If you have chosen to take up the noble art and science of beekeeping then you are in for the ride of your life. Whether you do it as a hobby or as a commercial venture, bee farming has a lot to offer.
As a beginner, this practice might be a little daunting. After all, you are dealing with one of the most aggressive and potentially dangerous species of insects out there.
To help you get started off on the right foot, below are 10 beekeeping tips every beginner needs to know.
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When most people think about honey bees, they mostly are interested in the honey bees produce. However, bees make another important substance known as beeswax.
You cannot start bee farming if you do not understand what you are working with. It is important to understand that the success of this venture relies more on the bees than your input as the farmer.
You will therefore have to understand them in terms of things like biological needs, colony hierarchy and a lot more.
Understanding all this helps you figure out exactly what to expect and how to deal with challenges like bee diseases and aggression as they come.
2. Take Your Time Choosing a Good Home for Them
When it comes to bee farming, providing the colony with a good home is very important if you have any hopes of being successful. It is important that the bees feel at ease and at home enough to start producing the precious liquid gold that is honey.
In this case, you need to do some research in terms of the bee boxes and hives out there. Those with removable frames are the easiest to work with as a beginner.
This is because they allow you to move the bees, harvest and carry out many other different maintenance activities.
3. Collect All the Necessary Tools in Advance
The next very important tip to successful bee keeping is ensuring that you have all the tools necessary. In this case, you will need the bee boxes or hives, protective gear and a smoker to get started.
It is always best to ensure that you start new colonies with new equipment to prevent cross contamination from old sickly hives.
4. Keep an Eye on Changing Seasons
When starting bee keeping, timing is everything. The best time to set up is around spring or early summer where the flowers are in bloom.
In this case, the bees have a lot to work with in terms of sources of pollen and nectar.
With autumn launches, you also benefit from their rush to create honey reserves for winter.
5. Start Small With Nuclear/Package Colonies
When starting bee farming, you may either choose to start large using a wild swarm or small with package colonies. As a beginner working with the small nuclear colonies is the best option.
These are easier to manage and allow you to learn as the colony grows.
6. Inspect the Hive Regularly; Not Overbearingly
Inspecting the hive is very important and should be done every 7 to 10 days. This helps you identify any abnomalies including diseases in the colony. It also allows you to monitor the productivity of the bees.
However, it is important to ensure that you do not overdo the inspections. This is because opening and closing the hive too much disturbs the bees and hinders their productivity.
7. Leave Some of the Harvest for the Bees
After all your patience and hard work, the bees will reward you with honey and other products including bee pollen and propolis.
However, it is very important for you to understand that the bees need these products more than you do. So when harvesting make sure to leave them with enough to survive on, the hive should be very heavy going into winter, very hard to lift.
In this case, the best thing to do is to research on how much honey the species you work with requires for survival. With this information, you should know just how much to leave behind.
8. Do not Disturb the Bees Unless Necessary
Once you have the hive all set up with the bees fed and all that, leave them in peace. Disturbing them unnecessarily will make your life a lot harder than it needs to be.
For one, it agitates the bees and makes them extremely aggressive. It also distracts them from activities including honey making and other hive maintenance responsibilities.
9. Learn from Your Mistakes and Experiences
You will make a lot of mistakes as a beginner; that is inevitable. You will also have a lot of success if you are diligent and well informed.
Make sure to learn from all these experiences in order to ensure your colony’s success in future.
10. When You are Ready, Expand and Start more Colonies
With bee keeping, the more colonies you have the better. Once you have mastered taking care of the first then you should definitely consider getting another.
Having two comes as a major advantage mainly for backup reasons. In the event that one colony ends up performing poorly, you have an extra hive from which you can borrow resources like honey and actual bees for support.
With the 10 tips provided above, you should be able to start and sustain a successful colony. Just remember that as with any other form of farming a lot could go wrong and it will take time for you to find a farming formula that works.
Just be as prepared as possible and willing to learn from your mistakes and you will be a guru in no time.