Beekeeping Myths

Whether you are brand new to the world of beekeeping, or simply thinking about starting a colony, there are some things you need to differentiate as fact, versus myth or fallacy. So if you hear any of these, or read these statements online, these are some of the myths which have been dispelled as untrue for beekeeping.  

There are many floating around out there, so consider some of these myths as a new beekeeper.  

You can't blend wax and plastic 

 Undrawn plastic and wax are synonymous with placing broccoli or pie in front of your kids; which would they choose first? By mixing wax and plastic bees will jump to the wax. However no great danger is present from mixing them, and each bee will have their personal preference. 

 If queen cells are present they are bad and should be destroyed

 If queen cells are present they are bad and should be destroyed -  Most books state the queen cell should be destroyed, but doing this causes swarming anyway. Simply put up a frame, and try to leave the queen with her original hive. Destroying the supersedure will leave your hive queenless, and this can cause more harm than good.    

Swarm cells are always on the bottom

Supersedure being in the middle is a generality however not always the case. Expect swarm cells if they fall to the middle. With swarm cells being staggered in age, they will fall to different levels.    

Buy queens rather than mate locally 

Mating with local bees is the chosen method for survival. The quality of the queen bee is also going to dictate health, so keep this in mind when raising the queen.  

A bee requires plenty of ventilation

They do require ventilation, but in proper amounts. During winter too much will result in heat loss, but in summer cooling the hive via evaporation can help cool outside air. When wax is higher than 93 degree F it gets weak and can collapse. 

Bees need beekeepers

This is not the case, and if you think of it, bees have survived without them for many years. Beekeepers help, but they aren't necessary. 

You must re-queen yearly

Before you see a problem, the bees will already have superseded and resolved the issue. Regardless of the way you look at it, there is no limit as to how often you should re-queen.   Marginal colonies should be re-queened -  Even struggling colonies make good crop, and are struggling due to dwindled population. Only when the languishing colonies are falling and can't catch up should you consider re-queening.  

Drones are bad 

Even with normal and healthy hives, you will have about 15% drone presence, and they make the hive more productive. Limiting drones reduces productivity, so this is contrary to the myth.

A drone comb is bad

This goes with the previous myth, and lack of a drone is worrisome to your bees.  

Swarm cells fall to the bottom

Although this does occur, this is not always the case. Swarm cells tend to be numerous, and tend to stagger in age over a number of days. This means you can find swarm cells towards the middle of the cells, not towards the bottom as it is typically believed to be the case. 

Queen cells are bad

With queen cells, your colony isn't going to thrive; so as a beekeeper, you should eliminate them, right? Wrong. Most of the time when you destroy the queen bee, your worker bees tend to swarm either way, so what is the purpose of destroying the queen cells? Virtually there is none, if any benefit to doing this for your cells. And, when you destroy the cell, your worker bees are now queen-less, so are going to have a hard time surviving and knowing their place in the colony.   

Feral bees aren't productive   

Feral bees have different temperaments, the best approach is to keep the good ones, and re-queen the bad ones in the colony. On the contrary, many are more productive because they are so familiar with the climate and conditions of the colony they are in. 

Bees need a landing board

In natural situations they don't have one, and in foundationless beekeeping, they don't have one, so this statement is clearly irrelevant as it pertains to beekeeping. As a matter of fact, these boards typically can hinder production in the colony and can harm the bees if you aren't around to watch them 24/7 from possible predators in their natural habitat. 

Of course there are countless tales, myths, and fallacies you can find, via a quick online search. So as a new beekeeper, rather than listen to these myths, it is best to learn from professionals. Learn about their personal experience, how they build and maintain their colony, and steps they take to garner the most production, and maintain the healthiest colony of bees possible.