FAQ about Beehives
What do you think of when you hear the word “beehive”? Perhaps you conjure up an image of an oval shaped structure hanging in a tree. The honey bee hive is much different than most of the cartoon drawings. Test your knowledge about beehives and beekeeping for beginners. Learn more with these FAQ about Beehives.
In spite of the specific images that come to mind, a beehive is truly a home for bees. The hive gives a honey bee colony a place to live and raise their young.
Inside this enclosed cavity, our honey bees carry on life sustaining activities: babies emerge, food is stored, shelter from weather provided and more.
A simple view from the outside of the beehive gives no indication of the magic happening inside. But without a safe place, our bees could not reproduce.
Beehives Can Be Found in Many Different Structures
In nature, you can find honey bees that have created a beehive in a hollow tree. In Appalachia, we call a tree with bees a “bee gum”.
Dating back many years, area beekeepers would harvest the hive. This was done by cutting the section of the log that housed the bee nest.
It was then carried back to the apiary. A solid board added to each end of the log would protect the colony from predators and weather.
Finding a bee gum hive is harder to do today. The influx of bee varroa mites wiped out the majority of wild honey bee colonies. And those swarms that do escape are not likely to survive on their own.
Common Beehive Questions
No. Beehives are not normally dangerous. Honey bees are one of the most accommodating bees in the insect world.
However, they do live in large colonies of over 40,000 bees during the Summer. They deserve respect.
Colony temperament will change over the season too. A queen that passes on defensive behavior to her offspring, night time predators irritating the colony or bad foraging conditions can turn the mood nasty.
For this reason, it is important to find the very best place to put your beehives. Away from human traffic, walkways or play areas is the best plan.
Sometimes, you may find a hive of wild bees living in a tree or building.
Honey bees are not normally aggressive when left alone. Leave them alone. Do not approach the front of the entrance or get too close.
Yes, you can often keep bees in neighborhoods. The first step is to check your local laws and regulations.
Many locals allow beehives with some restrictions such as a minimum number of hives or having to own a certain amount of property.
Being a good beekeeping neighbor will go a long way towards the acceptance of your beehive.
In addition to good placement, don’t work your bees on the same afternoon your neighbor is having an outside birthday party.
Is there a neighborhood pool? Provide a water source for your bees before they arrive and decide they want to visit the pool. Common sense goes a long way.
Honey bees are a bit different than most other types of bees. Most bees do not over winter as a colony.
For these bees, a mated queen hibernates in leaves, bark and forest debris. Next Spring, she emerges and starts a new nest. That is why you do not see large nest early in the season.
Honey bees however are social insects. The whole bee family over-winters inside the colony. Bees survive winter by clustering together for warmth and eating honey stored for this purpose.
So, a beehive may look empty but hopefully there is a cluster of bees inside – waiting for Spring.
They can be. Beekeeping is a wonderful hobby. However, if you are looking for an easy way to make money, I would look elsewhere.
Honey bee colonies are prone to failure from many stresses. If you are seeking to start a beekeeping business, I suggest you begin slow and grow your number of hives as you learn.
Must you have a location with full Sun for a hive? No. Beekeepers who live in regions where the Small Hive Beetle is found should avoid full shade. Beetles reproduce more easily in moist, shady soil.
If you live in one of the hotter regions, some afternoon shade may be very beneficial to your honey bee colony. Placing your beehive in shade can help them.
They are able to cool the hive but a little shade from extreme heat can help them keep the brood nest at the correct temperature.
If you live in a region with bears, you should be concerned about your bees. Many beekeepers share land with bear families and have no problems.
The installation of a good electric fence for bear control is the first step to harmonious cohabitation.
It is much easier to prevent bear problems that to stop them once started. It is unlikely that a beehive will call a bear in from a great distance.
However, bears roam and you may have one passing through who knows how good bees taste!
Honey bees contribute a great deal to our agricultural system by providing pollination of crops. Their large colonies are easily moved from one location to another.
However, honey bees have not proven themselves to be the best pollinators inside greenhouses. They just want out! Bumble Bees are a better option for large greenhouse pollination.
Oh my, as wonderful as honey bees are, they sometimes established homes in undesirable locations. A beehive in your home is not good for you or the bees.
Pest control companies will often kill the colony but I would only suggest that as a last resort.
If you find a beehive that needs removal, contact a local beekeepers association. Each state has them and you can contact your state agricultural department if you don’t know who else to contact.
If you have a colony in between the walls of your home, be prepared to pay for bee removal. It is a big job to removed siding etc, and then fix it back to the homeowner’s satisfaction.
Yes, they smell good. Seriously though, beehives do not smell bad unless the bees are dealing with disease. If your beehive smells bad, it is time for a good inspection to determine the cause.
Not at all, your beehives do not have to be white. They can be painted any color. In many regions, we do recommend light colors to help protect the colony from over-heating.
It sure can and that is a wonderful thing. It is not uncommon for a beekeeper to have a bee swarm move into an empty bee box! Can you say – FREE BEES !
The honey bee colony is a wondrous organism with many secrets. After studying bees for hundreds of years, there are still many things we don’t know.
Maybe that is a good thing. We humans don’t always use that kind of information for good. Still, those of us who love bees “beekeeper or not” enjoy trying to fit the puzzle pieces together.