Bee Keeping Basics – Inspections


During the bee keeping season (March to November) you need to do weekly inspections.  The purpose of inspecting your hives is to keep them healthy and strong by heading off problems as early as possible before they become a big deal. And especially to avoid colony failures – dead outs.

Upon examination of a hive which has failed you might find that it is infested with hive beetle or wax moth larva, or that it is completely devoid of food stores.  This might lead you to believe that those were the cause of the failure, but chances are that they were just the last of an unfortunate series of events which started much earlier –  Which usually went undetected because the hive was not inspected regularly enough.

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Three Kinds of Brood Comb

There are three kinds of brood comb – one for each caste of honey bee…

Worker comb – Obviously is the comb that worker bees are raised in.  Most of the comb in the brood nest will be worker comb.

Drone Comb – Drone comb is noticeably larger than worker brood – and really does look like corn pops cereal.  The left side of this frame (below) is capped drone brood and the right side is capped worker brood.  This is not an unusually large amount of drone brood and does not indicate a failing or drone laying queen – quite the contrary, a drone brood pattern like this is typical of a healthy hive.  Both kinds of brood comb will be used for honey storage when the hive needs it – and in fact there is nothing wrong with using drone comb in honey supers.

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A Year in the Life of a Wild Honey Bee Colony


A honey bee super organism – or colony – has the same basic needs and drives as any other organism except that it is made up of as many as 60,000 individual bees.

In late winter and spring a hive will begin to produce large amounts of brood in preparation for swarming.

A new colony is born when an existing colony – which usually lives in a cavity such as a hollow tree in or near a forest – issues a swarm.  Preparation for swarming begins in late winter through spring when brood production and hive population increases and pollen and nectar become plentiful because of the blooming of trees and other flowering plants. Healthy colonies in the region will also start producing drones at this time.

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Straight Talk about Treatment free Beekeeping

 Straight Talk about Treatment free Beekeeping

 WhileTreatment Free bee keeping is an often misunderstood and controversial subject – especially on the internet – keeping bees without treating for mites apparently IS possible. More beekeepers report successfully practicing treatment free beekeeping every year.  However in a lot of cases you need to be pretty liberal in how you describe success – a few treatment free beekeepers do report strong hives, low losses, and robust honey crops – but it really seems to be pretty few.  Many more struggle just to go from year to year without losing all of their hives at one time.

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Things to Do with a Queen Excluder – Harvesting Nurse Bees

There are several reasons why you might want to separate the queen or move brood or nurse bees from one hive to another:

  • To strengthen a weak hive
  • To weaken a hive to try to keep it from swarming
  • To make up nucleus hives – either for direct increase or as mating nucs
  • To make a cell builder for queen rearing
  • Making queenless packages of bulk bees

The thing is, when you move a frame covered with bees there is always the chance that the queen is hiding among them – unless you find her first  it’s really hard to be 100% sure.  But finding the queen when you want to is often very time consuming – when you are not looking for her she often comes out and poses for a picture, but when you really want to find her it seems she is having a shy day.

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