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
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
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
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. – 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.– 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
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
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?
Developing bees are called brood. Understanding the various types of brood and what they mean to the colony is important. – 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
One strategic aspect of modern beekeeping is the ability to inspect hives without destroying them. When bees build comb that blocks inspection, the beekeeper must take action. – What is Burr Comb?
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. – Common Bee Hive Pests
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.
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!