Tips for New Beekeepers

1) Don’t get in a hurry to add another super to your new package colonies – the rule of thumb is to not add another box of new foundation until 7 out of 10 (6 out of 8 if you have 8 frame hives) of the last one are pretty much completely drawn out into comb.  If you do they probably won’t work it anyway and they will build up better with less space to heat/cool and defend.

Beautiful natural comb built on the bottom of the inner cover because a feeding shim (or empty super) was left on too long in the spring.

2) If there is any open space in the hive that is where they will build comb instead of on your foundation – bees prefer to draw comb the natural, organic way.  They will only draw foundation if there isn’t anywhere else for them to build comb.  So, always fill all available space with frames –  don’t leave out frames for any reason, and don’t add empty hive bodies to the hive for any reason unless there is some barrier to keep the bees where they belong.

3) Other than checking to see that the queen has been released try to refrain from pestering them for about a week.

4) Try to inspect your hives in the middle of the day (between 10-2 more or less) and only in reasonably nice weather when the bees are flying.  3 Reasons for this – A) The foragers will be out at work and there will be fewer bees home and it will be easier to inspect. B) If you remove frames of brood when it is cool and/or windy you might chill the brood and kill it. C) Opening a hive too late in the day makes it more likely that you will be attacked – especially at night. And despite what you might think, if you really make them mad you can get stung even if you are suited up.

5) Don’t fret too much about your new package colony getting over crowded and swarming.  Packages almost never swarm during their first spring because they lack the combination of conditions that triggers swarming.  If they do good you can worry about swarming in a couple of months if you want to, but it really isn’t too likely until next spring – when it might be hard to prevent.

6) Feed continuously for the next few weeks –  if you are administering Fumigilin don’t stop until the dose is used up.

7) If they aren’t doing anything on these cool rainy days it’s OK – don’t open the hive to check on them, you will just let all of the heat out.