Careing for your Bees

Here are some basic guidelines we suggest you follow to help your bees thrive and stay healthy.

Firstly, place your bee hive on a table with the legs of the table in water or wrapped with “tanglefoot” (you can buy it at most garden stores). This will help prevent ants from marching up the legs of the table and entering the hive.  An ant colony can kill a hive if left untreated.

Secondly, provide a water source in your yard so the bees have something to drink and stay cool.  The bees can drown if they land in a bucket of water so its best to put floats in the water such as corks or pieces of wood.

Thirdly, make sure you don’t move the hive to different parts of your yard.  It is ok to move them over 1 mile from their original location, but not less because then they will fly back to their original location and become disoriented.  When you bring your nuc home you should transfer it to a bigger box within the next week or two because the bees will get crowded in their small cardboard container if left there.  Bees continue to grow until late summer so make sure their box has plenty of space for growth until August.

Treating for mites is a controversial topic because many beekeepers want to be completely natural without using any chemicals.  It is my experience that hives die at a rate of about 40% each year if mites aren’t treated and they die at a rate of 5% if treated.  There are many mite treatment products you can buy on beekeeping websites. They all work, but I’ve had the most success with Apivar.  Its most important to treat in August after you’ve harvested the honey. You can also do a secondary treatment in December if your mite counts are still high.

Lastly, you need to make sure your bees don’t starve especially if you are harvesting large amounts of honey from their hive.  This is challenging to know because each location will have a different amount of food accessible to the bees.  A rule of thumb is that most locations do well from February until July.  If the bees have five or more full frames of honey at the beginning of fall, you often don’t need to feed them at all until the following fall. However, if your bees only have a few frames of honey in the fall, I recommend feeding them a homemade syrup made of two parts sugar and one-part water as well as giving them some pollen (available for purchase on beekeeping websites.)  The quantity of pollen and syrup depends on how big your hive is, how much food they already have, how much food is available in your area, when it is available and weather patterns. Because of these factors, it is difficult to know how the bees should be fed, but as time goes by you will get a feel for when bees are bringing in nectar and pollen and when they should be fed.

These guidelines are a few that you should be aware of, but there is plenty more to learn about beekeeping.  There is endless amounts of videos and books on the art of beekeeping but remember bees have been surviving on their own for thousands of years so if you choose to let the bees take care of themselves that is an option too.  Good luck with beginning your beekeeping adventure!

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