Keeping Honey Bees – Beekeeper Tasks
What do beekeeper’s do? They manage beehives – that’s what beekeeping is all about – keeping honey bees. The tasks involved in beehive management are many and varied. Some must be repeated throughout the year. Other beekeeper jobs might need attention once a year or less.
Anyone who imagines that beekeeping is a “hands off” endeavor, would be very wrong. Once you become involved in keeping honey bees, you learn really quick that bees need our help.
But wait – bees have been doing their thing for a long time without any human help, right? Yes, but keeping bees in man-made hives is a different thing all together.
While a beekeeper can interfere too much with a honey bee colony, routine hive management tasks are important. You have to look inside the hive, but first you have to learn what to look for! – Beekeeping for Beginners
In time, hive management jobs can be completed in less time as you become more comfortable and familiar with your bees. However, you will need ongoing supplies as your colonies grow in number. – Beekeeping Supplies & Equipment
The region/climate in which you live plays a role in your exact beekeeper tasks. However, all honey bees have the same basic needs.
The new beekeeper who invests time in learning basic skills is more likely to enjoy success with their hives.
Beekeeping Management Tips to Build Colonies
Colonies with small populations can be especially frustrating if they are slow to build comb. These may be new hives from packages, small swarms or splits. In order to help them we need to understand their needs – Getting Your Bees to Build Comb
Getting new colonies off to a good start often requires providing extra nutrition. Many beekeepers invest some time and money into feeding bees until they are established. Feeding allows colonies with small populations to grow faster – Feeding Bees Sugar Water.
Honey bee colonies need more than just sugar. Foragers collect pollen to serve as a pollen source for brood rearing. Beekeepers will sometimes feed their colonies extra pollen if natural sources as sparse. Using Pollen Patties to Promote Strong Beehives.
Challenges in the Apiary or Bee Yard
In nature, survival of the fittest is the rule. Strong honey bees colonies will kill and rob out weaker colonies. This is why we avoid spilling sugar water in the bee yard and keep entrances small on weak hives. Learn what to do to prevent or stop robber bees!- Robber Bees – How to Stop Robbing.
Bee colony population varies throughout the warm season. It is the job of the savvy beekeeper to manage colony population and space. Sometimes, creating hive splits can be beneficial. How to Split a Beehive
Swarming is a natural part of beekeeping. But beekeepers often hope to minimize or stop swarming. Understanding how to give your bees space to grow may help in this endeavor. – Honey Bee Swarming
Has that sweet gentle hive of bees in your backyard become a holy terror? Tips and techniques for dealing with aggressive honey bee colonies.– How to Deal with Aggressive Bee Colonies?
Sometimes bees leave a hive – we call this “absconding”. This is different than normal swarming. Why do bees abscond? Absconding Bees – Why Bees Leave the Hive?
It is best to avoid moving your beehive around the yard whenever possible. But, if you do need to move a hive, these tips will help you do a great job. – How to Move a Beehive.
In spite our your best efforts, the time will come that you lose a hive of bees. Dead beehives often leave the beekeeper with a sense of failure. However, even the best beekeepers lose some hives. – Finding a Dead Beehive – What to Expect
Winter Beekeeping Tasks
What do bees do in Winter? Do honey bees hibernate? How do these cold blooded insects survive cold temperatures? Our bees have a remarkable system of survival if they have what they need. – What do Bees do in Winter?
Sometimes, your hives will not need extra attention in late season. However, checking to be sure the bees are ready for Winter is the beekeeper’s job. –Preparing Beehives for Winter.
Healthy well fed colonies have several method of getting ready for Winter. In fact, Honey bees that are “born” in Fall are different than Spring bees. Enjoy this interesting look into the reason. – Fat Winter Bees.
Beekeepers accumulate a lot of equipment. Everything needs a place to go when not in use on the hive. Storing Beekeeping Equipment over Winter.
While the bees are calm in the winter hive, what do beekeepers do? Winter beekeeping involves monitoring colony food stores and preparing for the new season. Winter Beekeeping.
In the best bee management we prepare bees before Winter cold arrives. But, sometimes you need to feed bees during Winter. Starving bees are considered an emergency! – Emergency Method of Feeding Bees in Winter
Bee Hive Inspections
A lot can be learned from observing the hive entrance, however you don’t really know what’s inside unless you look. Routine hive inspections are an important part of beekeeping. Routine Hive Inspections – What to Look For?
Baby bees are called brood. Understanding the various types of brood and what they mean to the colony is important. – Baby Bees – Where are They?
Let’s not forget the most important single bee in the hive. Any hive inspection should include a quick check on the queen status of the colony. Is it time to requeen? Learn everything you can about your queen bee. – Queen Bee Facts You Need to Know
Honey Bee Pests & Disease
It is vital for the beekeeper to monitor the level of varroa infestation in any beehive. Then treatment options can be considered if needed. Testing for Varroa Mites.
Even beekeepers familiar with the dangers of mite infestation may fail to act quickly. There is sometimes a tendency to wait until Fall to treat. This can be a devastating mistake for bee colonies – When to Treat Bees for Mites
Varroa mites are the #1 killer of honey bee colonies. They weaken bees and spread disease. Varroa mite populations must be controlled.– Best Varroa Mite Treatments.
In recent years, the use of oxalic acid for varroa mite control has become popular in the US. Used successfully for years in Europe, American beekeepers have added this tool to their mite control program. – Oxalic Acid Vaporization for Mite Control
Can essential oils help honey bees be healthier? Many beekeepers say yes. Enjoy these essential oil recipes used by beekeepers to promote hive health.– Best Ways of Using Essential Oils for Honey Bees.
Small Hive Beetles are a pest in many regions of the US. One of the best ways to deal with hive beetles is to understand their behavior. Small Hive Beetles in Beehives
In addition to keeping strong bee colonies, the use of beetle traps can help. Several different styles of small hive beetle traps are available. Guide to Small Hive Beetle Traps & Treatments
Did Wax Moths kill your bees? It may seem to be the case but moths rarely kill healthy hives. Wax Moths vs Beehives
Ants are tiny insects that seem to be able to get anywhere. If ants are causing a problem in your beehives, here are some great tips to help keep them away! Ants in Beehives – How to Keep them Out
Once your bee colony has stored enough honey for their Winter stores, hopefully they will make some for you. A lot of hard work is put into the task by the beekeeper and the bees. Now it’s time to harvest. 5 Easy Tips for Harvesting Honey.
Getting the honey harvest from the hive to the house is step one. Now we have to get that honey bottled and ready to use. Honey Packaging – From the Hive to the Bottle
Conclusion: Keeping honey bees involves some trial and error. Mistakes happen in any beekeeping operation. Sometimes those mistakes will cause the death of a colony. This can be very disheartening.
However, over time your skill in keeping bees will increase. A beekeeper becomes more adept at finding their queen bee, recognizing pest and disease problems.
At that point, your successes will far outnumber your failures. Don’t give up!