TABLE OF CONTENT

Getting Started in Beekeeping ………………………………………………………………… 3
Clothing and Equipment Needed ……………………………………………………………. 5
How to Handle Bees …………………………………………………………………………………. 6
Acquiring Bees…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7
Established colonies …………………………………………………………………………………… 7
Queen Management Techniques ……………………………………………………………… 8
Raising Queen Bees …………………………………………………………………………………… 9
Using Nectar Substitutes ……………………………………………………………………………12
Using Pollen Substitutes …………………………………………………………………………….12
Keeping Bees in a Suburban Area …………………………………………………………….13
About Bacterial Diseases ……………………………………………………………………………15
About Viruses and Fungal Diseases …………………………………………………………17
About Varroa Mites ……………………………………………………………………………………..18
About Tracheal Mites …………………………………………………………………………………. 20
The Small Hive Beetle ……………………………………………………………………………….. 21
About Nosema ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 22
About the Disappearing Bees ………………………………………………………………….. 23
Bee Stings …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 24
The Processing of Honey …………………………………………………………………………. 25
Equipment used for Honey Processing ………………………………………………….. 29

Getting Started in Beekeeping

If you are considering bees as a hobby or as a sideline business, there are things you will want to keep in mind before making that decision. Since there are many factors involved with making money with the honeybees produce, you might want to start doing it as a hobby. There is a significant amount of money in the start-up of beekeeping. Before investing any amount of money in your beekeeping project, you might want contact beekeepers in your area. As a rule, they will more than happy to share their experience with you. Most beekeepers love keeping bees and to them it is just a “hobby”, but they can give you some insight into beekeeping. Take plenty of notes. More likely than not you will need them.

In making the decision of becoming a beekeeper, you will want to consider the safety of family, friends, and neighbors. You wouldn’t want someone to get stung that is allergic to bee stings. The best course of action on that account is to ask your neighbors and friends, if any of them are allergic to bees. You will also be able to find out if there might be someone who would not like beehives so close to their proximity. You will also want to check with the county you live in. You will want to know about any ordinances or laws prohibiting beekeeping.

You will also want to consider whether or not you have a location that would be conducive to maintaining bees. You will also want to consider where the bees will have to fly to retrieve nectar and pollen. Keeping plants they like close by is not a bad idea either. Since bees need water every day, you might want to have water for them close at hand. You don’t want them visiting the neighbor’s swimming pool. Here is a list of spots unacceptable to the health of the bees.

How many months of the year will pollen and nectar will be readily available to the bees?

Will you have to feed them in order for them to survive and how much of the year?

Is there a water supply available year round for the bees? They need water every day.

You will need to consider what will be underneath the bees as they fly to get the nectar and pollen they require. The bees will defecate as they are flying and their feces will leave spots on everything below them. The feces can even ruin the surface of a vehicle. There are methods to use to force the bees to fly at a higher altitude, such as.a tall fence or thick tall plants near the hive.

You want the hives accessible year round.

You will want to avoid low spots for your hives because they hold the cold, damp air too long.

You will also want to avoid high spots for your hives because that would be too windy.

These are just some of the things you will want to consider before taking on this hobby.

During a nectar flow, many of the older workers will be in the field hunting for food. This is the best time to examine the colony. During the summer more bees will be in the hive and the situation can change, especially between the nectar flows. There can be some robbing going on at this time, which will make the bees even more defensive at any intrusion to their hive. Leaving the colony open for more than a few minutes can accelerate a robbing as can leaving cappings or honey exposed. It will become a necessity to reduce the entrance of a weak colony to prevent stronger hives attempt to rob from it. A honey flow will reduce the likelihood of robbing.

The mood of the bees can have a lot to do with the weather or the time of day. On the days of rainy weather, cool temperatures, early in the morning or late in the afternoon will be more likely to make them angry and they will attack. Always inspect them on warm, sunny days in the middle of the day when most of the bees are foraging.

Keep a constant warm water supply for the bees to cool the hive and dilute honey to feed t heir young. They will collect water from the closest water source. If you do not have a constant supply of shallow water for the bees, they will look for it somewhere else, like the neighbor’s pool, birdbath or wading ponds. The bees are more likely to drown in those sources. If you have a water supply for them when they first fly out in spring, they will not go anywhere else for water. Once they find a water source, it is hard to keep them from going back to it.

A beekeeper must keep the bees in control every time the hive is open. A typical hive can house thousands of workers all capable of stinging. There are measures a beekeeper can take in the open that he can not take in the city because of the closeness of other people.

Smoke is the most important tool for the beekeeper opening a hive. Smoke should be used in moderation, but the smoker should be capable of producing large volumes of smoke on short notice. The beekeeper must smoke the entrance of the hive, under the cover, and periodically smoke the frames while the hive is open. Try not to jar the hive or the frames as that may anger the bees, which will make it hard for a beekeeper to do his work. The beekeeper must work quickly and carefully. By going through the frames several times a year, the beekeeper keeps the frames movable. Remove any excess combs.

Using gloves when working with bees make the beekeeper clumsier and he may lose control of the hive. The stings that the gloves are protecting you from are easily removed and the pain quickly passes.

Clothing and Equipment Needed

One of the most important pieces of clothing a beekeeper wears is the veil. Bee stings on the face can be very painful and there is the possibility of damage to the eyes and ears.
If by chance a bee gets inside the veil, walk away from the hives and remove the bees. Never remove the veil when you are in with the hives.

Use protective clothing to avoid getting hive product on your regular clothes, and to protect sensitive areas of your body. Avoid dark or rough textured clothes. Bees are able to hold on to a rough texture material than smooth material. Wear white or light colored coveralls. If you are not using boots, do not wear dark socks. Boots that fasten over the coveralls or in the coveralls should be worn. A windbreaker jacket will help you to avoid being stung. Pants, veil, sleeves should be fasten securely to prevent bees from getting into your clothes. If a bee does get into your clothing, squeeze it in the clothing or walk away from the hives and open up your clothing to allow the bee to escape. Before handling bees, do not use any sweet smelling cologne, hair spray or any other products. The odor may irritate the bees or attract them. Glove should be used sparingly. Gloves are useful during bad weather or when moving colonies, but gloves can hinder the manipulating of the colonies. Without the interference of gloves, you will find that the bees respond better to a lighter touch.

As a beginner you will want to contemplate the number of colonies you want to start out with. Two or three is a good number to start off with because it will give you a chance to compare the two colonies, such as the growth and the production.

The equipment you will need to start off with for a complete hive is:

1 metal covered top
1 inner cover
1 bottom board
2 standard 10-framc hive bodies, each body contains 10-frames
1 queen excluder
2 shallow 10-frame supers with frames.
1 bee smoker
1 hive tool
1 pr. bee gloves
1 pr. coveralls
1 bee veil

You can buy this equipment new or used. If it is used you will want to make sure it is in good condition. Also have it examined by the Apiary Inspection Service for any possibility of disease. The equipment will run you $250 or more. If you are really talented and ambitious you can build your own hives. Just make sure you have the dimensions correct because bees will build combs where you least want them.

How to Handle Bees

Intruders are going to get stung by the bees protecting the hive. As a beekeeper you will have to be prepared to receive your share of stings. If you have any fear of bees or of being stung, you will have to conquer those apprehensions. As you gain confidence and more adept at the handling of the bees, the stings will happen less frequently.

One of the tips you will want to learn is when to manipulate bees. You can open and examine the bee colonies on days that are warm and sunny with no wind. The older bees will be out searching for food on those days. The older bees will stay in the hive on colder, windy and rainy days.
When there is an abundance of nectar, bees are much easier to examine than when there is a shortage of nectar. Plying them with sugar syrup may help, but not always.
Spring is the best time to examine the bees because of smaller populations.

Bees will usually tolerate a moderate beekeeper manipulation for 10 to 15 minutes. It is best not to keep the hives open any longer than you have to. Brood examinations should never be drawn out. When examining the hives, if bees become noisy or very nervous, the hive needs to be closed. If there is honey in the combs, they will attract robber bees unless there is an over abundance of nectar. If robbing start, you will need to stop examinations for the rest of the day and reduce the entrances to the hives. Once the robbing starts it is difficult to stop.

If you need to manipulate a colony, have a lighted smoker that omits cool smoke. Before you open the hives, you want to puff smoke into the entrance of the hive. Move on to the other colonies allowing time for the bees to react to the smoke. Keep your smoker handy because you will need it while you are making your close inspections of each colony. If you have some of the bees looking at you, make them scatter with a few puffs of smoke. When you are around the bees, you should move smoothly and carefully so that you don’t alarm the bees. When prying off the cover to the hive be as gentle as possible, bees are sensitive to vibrations. Avoid any jolting of the hives. After removing the cover to the hive, work from the back or the side of the hive. Remove the frame nearest the outside to be examined. If robbing is not a problem, lean the frame against the outside of the hive to give you more room to work. If robbing could be a problem make sure to cover the hives and never leave a frame out in the open.

If you are going to examine all the boxes, start with the lowest one. Make sure the boxes you are not examining stay covered. After examining the lowest box, examine each box after it has been replaced on the lower one.

When you need to remove the frame, pry it loose with the hive tool. With a firm grip on the loosened frame, gently lift it, trying not to scrape the bees on the adjoining frame. Leave the frame outside of the hive or box, to give you a larger working area. If you scrape the comb, do leave the bits and pieces in the hive or box. Only scrape comb that it in the way, scraping is irritating to the bees.

Acquiring Bees

There are several ways to acquire bees. No matter the method you choose spring is the best time to purchase bees. Listed below are methods by which to acquiring bees.

Established colonies

Established colonies will cost you more, but they can be worth the extra money. Before you purchase the bees have them and their equipment inspected by a state bee inspector. Dilapidated equipment or weak colonies you will want to stay away from

When purchasing established colonies, the equipment will not require any assembly. Since the queen is already laying eggs, will be able to judge her brood pattern. The chance of producing a honey crop the first year with an established colony is very good. The previous owner should be able to give you any history or background information of the bees.

If you are a beginner, a strong colony may be more than you are ready to handle. The equipment may be old and need replacing, or it may not be standard equipment.

Nucleus colonies (nucs)

The nucleus colony is a smaller colony of bees taken from an established colony. The “nucs” hives have fewer frames than a standard hive. The nucleus colony consists of only four or five frames instead of the standard 10-frames. They can house extra queens and they can be used to raise new queens. The nucleus colony comes with the four or five frames of brood, honey and pollen, a laying queen, and every frame should be full of adult bees.

Nucleus colonies are less expensive than established colonies. The queens are usually new, giving you the opportunity to judge her brood pattern. If the nucleus colony has a strong nectar flow, there is a possibility of a honey crop the first year. Usually they can be purchased locally. Since the nucleus colony is not as strong as an established colony, they may be easier for a beginner to handle. You still need to have them inspected for disease.

Package bees

Package bee producers produce package bees in southern United States. The package bees consists of 2 or 3 pounds of bees, a queen in a separate cage, and a canister of sugar syrup used to feed the bees during transport. They are shipped in a special screen mailing cages through the U.S. Postal Service.

The package bees are cheaper than the established or the nucleus colonies. Beginners should be able to handle them easily. The possibility of the broods having a disease is slim.

The package bees may not produce a honey crop the first year. It will be more difficult to judge the queen with no brood. Because of the strain of being transported, a queen may be out-dated which can lead to an unproductive queen. If the weather is bad, you will have a difficult time in introducing the bees into the hives. The bees will have to be fed until the start of the nectar flow.

Swarms

Swarms can be a fun way to get bees, and they are free. They can be easily collected and placed in prepared equipment. It is usually a good idea to introduce a new queen as soon as possible to the swarm. The swarms can be rather large by they can be easily handled.
You will not get a brood so you will not be able to judge the new queen. The swarms are unlikely to produce honey crop the first year, but that does depend on the size of the swarm. The availability of swarms is very unpredictable.

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