Beekeeping Basics | Buzz Beekeeping Supplies - Part 2

Beekeeping Basics

Natural Beekeeping

First Ever Natural Beekeeping Convention Makes a Buzz in Pasadena This Weekend – Pasadena Now

Pasadena Now – While bees may be perceived as intimidating sting machines that produce sweet honey, the scientific and beekeeping communities consider them the unsung heroes of the planet. The tiny aerial insects are responsible for pollinating 80% of the world’s plants and without them world would be a much different place.Natural Beekeeping

Pasadena’s flora-and-fauna-rich landscape has cemented itself as a bee friendly environment among local experts and is the perfect home for the Natural Beekeeping Conference that kicks off this weekend, set to feature demonstrations and lectures about all things beekeeping from local and international experts in the field.

“Our conference is geared towards the backyard beekeeper who wants to do things with a more natural twist. We’ve imported the top minds in the natural beekeeping world to come speak,” said conference organizer and Honey Love CEO Chelsea McFarland whose non-profit provides educational outreach and advocacy efforts to protect the health and well-being of honey bees.

Pasadena’s bee friendly status is a rarity when compared to worrisome global phenomenon of bee colonies disappearing called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“If you have an amazing garden and want to make it even better, the natural progression is to keep bees. It’s very important to keep known genetics in your urban yard,” said Keith Roberts, President of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association and owner of beekeeping retail store The Valley Hive.

“Pasadena was the area to be this year,” said Roberts who went on to say he extracted thousands of pounds of sage honey in the Pasadena/Altadena area alone.

Many factors play a role in possibilities regarding to the disappearance of bee colonies including parasites and pests, pathogens, poor nutrition, and the use of pesticides on plants as the number one cause of speculation according to the USDA.

“Pesticides are always a threat regardless of where the hives are,” said Roberts.

These foreign chemicals tend to do more harm than good due the their artificial properties, in which pollination by managed honey bee colonies adds at least $15 billion to the value of U.S. agriculture annually through increased yields and superior-quality harvests, according to the USDA.

natural bee keepingBees colonies are affected less by CCD in urban environments due to the lack of pesticide use that is all too common in large scale agriculture, according to Honey Love.

“We aren’t seeing colony collapse disorder as much in the city,” said McFarland

Aside from the importance of bees in regards to sustaining a substantial part of life on Earth, they have become specimens of interest to scientists and engineers in fascinating ways.

Dr. Michael Dickinson is a scientist whose lab at Caltech focuses on flight control and how animals transform sensory information into a code that controls motor output and behavior. According to Dickinson, the unique anatomy of bees provides a basis for the development of cutting edge aerial technology in the 21st century.

“These animals are exploiting some of the most exotic flight mechanisms that are available to insects,” said Dickinson in an article published by Caltech. “The knowledge garnered from actual insects start to become important engineering principles by which we design these things,” said Dickinson.

Although urban areas like Pasadena are more sustainable place for bees to thrive, they are still in need of habitats that they can call home and is a simple addition anyone can add to their property with just a small amount of tender love and care.

You don’t have to be a skilled beekeeper to contribute to the well being of bees in your neighborhood.

“We encourage people to put out a swarm box which is something bees can move into. It’s a great thing that people can do who live in the city,” said McFarland who also mentioned the importance of providing basics such as adequate water for bees.

To help promote his all-natural approach, 40 year beekeeper Jerry Dunbar participated in the creation of this video series demonstrating his practices and the …

Beek Out This Summer at HoneyLove’s Natural Beekeeping … – Modern Farmer

Husband-and-wife team Rob and Chelsea McFarland are passionate about honeybees and want you to be too. Last year they spearheaded the legalization of urban beekeeping in Los Angeles, published Save the Bees with Natural Backyard Hives, and now have organized a natural beekeeping conference set for August 19 through 21 in Pasadena, California.

“We started the Natural Beekeeping Conference as an alternative to the traditional beekeeping conferences put on for commercial beekeepers,” Chelsea tells Modern Farmer in an email. “There isn’t currently a conference for natural beekeepers—especially not one that addresses backyard beekeeping issues—so we decided to create one.
”The couple launched HoneyLove, an LA-based nonprofit bee conservation organization in 2011, with “a mission to protect the keeping honey beeshoneybees by educating our communities and inspiring new urban beekeepers,” says Chelsea. It has grown to be the largest urban beekeeping group in Southern California.
The conference in August is for natural beekeepers—those who use chemical-free practices—of all stripes, but with a special focus on those who raise bees in an urban environment.
You’ll see several luminaries of the natural beekeeping world at the conference, including Michael Bush, the author of The Practical Beekeeper—Beekeeping Naturally; Dee Lusby, known as the “mother of treatment-free beekeeping;” May R. Berenbaum, professor and department head in the Department of Entomology at Cornell University; and Les Crowder, author of Top-Bar Beekeeping.
Plus, there will be workshops, hands-on demonstrations, the latest in natural beekeeping techniques and findings, exhibitors and sponsors, and even tastings of raw honey from around the world. It’s an opportunity to connect with other “beeks” (bee geeks),
June 15, 2016 webinar on Common Sense Natural Beekeeping with Kim Flottum, author and editor of Bee Culture Magazine.

Backyard Bees

The Colony-Killing Mistake Backyard Beekeepers Are Making – NPR

NPR – The Colony-Jonathan Garaas has learned a few things in three seasons of backyard beekeeping: Bees are fascinating. They’re complicated. And keeping them alive is not easy.

The Fargo attorney lost hives in his first two years as a novice beekeeper. With nine hives now established near his home and a Backyard Beescouple of University of Minnesota bee classes under his belt, he feels like he’s got the hang of it, although it’s still a challenge.

Every two weeks, he opens the hives to check the bees and search for varroa mites, pests that suck the bees’ blood and can transmit disease. If he sees too many of the pinhead sized parasites, he applies a chemical treatment.

Attorney and hobby beekeeper Jonathan Garaas Dan Gunderson | MPR News

“You can get the book learning. You can see the YouTubes. You can be told by others,” he said, but “you have to have hands-on experience. When you start putting it all together, it now starts making sense.”

Scientists wish every beginner beekeeper was as diligent.

While experts welcome the rising national interest in beekeeping as a hobby, they warn novices may be inadvertently putting their hives — and hives for miles around — in danger because they aren’t keeping the bee mite population in check.

Many hobbyists avoid mite treatments, preferring a natural approach, but that’s often a deadly decision for the bees, said University of Minnesota bee expert Marla Spivak.

…and more »

Hiving my first package of honey bees. This is quite the experience the first time you do it! Season 1: Episode 1.


Backyard beekeeping yields sweet rewards –

HEBRON – His flat hive tool in hand, Keith Crigger slowly and meticulously scraped bee glue, known as propolis, from a new beehive box on Randy Merrell’s farm near Hebron.

Crigger pried open the top box and judiciously lifted and inspected each frame. He was vigilant in returning each one in the same order. Bees are clean and orderly.

raising honey beesAs Crigger worked his way deeper into the boxes, he was optimistic about what he saw.

“See the caps?” his wife Lori Crigger asked standing from a distance. “This hive, which was added in April, is going to produce some honey this year.”

Keith and Lori Crigger are beekeepers that harvest honey from hives on six farms in Boone, Grant, Kenton and Gallatin counties. They sell their Crigger Farm honey products in 45 retail shops across the commonwealth and at local farmers markets.

But the honey business that keeps Keith working full-time in his retirement started as a hobby seven years ago.

Beekeeping is a pastime that more people across Northern Kentucky are adding to their lives. Residents are placing bee boxes in their backyards and joining the increasing number of beekeeper groups, like the Northern Kentucky Beekeepers Association which meets once a month.

Conservationists are delighted.

In the past decade, the honeybee population hit an all-time low. There are many theories about why the number plummeted. The abundant use of pesticides and disease are popular ones.

Honeybee numbers are back on the rise, thanks to those who are putting on their bee suits and building hives.

“I think more people are realizing the importance of bees in the pollination of plants,” said Jerry Brown, Boone County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.


Urban Beekeeping

Urban Beekeeping

Beekeeping is all the buzz in New York City – Reuters

While in other parts of the world honeybees have been creating a buzz because of their rapid decline, in New York their population has been soaring for the past few years, literally.

The number of urban beekeepers has exponentially grown according to Andrew Coté, President of New York City Beekeepersurban beekeeping Association, with registered beehives growing ten-fold in the past five years.

In Manhattan, many keep their hives on rooftops, including skyscrapers and office buildings which make for “fantastic apiaries”, according to Coté.

“Tending beehives on top of New York City and other urban areas is nothing new. However, there has been something of a renaissance in the past five to eight years and it has gained great popularity,” he told Reuters on Tuesday (July 26).

Coté tends hives on a dozen of skyscrapers throughout Manhattan, including the ones on the 76th floor of the Residence Inn hotel near Central Park, which at 723 feet (220 meters) is the highest apiary measured from the ground in the world according to management.

Since we have put the hives in two and a half years ago, we have done a fair amount of research, and we haven’t been able to find a hive higher than we are at this point,” explained Timothy McGlinchey Area General Manager of Residence Inn Central Park.

The hotel started the “Broadway Bees” project as part of their green initiative as bees are the main pollinators of flowering plants, including many fruits and vegetables.

The rooftop hosts six hives which totals to about 180,000 honey bees, all in robust condition.

Bee populations are in sharp decline around the world, under attack from a poorly understood phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. One reason is believed to be the bees’ exposure to excessive pesticides and chemicals in rural areas and the lack thereof in New York makes the hives healthy, says Coté.

Urban BeeKeeping Tips For Beginners

We have just finished our first honey harvest. In total we got 76 jars with an average weight of 355g. Not bad for a first year that started with a package of bees at …

Top Ten Urban Beekeeping Questions

Our latest Beekeeping Podcast was released last week. Beekeeping…

Top Ten Urban Beekeeping QuestionsOur latest Beekeeping Podcast was released last week. Beekeeping News from New Zealand and around the world. Listeners questions answered and tips shared from Gary and Margaret Beekeepers from New Zealand.This week we are talking about:-* Wild bee loss bad for breed* Ten Questions to ask before starting Urban Beekeeping* Wellingtons Mayor is a Buzzing.Click on the play button on below page:-Or subscribe on itunes, details at the bottom of the above page.

Popularity of urban beekeeping not helping to make up for declining countryside populations, says research…

urban beekeeperThe popularity of urban beekeeping is not helping to make up for declining countryside populations, according to new research.

The report also found that city-dwelling honey bees are three times less likely to survive than their feral cousins. This raises significant questions about the longer-term outlook for bees as intense urbanisation reduces habitat around the world and urban beekeeping helps to plug the gap.

Researchers from North Carolina State University analysed 15 feral colonies living in trees or buildings without human contact and a further 24 managed by beekeepers in urban, suburban and rural areas in and around the city of Raleigh.


Beekeeping Basics

Do you like to drizzle amber honey on your morning toast or in your green tbeginner beekeepingea? Apiculture, or beekeeping may be the perfect hobby for you. Basic beekeeping doesn’t require a lot of money, time or space. It can be done anywhere flowers bloom.

Popular in the 1970s, beekeeping declined due to urbanization, pesticides and parasitic mites caused decreased production and increased costs. According to Troy Fore, Executive Director of the American Beekeeping Federation, there are 100,000 hobby beekeepers in the United States, down from 200,000 in the 1970s.

The popularity of hobby beekeeping is back on the rise. Just a few healthy hives will produce pounds of honey for you to savor, share with your neighbors or sell at the local farm market.

Not only can you enjoy a new hobby, but honey bees foraging in your backyard garden will help pollinate plants to help them reproduce. Backyard beekeeping is vital for to reestablish lost colonies and offset the natural decrease of pollination by wild bees.

The Hardworking Honey Bee

Apis mellifera or the honey bee (except for the drones) is the ultimate workaholic. A native of keeping beesEurope, Asia and Africa, the honey bee lives in a complex three-caste society composed of thousands of bees.

Although, by human standards, their lives are fleeting, queens, drones and workers keep their colony from year to year and swarm to create new colonies.

The worker bees nurture their egg-laying queen, keep their hives queen, protect the colony from raiders and fly thousands of miles to gather food.

Unlike the bad-tempered yellow jackets that buzz around your picnic, the honey bee is a vegetarian. They get their protein from pollen and their carbohydrates from nectar. While they perform their work, the workers communicate through the emission of pheromones and by performing dances in specific patterns.

Once the worker bee gathers the provisions, they are handed off to a younger worker to deposit in the hexagonal wax cells of the hive. The bees add enzymes to the nectar and fan the concoction with their wings to evaporate water producing thick, sweet honey.

During the winter, the bees use the food stores to generate heat, contracting their wings to keep the hive at a warm 92 degrees Fahrenheit.

History of Bees and Honey

Cave drawings from Spain created around 6000 BC depict human figures scaling cliffs to get honey from wild hives. Later, ancient Northern Europeans, the Middle East and the Mediterranean realized the bees settled into dark spaces after swarhoney bees beekeepingming. They built hives out of logs, pottery vessels, straw and keps or wicker containers. Unfortunately, the bees had to be killed to extract the honeycomb.

Europeans brought hives to America in 1622. In 1851, pastor Lorenzo Langstroth of Philadelphia created the first wooden hives with moveable frames so colonies could be managed. The hives eventually reached America’s west coast and the rest of the world. Today, the Langstroth hive is the most common used around the world.

Tips for Beekeepers

Before starting your backyard apiary, check if your community prohibits or restricts beekeeping. You may need to file a permit to start your apiary. Next, get a good, easy to follow book about beekeeping basics.

Once you are ready, choose a sunny spot for your hives. If you live in a hot climate, you’ll want some shade. It should also have good air circulation and drainage. You’ll also want to pick a spot where the hives won’t disturb your neighbors. Make sure there is plenty of water nearby.

The workers will need a lot of water to regulate temperature and moisture levels in the hive during summer. You don’t want the bees searching for water in your neighbor’s yard.

honey bees hivesWorker bees zoom up as they exit the hive, so be careful not to place the hive close to where children or pets may play and away from pedestrians and traffic. Face the hive opening away from these places.

Winter is a good time to order your beekeeping paraphernalia and your bees so you can start the hive in the spring.

You can order equipment new or used, but experts recommend first time beekeepers get new equipment which will be less likely to fail and less likely to harbor second-hand disease.

Equipment, including the hive, medication, suit, jacket and gloves will cost about $200-$400.

Bees will cost about $140 for a Nucs, or nucleus colonies or about 11,000 bees. Honey bees come in a variety of types and hybrid strains.

Experts recommend the productive Italian race or the mellow Carniolan bees for beginners.

Beginners may want to start with one hive and add a second the following season. With 2 hives, you can observe the hives and borrow equipment from the stronger hive if necessary.

Keeping a Healthy Hive

Beekeeping chores change throughout the season. Getting the hive going in the spring and settling it down in the autumn are busy times for beekeepers who will have to check the hive frequently during those times.

A beekeeper should check the hive for the health and productivity of the hive. Frames need toBeekeeping Basics be inspected, and the beekeeper should check if the queen is alive and laying eggs: capped brood in a compact pattern and tiny white eggs at the bottom of the cells.

Depending on the time of year, you’ll want to check the colony for food stores, nectar storage space, ventilation, medication, swarm control, a new queen and more.

Your colony will need protection from disease, pesticides, parasites and predators. Varroa mites arrived in the United States from Asia in the 1980s and can destroy a colony in a few seasons.

Foulbrood, a bacterial disease kills larva and pupae. The protozoan disease Nosem targets adult bee intestinal tracts.

Many beekeepers medicate the colony with miticides and antibiotics in the fall and spring. If black bears are an issue, beekeepers will sometimes put hot-wire around the hives. Ants, rodents and raccoons are other predators that beekeepers should be aware of.

Bee Stings

Aside from protecting their hives, Honey bees are relatively harmless. However, a beekeeper working with thousands of bees may get stung. Stings hurt, swell and itch.

A small number of people are highly allergic to bee stings. Experts report that typically, beekeepers build up a tolerance to stings and have little side effects.

Bee sting chances can be reduced. The most important thing is to wear your beekeeping gear including suits, jackets and gloves.

Start the smoker up before anything else and puffs once or twice into the bottom of the hive. Before opening the hive, puff once at the top. Make sure not to over-smoke the hive.

Experienced beekeepers offer other tips including the following: check the hive during pleasant daytime weather when bees are foraging, be calm and gentle, get a good grip on the frames so you don’t drop them and cause vibrations, wear clean, lightweight clothing, and don’t excite the bees by leaving open containers of sugar syrup or honey near the hives.

If you are stung, remove the stinger so it doesn’t squeeze more venom, puff smoke on the site so more bees aren’t attracted to the pheromones, wash and dry the area and apply an ice pack.

Antihistamines can reduce itching and swelling. Keep an EpiPen on hand if guests have allergic reactions.

Harvesting Honey and Types of Honey

No wonder Greeks and Romans loved offerings of honey. Ranging from hold to rich amber to brown, honey is sweet and fragrant. Honey was the first sweetener. It’s pure and natural and fit for human consumption.

Since ancient times, honey has been valued as successful folk medicine with its wound healing qualities and its antioxidant quality. Last year Americans consumed over 381 pounds of honey.

Beekeepers can harvest honey in several forms including comb, which requires special equipment, such as a Honey Extractor.

After the first season, if the climate is good, a hive can produce 45 to 100 lbs of honey a year. Harvesting equipment includes a uncapping knife to open the combs, anextractor to spin the honey out and a strainer to filter out wax bits and other debris. A 5 gallon bucket with a spigot helps when bottling strained honey.

Honey from varied nectar sources has different tastes, colors and aromas. Honey bees like lavender, fireweed and buckwheat. Beekeepers place their hives in the track of these flowers and extract honey soon after they bloom. When bees gather their nectar from a variety of plants, the harvest is called wildflower honey.

Other benefits of beekeeping

Beeswax that forms in the honey making process is often used to create long burning, dripless, honey scented candles. For every 100 lbs of harvested honey, 2 lbs of beeswax is made.

Propolis is a sticky, plant-derived substance bees use for hive improvements. Proplis has antimicrobial qualities. The Chinese have used it in medicine for centuries.

Beekeepers can make money renting out bees to pollinate crops. About 90 crops in this country depend on bees for pollination. These include apples, blueberries, alfalfa, cucumbers and cotton. Increased production due to honey bee pollination is estimated at $14 billion a year.

If you’re looking at Honey beekeeping as a hobby, don’t be discouraged. Talk to local beekeepers who will be happy to give you advice. All you need is the proper equipment including suits, jackets and gloves and the beekeeping basics to develop a successful apiary that produces delicious honey.


Top Bar Hive

Top Bar Hive

Installing Bees in a Top-Bar Hive – Mother Earth News

Mother Earth NewsInstalling Bees in a Top-Bar Hive Mother Earth News

Top-bar hives are becoming increasingly popular with beekeepers as they help encourage bees to colonize in a more natural way than Langstroth beehives. The horizontal top-bar hives have bars across the tops for the bees to build their comb off of and more accurately mimic the tree hollows and nooks that bees would inhabit in the wild.

If you have decided to go with a top-bar beehive, you may be eagerly awaiting your first colony of spring bees. Installing them in the top bar frame is a little different than the process with an upright hive, and has some unique requirements.

While it may seem unlikely, bees are commonly purchased from apiaries and then sent to you through the US Mail. Your post office will give you an urgent call upon the arrival of the hive, and you can go pick up a wire-covered box filled with honeybees. Bees are sold by the pound, and a new colony is usually a three pound package.

There are many different kinds of bees, and you should research your area and the bees most hardy to your weather conditions before making your purchase. Once you’ve determined the breed of bees you want, you’ll either get a hive with a marked or unmarked queen.

When you pick up your colony at the Post Office, or at a local beekeeper’s, the queen will be in a small cell separated from the rest of the hive by a cork.

Occasionally, apiaries will block the queen’s cell only with a sugary substance that the worker bees can chew through, but usually you will have to remove a cork between the queen and her bees.

The queen is not immediately released into the colony, but should spend her first few days in the compartment while they adjust to her scent.

These are the basics everyone should know when thinking about Top Bar Beekeeping. It covers the basic ideas developed by Wyatt A. Magnum PhD. Wyatt is …

Keep a top bar hive for fun! Join us here at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms as EAS certified master beekeeper takes you through …

In this video Jen Rasmussen of Paradise Nectar Apiaries demonstrates how to split a top bar hive and remove cross comb sections. For more information visit …


Backyard Beekeeping

If the thought of having fresh honey available for your enjoyment or to give as gifts to your friends and family virtually anytime you wish appeals to you, or if you are just looking for a fun and Backyard beekeepinginteresting hobby, beekeeping might be just the thing.

Even if your space is limited, don’t worry. Bees are very adaptable, so they can be kept in backyards or even city rooftops. Bees do need flowering plants to produce honey, but they often travel several miles to collect nectar and pollen, so it is possible to keep bees virtually anywhere to create a good batch of locally-made honey.

Preventing a Nuisance

A primary concern of many people who keep bees as well as those who live in close proximity to them is the risks they pose. Urban beekeepers should always be vigilant that their hives do not become a nuisance to others, or even appear to pose a problem.

Bee stings are usually the biggest concern from neighbors, but there are ways that a beekeeper can care for their hives that allow neighbors to be safe and comfortable from these concerns.

The Fence

backyard beekeeperA good fence is an excellent preventive measure for backyard beekeepers. If a fence is not an option, shrubbery that is at least 6-feet tall will serve the same purpose.

A fence or good shrubbery forces bees to remain above the heads of others since bees normally travel in straight paths to their hives. A fence or shrubbery also serves as an “out of sight, out of mind” situation for most people as well.

A fence or shrubbery hides most of the evidence that managed bees are in the neighborhood. These barriers also provide wind protection to the hives.


Bees need ready sources of water, especially in early spring and during the heat of summer. Bees can be very all-inclusive when it comes to where they collect water from too. These sources can include pet water bowls, bird baths and swimming pools. To deter bees from getting water from these sources it is a good idea to provide water in close proximity to hives.

Two excellent methods of providing water to bees are to, first, provide a small water garden in a half-whiskey barrel with floating plants. Bees love this since they prefer well-aged water! And second, from a dripping faucet with the water falling onto a wooden board. The dripping faucet method is a little harder to manage since for best results it must be available at all times when bees are flying so they don’t develop the habit of going elsewhere for water.

Bees tend to prefer water that is not too close to their hive, so you should put a water source at least 20 feet away.

Swarm Control

Another big concern of those of keep bees as well as those who live near them is swarming. In this regard, it is important to know that there is no practical way to prevent bees from swarming.honey bee swarm

On the other hand, bees swarm primarily as a function of reproducing colonies. As a result, at this stage, they are usually very gentle since they eat a lot of honey before they swarm.

The photograph at left shows a swarm as it is scooped up from a neighbor’s yard.

Colonies that are strong, with good queens, are the most likely to swarm. Of course, colonies that are strong is something to be strongly desired. As a result, beekeepers should keep colonies headed by queens that are young–less than one year old–because they will swarm less and also tend to be strong too. This requires requeening every year with young queens if swarming is likely to be a problem.

Swarming bees tend to cluster within 100 feet of their old hive as scout bees search for a new home.

A good way to prevent bees from reclustering in a neighbor’s yard is with a “bait hive,” which is simply an attractive home that is made available for the swarm to discover. A good bait hive can be made from an old hive body or a nuc hive that is at least one cubic foot in volume with an opening about one or two square inches.

The ideal place to put a bait hive is in a shady place that is protected from the wind and from between 10 and 30 feet from the hives. This hive should also be about 10 feet off the ground, such as under the eve of a house or between the branches of a tree.

Bees also prefer to live in a place where bees have lived before, so a bait hive that has an old frame of honeycomb or otherwise has a good bee smell in it will be more attractive to them.

Working the Bees

As they are working inside of the hive, it is possible that an angry bee will find an innocent person backyard bees(other than the beekeeper) to be a good target with a sting. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this from happening.

Environmental conditions are a huge influence on the defensiveness of bees. As a result, a beekeeper who works with the bees when conditions are favorable will be less likely to have problems with angry and aggressive bees.

The best conditions to work with bees under are when:

  • Most field bees are in the field collecting nectar
  • When there is a nectar flow from flowering plants
  • When the colony is not under stress from predators such as wasps
  • When colonies are not in direct sunlight
  • When temperatures are not very hot (95 degrees F or higher)
  • When neighbors are not having a lawn party or mowing their yard

Perhaps the best advice regarding bee sting prevention is Langstroth’s first Bee-keeper’s Axiom: “Bees gorged with honey are not inclined to sting,” which means that bees tend to be gentle when there is nectar flow, when they swarm, and following a light smoking.

It has also been observed that bees who are accustomed to movement around their hive are also less likely to be defensive, so having bushes, trees, a flag, or some other object that moves in a gentle wind are worth using.

Angry bees are sometimes attracted to lights at night. Bees do not normally fly at night, but if a predator or something else has disturbed the hive, a few bees may attempt to sting the neighbor’s porch light. For this reason, it is usually best that a porch light not be within view of the hive.

Another possible problem when bees are in the vicinity is “Yellow rain,” which is harmless bee fecal matter that they rid themselves of to cool off.

Species of Bees

The most common strains of bees are gentle enough to be kept in a city. In areas of the northern US, the Carniolan race is most popular among beekeepers. In the southern US and Mexico, the Italian bee is preferred.

Bees and the Law

Relatively few communities in the US outlaw beekeeping, but it is also worth noting that most do have “nuisance laws” that limit many things that most people would consider objectionable. This includes smelly things, barking dogs, and yes, bees.

Some communities have laws that put restraints on beekeeping such as limits on distances of hives from structures such as homes and the number of hives that are permissible on a property.

It is important that prospective beekeepers learn about any legal restrictions on bees before keeping them. Regardless of the law, good beekeepers keep their bees from becoming a nuisance. Periodically sharing a jar of honey with neighbors is a good idea too.

Farm and Garden Apiaries

Many beekeepers who are unable to keep their hives at home often make arrangements to keep bees on nearby farms and other fields. It is critical that prior to doing this that you get the permission of the landowner. Local beekeeping organizations can be of immense help in determining a good location to raise bees.


Do Honey Bees Eat Fruit?

Yes, honey bees do eat fruit but the answer is so much more complex than that. Honey bees will love ripe fruit the most when they are in nectar dearth.

Honey bees will feast on almost any piece of fruit. They are known to eat: plums, peaches, grapes, apples, figs and pears. The debate among beekeepers is if the bees drill a hole within theDo Honey Bees Eat Fruit? fruit or use a hole created by another insect. The breaks could be caused by wasp, stink bug, beetle, bird or any other insect/animal.

Some of the beekeeping information I have read in articles and forums on Beesource, Gardenweb and other blogs that contained ardent debates on whether honey bees are physically capable of penetrating the skin of fruits. Beekeepers have tested this theory by placing grapes in the beehive. The beekeepers would also cover the grape in honey. After time has passed, the grape would be intact stuck to the wall with no honey.

Orchard keepers say that bees can bite through fruit while bee keepers say they can’t. We also know that bees can bite enemies when they enemy are too small. Bees can penetrate the outside shell of a wax moth larva. If they can bite through larva, why can’t they bite through a tender piece of fruit skin.

Honey bees almost always like their fruit ripe. The fruit is the sweetest when it is slightly overripe. Bees can tell if the fruit is sweet by a fragrance the fruit gives out that bees can sense. This odor allows bees to pinpoint a food source that is nearby.

People often believe that bees only get their food from flowers but that isn’t the case. Bees can also get food from non-flower sources. When bees find a non-flower food source, it can be characterized by a break in the fruit’s skin.

Summer is hot and bees are searching everywhere for food. One day when I was picking peaches, I saw a ton of bees swarming around my trees. The bees must have followed the odor.

Shown here is an image of my bees eating a rotten peach.

I am looking forward to harvesting my honey and tasting the peach flavor it contains.


Beekeeping for Beginners

Keeping a beehive takes good management skills. You need to have a working knowledge of how it all works and what you have to do to properly care for your bees. It may be a little harder than raising a goldfish but not quite as hard as raising a dog.

Beekeeping for BeginnersYour hives need to undergo regular inspections during the warmer months. You have to check to see if they have good stores of honey, plenty of room for expanding their population, and are thriving as they should be.

During the winter months you rarely need to interact with your bees. As your colony clusters and is eating through the honey stores, they’ll only emerge once the temperature rises above freezing in order to eliminate. However, your management skills will come into play throughout those warmer months. The way you will manage them depends mostly on the climate in which your hive exists as well as the type of bees and the hive style.

If you live in one of the warm southern states in the U.S. for example, the busy season for the foraging of your bees is going to be longer than in the colder northern states. This is where your working knowledge comes in as you’ll need to become familiar with the beekeeping practices in your particular area of the world. You’ll need to know about local laws and what all is involved in a season of beekeeping there.

Make no mistake about this – YOU WILL GET STUNG! Most honeybees aren’t aggressive. Once they sting you they die. However, there may be times when one winds up making its way into the fold of your clothes and you’re unable to get it out. Things like that DO happen, so get used to the idea.

backyard beekeepingLEARN ABOUT YOUR BEES

If the stings don’t dissuade you and you choose to get started you’ll need to learn all you can about Honey Bees. You can find tons of books on the subject but start by learning about raising bees where you live. The better informed a caretaker is the better care they can give. This is true with pets and children as well. You’ll want to know what their predators are, their life-cycle, seasonal changes, special needs, etc.


Spring time is the best time to get your bees. From April to late May (in Portland, Oregon for example). Any later, especially in northern climates, you bees won’t have the proper amount of foraging time to build up their food, pollen, and honey stores to the point they will sustain them throughout the winter.

(1). Swarms/Feral Bees

You might consider catching a swarm of feral bees (easier said than done) of locate a local beekeeper to catch them for you. The reason for obtaining feral bees is because they have proven to be a bit more heartier and more likely to survive. They’ve never been exposed to the chemicals and treatments used by many commercial beekeepers.

(2). Packages

beekeepers jacketYou can also buy a package of bees from a bee breeder. Usually the packages are shipped to you from warm climates like Texas or California (usually USPS). A package will usually consist of –

a./ One Queen Bee (which has ‘open mated’ or been ‘artificially inseminated’).

b./ Approximately 10,000 other bees (which come from several different colonies).

c./ A box that contains their food for the trip (sugar water syrup).

d./ A small cage positioned in the center of the box that holds the queen (so the other bees can get used to their new queen’s scent).

(3). Bait and Trap

Bait Hives and Swarm Traps. This might sound a little complicated at first, however, there have been many new beekeepers who set up their lures and in no time at all had a full colony move in all by themselves! The plans for setting these up are really easy to follow. You can find books and instructions for them online.

(4). Nucleus Colonies

If you choose to use a Langstroth hive then nucleus colonies are a fantastic way to get your hive populated. A nucleus is a fully-established colony held in a 5-frame box. They’re already prepared for transfer into you 8 or 10-frame boxes. They usually build up much quicker than the packages do because they’re already equipped with eggs, combs, honey stores, and larvae.

A really great move that will help you out tremendously is to locate some local beekeepers. These kinds of connection hold a wealth of wisdom in the world of bees and can really be a booster for you as you get started. It’s always great to have someone local to ask questions plus you get to meet some really nice people.


As a beekeeper you will need the right equipment. Here are some recommended tools to get you started with your new endeavor –

  • Hive Tool
  • Smoker
  • Jacket, Veil, and Gloves
  • Bee Brush

and you’re on your way. Now we’ll explain what this specific equipment does:

Hive Tool – For beekeepers the hive tool will be a very critical piece of equipment. Without one it will be almost impossible for you natural beekeepingto inspect your colonies or put in additional boxes. Bees glue everything within their hive together with propolis (a resin-like substance).

Smoker – Smokers are also a crucial piece of equipment. All beekeepers should have one. A smoker helps to subdue bees by making it hard for them to communicate. The smoke will also cause them to gorge on their honey to prepare for a fire. They can be quite temperamental, so having a smoker to help calm things down when they get agitated is a ‘must-have’.

Jacket, Veil, and Gloves – When you first start out to become a beekeeper, you are not going to be very comfortable without something over your hands and face. All newcomers to the beekeeping world need to be covered and protected. Protection gives you more confidence so you can focus on the work at hand. Nervous beekeepers usually make a mistake and wind up being stung.

Bee Brush – These are really useful pieces of equipment. They’re used for gently removing bees from the comb or any other place you want them removed from. Know ahead of time that the bees will hate your brush and will sting it over and over again. Use it sparingly.


Beekeepers love the time spent with their bees and are a breed all their own. They’re much like gardeners in that each individual has their own unique methods and twists on how they do it. They love to share with others and talk about their bees. You never stop learning about keeping your bees. You should enjoy the time and sharing with others. It’s like joining a brand new club!


How to Handle Your Honey Bees

Honey Bees are very familiar to us all. Beekeepers love to see their hives, bustling with activity, surrounded by sweet-smelling flowers.

The bees constantly dart from flower to flower and then back to the beehives.How to Handle Your Honey Bees

Handling bees is not difficult. You just have to understand their habits and take some basic precautions.

Some beekeepers wear full beekeeping suits, while others wear beekeeping jackets. Some beekeepers don’t wear any type of bee protection at all.

Are Bees Deaf?

One of the main precautions when approaching the hive is quietness. For many years, people thought bees were deaf, but that has turned out not to be the case. A study found out that bees use special organs in the antennae to hear. They also are sensitive to vibrations.

One should approach the hive without a lot of noise. Be careful not to jar the hives or smash your equipment (such as a hive smoker, hive frame holder and hive tool) on the top of the hive.

Some beekeepers even treat their bees as pets. Now, they won’t come when you call, but the bees will get used to your presence. If you are kind to them, they will treat you as such.

When Bees Sting

In fact, bees seldom sting except in self-defense, or in defense of their hive. If you see a honey bee on a flower hard at work, it will almost never fly and attack you. Bees do not think about stinging, unless they are bothered or touched.

Now some bees are easily provoked, but sometime people are the same way. When they start to get aggressive, it is most often due how you handle them.

Generally speaking, the temper of our bees depends on how we manage them. Treat them with kindness and you will be rewarded likewise.

As the saying goes “Do onto your bees as you would have them do onto you”.








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