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Bee Basics

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.


Ten Types of Bees

This is an edited reprint of an article that appeared in the April 27th edition of the 1887 American Bee Journal.

  1. Black or Brown – The ordinary hive-bee or honey-bee, called by the way of distinction, the black or becoming a beekeeperbrown, from being almost one uniform brown-black color, with slight indications of paler bands on the abdomen, and clothed with grayish brown hairs. Until within the last fifteen years, no other bee was known in north or west Europe. This bee, after escaping, has made itself wild in the American and New Zealand woods.
  1. Italian Alp. – The Italian Alp bee, sometimes called Ligurian, is indigenous to the mountainous district that lies in the north of Italy round about the lakes Magiore and Como. It is of a light orange yellow color, with two orange red bands on the abdomen, and is longer and more slender than the black. They are better honey gatherers, more hardy and prolific, and very courageous in defending their own hives, even from the ravages of the Wax Moth.
  1. Cyprian. – The Cyprians are natives of Cyprus and part of Turkey in Asia. They are yellow, quite slender, wasp-like, and smaller than Italians. They always have a yellow shield mark on the back between the wings. They are strong, excellent honey gatherers, winter better than any other race, and are proof against being robbed by other bees. But they are easily excited, and most revengeful stingers.
  1. Syrian. – The Syrian bees are found on that part of Asiatic Turkey, which lies north of Mount Carmel. They are of the same size, qualities, and temper as the Cyprians, from which they differ in showing less yellow, and being on the whole of a grayer color over their whole bodies. They are quite distinct from the next variety.beginning beekeeping
  1. Holy Land. – The Holy Land, or as the natives call them, the Holy Bees, are found in Palestine, south of Mount Carmel. They are marked like the Cyprians, but their hair is so light in color they appear to be beautifully striped. Their size is smaller than Italians, but larger than Cyprians. They are very active and far-flying, most wonderful cell builders, and get honey from red clover; but they are ready to sting, become furious at the least smoke, and run off their combs when one is lifted from the hive.
  1. Tunisian. – Tunis, on the north of Africa, has a peculiar race of bees. They are the same in size as the Cyprian and Syrian, but their color is dark brown—even darker than the common black or brown. They are active workers, keep on the combs when being handled, and bear smoke better than other Eastern races; but they are liable to attack a person coming near them, even though not interfered with.
  1. Carniolan.- The Carniolan bees are natives of Camiola, in South Austria. They are longer and thicker than the black or brown, being the largest domesticated European bee. The color is a rich, dark brown, nearly black, while each ring of the abdomen is clearly marked or whitish-gray hairs, giving it a silvery look. They are equal to Italians in honey gathering, fecundity and hardiness, while they are of a most remarkably gentle disposition, never attacking the manipulator, except when they are treated with improper roughness.
  1. Hungarian. – The bees peculiar to Hungary are the same size of, but far blacker than the common brown. They are very fair honey gatherers, and as gentle as Italians, but their propensity to swarm renders them very uncertain and unprofitable.beekeeping beginners
  1. Egyptian. – The Egyptian bees are like Syrians in size, but quite yellow, like the Italians. They abound, both wild and in domestication, along the valley of the Nile, and while famed for good honey gathering qualities, are without exception the most ferocious bees known outside of India. (Apparently, they were not familiar with Africanized honey bees)
  1. South African. – There is an excellent race of bees, both wild and hived, in the Cape Colony, which it is to be hoped will soon be introduced to our bee-keepers. They are the size and color of Italians, but grayer, while they are more tractable, and at the same time very prolific, and of remarkable working powers; where honey is to be gathered, they keep at it early and late, and often are at work even by moonlight.

It is from the best of these races that the advanced bee-keepers of the world are now endeavoring to concentrate in one strain those characteristics which commend themselves as desirable in the best bred bee. And it may be safely stated that the honeybee of the future will be as superior to the bees known to us twenty years ago.


The Daily Work of the Honey Bee

Bees are so industrious in nature, that they do not waste a moment of theirThe Daily Work of the Honey Bee time. When the sun has risen and the flowers spread themselves wide open for the bees to come and take their pollen until the sun declines towards the horizon, you may observe bees working diligently.

Some bees, if they find an ideal spot from which to gather pollen, may go back and forth from the spot to the hive up to ten times per hour.

Years ago, in the Eighteenth century, Sir John Lubbock in Great Britain was an early observer of the habits of bees. He marked a number of his bees, so that he could observe their behavior.

What he discovered was that most of the bees would stay at the same spot gathering pollen for about two minutes and would then leave for the hive and return in about six minutes. Then it repeated the process all over again. Each honey bee would make nearly one hundred trips in a day.

So the term “busy as a bee” comes to mind when you think of the hard and persevering work the bees do day and day out.


How Do Honey Bees Make a Hive?

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Honey Bee Trivia

Honey Bees not only play an important role in agriculture, but there are many facts about them that you may not know. A further look into this interesting insect reveals not only its uniqueness, but its usefulness as well.

  • Able to fly at around 15 mph with 11, 400 wing strokes per minute, honey bees travel 55,000 miles to bring us one pound of honey. In order to produce this one pound, a bee will have to visit two million flowers.
  • The honey bees that collect nectar from the flowers are called foragers and normally visit 50 – 100 flowers on one flight. Thisbeekeeper keeps a bee very busy during its approximately 40 days of life.
  • These foragers are very efficient, able to carry 80% of their weight in pollen or nectar. Making up 80% of all pollinators, the honey bee must gather ten pounds of nectar to make one pound of honey. And, even though it is a small insect, honey bee pollination has an agricultural value of 15 billion dollars a year in the United States alone.
  • Honey bees have a unique social system in that there is only one queen per colony. If another queen attempts to arise, they will fight to the death. She mates with nearly 20 drones (the male honey bee with no stinger) only once in her life. She then lays between 1,000 – 3,000 eggs per day. It’s easy to see where the phrase, “busy as a bee” got its start!
  • Within the hive, an anti-bacterial substance called Propolis, made from sticky plant and tree resin, is used as a glue to help maintain the structure of the hive. In order to find the nectar and water they need, honey bees use several dances to communicate the location of such items. One well-known dance is called the waggle dance.
  • Beeswax, popular in many commercial and homemade products such as lip balms and candles, is produced from the wax glands in honey bees. It is a very hard wax and doesn’t melt until it reaches a temperature of 148 degrees.
  • Honey bees are fascinating little creatures that are highly efficient, energetic and very important to our agriculture. Taking the time to learn various facts and trivia about them not only increases our knowledge of honey bees, but our appreciation of them as well.

Types Of Honeybees In North America

There are several popular races of honey bees in North America that are raised for the purpose of making honey. Some of these races are a lot more gentle than others. Obviously these “gentle bees” would be ideal for beekeepers.

But that is not the only factor to take into consideration when deciding on which bees to have for beekeeping. Some bees are more likely to swarm than others. All bees will swarm if crowded; but some races are much worse than others. Finally, as with everything, cost is another factor. Some bees are more expensive than others. It would make sense for beginning beekeepers to start out with gentle and inexpensive bees.

This beekeeping information on the types of honey bees will help you decide which type is right for you.

Italian Honey Bees

Italian bees have become the most popular bee in the United States; in large part thanks to their gentle behavior. They are also Italian Honey Beepopular and the most distributed due to their ability to survive in most climates. These bees survive winter will and breed in the spring. They are bred down south. You can find them in the north as well; however they will not be available for purchase until late spring or summer.

Italian bees are most often recommended to beginners because of how common they are and how easily they are found in packages. Their biggest weakness is their tendency to rob and drift. More food is consumed by bees that are located in hard winters/colder climates because they need to compensate for the heat loss by eating more food. Otherwise they do survive well in the winter. They produce a minimum amount of propolis, which makes it easier for them to keep the hive clean and easy to work with.

Worker bees are a light color and the queen is a darker color; thus making her easy to locate. These bees are yellow in coloring with bands on the abdomen. There are weaknesses in any honeybee species so despite their moderate tendency to swarm and strong tendency to rob, they are a good beginner bee. That is probably why they are the most common of honeybees.

Caucasian Honey Bees

Caucasian Honey BeeNext are Caucasian honeybees. They are a silver/grey to brown in color. They are gentler than the Italian bees and are not prone to robbing as the Italians are. They are slower to start in the spring but otherwise are just as productive as the Italian bees. They do produce an excessive amount of propolis that if not collected can make the hive very sticky to work with.

Caucasian honeybees have a moderate tendency to swarm and have a large and strong population. They survive winter well and forage earlier on cooler days. They are also slow to start up in spring. They are not prone to rob. Finally, they have a longer tongue than almost all other honeybees which means they can take advantage of nectar that most bees cannot.

Carniolan Honey Bees

Next are Carniolan honeybees, which are a subspecies of the Western honeybee. They originate in Slovenia (which is located in carniolan honey beethe southern part of the Austrian Alps). They can also be found in parts of Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Serbia. They are a darker brown to black in color. They are the second most popular bees after the Italians. Their ability to defend themselves against insects and pests as well as their extreme gentleness towards beekeepers make them a great choice overall. Not to mention that they are resistant to some parasites and diseases.

They are the best wintering bee as the queen stops all brood production in the fall. They build up very rapidly in the spring; otherwise it depends on the flow of nectar and pollen. They tend to swarm when there is no space. They are not likely to rob; but if pollen is scarce brood rearing is greatly decreased.

Rrussian honey bee ussian Honey Bees

The Russian honeybee came from the Primorsky region. They have evolved traits of being resistant to mites since living where it is home to the Varroa and Trachael mites. These bees resemble the Carniolan bees in color. These bees winter well in extremely cold temperatures and small clusters. Brood rearing is highly dependent on forage availability. They tend to swarm. Further they are expensive.

Buckfast Honey BeesBuckfast Honey Bee

Lastly we have the buckfast honey bees. Buckfast honey bees were developed by Brother Adams in the 20th century; actually they are a mixed race of bees. They have become very popular with beekeepers due to their extreme gentleness. Beyond that they build a strong population in the spring and manage winter well. They adapt well to areas with cold damp winters and have a low tendency to swarm. They are excellent honey producers even though they are inclined to rob. Finally they are resistant to tracheal mites.



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