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Beekeeping









The Ultimate Beekeeping Guide for Beginners: Learn the Hive and Keeping Techniques and Avoid Common Mistakes!







By John Scout













Copyright © 2015 by John Scout

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.



Contents








Introduction


Thank you for choosing to read!

Bees are an integral part of nature. They help keep the ecological balance alive. If you’ve ever seen any movie or documentary about bees, you’ll know that without them, pollination wouldn’t be possible, and flowers and plants won’t grow. Of course, you can only imagine how the world would be if that happens!

More so, bees make honey, and there are lots of people who enjoy the said condiment. There are also a lot of other things that bees can do—and you’ll learn more about them later!

With the help of this book, you’ll be able to start your own Beekeeping Business—and learn how to take care of bees the right way!

What are you waiting for?

Read this book now and find out how!

Once again, thank you, and enjoy!



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Chapter 1: Why Raise Bees?



So, the first big question that you possibly might have in mind is why exactly it’s important to raise Bees. What would you get from it? What would those bees bring you?

While you were growing up, you have probably developed an aversion to bees, because you thought that they’ll just sting you, and they do nothing good for the environment. That belief is wrong.

Bees actually don’t sting, unless extremely provoked. More so, when they do sting, they also suffer, because the poison is enough to kill them. On the other hand, bees can help you and the environment in a lot of ways.

Don’t believe that yet? Read this.



They Add $15 Million Crop Value

Yes, you read that right. Bees add at least $15 Million Crop Value by means of Pollination.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, bees are important when it comes to growing healthy plants, especially when it comes to growing vegetables, fruits, berries, almonds, and nuts. Without pollen coming from bees, those plants won’t grow the way they’re supposed to, and in turn, agricultural businesses would suffer.

More so, around 1/3 of your diet is on your table because of the help of bees—so why exactly wouldn’t you want to take care of them?



Honey

Honey is, of course, the most popular product that bees make.

While there may be all those honey products in the market, it’s still best to have fresh honey with you. After all, most of the products in the market are already—sadly—synthetic, and aren’t really made from honey. In fact, most of them are just corn syrup mixed with other additives. Yikes!

But, when you raise bees, you get a lot of honey because each of them could produce around 1/12 teaspoon of honey in around 6 weeks—which is pretty much their whole lifetime. And of course, you’re not going to take care of one bee alone, you’re going to care for a colony—so you’d definitely get so much more than that!

Honey is antibacterial, and Royal Jelly, one of its by-products is loaded with B-Vitamins that’s needed for holistic growth—and is used in most diet programs!



Wax

Aside from Honey, bees also make Wax, which is the byproduct of bee food. Wax is amazing because it can be used for many different things, such as cosmetics, and candles.

In short, you could earn a lot from it, especially if you learn how to make the said bee products.



Pollen

Flowers are not the only ones that benefit from pollen—you can, too.

Pollen is used for Homeopathic Therapies, especially for those who have Pollen Allergies because it contains protein that can combat the said allergies.



Bee Sting Therapy

There’s also such a thing as Bee Sting Therapy where Bee Venom is administered to numb, and eventually, heal the pain that one gets from inflammatory problems, such as Arthritis.



You’d Get to Save the Bees

Again, this has a lot to do with the proper balance of nature. Just simply keeping bees in your yard already improves the state of pollination in the world. In short, you’re able to do something good, and yet, you know that it would also benefit you in return.



It’s Therapeutic

You know, sometimes, all you need is a new hobby to keep you going.

Knowing you have bees in your backyard that could provide you with honey that has a lot of health benefits and anti-bacterial qualities, as well as knowing that you’re able to help the environment in your own way, is enough, to lessen the amount of stress that you feel!



And, they’re responsible workers

Have you seen Bee Movie?

The said film is fictional, but if there’s some truth to it, it’s the fact that bees work absolutely hard. They constantly work because it’s the only thing they know how to do. They’re born to be diligent, responsible workers.

Even without telling them, they’ll make those honey and wax for you. They’d provide you with what you need, and all you have to do is make sure that they have a nice environment to live in, and that they’re able to make the most out of their short but definitely meaningful lives.

While starting the beekeeping business may not be easy at first, that doesn’t matter. This book is here to help you out with it. What matters is that over time, you’d see the benefits of keeping bees, and you’d be able to reap amazing rewards!



Chapter 2: Beekeeping Equipment



Of course, if you’re going to start this whole Beekeeping Business, you’ve got to make sure that you have the right Beekeeping Equipment with you.



The Hive

It’s no surprise that The Hive is the most important part of the Beekeeping process. Without it, you won’t be able to keep and control bees. Sure, they may roam around a bit, especially if they’re going to pollinate the flowers, but when it comes to honeymaking, you need to give them a proper place to stay in.



The Langstroth Hive

When it comes to making a Beehive, you need to make use of the Langstroth Method. Basically, the Langstroth Hive makes it easy for bees to build honeycomb frames, so they’ll be easier to scrape down and use. In turn, this makes the beekeeping process ultimately more manageable, too!

The Langstroth Method was perpetuated by Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth way back in 1851 when he thought that his bees didn’t have much space to move in, and that’s why they weren’t producing viable products. So, he thought of making a hive that sort of resembles a house and called it the Langstroth Hive.

This hive has to be exactly 5/16 inch deep or wide, with proper spacing, which is important for bees to move around. This also has to be made from wood, unlike old types of hives that were just made from straw baskets or gums—that eventually killed the Queens.

Parts of the Langstroth Hive

The Langstroth Hive has a couple of important parts that make it work, and these are:



Telescoping/Outer Cover. Basically, this serves as the roof of the hive that keeps it safe from rain and other outside forces. It does not have to be elevated like a roof, though. A simple rectangular or square piece would be fine.



Inner Cover. Meanwhile, the inner cover of the Langstroth Hive has this part called Bee Escape, that you need in order to collect honey. You get to place this cover above the Honey Super, which will then help bee workers go to the working chamber, but wouldn’t allow them to attack you.



Honey Super/Shallow. The Honey Super is simply the part where honey is stored!



Queen Excluder. As the name suggests, this part keeps the Queen away from the rest of the colony, which then makes it easy for workers to do what they have to do. Make sure that the slots are wide enough for workers to pass through, and also, make sure that chunk and comb honey are properly separated.



Frames. Honeycomb is created in the frames, and that’s also where honey gets to be collected from. Frames have top and bottom parts, as well as two end bars. One of those end bars has one keeled edge, just until the edge of the next bar. Then, they have to be put together—make sure that they’re really together or else they might fall apart and cause honey production to come to a halt.



Foundation. The next part of the hive is called the Foundation, which is pretty much an artificial or embossed wax comb that makes sure comb production is done right. They are embedded with wires so they can stand strong, and also prevent honeycomb from sagging or being torn apart during extraction time.



Brood Chamber. This is the place where new bees are produced, thanks to the Queen and the Drone.



Entrance Cleat. This is mostly used by the bees during the Winter Season to be able to enter the hive again. This is used in place of a reversible bottom board.



Bottom Board. Basically, this is the “foundation” of the hive, as it’s what the hive is placed on. Again, you can use this in place of an entrance cleat—but only during summer. For winter, Entrance Cleats are definitely better.



Hive Stand. This is also extremely important. Hive Stands prevent the hive from rotting or being broken, as it keeps everything off the ground.



What to Remember Before Making a Hive

Meanwhile, here’s what you have to keep in mind when it comes to making a hive for your bees:



Make sure that it is situated above stagnant water, and is sheltered from the wind. You really wouldn’t want harsh weather conditions to destroy your business for you.

Have a source of water nearby—remember that your bees need to drink too!

Make sure it gets proper sunlight. Just like all other living creatures, bees need their share of sunlight too. Place it where the morning sun can reach it.

Keep it safe from the streets. Place barriers between your bee farm and the streets outside—you wouldn’t want them causing any commotion in the “outside world.”

And, never use toxic paint. It’s good to paint the hive, also to prolong its life, but make sure that you don’t ever use toxic paint. Also, use colors that reflect your region. For example, black, if you’re from the north, to keep the hives from too much sunlight, etc.



Other Equipment

Aside from the hive, here are the other things you need for a successful beekeeping business:



Hive Tool. You really wouldn’t want to open the hives with your bare hands, and for that, hive tools help. You can use hive tools to pry apart frames, open the inner cover, and also to clean other parts of the hives too.



Bee Gloves. Gloves also protect your bare hands from being stung by the bees. However, getting honey may be hard with them on, so it’s recommended that you only use them until such time that you already feel more comfortable with your bees, and you don’t see them as a threat anymore.

Use gloves when the colony is at its strongest; when your bees tend to be protective of honey, and when you have to move hive bodies.



Veils. No, no one’s getting married. However, you need to use preventive veils to keep your face safe from the bees. Choose wire veils, so bees won’t really want to come near you, especially those that are black, as it’s easier to see through them. You could wear a bee suit, as well, but if you’re not comfortable with it, that’s okay too.

Veils also prevent bees from being tempted to check out your eyes or nose, or any other holes in your face. It’s also recommended to keep a couple of extras for when you have visitors with you.



Smoker. Smokers are used for examining hives basically because they keep bees away. What you have to do is puff smoke before you open the hive, and once it’s opened, go ahead and blow smoke towards the frames. However, make sure you don’t use the smoker too much as it may drive those bees away from the hive—and that’s certainly what you wouldn’t want to happen. As for smoker fuels, you can make use of cotton rags, cardboard, excelsior, shavings, or wood.



Bee Escape. As mentioned earlier, you need a Bee Escape to clear bees away from the supers. To place it properly, put it in the inner cover’s center hole just below the super so bees would just pass through one direction, instead of being all over the hive.



Brush. You need a brush to remove bees from the frames. You could also make use of grass or twigs to do the said job.



Wire Embedders. And finally, you need Wire Embedders to help you wire the foundation. They also help you save time, and you can either make your own or buy some.



See? Now you’re ready to start keeping bees!





Chapter 3: Where to Get Bees



So, you have the Equipment. But where are your bees?

First, you have to understand that there are three types of bees in a given colony. These are:



The Queen. The Queen is responsible for bearing worker bees, and for all the genetic traits common to one colony.



Drones. The only thing Drones do is mate with the Queen—to produce a handful of worker bees.



Worker Bees. Worker Bees are females and are the most responsible parts of the colony. They collect food, guard the entrance of the hive, build comb, and of course, tend to the Queen.



Buying Bees

The next thing that you should keep in mind is that it’s healthier to buy bees rather than search for them by yourself—but that’ll also be discussed later. First, you need to know the kind of bees that you could buy.



  1. Nucleus Hive. Nucleus Hives, also called Nucs, are hives with established bee colonies. Basically, you could get one from an apiary, and then install it in your bee farm or garden.



Nucs are small wooden boxes with at least five frames inside. It’s already complete with a Queen, a Drone, and most importantly, Worker Bees.



However, the problem with Nucs sometimes is that you can never be too sure whether the Queen is still healthy, or is already too old for the job. And when this happens, you get to have weak bees around—and that’s not what you want.



  1. Package. Meanwhile, you could also contact one of your local beekeepers to order a bee package from them. A Package already contains a Queen, plus a couple of workers, and also a syrup-filled feeder. Now, the only problem is how you’d be able to introduce the Queen to the workers. Take note that there are two methods for this.





2.1 Direct Method. This means that you directly release the Queen inside the hive, so she could mingle with the bees right away. Packages don’t often mean that the workers are the children of the Queen, and that’s why introduction is essential. They have to accept the Queen so more bees could be born, because if not, the colony wouldn’t thrive.





2.2 Indirect Method. In this method, you let the worker bees get to know the Queen at their own pace. You lure them with food that you place on a path towards her so that they’d eat their way through to her.



Wild Bees

Meanwhile, if you don’t want to buy bees, but want to start a bee farm, you might as well get some bees from the wild.

What you have to know is that swarms or groups of bees in the wild tend to be divided because their Queens believe that she has already reproduced too much, or when Queens know that they’re sick.

Now, when you want to collect swarms, make sure that you’re wearing a bee suit to keep you protected. You may also want to bring a smoker or medicated syrup just so you can calm the bees down.

If you find bees residing in tree limbs, go ahead and cut the said limbs and then shake it so the bees go into a container. You could also brush them down, especially when you’re dealing with bees on a flat surface. Incidentally, the smoker proves to be helpful here, as you can use it to direct the bees towards where you want them to go.

To transfer the bees to the hive, make sure that you just shake them to go inside.

The problem with wild bees, though, is that just like Nucs, you’re never too sure about the state of their health. Some of them prove to be weak, and Queens also tend to be fragile.

Another thing that you have to keep in mind is that you can’t always take home the bees you see in front of you. There are state laws that prohibit this so it’s always best to check for local rules and guidelines first—more on this later.



Which Bees Should You Actually Go For?

You should always go for Honeybees, also called Apis Mellifera.

The Italian Honeybees are the best honeybees because they produce the most honey and are pretty docile—definitely perfect for a beginner! Italian Bees are known for their yellow-brown color, and for the fact that they are superb comb producers. The only downside is that they require lots of food, but hey, you want those bees so go ahead and plant what they need!

Other types of Bees that you could keep are:



Russian. Russian Bees are quite strong as they quite easily deal with parasites that other bees can’t deal with. They also produce a lot of pollen in just a short amount of time, which makes them the perfect winter colony.



Buckfast. A creation of Brother Adam, known as one of the best bee breeders in the world, Buckfast bees are amazing brood rearers. The only problem with them is that they sometimes have the tendency to leave the hive.



Caucasian. Caucasian Bees easily adapt to harsh weather conditions and are known for their gray bodies. They make use of a lot of propolis, especially near the entrance of the hive—which might make the hive a bit sticky, but at least, you’d know that you’d get a lot of produce. The problem with them is they tend to want loads of honey, which might create a commotion between the other bees.



Carniolan. Carniolan Bees are Dark Bees with Gray linings that tend to swarm a whole lot. They’re also amazing winter colonies as they only need a bit of food.



Africanized. Another Bee Hybrid, but this isn’t really commercially available, so you do have to catch them in the wild. They’re mostly found in Mexico and some parts of Africa. They’re quite aggressive, so they’re not recommended for beginners that much.



Midnight. Midnight is also a Bee Hybrid that also makes use of lots of propolis, just like Caucasian ones.



Starline. Starline Bees are derived from Italian—so you could pretty much use them for your bee farm. They’re great at pollinating clover, amongst other plants!









Chapter 4: What to Keep in Mind



There are still a lot of things that you have to keep in mind when it comes to Beekeeping, especially if you’re just a beginner. Here they are.



What to do when the Bees arrive

So, what do you do when the bees are delivered to your doorstep?

First, breathe. And then follow the instructions below:



  1. Make sure that you inspect the package properly. Check whether all the bees are alive or not, because sometimes, transportation can cause some of the ones at the bottom to die. Call your vendor if this happens so that the bees can be replaced.



  1. Never place bees in the trunk of the car as the shade might suffocate them, and may make them thirsty and agitated.



  1. Spray cool water on the package once it arrives home. Use a Spray Bottle for this.



  1. Let the bees “cool” for at least an hour by letting the package stay in the basement or the garage, or any cool and spacious place after spraying the package with water.



  1. Finally, use non-medicated syrup to spray the package after an hour, and then proceed to move the bees to the hive.



What Do Bees Eat?

Another question that you might have in mind is what it is exactly that bees eat. Well, you can keep in mind that nectar and pollen are the main things they eat—so again, you have to keep the right plants and flowers around.

Pollen is important because it’s one of the richest natural foods you can find on earth. It has all the nutritional requirements that a honeybee needs to live. Meanwhile, Nectar is something that bees like because it’s sweet—so again, it reminds them of honey.

Honeybee Larvae also eat honey coming from the hive. Sometimes, though, the Queen decides to feed them Royal Jelly, as it’s packed with more nutrients. It has fertility stimulants that aid those young worker bees to grow, and when the Queen eats them, it means that she’ll also be able to produce healthier babies in the future. In fact, with the help of Royal Jelly, a Queen could lay up to 2,000 eggs in a year!



Proper Location Is Important

You can’t just put the beehive wherever you want it to without thinking about what it implies for the bees.

What you have to keep in mind is that bees strive for balance. They don’t like being somewhere that’s too cold, or too hot. Again, you need to make sure that they get the right amount of sunlight, but that they don’t get dehydrated, and they also get the right amount of cool air that they need.

If you live on a hilltop, don’t think of putting up a hive there as it might be too windy for the bees. It’s also best to avoid extremely low spots as there may not be enough cold air, and flooding may also be a problem.

Food Sources are also important. While some colonies come with syrup that they can drink, you also need to keep them near water sources, as well as plants and flowers that are rich in nectar—because these attract the bees, and eventually, lead to proper pollination. In the next chapter, you’ll learn exactly what plants and flowers you need!



Number of Hives

As a beginner, it’s okay to stick with one hive first. Now, when you see that you’re able to let the bees produce honey and wax and that they’re able to pollinate, you can then decide to get a second one.



Maintaining Hives at Different Seasons of the Year

You should also keep in mind that you have to learn how to maintain the beehive for different seasons of the year. Here are some suggestions.



Winter



  1. During the winter season, it’s best to check the entrance of the hive. Make sure that no snow or dead bees block the entrance.



  1. Give the bees enough food. It’s hard for them to go out at this specific time of the year. To check if they have enough food, make sure that you peek inside the hive, and see how they’re doing. Don’t disturb them, just give them a little peek.



Now, if you don’t see any honey in the top frames, it means they do not have enough to eat anymore. This is a sign that it’s time for emergency feeding!



  1. If you’re going to start taking care of bees during this season, take note that it’s best to get packaged bees.



  1. It’s also the perfect time to brew mead and make some beeswax candles!



  1. And, make sure you already have enough equipment with you even before the winter season, and that it’s ready to use!



Spring



  1. Inspect the colony as early in the spring as possible. If you feel like it’s too cold for inspection, it might also mean that the bees are getting cold too!



  1. Check whether you can see or hear the cluster of bees, because some of them might not have survived the winter. If you cannot hear any buzzing sounds, it might not be good news.



  1. Check whether they have food or not. Again, it’s important to know whether the bees are able to eat well. Honey should be capped with white capping—if you can’t see any, remember that it’s time for emergency feeding.



  1. Medicate with syrup—it’s important during this season!



  1. Take note that during the spring season, the bee colony might thrive in the sense that the Queen will be able to reproduce a lot. Be ready for this. Make sure that you add honey supers and Queen Excluders during this time, or the new worker bees might not be able to make it through.



  1. Check for signs of swarming—more on this later.



Summer



  1. During summer, you might have to inspect the hive at least every other week, just to check how the health of the bees—especially the Queen—is progressing.



  1. Add more Honey Supers as needed.



  1. Check for other insects that may rob honey from the bees, and keep them away. Always be on the lookout and don’t wait for the hive to be thoroughly infested before you get to do something.



  1. Up until Mid-Summer, take note that Swarm Control is essential. Swarming isn’t that common in late summer anymore so you can relax by then.



  1. And, make sure that you harvest the honey crop at the end of the Nectar Flow. 60 pounds or more of honey is required, and now, you have to take your gloves out as the bees will be extremely protective of this amount of honey.



  1. Summer also proves to be an easy season, because you just have to wait for the end of it to be able to collect all the honey!



Fall



  1. Queens tend to leave the hive during Fall, so make sure that you look inside the hive to see if they’re there. A good tip is to look for eggs. Again, eggs, and not larvae. Larvae are over two days old—which means that the Queen might have left already.



  1. Feeding and Medicating are also important during this season. Again, never forget to check if there’s enough honey supply or not. You can also use Antibiotics, such as Teramycin, during this time, to keep them safe from diseases and infections. 2-to-1 sugar syrup feeding is also preferred by the bees.



  1. Wrap the hive in tar paper to prevent freezing point, especially if you live in extremely cold areas. This will also prevent too much sunlight from getting in. You need to make sure that temperatures are regulated during this season.



  1. Adequate Ventilation is also important. What you have to do is maintain a temperature of 90 to 93F, so that warm air from the cluster won’t rise and so cold won’t reach the inner cover.



  1. Add a mouse guard to the entrance of the hive as mice are common during this season.



  1. If the weather is too harsh, remember that it’s okay to put a windbreaker on. Use burlap and fence posts, too, if you like.



Costs

Of course, it’s also important that you know how much you actually need to shell out when it comes to this business.

You can breathe a sigh of relief because it’s actually not a very expensive hobby. Hives often cost around $200 to $400, but it will always depend on what you choose to use. A package of bees will cost around $60 to $80. Now, these are your one-time expenses.

Imagine each beehive produces around 60 to 90 pounds of honey in a year alone. This means you’d get $5 to $7 for a pound of honey, or around $600 to $700 per beehive—that’s definitely not bad at all!



Zoning and Legal Restrictions

As mentioned earlier, it’s best to check your local ordinances to know whether it’s okay for you to keep bees in your place or not. Some will allow you to have one beehive, but prohibit more—check for those rules.

Also, check whether you can have your hives registered, or if it’s not needed.



Environmental Considerations

You can mostly keep bees anywhere, provided that your local ordinances permit you to do so. But when it comes to environmental conditions, note that as long as you do not live in the desert, or you’re not around tundra and such, then you’re okay. Plus points if you live in tropical areas!

As for space requirements, well, you really do not need much, but you have to refer to the hive size given in Chapter 2 earlier. Again, proper spacing is important, and just because you don’t need much space doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them space at all. Remember that those are two very different things.

And don’t worry, because bees know how to come back to their hives—even if they fly 6000 miles away to pollinate! It’s in their nature!



Time and Commitment

Another thing about Beekeeping?

You actually do not have to devote all of your time to it! Of course, it deserves some of your time but around 35 to 40 hours a year is already small compared to how much you spend with other animals and such, right?

You only need a lot of time when you’re going to install the hives, so possibly, you have to give it your whole weekend. Afterward, you can just visit it for around 7 to 8 times in a year.

Surely, you wouldn’t have to be dictated to look at your hive, especially when you already have it with you. It’ll come naturally. What matters is that you know you’re responsible enough, and you won’t let what you’ve worked hard for go to waste!



Chapter 5: Plants and Flowers that Attract Bees



Now, you need to know which plants and flowers you have to have around you, to make sure that bees will be attracted and will want to propagate!



Bluebells

Bees are actually attracted not only to color but also to smell—and they couldn’t resist the bright color of bluebells! Bluebells are also full of nectar that bees absolutely love. Even butterflies and hoverflies love bluebells, so pollination definitely won’t be a problem!



Hellebores

Hellebores are amazing because they have lots of nectar, especially during spring. This way, you can be sure that you’re able to provide food for the bees!



Forget-Me-Not

Another amazing plant during the spring season, forget-me-nots attract bees mainly because they contain an abundant amount of nectar that the bees need to live!



Pulmonaria

Bees are also attracted to tube-like plants, and Pulmonaria is definitely one of those.



Rosemary

Rosemary is a favorite herb of humans, and bees love them too! The plant has small flowers that make the bees curious, and of course, the smell helps out a lot, as well!



Thrift

Thrift is known for having pink clusters that attract bees. They produce a lot of pollen during spring, which will again, provide enough food for your bees—so you definitely have to keep them in your garden!



Bugle

Also known as Aguja, Bugle attracts bees and butterflies and blossoms during the months of April to May.



Pussy Willows

The best thing about Pussy Willows is that they easily produce flowers, and because they produce really interesting flowers, bees get to be attracted, which in turn lets them pollinate the said plants!



Flowering Currant

Aside from really beautiful flowers, flowering currant also produces the kind of scent that bees definitely want. Flowers are also really bright, and that’s why bees are prone to going near them.



Crocuses

Crocuses grow during early spring, and prove to be one of the most reliable food sources for bees during the winter season—make sure to keep them around.



Viburnum

Viburnum is popular to bees and butterflies because of the nicely-shaped flowers and their sweet-smelling scent!



Cherry Trees

Cherry Trees signify that spring is around, and not only people are attracted to them, bees are too! They prove to be an amazing source of nectar, and they also make the air smell good—so both bees and the environment benefit from them!



Hawthorn

As flowers that bloom in May, bees are attracted to the amount of nectar that’s in Hawthorn.



Chapter 6: Your Beekeeping Calendar



As a beekeeper, it’s important that you keep track of your Beekeeping Calendar. It will help you determine when you’re supposed to inspect the hives, and let you know the other activities that you can do to keep the health of the bees in check.

For example, if you live in Texas, you can’t expect your calendar to be the same as someone who lives in Virginia. To determine this, you have to be aware of Beekeeping Hardiness Zones—like the zones that are used in gardening to know whether the temperature is right for planting or not.



Beekeeping Zones

Here’s what you have to remember when it comes to those Beekeeping Zones:



Zone A. Zone A pertains to places in the 35 to 45 degree F Range. It means that these places have long, cold winters, and short summers. Minimum temperatures are between 0 to 15 Degrees F.

Zone B. In Zone B, Annual Average Temperature is 45 to 55 degrees F. Places in this zone have cold and extended winters and hot summers. Minimum temperatures lie between 15 to 20 degrees F.

Zone C. For those in Zone C, experiencing long and hot summers, and mild and short winters are normal. 55 to 65 degrees F is the Annual Average Temperature, and Minimum temperatures lie between 30 to 35 degrees F.

Zone D. And finally, those in Zone D are used to year-round hot weather. Minimum temperatures lie between 30 to 40 degrees F while Annual Average Temperature is around 60 to 80 degrees F.



The Beekeeping Calendar

Now, here’s a guide as to what you can do for the rest of the year, in terms of Beekeeping, depending on your Zone.



January

In January, those under Zones B and D should check food reserves, and feed the colony, in case the hive is already low on honey.

Those in Zones A, B, and C should check the entrance for blockage while those in all zones should order new bees too.



February

For February, Zones A, B, and C should check blockages at the hive entrance.

Zones C and D should test and medicate for Varroa Mites if needed. Tracheal Mites should also be checked and medicated, and hive beetles should also be checked, as well. They should also start looking for Pollen Substitutes, as well as do the first comprehensive inspection of the season.

Those under Zone C should medicate for Nosema, AFB, and EFB while those under Zone D should Check Surplus Honey. Those in Zone D should also check for capped brood or brood patterns, and check for where the Queen is, as well.

Those in Zone B should check food reserves, and do emergency feeding, if needed, as well as those in Zone D too.



March

In March, it’s time for those in Zone A to check for food reserves. Zone C should do the same while Zones A and B should do emergency feeding if needed.

Zone B should reserve hive bodies. Together with Zone C, Zone B should also start looking for the Queen. It’s also time for them to do their first inspection of the season.

Feeding Pollen Substitutes should be done by those in Zones A, B, and C.

Zone D should start looking for swarm cells, and begin adding Honey Supers, and Queen Excluders, amongst others. Zone D should also start checking for brood patterns, or capped brood, if any.

Zones C and D should start medication for Nosema, Varroa Mites, and Tracheal Mites if needed.



April

In April, it’s Zone B’s turn to look for Nosema, Varroa, and Tracheal Mites, and do proper medications, as needed, while Zone D should start looking for Surplus Honey already.

Meanwhile, Zones B, C, and D should look for supercedure cells while Zones B and D should add honey supers, Queen Excluders, and start looking for the Queen, too.

Zones A to C should look for Pollen Substitutes, and Zones B and C should check for brood or capped patterns. They should also do their first comprehensive inspection of the season already.

Zone B should also reverse hive bodies while Zones B and C should check for eggs. Zones A and C should check for food reserves while Zones A and B should do emergency feeding if needed.



May

In May, Zone A should check food reserves, do emergency feeding, check for eggs and Queen, reverse hive bodies, install new hives (together with Zone B), and do the first comprehensive inspection of the season. Zone A should also check for Varroa and Tracheal Mites, and do medication, as needed.

Zones A to D should then start checking for brood patterns, looking for swarm cells, adding Honey Supers and Queen Excluders, as well as supercedure cells.



June

In June, Zone D should check for Varroa and Tracheal Mites, check surplus Honey with Zones A and B, and harvest honey, together with Zone B. Ventilation should also be checked.

All Zones should start looking for swarm cells, feed pollen substitutes, and add Honey Supers and Queen Excluders.

Zones A to C should do their first comprehensive inspection of the season while Zones A and B should install new hives.

Finally, Zone A should check food reserves, do emergency feeding, check for Queen and eggs, and reverse hive bodies too.



July

In July, Zone B should check food reserves and do emergency feeding.

Zones A and B should check for capped and brood patterns.

Zones B, C, and D should check for ventilation while Zones A to C should check for Surplus Honey. Zones B and D should then harvest honey!

Lastly, Zone D should check for mites and medicate, as needed.



August

In August, Zones A and B should prepare the hives for the upcoming winter season while Zones C and D should check hives for beetles.

Zones A to D should check for mites and medicate, as needed.

Zones A and B should check for Surplus Honey while Zone B should harvest honey.

Zones C and D should then check for ventilation, and all zones should look for Swarm Cells and add Queen Excluders and Honey Supers.

Zone B should then check for food reserves, and do emergency feeding if needed.



September

In September, Zone B should do emergency feeding while Zone C should start looking for the Queen and the eggs.

Zone B should then check for ventilation and add mouse guard with Zone C. Zone C should also check for Surplus Honey.

Zones A to D should check for hives and mites, and medicate as needed.

Finally, Zones A and B should then start preparing for winter.





October

In October, Zones A to C should already be preparing for winter, while Zones A and B should install mouse guards. Zone B should also check for ventilation, and Zone C should start looking for eggs and the Queen.



November

In November, Zone A should check for ventilation, and check for blockages at the entrance. Zone C should also start preparing for winter by now.



December

And finally, in December, Zones A and B should check for entrance blockages.



Chapter 7: Planning Your First Beehive Inspection



After knowing when you’re supposed to inspect your hives, it’s time to plan the inspection right. Here are some tips.



Keep It Odorless

One thing that you have to keep in mind is that it’s wrong to wear leather watchbands, or anything woolen or made from leather when checking your bees. Bees hate the smell of wool and leather, and if they smell it on you, they may be tempted to attack you. Also, make sure that you remove rings from your fingers. Bees are curious beings and they may think that those rings are something for them to play with—and of course, that wouldn’t be good.

Never use scented gels, hairsprays, perfumes or colognes. If you smell sweet or citrusy, the bees might be attracted and think that you’re a flower—so you can probably guess what happens next.



Proper Clothing

One of the most important things that you should remember is that you should always wear your veil when inspecting the bees. Some bees do get under the veil, though, but don’t worry because this is no reason for you to panic. Don’t move or be agitated as it might only cause them to sting you. Just walk away from the hive and get out of the veil.

Also, don’t try to remove your veil while you’re still by the hive. Bees would be upset this way.

Long-sleeved shirts also prove to be helpful. Use cotton or any other smooth fabric because dark colors make bees agitated. It would also be helpful to attach Velcro straps there so bees would be kept away, and again, only use gloves when absolutely needed—like what was mentioned in an earlier chapter.



Lighting the Smoker

Finally, a smoker has to be on hand when you’re doing the inspection. The only problem is, how actually can you let it put out only the right amount of smoke?

Well, you can start by crumbling a piece of newspaper into a ball. Then, light it with a match and set it at the bottom of the smoker. Now, use your hive tool to keep the paper in place. Squeeze the bellows a couple of times until you’re sure that the paper is creating smoke.

Next, pump the bellows as you add dry matchstick kindling and as you hear it crackling, it means that fire is being ignited. Make sure that the kindling fills up around ¾ of the smoker and keep pumping for around 10 minutes.

Now, pack the smoker all the way to the top with the fuel of your choice and close the top when cool and thick white smoke appears. Work the bellows in long, slow pumping methods.

Always make sure that the smoke coming out of the smoker is cool—you do not want to kill the bees with heat!



Chapter 8: Collecting Honey



And here comes the fun part—collecting honey!

Well, there are still some things that you have to remember when it comes to collecting honey. The first one is, what kind of honey do you actually want to collect? Here are some suggestions.



Honey Choices

Here are the various kinds of honey that you can choose from!



Comb Honey

Comb Honey is basically the raw product of bees. It’s honey as they make it, which means that it’s still in the comb—it hasn’t been filtered or anything, at all.

However, it takes extremely strong nectar flow to make this honey. This means you need to have the right plants and flowers around, and that the bees eat enough for them to reproduce this amount of honey.

Aside from planting the examples given in an earlier chapter, you can be sure that the plants would grow by providing them with enough sunlight and rain, and knowing that they could grow in your hardiness zone. So again, it’s best to be mindful of temperature.

What’s great about comb honey, though, is that it only takes a short amount of time to collect it—compared to other honey types. Plus, everything is useful because both the honey and the wax are edible!



Extracted Honey

This is the kind of honey that you use for cooking or sprucing your meals with. That makes it the most popular honey in the United States and most parts of the world!

To make extracted honey, what you have to do is slice wax capping off the comb. By doing so, liquid honey is extracted. Now, all you have to do is strain it and transfer the product into containers.

For this, you have to make sure that you have a snipper or uncapping knife so you can sieve the honey properly.



Whipped Honey

Whipped Honey is also known as honey fondant, candied honey, churned honey, spun honey, or creamed honey, and is quite popular in Europe.

Whipped Honey is created over time when honey gets to be crystallized. Now, once these crystals are smoothed out, you get to have a spreadable honey product.

From whipped honey, Granulated Honey is also formed. You blend nine parts of it with other forms of honey and the result will then be ultra-smooth—perfect for using with bread and salads!



Chunk Honey

Chunk Honey is also called Cut Comb and is often placed with extracted honey in a wide-mouthed bottle. It tastes pretty good too!



How to Collect Honey

Now, it’s time to learn how to get honey from the hive! Read on and find out how!



  1. Know when it’s the right time to collect honey. Basically, what you can keep in mind is that you can harvest honey when the last major nectar flow of the season is complete, and all the frames have already been filled with capped honey.



  1. Keep in mind that you have to use the smoker sparingly this time, as it might affect the taste of the honey.



  1. What you have to do next is to use a brush to remove the bees from the Supers, and then go on and take the Supers out of the hive.



  1. Remove honey from the comb. For this, you could use Centrifuges and Extractors, which are both mechanical devices meant to extract honey from the hive. Make sure to uncap the wax from the combs. But if you’re going for the comb itself, just let it be.



  1. Use a cheesecloth to strain the honey, and make sure to remove excess wax, as well.



  1. Now, let the honey stay in a settling tank for around 2 to 3 days so foreign objects can rise to the top and you won’t have a hard time removing them. Allow 2 to 3 days of bubbling time before you tend to the honey again.



  1. Skim off the foam, and do what you want with the honey!



What Honey Brings

Of course, you could create a lot of products out of honey. Here are some examples and easy ways to make them.



Honey Mead

To make honey mead, you’d have to deal with various kinds of honey. Here’s how:



  1. First, you need a tablespoon of cloves, 5 cinnamon sticks, 5 gallons of well water, and 32 pounds of dark wildflower honey.



  1. Add 4 ¼ tablespoons of wine yeast and pour mixture in a fermentation tank.



  1. Top it off with water.



  1. Now, add potassium tablets and anti-foam agent and wait for at least a day before proceeding to the next step.



  1. Add 2 ½ packets of wine yeast after a day and then cover loosely and allow mixture to ferment for at least 3 to 4 weeks before siphoning liquid off the ground and removing excess residue.



  1. Now, go on and rack the honey liquid to glass containers and add a potassium tablet, and then rack some more in a span of 1 to 2 months.



Beeswax Candles

Beeswax Candles are absolutely fun to make—and quite easy too! Here’s how:



  1. First, melt the beeswax in a tall container. It’s recommended that you do it in hot water bath.



  1. Then, tie a fishing weight made with lead to one end of the wick and start dipping.



  1. Before dipping more, make sure that you let each end of the wax cool down first.



  1. You could also make use of molds to give more texture to the candles.



Honey Body Balm



  1. Make sure you have the following ingredients with you: 2 cups olive oil, 2 tsp borax, 1 and 1/3 cups distilled water, 5 oz beeswax, and essential oil of your choice.



  1. Melt beeswax and oil in a double broiler and then heat borax and water in 150F.



  1. Slowly add water to the oil mixture, and constantly stir while doing so.



  1. Pour into containers once it emulsifies and make sure to use within 6 months.



Skin Cream



  1. To make beeswax skin cream, you need the following: 2 oz beeswax, ¾ cup distilled water, 2/3 cup sweet almond oil, 4 oz lanolin, essential oil of your choice, and a teaspoon of borax.



  1. Met oil, beeswax, and lanolin in a double broiler at 160F.



  1. Then, in a separate container, heat water and borax together and make sure to stir briskly.



  1. Now, begin to stir slowly when you see white cream forming. Keep stirring until mixture cools down to 100F.



  1. Pour into containers and use within 6 months.



Lip Balm

Honey and beeswax-based lip balm is one of the most common products made out of honey. It’s so easy to make, too!



  1. Make sure that you have the following: Essential oil of your choice, 4 oz sweet almond oil, 1 oz beeswax.



  1. Melt oil and beeswax in a double broiler until wax is melted.



  1. Then, remove mixture from heat, and add a few drops of the essential oil of your choice before pouring into lip balm containers.



  1. Let cool before covering. You could actually use this recipe to make more beauty products. For example, add propolis and you get an antibiotic treatment. Add Eucalyptus Oil and you have a chest cold remedy. Add lemongrass and citronella and you have an insect repellant—the list goes on!



Sunscreen

Beeswax also protect you from the harsh rays of the sun! For this, you have to:



  1. Make sure that you have essential oil of your choice, 2 Tbsp shea butter, 1 Tbsp Vitamin E Oil, 2 Tbsp Zinc Oxide, 2 oz beeswax, ¼ cup coconut oil, and ½ cup almond oil.



  1. In a double broiler, melt all of the ingredients with the exception of essential oil and zinc oxide.



  1. Then, remove mixture from heat and add essential oil and zinc oxide.



  1. Pour the mixture into a container and stir some more, just to make sure that zinc is thoroughly incorporated!



Lotion Bar

It’s also great to make lotion bars because you get the benefits of lotion without the sticky feeling! Here’s how:



  1. You need the following ingredients: essential oil of your choice, ¼ tsp Vitamin E Oil, 2 ½ oz cocoa butter, 2 oz sweet almond oil, 2 oz beeswax.



  1. Met all of the ingredients with the exception of essential oil in a double broiler.



  1. Add essential oil after you remove the mixture from heat.



  1. Pour into molds and let cool before using.



See what can bees do for you? Lots of amazing things!

Of course, you could make more products as you go on. And don’t forget, you could always enjoy honey butter, or use it to clarify your hair too!



Chapter 9: Understanding Bee Diseases



Bees also get to be infected with diseases. As mentioned in an earlier chapter, there are certain times of the year when you have to check for these diseases and give the bees food and medication so the honey they’ll produce won’t be affected, and so they’ll still grow the right way.

Here are some of the common bee diseases that you have to know about.



CCD

CCD also stands for Colony Collapse Disaster.

What happens during this time is that the IIV and Nesoma Cerenae Viruses are present in the hive. No one really knows why this happens, and it’s the worst that could happen because all you can do is burn the hive and put up a new one.

Again, prevention is better than cure, so do inspect the hive thoroughly as needed.



Foulbrood

Remember when it was said that you have to check for brood or capping patterns? Well, that’s what Foulbrood is about.

Foulbrood is caused by Bacillus Larvae. When these are present, sealed broods of honeybees are killed. It’s not that disastrous, but it’s also not nice because there’s a tendency that larvae could be killed.

What you can do then is disinfect the hive, mostly in spring and fall seasons, with the help of Terramycin. However, it’s best not to do this when the honey flow is already around as it might affect the quality of the honey—and that’s not what you want to happen.

If it’s too late already, you may have to resort to destroying the colony.



Varroa Mites

Varroa Mites attack both larvae and adult bees by sucking the blood out of them, and eventually shortening their lifespan.

You’ll know that Varroa Mites have attacked when you notice that your bees are missing wings or legs, so proper inspection is definitely needed. You can use Apistan Medication to get rid of the mites, but again, never do so during the honey flow. It’s not good for human consumption.



Chapter 10: Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them



Finally, in this chapter, you’ll learn about the mistakes most beekeepers make—and how you can avoid them!



Problem: Panicking when Swarming Happens.

Here’s the thing: Swarming might really send beekeepers into a panic, mainly because they lose around 40% of their bees. Sure, there’s still 60% left, but just seeing the amount of bees that leave the hive might send anyone into panic mode.



The Solution:

It’s usually the female bees who leave—and that’s not good because as mentioned earlier, they do almost everything for the colony. The first thing that you can do then is to avoid congestion from happening. You can do this by:



  1. Adding Honey Supers and Queen Excluders before the first flow of nectar happens.

  2. Reversing hive bodies early in the spring (see Beekeeping Calendar). This way, nutrients will be better distributed and there would be proper spacing in the hive.



Also, you have to make sure that there’s adequate ventilation in the hive. Here’s what you can do:



  1. Glue Popsicle Sticks to each corner of the hive’s inner cover so you can create a gap between the entrance and the cover, which will then let proper ventilation in.

  2. Open notched ventilation holes in the inner cover.

  3. Drill wine-cork holes near the Honey Supers, just in the deep upper part so you can provide ventilation in the rest of the entrances.



It would also be helpful if you can take off all the Queen Swarm Cells—so the other bees won’t follow suit. Do this during early summer and spring, and make sure to inspect the hive at least every week.

And of course, provide adequate water sources for the bees—so they won’t be tempted to look somewhere else!



Problem: Improper Mite Management

The thing with some beekeepers is that they think that because bees and mites are both insects, it’s okay for them to co-exist. This is absolutely wrong.

Think of it this way: What are you taking care of? The bees, or the mites? Of course, you’re taking care of the bees so it means that the mites have no room in there. Sometimes, the problem also lies in the fact that you only think of temporary solutions to the problem, so in short, the mites would just keep coming back—and might destroy the whole colony in the process.



The Solution:

It’s always best to monitor the hive 14 to 21 days after brood treatment so that you can check for newly hatched mites.

Take note that mite loads double at least every month, and when that happens, viruses may just be around the corner. A solution of 2 to 5% alcohol is needed, but sometimes, it’s just not enough.

For this, you can make a Sugar Shake. No, you’re not going to drink it—it’s for the hive, of course. You can do this by collecting at least ½ cup of the bees by knocking some of them off the frame.

Then, run down another frame gently over the back of the bees, keep them in a jar, and sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons powdered sugar over them. Shake vigorously and then leave under the sun to create a natural baking process and put a screened jar on top of it. Then, sprinkle some water with the help of a white dish so the mites will then be trampled on by the sugar.

Take note that you need to do some sampling before choosing which hive to treat. Take at least 10 weak bees from each hive, and then after seeing that the solution is successful, you can go on and treat all the other hives, too.

Also, take note that you have to treat all the mites by August because doing so during fall and winter seasons will be close to impossible.



Problem: Feeding Wrong

Take note that it’s never okay to let bees starve. But then again, you also have to make sure that you properly manage feeding times too. It’s always best to understand the hive status before emergency feeding—you can refer to the Beekeeping Calendar to check when it’s right to look at the state of the hives, and when to do emergency feeding.

If you’re still having problems, here’s what you have to do.



The Solution:


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