Bee Basics For Beginner Beekeepers


One of the most enjoyable aspects of becoming a beekeeper is learning about bees. It requires a beehive to keep bees. In the wild bees create their own hives in a hollow tree trunk or another protected location, although it may be anyplace. As a backyard beekeeper, you will provide a man-made hive for your bees so that you may assist in colony maintenance and readily extract honey.

Two Hives are preferable to one

We strongly believe in maintaining more than one hive. There is no need to start with many hives; but, as your beekeeping knowledge and passion grow, your apiary is likely to grow naturally as well. While starting with two hives may seem intimidating to a beginner beekeeper, it offers several advantages to managing a single colony.

When A New Queen Emerges

A time comes in every queen bee’s life when she must give up her throne. Whether she’s injured, rejected by the hive, or just reaching the end of her life, the queen slows her laying of eggs. At that point, the rest of the hive knows it’s time to choose a new queen.

Luckily, queen bees can lay over a thousand eggs every day. And most queens live for about five years! Queen bees can lay two types of eggs fertilized or unfertilized. Unfertilized eggs hatch male bees who will become drones. Fertilized eggs hatch female bees who will be workers or queens.

How do bees choose their next queen? First, the queen lays eggs; then, the worker bees choose up to twenty of the fertilized eggs, seemingly at random, to be potential new queens. When these eggs hatch, the workers feed the larvae a special food called royal jelly. This helps larvae to grow larger than the drone and worker bee larvae.

Then, worker bees place the potential future queens in separate cells in the hive. Inside their cells, the larvae continue feeding on royal jelly and growing. The first larvae to mature will become the new queen.

When the new queen emerges from her cell, her first job is to get rid of her competitors. One by one, the new queen destroys undeveloped larvae in their cells. Sometimes, two queens emerge together, resulting in a fight for supremacy. The winner becomes the hive’s new queen, while the loser is forced out or killed.

If a queen’s brood output is lower than usual, replace her. Find, kill, and discard the previous queen before re-queening a colony. However, if your colony is too aggressive or if your hive split has not yet successfully grown a new queen. Then get good genetics from a queen breeder to improve the quality of your hive and the production of honey.

BUZZ from a Bee-Friendly Garden

Make a Bee-Friendly Habitat and choose bee-friendly plants. Bees like native wildflowers, flowering herbs, berries, and a variety of flowering fruits and vegetables. Another simple option for a suburban gardener to give an early spring food supply for bees is to plant snowdrops or Siberian Squill in their yard.

Beekeeping is an excellent pastime, but it’s a labor of love that is not suitable for everyone. Planting blooming plants, keeping some bare earth spots around the garden unmulched, letting last season’s leftover stalks lay, and constructing pollinator homes are all things that anybody can do to aid both native bees and European honeybees.

Bee Colony Management

Although extracting honey with a Flow Hive requires far less work than traditional techniques, most other elements of colony care will stay the same. Natural nectar flows are used to plan management. Beekeepers want their colonies to be as strong as possible before the nectar flows begin.

In this manner, the bees store the honey as excess, which the beekeeper may collect rather than using the honey to finish their spring build-up. Nectar flows vary greatly, so schedule your beekeeping duties around the nectar flows in your region.

Supplemental feeding should take place from January to February. Queens begin producing eggs in January, following which brood production accelerates to produce the spring labor force. Some colonies will require additional feeding.

If colonies are light when hoisted from the back, they require sugar syrup. Feed the bees generously with syrup (one part sugar to one part water). Pollen supplements, which are commercially available, give additional protein for population development.

Keeping Bees Hydrated

Your honeybees want water, and it is your responsibility to supply it for them! If you do not offer a water supply for your colony, it will find one anywhere it can; this might be yours, or your neighbor’s birdbath, or your next-door neighbor’s saltwater swimming pool, which is a favorite of honeybees.

Bees require clean water supplies since they frequently drown in birdbaths or are devoured by birds, fish, frogs, and other animals in rivers and lakes. Therefore they frequently flutter over our clotheslines and may even land on us if we are in a hot outdoor pool.

You may notice your honeybees slurping in gutters, puddles on the road, or other areas they should avoid. The simplest method to prevent problems with your neighbor or drowned bees is to offer a source near the hive.

A single bee pollinates at least 2,000 flowers every day, with its tiny wings beating 10,000 times per minute, delivering pollen and significantly contributing to our food supply. All that effort thirsts for the bees, especially on a hot day.

Water is used to dissolve crystallized honey, dilute honey while creating larval food, chill via evaporation during hot weather, and make a refreshing drink on a hot day. In the height of summer, when temperatures spike, it’s critical to remember that bees require safe drinking water.

Simply combine two tablespoons of white granulated sugar with one tablespoon of water and place on a spoon for the bee to access. When the bees become fatigued, the water and sugar mixture will rehydrate them and provide them with much-needed vitality. Honeybees require water, but may drown while collecting it. By providing a safe drinking area for bees, you may prevent them from drowning in your pool or pet’s water dish.

Whether you select a bee bath or a feeder, whether you have a nearby stream on your property or don’t mind if bees visit your birdbath, check your water supply once a day, especially during the summer. Sunny days may rapidly deplete your water supply, so make sure there is always water accessible for your bees. Their lives are on the line!

Garden Pesticides are Harmful to Bees

The abrupt loss of a colony due to pesticide exposure is startling. What follows is frequently sad, humiliating, and frustrating. Nothing is more upsetting than learning your bees have been poisoned. The entrance, formerly a busy runway for incoming and leaving foragers, is now silent, with just a few quivering bees amid the mound of dead below.

So, how can you know if your colony has been poisoned, what can you do about it, and how can you prevent it from happening in the first place? Be observant and conduct regular inspections of the hive and seek help from your local beekeeping group. Brood inspections are an incredibly important part of looking after your bees if not the most important part!

Frequency of Brood Inspections

If you have a new hive, examine it once a week for the first several weeks. Once everything has calmed down, you may plan to examine your hive once a month, unless you notice a problem. In the spring and summer, it’s a good idea to examine your hive every 2-3 weeks.

If you’ve been studying beekeeping for even a short time, you’re aware of the significance of beehive inspections. In order to understand how the colony is operating, you need to examine your beehive regularly.

You want to make sure you’re properly caring for your bees, but you’re not sure if you’re examining the hive too much or not enough. To be a successful beekeeper, you must examine your hives regularly. If a problem occurs that the bees cannot solve, it is your responsibility to be aware of it. After an examination, bees get anxious, and too much stress might cause them to murder their queen or leave the hive.

However, how much is too much? It all depends. Factors like bee species, nectar supply, and weather can all have a role. Opening a hive is one way to learn more about your colony, but don’t overdo it! To make each examination valuable, be deliberate in your approach.

During the spring and summer, an examination every seven to ten days is a reasonable goal for new beekeepers. Inspecting more than once a week can irritate your bees by interrupting hive activity and setting them back a day. A reasonably warm, dry day—above 60 degrees Fahrenheit—is ideal for inspection.

Brood Frames without Foundation

When initially starting out, the novice beekeeper is confronted with a plethora of options for beekeeping equipment. They made this equipment with little or no prior expertise to influence them. One of the most crucial considerations is whether to use foundation.

So foremost, let’s define some terms. All beehives have frames on which bees draw (produce) comb. They sometimes refer to these frames as “top bars” rather than frames in these hives.

The frame of the Langstroth is rectangular in form. Most Langstroth frames have a foundation, which is a flat layer that fits into the rectangular shape of the frame. This foundation is imprinted with the typical hexagonal form of cells.

Because bees build wax cells (comb) on this foundation, the foundation’s usage determines the plane on which they built the comb and the size of the cells. This is a crucial element of foundation usage.

If you’re a novice beekeeper, you might not know how revolutionary it was to receive your Flow Hive brood box without foundation inserts. These pre-fabricated, comb-stamped plastic or beeswax sheets are a staple in beekeeping equipment.

They’re typically accepted and used without inquiry by novice beekeepers. Some incorrectly assume that they’re required for comb construction, despite the reality that honeybees have been creating their own natural comb for millions of years without the help of beekeepers!

Transporting a Beehive Safely

There are some things to keep in mind when transporting a beehive, whether it’s a short walk across the garden or a long journey to a new place. First and foremost, ensure that you and the hive are safe; suit up, strap up, close the door, and keep it cold.

Transport your bees with a pickup vehicle or a trailer; never transport your beehive inside a car, as this mode of transport is risky and dangerous. We don’t suggest this since if the bees get out, you and others could be in grave danger.

We want to ensure that when we relocate a beehive; the bees grow acclimated to their new surroundings and do not return to their former hive site, because they are drawn intuitively to the location of their hive. If you move your beehive over a long distance for over 4 miles, the bees will not know the new region and will most likely return to the previous one.

However, if you’re moving your hive over a short distance between 30 feet – 4 miles, you’ll need to take certain precautions to guarantee that the bees can discover the hive at the new location. The approach you employ will be determined by the distance you wish to move your hive.

Create New Bee Colonies

Swarming is the natural process through which honeybees create new colonies. Honeybee swarming behavior is generally connected with seasons when there is an abundance of nectar available to the bees. When a honeybee colony believes they have successfully filled its hive area with comb, brood, pollen, and nectar, they typically desire to swarm.

If you already have a healthy colony, you can divide it to make a second beehive. Dividing your bees helps to keep the colony from swarming and provides you with a second supply of honey and beeswax. The Bees should be separated in early spring, before the first substantial nectar flow. Check for lots of capped brood to see whether your colony is robust enough to be divided–six frames of capped brood is a good place to start. Once you’ve determined that your bees are strong enough, you’ll require a second beehive to house them.

A queen will be required for the new colony. Instead of raising your own queen, the simplest solution is to simply order one. You’ll need to move bees from your old colony to the new hive once you’ve found the new queen. Take three frames of capped brood from the hive–along with all the bees–and place them in the center of your new beehive.

Insert the new queen’s frame, candy side up, between the brood frames. Replace the three brood frames in the original hive with foundation frames on the exterior walls of the beehive. Fill a hive-top feeder with sugar syrup and place it on both the old and additional hives. You now have a fresh colony of bees.

To Catch a Swarm of Bees

Taking in a swarm of bees is one of the most enjoyable aspects of beekeeping, and it’s a simple and cost-free method to supplement your apiary!
Honeybees swarm in the spring when their colony becomes overloaded with bees. It’s their method of alleviating colony congestion and also how their species establishes new bee colonies.

When it comes time to swarm, the queen and around half of the bees depart the colony in search of a new home. On their route to their new home, swarms regularly pause and can be observed, resting under a tree or shrub. Swarms are simple to catch and move since at this stage they seldom have a comb.

A natural swarm will not have expanded since it has not yet established itself in its new environment; they are simply a swarm of bees.
A beekeeper may quickly scoop, shake, or lower the swarm into their equipment and return it to their apiary without the bother of the comb.

Winterize your Beehive

During the winter, there will be no flowers for bees to feed on in most areas. As a result, it is critical to prepare your hive for the winter. Frederick Dunn is a beekeeper from the northern United States, where the winters are long and bitterly cold. He provides some excellent advice on how to keep your colonies safe during the colder months of the year.

Brood and honey production decreases in the late summer and early fall. Unlike in the spring, you should no longer overcrowd the bees by providing only one or two honey supers. This forces bees to keep honey in their brood nests. They often house overwintering colonies in two hive bodies or in one hive body and at least one honey super. In the late fall, colonies should weigh at least 100 pounds. Feed them a thick syrup if they are low on stores (two parts sugar: one part water).

Finally, place the hive in the early morning sun. This allows the bees to leave the hive earlier in the day to feed. In the Northeast, hives can spend the entire season in the sunlight. However, in hotter areas, hives should have some midday shade.

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