Beekeeping & Bees Q&A
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A, This page consist of questions we receive from Beekeepers and from the general public about Beekeeping and Bees . Please feel free to drop us an Email with anything Bee related and we will do our best to answer your questions or if we cannot answer it we will point you in the direction of someone that can.
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A
The following Beekeeping And Bees Q&A are broken up by topic such as “Swarms”, “Wax Moths” and so on. Please send us an Email with any Beekeeping & Bees Questions you may have and we will do our best to answer your question or point you in the right direction.
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A (Feeding):
Q: What is the ratio of sugar water for feeding Bees?
A: Starting packages off a sugar syrup ratio of 2:1 (2 Parts Sugar to 1 Part Water) to get bees to start drawing out comb. Feeding established colonies or Nucs coming out of winter a ratio 1:1 (one part sugar to one part water). You don’t have to use a measuring cup. Any cup or container will do as long as the exact same amount of sugar to liquid is used.
Q: How long do I feed my newly installed package?
A: Feed Feed Feed!!!!! Keep feeding until the bees will no longer take the sugar syrup.
Q: When is the best time to feed pollen patties?
A: Pollen patties can be fed just about anytime of the year but work best when a colony is starting to build up for spring or times when nectar and pollen are scarce.
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A: (New Colony/ Installing Package Bee Questions)
Q: When starting out a package how many hive bodies (Brood Chamber) do I use?
A: When starting out a new package you want to use only (1) Deep or (2) Shallows/ Supers. You never want to give the bees more room than what they need starting out.
Q: When do I add a second hive body (Brood Chamber) to my colony?
A: Remember we do not want to give the bees anymore room than what they need which allows the bees to better defend the entrance and fight off unwanted pest. We advise adding another hive body only after at least (8) of ten frames are completely drawn (Comb) or when the bees are drawing out the final outer two frames.
Q: Can I run three brood chambers?
A: Yes. Often times beekeepers that are mainly focusing on honey production will run a third brood chamber. These colonies can get huge in numbers and must be watched closely to prevent overcrowding and swarming. Also remember honey supers will fill up extremely fast in a good flow and new supers will have to be added more often or honey supers will have to be pulled off and new supers added to keep the height of hive from getting too high.
Q: When do I start adding honey supers?
A: This all depends on several factors and can be different from colony to colony. We normally will not start adding honey supers until all frames in the top brood chamber have been drawn and surplus honey is being placed in the outer most frames. At this point we are looking for a healthy populated colony that’s ready to start pulling comb and bringing in nectar.
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A (KTBH Kenyan Top Bar Hives)
Q: When starting off with a new package of bees how many top bars should I use?
A: Remember we never want to give the bees more room than what they need. We have found that starting out with no more than about 10 bars followed by a follower board. We always use 4 top bars with starter strips placed in the center which aids the bees in getting comb drawn straight and even.
Q: When placing the queen cage in a top bar hive where do I place queen cage?
A: Attach the queen cage to center most top bar facing to either side of the hive. If using starter strips place her in-between two of the strips.
Q: What is the best way to feed a top bar hive?
A: When feeding a top bar hive you have a couple of options. A baggy filled with syrup and placed in a shallow container (be sure to poke small holes in baggy so the bees can get to the syrup) or a boardman feeder works well. If using a boardman feeder notch the bottom of the follower board to allow it to slide into the notch allowing the bees to feed from the inside. Refilling the feeder is also very easy as all you need to do is remove the top of the hive and pull the container out and re-fill it without ever disturbing colony.
Q: When do I add more Top Bars?
A: Add (4) more top bars when at least all (10) original top bars have been started (they do not have to be totally completed).
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A (Swarm & Swarm Prevention)
Q: One of my own colonies swarmed, what is the best way to keep them from going back to the hive they came from?
A: Re-hiving a swarm from your own colonies can be frustrating as the colony is in swarm mode and is looking for another place to call home. More often than not unless you saw the colony leave the original hive the swarm has already sent out scouts looking for a new place to call home. Often times placing the swarm in new hive body just wont do it depending on the swarms urge to find a better place. You can however tip the odds of the colony in your favor by removing a couple of frames of brood that are in various stages (from eggs to capped brood) which will many times anchor the colony to the equipment you placed them in. A pollen patty and sugar syrup will help also. Another option if available is to remove the swarm at least two miles away for a short time and then return them to your home bee yard.
Q: I just brought a new swarm to my bee yard. What can I do to make sure the colony builds increases in numbers?
A: One of the very best things you can do is give the colony a frame of drawn comb so the queen can start laying or better yet give them a frame or two of capped brood which will give the colony a huge boost until the queen starts laying and the colony starts capping brood of its own.
Q: I just did a swarm removal and the colony I removed was very small. What are my option?
A: You have three options here. 1. Place the colony in Nuc and add a frame of capped brood and feed feed feed 2. Remove the queen from the swarm and add the bees to one of your smaller existing colonies 3. Place the colony in a Nuc with a frame of drawn comb or capped brood and shake in some nurse bees from an existing colony.
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A (Weak Colony/ Low Population)
Q: I have one colony and its starting to look very under-populated, what can I do?
A: We always recommend having two colonies in the event something happens to one colony. The second colony can be used as needed to bring a weak colony back to where it should be. In the event you only have one colony and it’s getting very weak the first thing you will want to do is remove the colony and place it in a Nuc. Start feeding ASAP. If you know another bee keeper that you trust has healthy bees ask for a frame of capped brood to give your colony a population boost.
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A (Queen-less Colony/ Failing Queen)
Q: I think my colony no longer has a queen. What can I do to save them?
A: You have several option but time is of the essence. First asses the colonies strength by doing a complete hive inspection. If the colony is populated and healthy inspect brood frames for various stages of larva (Just because eggs are present does not mean you still have a laying queen as colonies can develop a laying worker). Large areas of capped drone brood are a good indication of a laying worker. If the colony is thought to be queen-less a new queen can be ordered in time to save a healthy colony. In cases where the colony is dwindling a frame with various stages of brood (eggs to capped larva) can be added to the brood chamber in hopes that the colony will rear their own queen. Waiting a day or two after placing a fresh brood frame in a queen-less colony will confirm if queen cells are being produced. The queen-less colony can also be added to another colony to boost its strength.
Q: After doing a hive inspection I noticed some of the cells have two to three eggs in them. What does this mean?
A: Multiple eggs in one cell can be a couple of different things. Often times very young queens will lay multiple eggs when they first start laying. It can also happen when a laying queen has stopped laying due to being caged for transport. This problem will go away as the queen lays more eggs and gains better control. The second problem could be a laying worker. Often times when a colony becomes queen-less and there are no eggs of the right age to produce a queen with workers will start laying eggs. This is evident by large amounts of drone brood through out the brood chamber.
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A (Observing the Hives Entrance)
Q: How Can I tell if my bees have or are getting ready to swarm?
A: This is extremely hard to answer as it takes many hours of observing bee behavior to know a swarm from other similar behavior. Generally when bees swarm or are getting ready to swarm there will be a sudden increase in activity at the hives entrance with bees leaving the hive and immediately going airborne. Once in the air large numbers can be seen flying erratically in distances of twenty to thirty feet out from the hive. As the swarm starts to leave on their journey to find a new home the bees start flying in what looks like a large circular pattern that seems to flow all in one direction.
Q: I am seeing what looks like a few hundred bees bees flying or almost hovering in front of the hive, are my bees getting ready to swarm.
A: No. What you are seeing is young bees taking their first flight or what’s called an orientation flight. These are bees that are changing roles within the colony and becoming workers. Orientation flights usually take place one to two times a day and contrary to what you read in books can happen just about any time of day. What sets orientation flights apart from swarming is the bees look like they are hovering up and down facing the hive.
Q: I’m seeing bees on the entrance landing board that seem like they cant fly. Some even walk directly off the end of the landing board and fall on the ground and it seems that other bees are dragging bees out and dropping them off the landing board. Any ideas what’s going on?
A: Mites. High mite counts can result in bees born with deformed wings known as “Deformed Wing Virus”. Upon closer inspection the wings of newly hatched bees will look deformed and shriveled up causing the bees to not be able to fly. Workers within the colony can sense something is wrong with these bees and they are ejected them from the colony.
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A (Wax Moths and Wax Moth Damage)
Q: I just found that wax moths have invaded my hive, what can I do?
A: First off remove any and all wax moth infested frames from the colony. Kill as many wax moths as possible. Strong healthy populated colonies will not allow wax moths to invade their hive so look for problems such as mites or hive beetles that may weekend the colony. Reduce the colony down to a Nucleus Hive or remove a brood chamber so the colony can better protect the hive.
Q: Will Wax Moths kill my bees?
A: No. Wax Moths cannot kill Bees. Wax Moths however will invade a weak colony causing further decline of whatever is left of the colony. Remove damaged comb and frames and reduce the amount of space the colony has to protect.
Q: How do I keep Wax Moths from attacking stored Honey Comb and Equipment?
A: Do Not Use Moth Balls! Your honey will be contaminated and most likely taste like Moth Balls Smell if that makes sense. There are now commercially produced moth deterrents that are food safe that can be placed in stored honey supers.
Q: Can Wax Moth Damaged Frames be used?
A: Yes. Clean off all old cocoons and moth by products from the frames and hive body. Mix a solution of (1) Teaspoon of Bleach to a gallon of water and mist/spray the frames to disinfect them. leaving the frames in full sun will also aid in killing bacteria. Once the cleaned frames are placed back in the hive the bees will clean anything they feel needs to be cleaned.
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A (Hive Inspection & Manipulation)
Q: How do you do an inspection without rolling the queen resulting in injuring or killing her?
A: Rolling the queen is probably the #1 cause of injuring or killing the queen that can be blamed on the beekeeper. When using 8 frame or 10 frame equipment always remove the outer most first left or right side which is a honey storage frame. Normally you will not find the queen on the outer frames unless you over smoke the colony upon entry causing the queen to run. After the pouter frame is removed using a hive tool pry the next frame over into the space of the frame you first removed and lift the frame out. The remaining frames can be removed for inspection without fear of rolling the queen. NEVER REMOVE CENTER FIRST.
Q: How do I smoke my colony for an inspection?
A: One to two puffs at the entrance is sufficient then one or two when lifting the lid and or inner cover. If the colony is extremely adjusted a puffs of smoke across the frames occasionally should be ample to keep the alarm pheromone from setting off the entire colony.
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A (Re-Queening & Queens)
Q: I’m getting ready to re-queen several of my colonies. Should I purchase queens with different genetics from several different queen producers or or just one?
A: Genetics wise it wont make any difference if you get the queens from one producer or several if your not going to use the queens for breeding purposes. The only time you want to make sure your queens have different genetics is if your setting up out-yards with drone colonies for mating purposes to prevent in-breeding or reduce the possibility of your reared queens breeding with Africanized colonies if your in an Africanized Bee area.
Q: I’m a new beekeeper and I think my colony is queen less. How do I go about introducing a new queen to the colony?
A: When you order a new queen it will most likely come in a wood cage with mesh wire with a queen and several attendants. Remove the cork off the end with the candy and place the queen cage in-between the center brood frames and leave her there. By the time the colony eats through the candy they will be accustomed to the new queens pheromone (scent).
Q: I’m a second year beekeeper and I sometimes have problems locating the queen in my hive. I think I may killed my queen during an inspection but I’m not sure. Is there anyway to figure out if I still have a queen without actually seeing her.
A: Yes. Pull several brood frames and look for eggs sitting at the bottom of the cells. If you can locate eggs you may still have a queen however if your colony has been queen-less for sometime you may have a laying worker. This can be confirmed by large numbers of brood drone cells (large raised capped cells) and or several eggs laid in one cell. If you do not see any eggs in the cells you can assume you no longer have a laying queen or the colony is queen-less. If you are able to get a new queen, place her in her queen cage across the top of several brood frames. As the bees come to her cage watch very closely how they react to her presence. If the bees remain calm chances are very good that your colony is queens-less. If the bees react to her aggressively you most likely still have a healthy queen in your colony.
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A (Honey Bee Swarm Prevention)
Q: Can my new package of bees that I just placed in a hive swarm?
A: YES! Many new beekeepers have hived a package of bees and sadly had them abscond after the queen was released. I always recommend when ordering packages to order them with marked and clipped queens. A clipped queen will greatly reduce the chances of your new colony absconding.
Q: When do honeybees swarm?
A: Bees can swarm or abscond just about any time but the prime season is early spring and as late as November to December depending on the weather. Early spring swarms are generally larger and build up quicker than late swarms that can be smaller in size and slower to build up.
Q: How do I know if my Bees are getting ready to swarm?
A: There is only one real way to know what you bees are doing or what they are getting ready to do and that’s by doing a hive inspection. A presence of a number of Queen Cells is a very good indication that your bees are getting ready to swarm. Another less reliable indication is a sudden lack of activity at the entrance of the hive indicating that worker bees have stopped leaving the hive in preparation for swarming however this cannot always be an indicator alone other conditions such as disease can slow the activity of a colony. Beekeeping is all about colony management and doing routine hive inspections to inspect for Queen Swarm Cells as well as diseases is what sets a feral or unmanaged colony apart from a managed colony.
Q: How do I keep my bees from swarming?
A: I cannot stress enough that beekeeping is all about colony management which includes full hive inspections. The beekeeper must pull and inspect every frame within the hive and assess the colonies needs well before their needs arise. Conditions that can lead up to swarming include crowding, excessive honey, nectar or pollen stored in the brood chamber resulting in the queen not being able to lay eggs. Frames with honey should be removed and new comb or drawn comb should be added which will allow the queen to start laying. Other conditions that can result in the colony absconding is poor hive equipment maintenance resulting in excessive moisture, a lack of a food source within the area or disease.
Q: My Bees have swarmed. What do I do to save what remains of the colony.
A: Immediately do a hive inspection and assess how many bees you have left and locate the new queen. Remember that the new queen is very young and may be hard to find. Your new queen may not be laying eggs yet so a lack of eggs being present may not be an indicator that the colony has no queen if she cannot be visually located. Its very important to check for capped brood as this will be the colonies new work force. If there is little to no capped brood add a frame or two from another colony to aid in bringing the colonies population up. As a rule of thumb we never want to give a colony any more room than what they need. This means we have to remove/ reduce the hive equipment to the point that the colony or what is left of it is slightly crowded. If the original colony had two brood boxes and we do not have enough bees to fill both boxes we will remove one brood box until the colony has built its population back up enough to add the second brood box. If the remaining colony is so small that it cannot at least cover six frames I would remove the colony and place them in a Nucleolus hive until the population is built up enough to place them back in full size equipment.
Beekeeping & Bees Q&A (General Questions)
Q: How often should I check my hives/ perform an inspection?
A: This is a question that comes up allot among beekeepers and is mostly opinion. It’s my opinion that less is more. Many new beekeepers want to check on their new colonies every day to watch their progression. While this sounds like fun its can be pretty upsetting to your new colony and I have seen and heard of bees absconding due to excessive opening and manipulating. Bees are not pets and they will “never” get used to you or having you invade their space/ home. Smoking the colony for inspection also causes the colony to gorge themselves on honey which takes great resources and work to replace after you have entered the colony. Unless your colony/s are showing signs of disease or have a pest problems once a week is sufficient if you really must check on them.
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