3 Common Mistakes of New Beekeepers
Beekeeping for Beginners
|A large hive with bees on the face.|
We've all been there, at the beginning.
It happens to all of us, we make mistakes whether through excitement, bad advice or not knowing. It is no different in beekeeping! As a beginner, you have to learn to sift through the internet and make wise decisions for your apiary. To enable you to become a beekeeper that doesn't give up after a few years.( 80% give up after 2 yrs! source unknown)
Never fear! I'm here to help.
For you today, I give you three common mistakes of beginners. As I tell my kids and students, mistakes are learning in earnest.
#1. Getting only one hive
|One hive is fun but two can help you understand bees and supplement each other.|
Ok, Ok, but you only want to start with one. You can start with one hive but it is better to start with two.
Why? Hives are super organisms. They expand and contract, they have a whole society that is unto itself. The queen is the life source of the hive. Each hive thrives at a different rate.
With two hives you can watch and compare.
Is one aggressive while the other not? This may help you determine a queenless hive.
Is one population huge and the other small? The larger hive can donate frames to help boost and equalize colonies.
If one goes queenless will you buy a queen? A second hive gives you more options if the hive doesn't requeen itself. (How is another article!)
If one hive makes more honey than the other then again shared resources are great! Sharing is caring!
Last but not least, should one colony not survive the winter you can start over in the spring making splits from the survivor.
#2. Not wearing protection
|Over ten years experience and my daughter still prefers to wear a full suit.|
Full bee suits are expensive, I get it!
Beekeepers get stung. When was the last time a bee stung you? Chances are it was a long time ago. Protective gear keeps the girls from making your retreat uneasy. Your spouse or partner or neighbor watching from the window (videoing?) doesn't want to come help you!
Does it have to be a full suit? No, you can fashion your own outfit. Long pants and long sleeves to start off can be coupled with a hat and veil. TADA! you are protected, add gloves and you are good.
I tell students to try going gloveless. But I never tell anyone they MUST! I go gloveless and no real gear but my protective clothing is always with me. My kids like the suits. Hives are living organisms that can change their temperament without consulting you.
Stings hurt! If you aren't hyper sensitive you can get used to a few stings. I hate getting stung in the face so my veil is usually close by or on.
As you get to know your hives you can remove gear as needed. Those folks you see on Instagram (myself included) with no protection on know their bees and are in the apiary at times when the bees are busy.
We all get stung!
The objective is to be comfortable and not in fear while we listen and learn about our bees.
#3. Going into the hive too often
|Spot the queen on this frame!|
You just got your nuc installed! You posted to Facebook. Now what? Maybe you can open up your hive and just take e few quick snaps?
Just give it time.
Bees like to be left alone. They live in darkness. They communicate through their wax, touch, sound and smell. When we inspect those senses are disrupted. As a beekeeper, we want the girls to do their jobs efficiently, that means we have to as well. Inspections should be done every 7-10 days. As a beginner, you will want to pull all frames trying to learn something from each. This interruption may last 15 minutes or more. When we put them back in the hive let them get back to work.
As you learn more and the seasons change inspections can be spread further apart. Your inspections will get faster and instead of pulling all the frames you will only need to pull one or two.
Inspections are best done in the afternoons on sunny days. The older forager bees are out of the hive allowing for easier inspections.
Unless you have a known issue there is no reason to open a hive on a cold or rainy day and never at night. (infared lights are used for moving hives at night)
Are there more common mistakes? YES! But start here and then move on.