September, 2016 | Buzz Beekeeping Supplies

Archive for September 2016

The Hive for Beginners – Wisdom from the Past

This article (edited) was written in 1883 in “The American Apiculturist” by J. E. Pond, JR.

Beehive“In selecting a hive, no one will pretend to think for a moment of using other than one that contains movable frames.

The day of hollow logs, bee-gums and box-traps, has gone by never to return; but in the selection of the frame, there is so great a diversity of opinion, that a beginner in bee-culture may well pause for a moment before he makes a permanent choice; and any advice or information that tends to clear away the doubts from his mind will probably be welcomed by him.

honey bee hivesI have been engaged in bee-culture many years, and during that time have experimented with most of the leading frames in use, and have adopted the standard Langstroth frame, as the one that seems to meet the many requirements called for, to secure the best results.

I do not propose to decry any other frame, and will say right here, that success in apiculture depends more upon the man who engages in it, than upon the form or style of frame he uses.

He who enters into this work intelligently, and with a well-rooted and grounded purpose, imbued with a strong determination to succeed, will hardly fail, no matter what frame he may choose; but if he makes the right choice at the start, success will be more easily achieved.

The Langstroth frame was the invention of one of the ablest apiarists the world ever saw; to him and his labors should be given all praise. The introduction of the movable, sectional frame, by the Rev. L. L. Langstroth, formed an era in bee-culture, and gave an impetus to the business.”

Today,133 years later, the Langstroth hive is still the standard in the industry 133 years later.




Honey Bee Life Cycle

The Honey Bee Life Cycle

 Honey bee life cycle: a description, drawing and information about the colony.

 The honey bee life cycle goes through 4 basic stages.  More detail is added in the diagram below, but the key stages are:honey-bee-life-cycle

  1. Egg
  2. Larva
  3. Pupa
  4. Adult

All bee life cycles go through these stages, although there are great variations between the life cycles of solitary, honey and bumblebees, (as explained elsewhere on my site – see links.

But for now, let’s focus on the honey bee life cycle.   Here’s my little drawing giving an overview (you can download a larger PDF version below):

Unlike bumblebee colonies, honey bee colonies can survive the winter, provided they have enough food resources, are able to keep sufficiently warm, and are free of diseases and predators.

However, in the winter, colonies are smaller than in the summer: there are no drones, and perhaps part of the colony left the hive (in a swarm) to form a new nest elsewhere.

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Honey Bee Life Cycle – Mid-State Beekeepers Association

There are three kinds of honey bees that you will find living inside a beehive – the Queen, the Worker and the Drone. Honey bees are highly specialized.  A hive needs each of the hive members to perform their job well, or the hive will not prosper. They must work as a unit and be willing to sacrifice themselves if need be to keep the hive alive and thriving.

The Drone is the male bee.  He has a very large and thick body.  A drone performs no functions inside the hive. In the hive, he rests and is fed by workers. His sole duty is to fly around at an altitude of 40 to up to 200 feet in search of virgin queen bees on their maiden flights. His odds of finding one are slim, but if he is fortunate to meet and mate in flight, the virgin queen retains his endophallus (storing it inside her body for future use) and he falls to the ground and dies.

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Varroa Mite

The Varroa Mite has become well known and has been a big pest of honeybees since they were first introduced in Florida in the mid-1980’s.varroa-mite

Varroa mites are outside parasites that bother both brood and honey bees. The Varroa mites suck their blood from both adults and developing brood, and particularly drone brood. This will shorten and weakens the bee’s life span. Emerging brood may be abnormal with missing wings and legs.

If left untreated, infestations of varroa mites will increase and may kill more colonies. If the colonies are not looked at for mites, losses may sometimes be mistaken for queenlessness or winter mortality.

The adult female mites have reddish brown oval bodies that are flat. They are about 1 to 1.5mm across. They also have eight legs. They are big enough to notice with the unaided eye on the bee’s stomach or thorax.

The varroa mites flat shape can cause them to fit in between the bee’s abdominal section. This mite is usually confused with the bee louse. Nonetheless, the bee louse, which is an insect that has only six legs. Its body is slightly bigger and more circular.
Mites grow on the bee brood. A female mite will come in a brood cell a day before it is capped so it can be sealed with larva. Immature mites that come out from the eggs that she lays develops and feeds on the maturing bee larva.

When it becomes time for the adult bees to come out from the cell, many of the mites will have become adults; they would have mated, and they arevarroa-mites ready to begin looking for other larvae or bees to parasitize.

Examination of the drone brood in their capped cells will most likely tell whether or not a colony has been infested. The dark mites are easy to see when they are on the white pupae when the comb is broken, or the pupae are released from their cells.

Mites move from colony to colony by drifting drones and workers. Honeybees can also get a hold of these mites when robbing little colonies.

It is best to separate captured swarms, package bees, and different new colonies from older colonies and inspect them for mites before you place them in an apiary.

Early discovery of low levels of mite infestation is the main key to successful management. It is simpler to spot infestations that are more developed than those that are just beginning.


Honey – The Ultimate Survival Food

Honey has been known to be a natural sweetener. But for many years it has been kept in many househohoney-the-ultimate-survival-foodlds for other new purposes. Many people keep it stored for its medicine value since it makes a good alternative remedy for numerous health conditions.

Over the centuries honey has been found to help treat coughs, sore throats, and other things. This is because it is rich in antiseptic and antibacterial properties. There are lots more practical uses of honey, which makes it a good survival food.

Honey is considered by many to be an ultimate survival food. This is due to the long storage life that honey has. When it is kept in an airtight container, unprocessed honey can last for a long time.

This is based on several historical accounts, which includes jars of honey being found in Egyptian tombs. The honey in these jars was tested and was shown to be still okay for human consumption. Which just further proves that honey is the ultimate survival food and that every kitchen should have it.

The big question is ‘Why is honey able to withstand long-term storage?

This is due to the components that make up honey. Honey is broken down into carbohydrates that are then divided into fructose and glucose.

Both of these things stay separated from each other and will never attach to each other. They do bond with water, which helps to prevent the water molecules from being home to microorganisms that can lead to spoiled honey.

Honey also has also been shown to have several anticancer properties. Which is due to the fact that honey has flavonoids and antioxidants that work to prevent the growth of cancer cells in the body. To help prevent cancer it is recommended that you take honey daily.

Honey as the ultimate survival food can help provide an instant boost in energy. This natural energy booster will help keep you going, which is why it is used to help improve athletic performances. This is because honey contains glucose, which is then converted into instant energy.

It has also beebenefits-of-honeyn shown to help diabetics since it is able to help regulate blood sugar. Honey is a simple sugar which makes it okay for diabetics to take it.

The antibacterial properties of honey are known to be good for skin. It can also be combined with other ingredients that will boost the effectiveness of honey. This will work to nourish and moisturize your skin, which will create young and glowing skin.

With everything that has been previously mentioned, it is no doubt that honey is the ultimate survival food. Choosing to keep a jar of honey in your kitchen can prove to be very beneficial.


The Secrets of Successful Beekeeping

This article and the advice that follows comes from G. M. Doolittle, which was printed in the January 1877 edition of the American Bee Journal.

To be successful, the apiarist must have a simple, movable; frame hive of some kind; and for box honey, the brood chamSecrets of Successful Beekeepingber should not contain over 1550 cubic inches inside the frames. All know that bees gather honey, and that the eggs laid by the queen produce bees, consequently the more eggs the queen lays, the more bees we get; and the more bees we have, the more honey they gather.

In fact, the queen is the producer of the honey. Therefore, if we wish good returns from our bees, we must see to it that we have good prolific queens and that they fill the combs with brood before the honey season commences, so that when the honey harvest comes, the bees will be obliged to place the honey in the boxes, as there will be nowhere else for them to store it.

But how shall we secure combs full of brood, and plenty of bees to carry on the labors of the hive by the time our honey harvest begins?

As soon as spring opens, our bees should all be examined by lifting the frames of each hive, and if the stocks are weak, the bees are shut to one side of the hive by means of a division board, so as to keep up the necessary heat for brood-rearing, on as many combs as they can cover.

As soon as the queen has fhoney bees and beekeepingilled these combs with eggs, we spread them apart, inserting an empty comb between those occupied with brood, and in a few days’ time the queen will till this one also; and so we keep on until every available cell is occupied with brood.

Thus it will be seen that instead of the queen laying her eggs on the outside of the cluster, she lays them in the center of the brood-nest, where they should be. After the hive is full of brood and bees, it does not make so much difference, as the weather is warm, and bees are plenty, so that the queen can deposit her eggs anywhere in the hive.

As soon as the strongest stocks are full, take a frame of brood just gnawing out and place it in the weaker ones, giving the strong one an empty comb for tint queen to fill again, and so keep on until all are lull.

When this is accomplished, put on boxes; and, as we said at the commencement, if any honey is gathered it must be put in the boxes. Each box honey bees beekeepingshould have a small piece of comb attached to the top as a “starter”, to get the bees to work more readily in the boxes; the center tier of boxes, if possible, should be full of comb, left over from the previous year.

As soon as the first few boxes are filled, they should be taken off, before being colored by the bees passing over them, and empty ones put in their places, thereby causing the bees to work with renewed vigor to fill up the vacant space left where the full ones were taken out. And thus we keep taking out full ones, and putting empty ones in their places as long as the honey season lasts.

This, in short, is the way we work our bees to secure the yields of honey.



Bees Are Not Domestic Animals

Bees have been kept by man from an early stage in the development of human civilization, yet it cannot be said that they are domesticated. In all of their activities, bees under the care of man do not differ from bees in a wild state.

Breeding in various ways has modified the bee but, in so far as the natural instincts are concerned, it is doubtful whether any appreciable change has been brought about and in the greater number of phases of bee life no change has even been attempted.beekeeping supplies

An escaping swarm takes up its abode in a hollow tree and the bees are often then spoken of as “wild, ” but this adjective is just as applicable to the bees in the apiary.

Certain animal trainers become proficient in handling savage animals through their knowledge of the ways of these beasts. Similarly the beekeeper, by studying the behavior of his bees, comes to know their habits and is governed by this knowledge.

This comparison of bees and wild animals must be construed not as intended to inspire fear in the uninitiated but to point out that the beekeeper actually is dealing with animals unmodified in their instincts by their long association with man.

By the proper use of smoke and especially by the way the colony is handled, the beekeeper can seemingly do with his bees as he pleases.

The fact is, however, that he cannot overstep the bounds set by the instincts of these animals.

It is therefore an incorrect conception of the ability of the beekeeper to state, as did Langstroth, that bees are capable of being tamed.

In view of these facts, the necessity of a thorough knowledge of bee activities is most evident.


Excerpted and edited from:

Beekeeping; a discussion of the life of the honeybee … 1915. Phillips, Everett Franklin, 1878-1951.



Russian Honey Bees

Russian Bees – Russian Honeybee Breeder

Hybrids vs. Pure (certified) Russians:  As with any strain of honey bee, Russians will interbreedRussian Honey Bees with other strains of honey bees, which results in hybrids that have the characteristics of both strains. While designed and tested hybrid breeding programs take advantage of useful hybrid vigor, uncontrolled hybrids often display undesirable hybrid vigor; they may have increased aggressiveness,  reduced honey production and a decrease in their ability to withstand  mites and detrimental expressions of other traits as well. “Russian honey bees” and Russian hybrids are advertised for sale by non-RHBA members. There is very little chance these so-called “Russians” are pure bred and they are unlikely to have the exceptional characteristics of pure-bred Russian honey bees.

Russian queens from certified members of the Russian Honey Bee Breeders’ Association (RHBA) members are not hybrids. Rather, they are pure bred from a broadly based closed breeding population selected for resistance to varroa and increased honey production.  They are bred and DNA tested to be genetically pure Russians. As such, their traits are those which they were bred for by the USDA Bee Laboratory in Baton Rouge from queens imported from Russia and continue to be improved by the combined efforts of the Russian Bee Breeders Association. The RHBA is the sole owner of the Pure Russian Honey Bee Stock for breeding purposes. RHBA members sell only pure-bred Russian honey bees selected for resistance to varroa mites and superior honey production.

russian honey beeRHBA currently has 17 lines of Russian genetic stock.  RHBA members are assigned two lines each to select and propagate. Lines belong either to a white, blue or yellow block and inbreeding is prevented by having members of each block provide queens each year from his two lines to members in the other two blocks. These queens are used to establish drone source hives to produce drones to mate with queens of each member’s two lines. This prevents inbreeding and maintains genetic diversity among the 17 lines.

Swarming tendency: You often may hear rumors that Russian honey bees swarm a lot. That is likely true when no precautions are taken to reduce swarming. Russian honey bees are like all other strains of honey bees. They will readily swarm without proper management; however, management of Russians to reduce swarming is successful but may be very demanding. They respond quickly to environmental cues that stimulate brood production. They buildup in population very quickly and if the beekeeper is not paying close attention, they soon can be to swarming strength. Queens must be given plenty of drawn combs in which to lay eggs and space to expand the brood nest .

Russian honey bees are unique in that colonies will often have active queen cells but do not swarm.  You might call them “emergency queens”. It might be compared to a colony producing emergency queen cells when a queen is lost, but just one step ahead. The queens are there to emerge and quickly take over egg laying responsibilities if a queen is lost. Although usually the unneeded cells are destroyed by the bees. According to Dr. Tom Rinderer, who bred the Russian lines, about one of every five Russian colonies will have more than one laying queen without swarming . Since the size of the brood nest is controlled by worker bees, such two queen colonies are no larger than colonies with one queen.

The Primorsky Russian Honeybee – Foley’s Russian Bees

What is the Russian Honeybee? First off, it is not an Italian or a Carniolan but it does have several of their characteristics. Genetically, a Russian honey bee is Caucasian with some Italian and Carniolan lineage.
They are a dark bee with black abdomens with grey hair. Although they share some Carniolan and Italian characteristics, they definitely have their own “Russian” characteristics.russian bees
The Russian honeybee refers to honey bees (Apis Mellifera) that originate in the Primorsky Krai region of Russia.
This strain of bee was imported into the United States in 1997 by the USDA’s Honeybee Breeding, Genetics & Physiology Laboratory in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in response to severe declines in bee populations caused by infestations of parasitic mites.
Why Russians?
Some of the earliest frustrations as a new beekeeper is winter losses and having to treat for tracheal mites or verroa mites.
The Russians are extremely adept at dealing with both of these issues as their species has survived through them for hundreds of years.
Typically Russians run a little higher in price for a queen, but when one considers the savings of chemical treatments and better survivability; they are a great value.
Additionally, their prices have declined in recent years and can be bought for the about the same price as Italians or Carniolans.
The sources are still more limited so getting an order in early is essential.



Bee Sting Treatment

8 Natural Bee Sting Treatment Options – Natural Health – MOTHER …

Oct 15, 2013 –Bee stings can be deadly if a person is allergic to the venom. If you or a family member is allergic to bee stings and gets stung, remove the stinger and seek emergency medical attention right away. Do not rely on a natural bee sting treatment alone. Use an EpiPen (epinephrine auto-injector) if you have one.

Any person who is stung by a bee, needs to be monitored for signs of anaphylaxis (life-threatening reaction). About 3 percent of bee sting treatmentpeople stung by bees quickly develop this condition.

Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Itching/redness
  • Hives/welts
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feelings of faintness or dizziness

If there is any concern that a person is developing anaphylaxis, call 911 right away.

You can also take over-the-counter Benadryl, but this will not stop the anaphylaxis; it will only slow it. You must seek emergency medical attention immediately for bee allergy.

Non-Allergic Bee Sting Treatment Options

For a quick recovery from non-allergic bee stings, you have three things to do to begin the healing process:

1. Extract the stinger.

2. Clean the wound.

3. Get pain relief.

The first and most important treatment for a bee sting is to remove the stinger as quickly as possible and by any means.

The bee’s hind end contains a sac that holds venom, and it may continue pumping more venom into the skin if not extracted.

So, don’t be slow about – get the stinger out. You can use your fingernails, a pair of tweezers, or even a credit card to scrape out the stinger. But, be careful not to break the stinger and leave it buried in the skin.

Second, before using a home remedy for bee sting treatment, clean the wound with soap and cool water. This will help remove any bacteria that can cause infection.

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Bee Sting Treatment That Is Natural And Found At … – Survival Mastery

Bee Sting Treatment If you get a honeybee sting, this is not a fun experience, which is why you must be aware of the bee sting treatment you need to use.
bee sting remedyThe pain you experience can last up to many hours or even days, if the correct cure is not applied immediately.
Such situations including bee stings usually arise in the summer as that is when the honeybee is out and about and also when individuals are out maintaining their garden.
Thankfully, there are many remedies that you can easily find around the home to use in order to get some relief from both the pain and the sting.

Before you start to cure those bee stings with any of the remedies (listed below), it is vital that you take the first and foremost step, which is to remove the sting from the skin.

The bite area consists of a black spot, which is the sting. This needs to be both removed and cleaned so venom is prevented from spreading any further.

In order to remove the sting, you can use a pair of tweezers or simply wash the area with the bite using water and soap.

Another factor you also need to keep in mind is that one swelling and pain remedy may work for one person, but may not for another.

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Small Hive Beetle

Small Hive Beetle – Aethina tumida (SHB), which is the small hive beetle, is a native to sub-Saharan Africa. The small hive beetle can be found around honeybees. Although they are often found around the honeybee colonies there has not been much known about what threat or damage to the honeybee colonies they have caused.Small Hive Beetle

In 1998 the small hive beetle made its way into the United States. How the small hive beetle made its way into the country is unknown.

Currently the small hive beetle can be found in more than 30 states and these beetles can definitely be found in the Southeastern states.

It is speculated that these beetles may have been transported throughout the United States from certain packaging. These beetles may have also been brought in by migrant beekeepers. Also since the beetles are capable of flying they have been able to travel on their own. A small hive beetle can fly for several miles, which makes it easier for them to travel freely throughout the states.

The small hive beetle is considered to be a pest but at a secondary level. They are a pest that seeks opportunity.

In Georgia they have become a problem as they have caused damage with the bee colonies there. Since the beetles are in abundance in that area they have caused problems for the honeybee colonies.

The beetles bring varroa mites and other hard conditions for the honeybees. With the arrival of the small hive beetles they create a stressful situation for the honeybees.

Although the small hive beetle can create a stressful situation for the honeybees they are able to hold their ground to a point.

Unless the small hive beetles are massive. In this case it can create a problem because they are able to lay eggs and reproduce their numbers rapidly.

The survival of the honeybee colony will depend on various factors. The amount of small hive beetles compared to the honeybees. The strength of the honeybee colony compared to the small hive beetles. If the honeybees are healthy and if the population can out power the small hive beetles while making them obsolete.

small hive beetlesUnfortunately even with the honeybees’ ability to sting its opponent it is no match for the small hive beetle. The small hive beetle is built with an armor that is tough and the stingers will not penetrate through their shells. Often the honeybee will try to strategically remove the small hive beetle by simply moving them.

The beetles are masters at hiding in small crevices and cracks so that they can escape the honeybees. In retaliation the honeybees use this as a way to trap the small hive beetles where they are.

Although, the small hive beetles have learned some skills to survive when they are put into this situation. They have learned to become adaptable and can trick the honeybees into feeding them from stimulating their antennas.

This survival skill keeps the small hive beetle thriving. They will often stay with the honeybees until they are released by the beekeepers upon inspection.

Detection of the Small Hive Beetle

Detection of the small hive beetle is an easy task. They can be found throughout the bee colony hive. They can often be seen as an infestation and will be on various parts of the combs as well as the layers of the hive.

When looking for small hive beetles in the top area of the hive they are easy to find by opening up the hive, placing the top hivehive beetle cover in the sun, and placing that top hive on top of the cover.

The small hive beetles do not like the sunlight and you will be able to see them trying to hide from the sun. This will take a small amount of time but once they have removed themselves from the area you will be able to pick up the hive and remove the rest of them in this fashion.

In the event that the small hive beetles become over populated they will make it hard for the honeybees to maintain a viable hive. This could happen if the colony is already weak or the population of the honeybees has decreased.

It may happen if the beekeeper is not taking certain actions to protect the honeybees. If any of those predicaments occur the honeybees will become defenseless by the overpopulated small hive beetles. This can cause the colonies to split, form smaller colonies; which results in the colony being less powerful.

With over supering hives it can cause problems for the honeybee colony. They may not be able to handle the abundance of small hive beetles.

Control of the Hive Beetle

Controlling the colony by prevention would be the best way to deal with the small hive beetle.

If this is not possible there is an actual chemical to help control the infestation of these beetles. There are various avenues that can be taken in order to protect the honeybees.

One of the most effective ways to protect the honeybees from infestation is to keep their hives in sunny areas since the small hive beetle is not a fan of sunlight.


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beekeeping supplies new Ventilated-Beekeeping-Suit-L
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