Interested in taking up beekeeping, or already have a hive of your own? Beekeeping can be a rewarding and educational endeavor. No matter if your purpose is solely for honey production, helping out the planet by creating a habitat of pollinators, or simply an urge to learn something new, regardless of why you engage in beekeeping, you may experience your own set of concerns and questions. Both the professional and the beginner need guidance and tips that will aid in becoming an experienced and safe beekeeper, which is why we’re providing some useful beekeeping tips that you can follow and apply to become a successful beekeeper.
Tip #1 – Get the Appropriate Beekeeping Clothes
One of the first things necessary to beekeeping is appropriate clothes to wear during feeding, hive inspection, hive relocation, and honey harvesting. Bees respond favorably to light-colored protective clothing. Avoid wooly and dark clothing as bees can react aggressively to it.
Also, get a hat that is strong and firm for maximum support to the veil. During summer, make sure to use ventilated veils and avoid wearing dark felt hats. Regarding the veil, you should opt for folding wires as they help to maintain the shape and offer ample space between the bees and your face.
Your gloves should be pliable and robust, while still allowing for free movement of your fingers. You should also wear a pair of boots that adequately cover your ankles.
Tip #2 – Create the Right Environment
Since honey bees come from the tropics, they are best suited to warm and sunny environments. Low temperatures can make bees vulnerable to diseases, as well as shortening their lifespan. This is a major reason why many beekeepers lose their colonies in the colder months.
Hence, you need to ensure a place the bees can receive sufficient sunlight, without exposing them to too much sunshine as diseases can develop from too much sun as well.
Tip #3 – Be Patient
Plenty of beekeepers wish to extract honey within the first 12 months of beekeeping. But this task shouldn’t be hurried. Excersing patience this first year can be tough. However, its just as tough if not more for the new colony, as they will also encounter challenges.
When beginning beekeeping, the bees are gradually developing and getting familiar with the surrounding environment. They create honey for their own survival, which is extremely delicate at the start. Thus, if you extract the honey in the first year, you can lose the entire colony because of starvation. Taking honey too early can result in bees not having adaquate quantities of nectar, and unable to make up for the lost honey.
Tip #4 – Don’t Forget to Keep Water for the Bees
Bees require an adequate supply of clean water in a partially shaded area. Make sure to keep water near the hive to make it easily accessible for the bees. Never assume the bees will fulfill their water needs on their own. On average, strong colonies require up to a liter of water on warm days. This water is used for two purposes. One is to dilute honey so it can be added to brood food. While the second is to use water for evaporative cooling. D
It is recommended that the water is placed in the location before introducing the bees to it. Failing to do this could result in the bees being forced to search for other water sources in the meantime, and once familiar with another location, could be challenging to divert them. Additionally, provide floating material, such as twigs, on the water to prevent the bees from drowning.
Tip #5 – Keep Bee-Friendly Plants
Bee-friendly plants, such as lilac, sage, lavender, etc., provide the bees with plenty of pollen and nectar. While some of these plants will grow naturally around your hives, others requiring planting. Give consideration to the plants you’re interested in growing. Plants develop and bloom differently, making it important to understand and ensure you plant enough for your hive. It is necessary that your bees have a constant supply of pollen and nectar. If you have questions on which plants and flowers are best for bees, ask a Grange Gardening Expert in store for more information.
Tip #6 – Inspect Your Hives Regularly
Bees are incredibly responsive. An active hive can run out of space, re-queen, and move out all within two weeks. Thus, you should regularly inspect your hives, ideally every 7 – 10 days.
Make sure you conduct the inspection comprehensively. Here are some things you need to do:
- Open up the hive
- Check space usage and availability
- Remove and check each frame of brood.
Moreover, you should also look out for any indications of diseases and swarming. Assign ample time for inspection of every hive and do this regularly. At the start, it might take you more time to inspect the hive. However, as you become more experienced, as will your efficiency.
Tip #7 – Avoid Unnecessary Disturbances
In your initial days as a beekeeper, it can be tempting to continuously look and inspect your hives multiple times in a day. Try your best to avoid too frequently visiting and unnecessary disturbances of the hive. Keep in mind that frequently opening the hive exposes the bees to wind and heat, which can quickly stress them. Avoid this as much as possible, especially when the bees are still establishing. Another important note you should avoid is excessive insulation on the hives during the colder months. Hives that are wrapped too tightly can lead to moisture buildup, which can ultimately lead to the death of the bees.
Tip #8 – Connect with Your Local Beekeeping Organizations
In the practice of beekeeping, certain details can be specific to your local area. Due to the nature of beekeeping, you will be most successful if you have strong local resources to guide you. For instance, someone can come in to inspect your hive or help you locate your queen if needed. Reach out and find local beekeeping associations and attend meetings. Certain associations even offer mentors who can be very helpful during your first season.
For successful beekeeping, carefully follow these guidelines, and you will be on your way to hosting a productive and healthy bee colony. If you have beekeeping questions or need additional information, visit us in-store to speak with a Grange Beekeeping Expert.