Category: Beekeeping

Catching a swarm

Two of my hives. Right one is one of the new swarm hives.

Last year was my first year with bees and I certainly learned a lot. If it wasn’t for my bee club and for some bee friends I made there – I think I may have given all of this up within six months. But there is something addicting about beekeeping. It’s more of a science than a hobby, and the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know.

So my first year went well…I think. I learned that one of the main purposes of the hive is to propagate – so every year they will try to grow big enough to send out a swarm and start a second colony. The problem with this is that if a beekeeper doesn’t catch that swarm, up to 80% of them don’t find a suitable home and they will die.

Right now that is pretty devastating to our environment and there are lots of steps being put into place to try to protect honeybees. Continue reading…

Advice to new beekeepers

Or…how not to make as many mistakes as I did.

  • Get a mentor. There is just too much information out there. Every question you ask will be answered differently by every beekeeper you ask. Find someone that has bees that are thriving, and ask to work with them. You’ll develop your own methods too, as time goes by, but in the beginning the help of one or two people is worth it’s weight in gold. If you go online and post questions to forums, you will wind up so confused and disoriented that you may just give up bees altogether. So go ahead and read online, but go to your mentor for help.
  • Join a bee club. It’s one thing to read books and to watch charts and know when the “nectar flow” is on, or what the price of honey is in your area…it’s much better to have your bee club president tell you what you should be doing this month, what you need to be looking for this month, and what you need to start to do to prepare for next month. It’s also good to talk to other people in YOUR area because what you read online may have little bearing in your state. One example is southern beekeepers over-wintering their bees.They may have no concept of what northern beekeepers deal with – the local club does. You’ll also meet people that are coming up with great new designs, innovations, inventions and ideas.
  • Continue reading…

The trials of a new beekeeper

beesI first thought about becoming a beekeeper after reading an article about how for the first time this year, the almond growers in California (who provide 80% of the world’s almonds) were struggling to find enough bees to pollinate the almond trees.

I was surprised and started reading more. The articles were frightening. Since 1950 the population has decreased more than 50%.That means that the number of bees we have now is less than HALF of what we had in the 1950’s and we’re feeding THREE TIMES the number of people. Bees handle 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. Scary.

The more I read, the more frightening it all became. 3/4 of the food we eat is pollinated by bees. Yet, this CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) was rampant, not only here in the U.S. but all over the world (although the rest of the world shows about 20-30% loss and we are showing 50-60% loss). There seem to be many theories about why – pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, air pollution, diseases, etc but most scientists seem to agree that the two most prominent causes appear to be pesticides and habitat loss.

So after all this reading I figured, “Hey, we have a bunch of land here, what would it take to help out a little and put up some beehives? Let’s help the little fella’s out.”

See? That statement is where it all started to go wrong.

Continue reading…