Important Tips for Keeping Bees
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. Everyone who hopes to be a successful beekeeper must learn about all the aspects of keeping healthy colonies. There are no short cuts.
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.
Getting Started with Beehives
The new beekeeper (new beek) has a lot to learn and it can feel overwhelming. Relax, take your time – you can not learn everything in one year.
Visit the links in each section for more detailed information that will guide you on getting your hives (and yourself) ready for bees to arrive.
Beekeeping for Beginners
Read, learn everything you can -be sure to check out my section on –Beekeeping for Beginners. You need tips on everything from where to put your hive to when to open it for the first time.
The new beekeeper who invests time in learning basic skills is more likely to enjoy success with their hives. In time, hive management jobs can be completed in less time as you become more comfortable and familiar with your bees.
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!
The region/climate in which you live plays a role in your exact beekeeper tasks. However, all honey bees have the same basic needs.
Beekeeping Supplies You Really Need
Hey, I love getting bee stuff as much as the next guy but what do you really need? Getting started with bees is not cheap – make sure you are getting the necessaries first.
Learn everything you can about Beekeeping Supplies & Equipment well before your bees arrive. Do not wait until the day of bee arrival to assemble and paint your hive.
Managing Beehives in the Apiary
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 Bees Sugar Water allows colonies with small populations to grow faster.
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. There are several conditions that have to be met if you are trying to Get Your Bees to Build Comb faster.
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.
This must be done with care especially in regions where Small Hive Beetles exist. Learn how to Use Pollen Patties to Promote Strong Beehives.
Setting up your apiary is one of the first tasks for beekeepers. Over time your needs may change and you might decide to change things. But, in the beginning, give some thought to your layout. – What is an Apiary – Beekeeper Know How
Challenges in the Apiary or Bee Yard
The section covers problems (or opportunities depending on your point of view) that you often see in a bee yard. Be sure to check out the links for more detailed information on each one.
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!
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. But if you do it wrong or at the wrong time – both colonies are a risk. Learn how to split a beehive.
Throughout the warm months our bees are on the lookout for nectar rich flowers. However, what happens when the flowers do not contain nectar?
Your hives may be experiencing a nectar dearth and it can be a big problem. Learn how to detect when a dearth is occurring so you can help if needed. – Nectar Dearth – Trouble for Honey Bees?
Has that sweet gentle hive of bees in your backyard become a holy terror? Tips and techniques for dealing with aggressive honey bee colonies.
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
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
No matter how much beekeeping experience you develop, you will still be surprised sometimes. Bee behavior is complex and sometimes we cause mistakes too. – Why are My Bees on the Ground?
Observation is one of the best ways to learn more about bee and beekeeping. Sometimes, we struggle to understand what they may be telling us. – The Mystery of Bee Washboarding Behavior
Inspecting Honey Bee Colonies
One strategic aspect of modern beekeeping is the ability to inspect hives without destroying them. However, bees make use of every bit of available space.
When the beekeeper opens the hive, he/she may find some unusual comb. When bees build comb that blocks inspection, the beekeeper must take action. – What is Burr Comb?
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?
Developing bees are called brood. Understanding the various types of brood and what they mean to the colony is important. Learn to identify the various stages of bee brood so you will know what you are seeing. – Bee Brood – Everything You Need to Know
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
We are not the only ones who love honey bees and the products they provide. Many different honey bee pest cause problems for bee colonies.
These pests weaken bees and spread diseases that cause further damage to colonies. Not every pest is a hive killer – some only cause minor damage.
The beekeeper needs to learn how to identify and control major bee hive pests in order to have strong colonies.
How to Harvest Honey
For those beekeepers who have dreams of a honey harvest, patience is a virtue. Not every hive produces excess honey each year. And, new hives often are not productive until their second year.
Plan ahead and learn all you can about honey harvesting so you will be ready when the big day arrives. – Harvesting Honey from Bees.
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
A Final Word on Keeping Honey Bees and Beehive Management
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 and handling colony problems.
At that point, your successes will far outnumber your failures. Don’t give up keeping honey bees is an attainable goal for those who learn and adapt to the needs of the bees.