” and the first to find leaps in logic, especially concerning things mechanical. He puts up with my moods when everything is awry, the web is down, the hackers attack, or my site becomes unreachable. He listens to me complain while I read a question as long as a novel, or ignores me completely when I’m having a hissy fit. In short, I couldn’t do this without him.

A bee is a small thing

To all of you out there I wish the best of the season, I wish you good health and happiness in the coming year, but most of all, I urge you to find comfort in the small things.


Honey Bee Suite


My top-bar hive in winter. © Rusty Burlew.


  • Please know that you have directly helped me and, more importantly, my bees, numerous times. Thank you and Merry Christmas back atcha!

  • Thank you for all of the time and energy you put into this site. We’re headed into our fourth year of beekeeping and are so glad we found you early on. Your checklist posts (released at different times of the year) are so helpful. We’re looking forward to reading another year of posts!

  • One of the “BEST” resources I have ever used, quick, easy and to the point, have learned more from this site than any magazine.

  • I look forward to your emails and have learned so much from you Rusty. Thanks for the hard work that you do so we and the bees can benefit. Merry Christmas and to your family.

  • Rusty, I am on the third year of bee inspiration. Your wit and wisdom has saved many a bee from my stumbling attempts to ‘manage’ a hive. Thanks for sharing your love of pollinators with us. It is truly catching and I see so much more now than I did before discovering your posts.

    Merry Christmas and happy anniversary!

  • I appreciate this column more than you imagine and anyone who asks me about getting started with bees gets a link to this site! Keep up the good work and don’t get discouraged!

  • Please keep writing, you have helped me so much this past year, my first with these mesmerizing creatures. Thank you. Peace and blessings to you and yours.

  • Thanks for a very enjoyable and educational blog and for the thoughtful comments of your readers and contributors. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, your family and all your readers!!

  • Happy birthday! Thanks to both you and Rich for being such an engaging and informative part of our bee community. I can’t think of a better way to be involved and I know you’re making a difference because I hear your name all the time in beekeeping circles. And the best part is that your conversations and valuable information is archived for future beekeepers. I enjoy learning from your many thoughtful supporters. Happy holidays and I hope you continue for many years to come.

  • Thank you so much! You are my go to source for everything bees!! I print and highlight many of your articles and keep them in a binder. You are my favorite beekeeper.

  • Rusty, you rock! And there is no higher compliment from a geologist… We LOVE your website and refer to it constantly. I read every post you make and really appreciate your help.

    To quote an ancient blessing:
    “May your Queens always lay well, may your brood be strong and may your mites wither and die.”

    (OK, I made up that it’s an ancient blessing, but I really mean it)



  • Thank you Rusty and Rich as well for all you have offered since that Christmas day in 2009. I feel privileged to have found your site and I thoroughly enjoy reading it always. I think you always give backbone advice as well as entertaining stories and you are never condescending to all of us bee keepers still using L plates. A Blessed Christmas to you both as well and may your bees and your gardens grow forever more beautiful.

  • Happy anniversary!!! I enjoy your site. I got a hive in my backyard. A few days ago I noticed my bees to be more active than usually. I grabbed my nuc box and placed it against the fencing wall about 4m away from the hive. I had some spinned out frames to put in the nuc box. A few hours later a swarm moved in. I am so excited, I am going to sell them. I already got a buyer who is interested.

  • Rusty, I am so thankful for all your posts and always look forward to your witty and intelligent writing on any bee or pollinator related topic. I (and so many others) have learned a lot from you. I continue to recommend your blog to every beekeeper I meet.

  • Congratulations and many happy returns! It is a pleasure to read your writing and I am a total fan of your no-nonsense logic based approach to beekeeping. And it is amazing how you keep it fresh! You keep exploring new questions, making top quality summaries on relevant issues, you keep pushing forward! And you are attentive, patient and helpful with us under the line. No wonder you have readers all over the world! So, from Portugal, season greetings and a big thank you.

  • Where would I be with out your posts? It is a hard question to answer but I certainly would no longer be keeping bees. Thank you so much for all you do, your common sense approach to issues and your ability to communicate to so many of us, well honestly it is just amazing. I could go on and on but for brevities sake, again thank you for all you do for the pollinators and for our planet.

  • Hi Rusty,
    As new beekeepers (3 years) we’re heavily reliant on all the excellent information and advice you so generously share.
    Thank you for all your hard work!

  • Hello Rusty,

    Thank you for current information and new ideas. Love Honey Suite.

    The Merriest Christmas and a Healthy New Year.

  • So, how big were those syringes? Did they come with a lifetime supply of horse to keep your bees hooked and home in the hive?

    Seriously, what are they used for?

    Thanks so much for this labor of love. It’s helped this first-year beek a great deal. Time to donate (look for God N Locomotive Works).


    • So Ivan, I was wondering when someone would ask about the syringes. The box came after I wrote a post about applying oxalic acid (for varroa) with the dribble method. I mentioned that it was difficult to apply the right amount with a syringe and that it took some practice. So a beekeeper from the east coast who works for a medical establishment sent an assortment of all shapes and sizes and designs so I could see what worked best. I’ve tried a couple of different types, but wow, I don’t have that many mites!

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful donation. I will put it to good use—no syringes, I promise.

  • Thank you Rusty! I’m new to beekeeping and have learned a great deal from you! I refer anyone I know who is interested in beekeeping to your site. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  • I’d probably have a stroke if I knew 2 million people we’re watching me. Good work.

    I don’t leave comments or get in on discussions as I often as I used to, but I read everything. Keep doing what you’re doing.

    Please and thank you.

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