Bee Keeping for
Absolute Beginners on Keeping Honey Bees
is a guide to bee keeping for beginners.
Here you will find tips and advice on how to keep honey
bees with a year's calendar telling
you what to do each season for your bees.
Why do people keep bees? Well, many people keep beesbecause
they want to encourage these industrious insects into their
orchards and gardens, and also because they are worried about the
declining bee populations and the disappearing
bees. Others know the benefits
of honey for their
skin, health and energy levels and keep bees as a result, giving them a
steady supply of pure, organic honey.
bee keeping has started up in cities and around our
unfortunately many give up on beekeeping after they have tried to
harvest their first lot of honey. We don't want that to happen to you,
and with these simple steps, you will see that beekeeping isn't as
difficult as you first thought.
Beekeeping For Beginners
and Identifying the Bees in your
hive will have 1 queen bee, several thousand worker bees, and for part
of the year, several hundred drones.The
Drone Bees - Picture 1
When the family is large
and honey abundant, a brood of drones
is reared; the number, probably,
depends on the yield of honey, and size of the swarm, more than
As honey becomes scarce, the drones are destroyed. Drones
large, clumsy bodies, and their buzzing, when on the wing, is louder,
and altogether different from the others.
In bee keeping the drones seem to
be of the least
value of any in the hive. Perhaps not more than one in a thousand is
ever called upon to perform the duty for which they were designed. Yet
they assist, on some occasions, to keep up the animal heat necessary in
the old hive after a swarm has left.
Worker Bees Picture 2
Basket-like cavities are found on the worker
bees' legs, where they pack the
pollen of flowers into little pellets, convenient to bring home. They
are also provided with a sting, and if attacked, will generally defend
themselves sufficient to escape.
Worker bees range the fields for honey and
pollen, secrete wax, construct combs, prepare food, nurse the young,
bring water for the use of the community, obtain propolis to seal up
all crevices about the hive, stand guard, and keep out intruders,
The Queen Bee
The queen bee,
keeping, is the mother of the entire family;
her duty appears to be
only to deposit eggs in the cells. Her abdomen has its full size very
abruptly where it joins the trunk or body, and then gradually tapers to
The queen bee is longer than either the drones or workers, but her
size, in other
respects, is a medium between the two. In shape she resembles the
worker more than the drone; and, like the worker, has a sting, but will
not use it for anything below royalty.
BEGINNERS, Beekeeping Equipment and Starting
It is advisable to start
small when first bee keeping and then
expand your hives as you become more experienced with your honey bees.
can be a costly project in setting up the hives and buying the
equipment you need - about US$200 just for the hive which you can
either buy commercially, or use some beehive plans and make your own.
In addition, you will
need a smoker, a
veil, gloves, feeding equipment and a honey extractor. Again we provide
a plan for a homemade honey extractor. Here are the links to some free
bee keeping plans for homemade beehives and homemade
and Learning how to keep Bees
You can read volumes of
articles, including one like this, but you will never truly understand
the art of bee keeping until you do it yourself.
Ideally, you will
have someone guide you who has kept honey bees before, but if
not, you will
have to go it alone and recognize when to harvest, how to open and
remove the frames, what the queen bee looks like etc.
However, we hope
that our simple guide to keeping honey bees for beginners like
you, will help
in some way to put you on the right path. Don't forget, though, it is
no use keeping honey bees if you don't have the right honey
plants to allow your bees to collect the nectar and convert
BEEKEEPING FOR BEGINNERS
and Where to Site the Bee Hives
In bee keeping, the
position of the hives of your honey bees is important.
Position your hives so that they face
east, and make sure that they are protected from the afternoon sun.
Also make sure that they have access to fresh water every day. You can
achieve this by placing a watering dish close at hand, but if it is
rather large, make sure that you have some pieces of wood floating on
the water for the bees to rest on and so that they don't drown while
Make sure that the hives are not
resting on damp ground by placing the hive on a row of bricks. Damp
hives will result in sick bees. If you live in an area with skunks,
bears or raccoons you will need to protect your hives as far as
possible from these animals, as they will raid your hives if you don't.
Finally, don't keep more than 2 colonies per acre. Good bee keeping
result in about 45 kg of honey per hive.
and Your New Bee Hives
To start off bee keeping
you will need
eight-frame, medium depth boxes for each colony. Make sure that any
additions that you make to your hive come from the same manufacturer as
dimensions are not standard, and you will not have a good fit if you
and Wearing Protective Clothing
Getting stung by bees is
inevitable with bee keeping.
Therefore, it is sensible to buy protective clothing. This should be an
overall which has elasticated arms and legs, a veil and hat where the
veil can be tucked down into the overall. Finally a good pair of
leather gloves. The downside of using gloves is that when you are
trying to extract the frames, the gloves make it all rather cumbersome.
Some people are brave enough to ditch the gloves when working, others
cut off the fingers to allow for a better grip. In the end it is what
is comfortable for you.
and The Bee Hive Smoker
Your smoker should be
large and stainless steel as it will last longer and make sure that it
comes with a protective shield. You can burn compressed sawdust or
compressed cotton fibers that can be commercially purchased from
suppliers. However, there are other fuels that are freely available and
cost nothing. You can burn pine needles, sawdust and chipped wood mulch
is all suitable. Just make sure that the wood that you are using has
not been treated with any chemicals.
and Collecting the Honey
To see whether the honey
enough to be harvested remove an uncapped comb containing honey and
turn it on its side. Give it a good shake. If nectar comes out of it,
put it back and wait a few weeks more as the honey isn't ready. When it
has matured, you can now harvest the honey, but always leave some for
the honey bees.
They will need
that honey to survive on, especially
winter months, and if you remove all the honey, your bees will die.
However, if you are removing honey during spring you may want to remove
more honey than you would for an autumn harvest to prevent swarming.
Don't remove honey from the brooding
boxes. The honey here is darker, and dislodged brood and larvae will
contaminate the honey.
Although there are a number of ways
from shaking the frames to turning the hive on its side, the best way
is of course to use a smoker as it makes the bees drowsy and far less
aggressive. Aim the smoker at the hive and try and prise the lid off
the hive so you can get to the frames. Keeping the smoker going lift
the frames and brush the bees off the frames with a brush that is
specifically for this purpose. Make sure that it is clean. You could
also free the bees from the frame by shaking them off the frame. Remove
as many frames as you want to in this manner and replace them with
BEGINNERS and Remove the Capping
Take the frames back to
your house and
with a hot knife remove the cappings. Make sure the knife is sharp. You
can also buy a special scraper from a supplier which is used in a
BEE KEEPING FOR
and Honey Extractors
To get the honey out of
the frames the
best way is to use a honey extractor. These can either be manually
driven or electric, it just depends on how much you want to invest, how
many colonies you have and how big an operation you want to run.
To see what you should be doing
throughout the year, season by season, see our Beekeeper's
Calendar for hive management during the year.
and Pests and
Bee keeping is not
their health and safety. Unfortunately, bees are susceptible to mites; tracheal
mites and varroa mites. Where the
tracheal mites lay eggs in the trachea of the bees, the varroa mites
attach themselves to the bodies of the bees and become a parasite
living off the bees' body fluids.
You can treat tracheal mites by mixing
50grams of menthol with 50 grams of vegetable shortening and spreading
it thinly on cardboard sheets that are placed on top of the frames for
a total of 25 days. This is done in the spring and autumn times of the
year where the temperature is at least 60°F. Make sure too that the
opening to the hive is as small as possible to allow for the vapors to
be distributed throughout the hive. However, I worry about possibility
of tainting the honey's taste, as menthol has a very strong smell. I
Neem is a
for whole variety of pests in the garden, but is particularly useful
with keeping the mite population down in your hives. By adding 3 ml of
neem extract to 1 liter of sugar extract this will reduce both types of
mites in your hives.
Mites are difficult to get rid of once
you have them. The best way to avoid them is to check the hives for
mites, and to make sure that your hives are clean.
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