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How To Become A Successful Beekeeper!

Author: Tom Prince

How To Become A Successful Beekeeper!

Book Series: Alternative Careers


People have been harvesting honey from bees for thousands of years. Over the last few decades, beekeeping has become popular. As more people seek to be more self-sufficient and save money by growing fruits and vegetables for food, interest in beekeeping has increased.

In the past, people hesitated to keep bees because they did not feel as though it were possible if you did not live on a farm. However, many people have found ways to keep bees in various locations, including rooftop gardens in the middle of the city.

Many people keep bees in order to produce honey. Honey is a healthy alternative to sugar. Honey contains amino acids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, honey is not the only product produced by a beehive. A beekeeper can get bee pollen, propolis, royal jelly and beeswax from their hive.

Bees pollinate plants and trees. Most food crops require pollination. With bee populations on the decline, a home beekeeper can increase the bee population in an area. A larger population will ensure the beekeeper, as well as other people nearby, will have bees available to pollinate their fruit and vegetable plants, and their trees.

For some people, beekeeping is a relaxing hobby. They take satisfaction in caring for their hive. They find relaxation in watching their bees go about their daily activities. As a hobby, it goes well with gardening, which can also be meditative in nature.

As a hive grows, you may find yourself with more honey and beehive products than you can use. You may be able to sell some of your products to others. You can also produce products such as candles, to sell. If you have a large number of bees, you may also be able to rent the bees out to farms that require bees for pollination.

Natural bee populations are on a decline, around the world. In nature, bees are being threatened by natural enemies, as well as pesticides and chemicals introduced into the environment. Because bees are a natural pollinator, beekeepers are needed in order to maintain the number of bees required to pollinate the crops that feed the human population.


There are over 20,000 bee species in the world. Many of them are not suitable for beekeeping. For example a bumblebee does not produce enough wax and honey for a beekeeper, although a person may want them in the garden for pollination. However, there are many bees that are perfect for the production of honey and pollination, for an amateur beekeeper.

Beekeepers can keep a number of different types of bees, but the main type of bee used in Europe and North America is the Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera). The Western Honey Bee comes in a number of strains; most are regional varieties such as the Italian Bee, Carniolan Honey Bee or the European Dark Bee.

Italian Bees

The Italian Bee (Apis mellifera cardiac) has been the most popular type of bee for a long time because the queen can produce broods from the early spring to the late fall. That means the hive population will be high during the most active time of the year. However, this also means a larger winter population to care for.

Italian Bees are gentle and quiet, but have a tendency to wander. One problem with Italian Bees is that they rob and stray, which can lead to them bringing diseases back to the hive. If you choose Italian Bees, be sure to monitor the hive closely to check for disease and pests. Make sure they are well fed during the winter to keep them from raiding and robbing other hives.

Cordovan is a type of Italian Bee. The main difference between the regular Italian Bee and the Cordovan is the color. Because of their coloring, it is easier to determine if an invader has replaced the queen. If the queen is replaced, the bees will start looking like a normal honeybee with the black markings.


Carniolan bees are rarely kept by beekeepers because they are prone to swarming. However, some people prefer these bees because they are gentle and produce good honeycomb. If you choose this type of bee, they are easy to maintain over the winter because their colonies stay small. They don't rob or stray, but because they are prone to swarm, you need to watch them closely in the spring and summer months.

Hybrid Bees

The Western Honey Bees are the most popular bees for beekeepers. All varieties of Western Honey Bees can breed with each other. When a beekeeper finds bees that have a characteristic they want, they can breed hybrid bees. These bees can have the characteristics that the beekeeper wants while eliminating those that are causing problems.

If you create hybrid bees, you cannot let the hive replace the queen when she becomes too old. You must replace the queen yourself. If you don't, over time the hive will lose many of the characteristics you bred into it. You should breed the queen using the same original combination that produced the current bees in the hive.

Because you never know when or how you might lose a queen, you should always have a backup queen available to replace the current one.

Choosing the Right Strain

Hybrid bees are the best choice for the beginner. However, they can be more expensive. Hybrids tend to yield a large amount of honey, have better disease and pest resistance and can produce a good-sized population during the brooding season. You may also want to talk to other local beekeepers to determine if one type of bee works better in your local area.


Before you purchase any tools or equipment, make sure that you are allowed to keep bees in your present location. Some areas have bans on beekeeping, while others have no restrictions at all. For the most part, rural towns allow beekeeping. However, you may need to register your hive and have an annual inspection conducted, to ensure your hive is disease free.

You may also want to talk to your neighbors. Try to allay any fears they have before you establish your hive. If your property is not fenced in, you may consider at least fencing in the areas where the hives are located in order to protect the neighborhood children or animals that may become curious.

Local laws and neighbor concerns can add to the cost of the materials needed to build a beehive. Make sure to factor in those costs when estimating the amount of money needed to get started.

Bee Hives

The beehive is the bee's home. For the most part, the bee will build the interior of the hive by creating combs on the hive frame. These combs provide storage for the bee's food supply and cells for brood. The queen also lives and breeds in the hives. It is important that the hive you get is free from pests and disease. The only way to ensure this is to buy a new hive or build one.

There are several different types of hives available. The beehive can come plain or with any number of accessories. Some of the accessories are made to make caring for the bees easier. However, most of these accessories are not needed in order to properly care for the colony.

It's best to just buy the basics in the beginning. As you tend to your bees, you can determine which accessories would help save you time and energy. By waiting, you can determine which of the maintenance activities you enjoy. You don't want to eliminate an activity, which is a potential source of pleasure.

Protective Gear

As a new beekeeper, you should wear full protective gear. You'll be learning how to handle bees, which means you are more likely to get stung. Beekeeper's gear can also help increase your confidence around the bees. In order to keep yourself safe, make sure all the spaces and openings are sealed, so that the bees do not have access to the interior of your suit.

The basic gear needed for beekeeping is:

A beekeeper's suit with long sleeves - This can be a one-piece suit or a jacket and pant set.

A hat and veil to protect the head and face - The hat and veil may be attached to the suit. On hot days, you may need a sweatband to keep sweat off your face.

Tall boots are needed to protect the feet - Use bands to seal the area where the boot and pants meet.

Gloves should be long enough to cover the lower part of the arm.


The bee smoker is essential. The smoker is used to calm the bees so that you can work inside the hive. When a hive is invaded or tampered with, the bees release an alarm pheromone. The smoke can block that pheromone. When the bee swallows the smoke, it makes it difficult to bend their bodies, so it's more difficult for them to sting you.

The accessories needed by a beginner beekeeper are:

The smoker needs fuel, which can come in the form of pine needles, rotted wood, burlap or cardboard. The fuel can last a long time. However, you should keep a supply of materials handy to ensure that you don't run out of fuel when you need it.

A bee brush is needed to remove bees from the comb. Use short strokes when using the brush. However, you want to use the brush as little as possible.

The hive tool is a scraper and crowbar used to separate parts of the hive. When the bees make their comb and create the nest, parts of the hive can become stuck together with propolis. The hive tool can scrape off the propolis.

Harvesting Equipment

In order to harvest the honey you need:

- A place to harvest the honey, like a shed.

- Cheesecloth (for the beginner) or an extractor

- A hot knife or an uncapping tray to remove the wax caps from the comb

- A metal bucket or a settling tank

- Filters or cheesecloth to remove debris from the honey

- Food grade airtight jars with labels to store the honey

Learn About Beekeeping

It is essential to learn as much as you can about beekeeping. As you establish your bee colony in a new hive you may have questions. There are many books and manuals that can help with everything, from setting up the hive, to caring for diseases.

You should also join a local beekeeping organization. These groups often provide additional information to help you maintain a hive based on your local area. You can also meet experienced beekeepers that can help you learn tips and tricks that can assist in increasing your bee population and the yield of honey.


In the wild, bees build nests. The nests can often be found in the hollows of trees or on tree branches. As a beekeeper, you have to provide an adequate nest for the bee colony. The hive needs to provide shelter for the bees and a location for them to build their nest. It also has to allow you to harvest the honey and other materials from the hive, without destroying it.

Types of Bee Hives

The Langstroth Hive is the most common type of a beehive. It is a 30 to 90 pound box with a roof. This type of hive has stackable box units that contain frames where the bees build their combs. The units of this type of hive stack on top of each other so a beekeeper can add additional units to the hive as the colony grows, or to produce more honey.

If you plan on a large bee population, this type of hive will work well. Because you can add units to the hive, you are able to keep the hive from becoming overpopulated, which can lead to swarming. When the population of a hive gets too large, you can buy a new Langstroth Hive and split the stackable units between them, until you need to add more for future growth.

The Langstroth Hive has many accessories that can be added to help fight intruders, ventilate the hive and feed the bees.

The Top Bar Hive is a long box with legs and a roof. Since the hive is elevated, it is easier to work with. The hive has bars running across the top of the box. The bees build their combs naturally. Since the space is limited, the production of honey is less than the Langstroth. However, many people find this system easier to work with, although it does require more inspections and maintenance work.

This type of hive works well for a person who wants to keep bees, but does not want a large hive. It is also good for someone with mobility issues, since most of the work on this hive can be done while standing or sitting, depending on the height of the frame.

In order to increase the population of bees, you'd have to buy another Top Bar Hive because they cannot be expanded or extended.

The Warre Hive requires little care. The inside of the hive is used in the same way a bee colony would use a hollow tree. Each level has a bar that the bees use to build their comb. Adding levels at the bottom can expand this hive.

This hive is perfect for someone who wants to have a small hive to produce a small amount of honey for personal use.

Build Your Own

A finished beehive can cost $250 or more. A new beekeeper may not want to make this type or investment. Beehives are also sold in kit form. The kit contains all the material needed to build the hive. You would just need to assemble the hive and paint it.

You might also want to build your hive using hive plans. The plans usually come with a material list and instructions. Most of the material can be purchased from a local home improvement or hardware store. Using plans to build the hive works best if you already have the tools available.

If you don't have tools, you can rent them from many home improvement stores. If renting a number of tools, you may consider building more than one hive at a time. This can save money in the long run.


There are many factors that determine where you place your hive. If you don't own your home, or live in an apartment or condo, your options may be limited. You can ask your landlord if you can keep bees on the property, if you have a yard. An apartment dweller can ask about using the rooftop.

Local and state law may also dictate the location of your beehive. Regulations may require your hive be placed a certain distance from sidewalks or property lines. Laws may also state that the beehive needs to be behind a fence. Check with your local or state Department of Agriculture before installing your hive.

Your neighbors may play a role in where you place your hive. If you have an open yard, consider placing the hive in an area where it cannot be reached by children or animals. You also want to keep it away from traffic due to the noise.

The hive should be placed in a sunny location facing south or east. While you want the hive to receive some sun, you don't want full sun exposure all day if you live in a hot climate. You may need to position the hive near a tree or shrub, in order to protect it from getting too much sun.

The location should be dry, to discourage disease. Damp areas can affect the wood and cause mold and rot. The location should provide some form of protection from the wind during the colder months. You can help provide this protection by planting trees or shrubs that can act as a windbreak.

If you need to find a separate location, look for people who have land and ask if you can use part of their property to keep your bees. If you're lucky they will let you raise your bees in exchange for free honey and garden pollination.

The location should be somewhere near where you live or work, so that you can inspect the hive regularly. If it is on the roof, then you should make sure you have access to the area on a regular basis. You'll also want to have a way to haul supplies to the area.

You should also consider the terrain for any land that you use for your hive. Even if you never move your hives, you will have to carry the frames and combs when they're full. If you have to walk over rough terrain, you may find harvesting your hives difficult. If your location is difficult to reach, you should consider getting a cart or wagon to help haul your equipment and items needed when you're harvesting honey.

If you plan on having more than one hive, make sure you have enough space to spread the hives out. If the hives are too close, it can confuse the bees. Try to separate the hives by at least several feet. It's important to plan for the future now. Look at the area where you plan on putting the hive and determine if there are other areas close by that could be used for another hive.

Protecting the Hive

Whichever type of hive you choose, make sure the hive is elevated. You can do this with a stand or by placing the hive on a few bricks. For whichever method you choose, make sure the hive is steady because you don't want the hive falling over in a strong wind. Elevating the hive protects it from insects and small animals. It also provides proper drainage during inclement weather, and ventilation and air flow to keep bacteria from building up in the hive.

Depending on your location, you may want to hide your hive from prying eyes. Neighbors may accept the fact that you're keeping bees, but may get nervous when they see how big a bee hive can become as the colony grows. You can hide your hive by putting it inside a fenced in area. You can also use privacy screens, trellises and shrubs or bushes to block the hive from your neighbor's view.

The best way to ensure neighbors are not an issue is to provide your bees with everything they need on your property. Planting a wide variety of flowering plants and providing water will keep the bees close to your home, instead of forcing them to stray and roam.

Animals may also take an interest in your hive. Bears and raccoons like honey and will try to get the honey from the hive. If there are wild animals in your neighborhood, it may be best to put your hive in a fenced in area. For some animals, an electric fence may be needed to deter them.

As a beekeeper you may also have to worry about vandals. People have been known to knock over beehives on purpose. This is dangerous for them, and it also costs you time and money as you try to recover your bees and repair your hive. If the hive is near your home you can install a motion detector, which will shine a light if someone approaches the hive. A fenced in area around the hive would also help to deter vandals. If the hive is located on someone else's property, there is little you can do to protect the hive.


In order for your hive to thrive, the bees need a water source and food source nearby.

Water Source

You need a location that is within a quarter mile of a water source. The water source does not have to be large. A shallow pond would be ideal, as long as there are surfaces for the bee to land on, such as leaves or branches in the water.

If there are no close water sources, you'll have to provide water for the bees. This can be accomplished with a large bowl or a shallow container. Place a plank in the water to provide a landing strip for the bees.

A bee cannot fly with wet wings. That's why it's important to provide a place for the bee to land when they are collecting water.

Food and Foraging

Bees need flowers to produce pollen and nectar, which is needed to produce honey. The bee's foraging area needs to be within a mile of the beehive. If there are a limited amount of flowers in the area, you can plant more.

If there are other beekeepers in the area, remember the foraging area you choose may already be in use. Talk to the beekeepers nearby to determine if there are enough flowers in the foraging area to support a new hive.

Bees enjoy a wide range of flowering plants. Be sure to plant different varieties of flowering plants. Each type of plant will produce a different type of honey. Check their blooming season to ensure you have flowers blooming at various times during the season. Also look for flowers that bloom at different times of the day.

The Bee's Flight Path

Bees tend to fly straight up when they exit their hive, and as they rise they look for flowers and plants. If you put a tall object in front of an area you want the bees to avoid, they will go over the area in search of more flowers and plants. Use trellises and fences to control the path where the bees fly. With proper placement, you can lead the bees straight to the area for foraging.

If you use trees and other outdoor structures properly, you can guide the bees to the area where you want them. You can also prevent having your bees cross through your neighbors’ yards. This will eliminate neighbor complaints of a bee stinging someone.


You need to populate the hive with bees. With experience, you may be able to collect a swarm or transfer wild bees from a hive located in a tree or wall. Another option is to buy an established hive. As a new beekeeper, it's best to buy either a nucleus colony (or nuc), or packaged bees.

Starting a New Colony

While it may seem easier for a new beekeeper to buy an established colony in a hive, it is not the best choice. As a beginner, you may not be able to recognize diseases that may be killing off the colony, or judge the condition of the hive equipment. The biggest issue with an established hive is that you would be starting with thousands of bees that need to be cared for. Caring for this many bees may be too much to handle in the beginning.

Packaged Bees

Packaged bees are sold by the pound. Each pound can contain approximately 3,500 bees. The package does not include the queen bee. You can purchase these packages from suppliers or a local beekeeper. If the package is coming through the mail, make sure to track the package to ensure the bees are delivered safely.

If you order a queen, she will be sent in a separate shipping cage. There will be a few worker bees sent with her. This cage may be inside the main cage. The shipping container should contain a sugar syrup mixture, which will feed the bees until they arrive.

The best time to order bees is during the winter months, so that they can arrive in April. When the package arrives, it should contain the bees, care instructions and directions on how to transfer the bees to their hive. Packaged bees need to be fed with a sugar syrup mixture until they can harvest food for themselves.

Nuclear Colonies

A nuclear colony or nuc is a small hive with a queen, workers, and younger bees that are still in the comb. These hives contain a food supply. When placed in a hive, these nuclear colonies can grow quickly. The speed at which a nuc reaches a full colony status is the main advantage over packaged bees. This means you'll be able to harvest honey faster.

Nucs are more expensive than packaged bees. Do not try to save money on equipment in order to buy a nuc. It's better to take time to grow a full colony, than to buy equipment that will need to be replaced, or not buy equipment that may be needed in the future.

The main issue that arises with nucs is the possibility of pests and disease. There is no way to guarantee that a nuc is healthy. Bee suppliers do not have to be certified or inspected before they can sell bees. When buying nucs, talk to beekeeping organizations or local beekeepers, in order to find reputable suppliers.


The Queen Bee

The queen is larger than the other bees. The queen lays eggs from spring to fall. During this time, she may lay 250,000 to 300,000 eggs. The average queen lives from two to three years. Some have lived as long as five years.

The queen controls the social structure of the colony. She secretes a pheromone called the queen substance, which is needed to maintain order. The queen substance declines with age. As it lessens, the bees know it's time to produce a new queen.

You must have a queen in your hive. If you are using hybrids, you need to replace the queen. If not, the workers will build a special cell in the comb. Larva in this cell will be fed royal jelly, which will help it to become the queen.

When the queen hatches, she leaves the nest and releases pheromones to attract drones. She will mate with as many as 15 drones, before returning to the hive to lay her eggs. The drones die after mating.

She lays the eggs in cells in the comb. Each cell contains one egg, which hatches in three days. The workers feed the grub or larva that hatches. The grubs eat a mixture of honey and pollen. If the grub will become a queen then it is fed large amounts of royal jelly. Worker bees also receive some royal jelly, but the quantity is very small.

After six days the cell is capped with wax and the grub becomes the pupa. The pupa develops into the adult bee in about 12 to 14 days. At that time the adult bee emerges from the cell and begins its work.

The queen is able to store the sperm in her body and use it to fertilize the eggs of workers and queens. The queen does not use the sperm on eggs that will become drones.

Members of the Colony

The worker bees are females. They do not lay eggs. If you see your worker bees laying eggs, then there is a problem in the colony. It may be a sign of problems with the queen. The average worker bee lives for approximately six weeks.

Worker bees are either foragers or nurse bees. Foragers collect honey and pollen from flowers. The bees leave the hive every day and looks for flowers. If they find a good location they release a pheromone, which leads the other bees to the location.

A bee only collects from one species of plant per day. By doing this the bees ensure the pollen is only delivered to the same species of plants and is not wasted on flowers that cannot use the pollen.

Nurse bees stay in the hive, guarding the colony, caring for the queen and the young, and preparing honey. They also clean the hive and build combs. Since the nurse bees do not forage, they need to be fed by the workers.

It's important to maintain a balance because too many nurse bees can make it impossible for the foragers to supply enough food. Foragers secrete pheromones that help in controlling the nurse bee population. If you see there are too many nurse bees in the hive, this may be an indication of problems in the hive.

Drones are male bees. They are larger than workers and eat three times as much food. They don't work; their purpose is to mate with the queen when needed. They are found in the hive in the spring and summer. When the weather gets colder, the workers force the drones out of the hive. Eventually, they die from starvation.


An average hive can produce about 50 to 100 pounds of honey annually. Most of this honey is needed by the hive to feed itself during the winter. However, you can harvest at least 25 to 30 pounds of honey each year, while maintaining a healthy hive. If you harvest too much honey, then you will need to feed the bees with sugar syrup.

When do you harvest honey?

Honey is harvested twice a year, in the summer and fall. The summer honey is produced from the spring crop of flowers. It usually has a lighter taste and color. The fall honey is usually darker in color with a stronger taste. Many beginning beekeepers only do one harvest each year in the fall.

If you're starting a new hive, it's best to wait a season before harvesting honey. This will allow the hive time to build up its strength. When the hive is larger and stronger, you can harvest honey without worrying about losing the colony over the winter. By waiting you increase the bees’ chances of success.

Your bees’ behavior will change as the time for harvesting the honey approaches. Worker bees will become more aggressive. You may also see more worker bees outside of the hive defending the hive or foraging. This behavior occurs because the bees are protecting their honey from intruders. As far as the bees are concerned, you are an intruder, trying to steal their honey.

Don't wait until it gets cold to harvest the honey. The cold weather will make it difficult to extract the honey from the comb. Also, the bees begin to consume the honey when they sense cold weather is approaching. The bees may also move the honey deeper in the hive, in preparation for colder weather. There is no way to determine the exact date to harvest. As you gain experience as a beekeeper, you'll determine when it's best to begin to harvest.

As a beginner you want to check the hive regularly to determine if the honey is ready. When 80 percent of the honeycomb is sealed off, it's ready to harvest. You can wait until it's completely full, however you run the risk of waiting too long and losing the honey to cold weather.

When harvesting the honey, make sure to leave enough for the bees to survive the winter. Even if you leave a large amount of honey in the hive, you may still need to supplement the bees with sugar syrup over the winter. Check the hive throughout the winter to determine if the bees need more honey. This will help you determine how much honey you can take during the next harvesting season.

How do you harvest the honey?

Wear your protective gear when harvesting honey. The bees will become agitated when you take their honey. Your gear will help protect you from being stung. To remove the combs from the hive, you'll need to smoke the hive and wait three minutes. All you need is a couple of puffs of smoke to open the hive and remove the comb. Use the bee brush to remove bees that are on the comb.

Depending on the type of hive, you may be able to remove the entire frame to put in the extractor, or you may need to cut the comb from the frame with a knife. Use the hive tool to pry apart any sections of the hive that are stuck together with propolis. Make sure you have all of the necessary tools available before you start.

After you've removed the comb, put the hive back together. Carry the combs to the extraction area. Do not extract them near the hives. The place where you extract should be a sealed or closed room far away from the hive.

If you are too close to the hive, the bees may follow you, or you may lead other animals to follow you to get the honey. Extracting near the hive can leave honey on the ground, which can lead animals to the hive where they can hurt the bees and damage the equipment.

The easiest way to extract honey is to pull the comb from the frame of the hive. Break the comb into pieces, crush it and allow the honey to drain through a sieve. Each frame from the hive will have a different taste and color because each is produced using a different flower. For this reason you may want to drain one frame at a time.

As the number of hives and frames you own increases, you may want to buy an extractor to drain the liquid honey. An extractor is a metal container with a spinning rack. The extractor is not needed to get honey from the comb, but it does make the job easier and faster.

In order to get the honey from the comb, you'll need to slice off the caps. This can be done with a hot knife. After the caps are removed, the frames are placed in the rack and it spins. The honey is extracted using the centrifugal force of the extractor. Using the extractor method, the frames can be placed back in the hive and the bees can reuse them instead of rebuilding the combs. This will increase the honey yield and save time.

In order to prevent disease, you should ideally change or remove the comb after two years. Until that time the bees can continue to reuse the same honeycomb to store their honey.

How do you process the honey?

After you extract the honey from the comb, you need to filter it. This removes the wax, pollen and debris. Filtering can be done using cheesecloth or a nylon filter. After you filter the honey, allow it to stand in a large container for three days to allow air bubbles to escape. Do not bottle the honey until this process is complete. If you jar the honey before the air bubbles are allowed to escape, you risk the honey jars exploding. While the honey stands, skim off any foam that accumulates on the container.

The honey can be stored in jars in a cool location away from direct light. The best temperature to store honey is 50 degrees. However, any temperature up to 70 degrees is acceptable. Colder temperatures are needed to keep honey from fermenting. If the honey ferments, it will have a sour taste. If you find it difficult to maintain these temperatures, you can freeze the honey.


Cutting the natural honeycomb into pieces can produce cut-comb honey. . Cut-comb honey is sold on a tray. Chunk honey is sold in a jar. You can also buy a special frame that can produce a product called section honey. This is a difficult process that requires special bee management. Section honey is not recommended for the beginner. If you decide to sell your honey products, honeycomb products fetch a premium price.

Creamed Honey

Creamed honey is produced when the honey is partially crystallized. The honey is heated and then whipped until it has a creamy texture. This requires a special technique. However it does not significantly increase the value of the honey if you decide to sell it.


In addition to honey, a hive can produce other products. Pollen, Royal Jelly and Propolis are all used in natural remedies. They each have been said to have various health benefits. Beeswax is commonly used in candles; however it can also be used in cosmetic applications including moisturizer.


Bees harvest pollen when they forage. The pollen is shaped into a pellet and carried on the bee's hind legs. There is a collection accessory, which allows you to collect some of the pollen pellets when the bees bring it back to the hive.

Only collect pollen from a healthy hive when the pollen count is high. Pollen is needed by the brood in order to produce strong healthy young bees. If the bees in the colony seem to be in distress, stop harvesting the pollen until the hive recovers.

Royal Jelly

Royal Jelly is used to produce the queen. Royal jelly production is small. The royal jelly is only produced when the workers are stimulated to produce a new queen. The jelly is found in the cells that the worker bees build for the queen larvae. Royal jelly is perishable, so keep it stored in the refrigerator or freezer.


Propolis is resin collected by the bees to help reinforce their hive. They use it to seal cracks and protect the hive from mold.


After extracting the honey, the beeswax is what is left over. You can return the combs to the hive and use the caps, or you can return the frame and keep the combs and caps. You need to purify the wax by heating it in hot water and then letting it cool.


Managing the Bee Colony

When working on your hive, be sure to wear your protective gear and carry your smoker. You should try to visit your hive regularly. Inspect the beehive to check for problems with the bees. Look for signs of disease or pests. Check the hive for signs of damage or to make sure it has not been compromised by a small animal.

Caring for the New Brood in the Spring

In the spring, as the new brood is developing, you need to provide the bees with a honey or sugar syrup to feed them and help them to create the new bees. When the first spring blossoms appear, the bees will be able to forage and begin feeding themselves and the larva.

During the spring you want to check the health of the queen, as well as the brood. This is the best time to discover any problems. If the queen is not in good health or is nearing the end of two years, you'll want to start raising a new queen.

Maintain the Hive in the Summer

During the summer, the bees are foraging and producing honey. The population of the hive will be at its largest. This is the best time to add additional units to expand the hive in order to prevent overpopulation and reduce the risk of swarming. You may also decide at this time if you should split the hive.

Generally, splitting the hive is not something a beginner would need to do. However, if you inherited a hive or bought an established colony, this is something you may have to do to prevent swarming. If you have trouble splitting the hive, contact local experienced beekeepers and ask for assistance.

If you decide to split the hive yourself, you'll need to move some of the comb, capped honey and stored pollen to the new hive. You'll also need to add new egg and capped brood cells. Then transfer some of the worker bees to the new hive. They will help to raise the new queen, new drones and some more workers. Remember to place the new hive a fair distance from the old hive.

Make sure you leave enough comb, honey, pollen, eggs and brood cells in the original hive to ensure it can remain strong. Don't do this too late in the season or it can hard for the old colony to recover, and too late for the new colony to establish itself.

In the summer you can start to harvest honey. While gathering honey, inspect the bees for disease and pests. Treat any issues that arise. If you are raising your own queens, check their cells to ensure that they are healthy. Make sure you can locate the queen each time you visit the hive.

Harvest the Honey in the Fall

In the fall, harvest the honey after the first killing frost in your area. Prepare feeding stocks for the winter. When harvesting the honey, continue to check for signs of disease and pest.

If the queen is old, re-queen the colony. Introduce the queen slowly over time so that the workers do not see the queen as an intruder.

Feeding and Protecting the Bees in Winter

During the winter you need to provide food for the bees. You can provide honey or sugar syrup. The honey is usually what is left in the honeycombs in the hive. That's why it's important to not take all of the honeycombs when harvesting. You will need to continue to feed the bees until the flowers start to bloom in spring.

The warmth of the hive and the sugar syrup will attract pests such as mice. Put a reducer on the hive, which will block these animals from accessing the hive. Also, check the hive over each time you visit for feedings. Look around the base of the hive to ensure animals have not tunneled under the hive. If they have, adjust the stand that the hive sits on to ensure the hive does not fall.

Watch the bees and make sure they are not clustering in groups in an area of the hive that is not near their food source. The bees will group together in order to stay warm. However this can be a problem if the area where they cluster is not close to food. If this happens, move the honeycombs or sugar syrup closer to the area where the bees are.

Winter is a good time to repair the hive or build a new one, if needed. It is also a good time to read more about beekeeping. If you kept notes on your beekeeping activities, this would be a great time to look them over and find room for improvement.

This is also the time to create a plan for the next year. Use what you've learned to get a larger harvest of honey and increase the population of your hive.


As a new beekeeper you can experience some problems, which could cause you to lose your new bee colony. In order to avoid these problems, it's important to regularly inspect your hives for signs of problems.


In nature, swarming is part of the reproduction process. With domesticated bees this natural instinct can pose a problem. When swarming occurs, the queen, drones and many workers leave the hive and go to a new location to establish a new colony.

Common reasons for swarming are: overcrowding, the queen not producing sufficient queen substance, weather or poor ventilation. In order to avoid swarming, you need to look for the signs that the hive is preparing to swarm. These can include:

- The workers building more queen cells to raise new queen bees.

- The colony's foraging activities will be reduced.

- The queen's abdomen will shrink and she will lose weight.

- There will be an increase in the number of drones.

The primary swarm would occur in the early summer when the old queen leaves the hive, taking half of the workers and some of the drones. They will stay near the hive. To find the bees, look on buildings or trees near the hive. If you are able to locate them, you can try to lure them back to the hive.

Bees will be sent out to scout for a new location for the colony. This can be a hollow tree or a location in a building. The scout bee will release a pheromone and the bees will swarm to the location. This process takes a few days. Once they move to a new location, it may be more difficult to get them back.

The remaining bees will leave with the new queen. Swarming can leave your hive will too few workers to produce honey. If you are unable to locate your bees, you may have to purchase new bees and rebuild your colony. This will cost time and money, which is why it's important to prevent swarming in the first place.

How to Prevent Swarming

The most important thing to remember is that bees need sufficient space to grow. If you are using an expandable beehive, be prepared to add additional units as the colony increases in size. During the main brooding season, when the flowers are in bloom, add extra units to ensure there is enough space for growth. Have the additional units on hand before the spring flowers bloom.

If your hive is not expandable, be prepared to split the colony and create a new hive. This is not something you want to do as a beginner. By the time you need to do this, you should have enough experience with your bees to make this possible. If you feel you need to split your hive and need help, speak to your local beekeeping association or local beekeepers.

This is one reason why a beginner should not buy an existing colony and hive. Larger colonies are more prone to swarming. The danger of swarming in this instance would be increased if you have a strain of bee that is prone to swarming.

If you believe your hive is set to swarm, consider removing the queen cells during April and May. This will only delay the swarming, but it will give you enough time to take other steps to keep the bees in the hive.

Losing the Queen

During your routine inspections, you may discover that your queen has died or is not in the hive. Before you panic, look over the bees again, make sure you did not overlook the queen. If the queen is truly missing, you need to check to see if the workers are tending queen cells or eggs in an effort to produce a new queen. This process will take time and only works if eggs are present.

To keep your hive healthy, you should introduce a new queen. If you are raising hybrids, then this action will ensure you keep the characteristics you want for the hive. When introducing the new queen to the hive, it's important to take your time.

If you release the queen into the hive, the worker bees will kill her, as an intruder. You need to put her in a small cage and hang the cage in the hive. Give the queen a sugar plug to feed her. The workers will have time to get used to their new queen. Then you can release her after about a week. It can take several weeks for her to start laying eggs.

Bee Diseases

Brood diseases can damage the brood. American Foul Brood is a disease that infects the larvae. The infection is introduced in the food. This disease kills the larva or pupa in the capped cells. If you see caps that are yellow, sunken or broken, this is a sign of brood disease.

American Foul Brood disease spreads through the hives when the spores attach themselves to the brood workers. It can weaken a colony and open them up to other colonies that may rob them and carry back the disease. If this disease is infecting your colony, all of the bees and equipment must be burned in order to prevent spreading. Some people say the equipment can be sterilized. Check with your local beekeeping organization to determine what the rules are for your local area.

European Foul Brood disease is a type of bacteria that usually occurs when a colony has a population increase. The death will occur in the larvae stage. However, this disease can affect all bees. In time as the disease spreads, it can infect the whole colony. All of the equipment used must be washed before you can use it for another colony.

Fungal Diseases

Chalkbrood primary affects the larvae. The larva ingests the spores, which begin to consume the larva's body. This fungus can also affect other members of the hive. If the larvae get the spores in their system, there's no way to save them. Remove any signs of Chalkbrood that you find. Providing adequate ventilation can prevent this fungus.

Stonebrood is a fungus found in the soil near the hive. Stonebrood will mummify the brood in a colony. The worker bees can fight this fungus if they are strong and healthy.

To prevent some diseases, you should remove old combs after two years. You can do this when you replace the queen, which will give the hive a fresh start with a new queen, a new brood and new combs.

Pests and Parasites

Honey Bee Tracheal Mite is a parasite that infests the bee's air passages. The mites are spread when bees come into contact with each other. The bees will become weak, and the colony can be killed off over the winter as the infestation spreads. Menthol and grease cakes can be used to control these mites.

Varroa Mites are external parasites that suck the bee's blood. They infect the blood and breed in the brood cells. Uncontrolled, these mites can destroy a colony. These mites must be monitored. They usually like to infect drones. By removing drone broods, you can control the mite population. You can also find chemicals and essential oils that can reduce the mite population to manageable levels.

The Small Hive Beetle can damage a hive by killing the bees and destroying the comb, pollen and honey. An infestation of this beetle can force the bees to leave the hive. The beetles' larvae feed on the honey and then excrete waste into the honey, which will discolor it and cause it to ferment. The honey will have an orange color to it and smell like rotting oranges. The best way to treat this problem is to keep ants and beetles from entering the hive by applying diatomaceous earth around the hive. If Small Hive Beetles are already present in the hive, cooking oil based bottom board traps can be used to remove the beetles.

Nosema apis is a spore that affects the intestinal tract of bees. This spore grows when bees are unable to leave the hive in the winter to eliminate waste. This can happen if the hives are enclosed, or if the weather is too cold for the bees to leave the hive. This spore can spread rapidly and can infect a hive within a few days. Antibiotics and ventilation are the best treatment for the bees.

Viral Diseases

Acute Bee Paralysis Virus is a common virus. This virus can cause a bee to suddenly collapse. If the bees are unable to find food and forage, then the colony will quickly collapse.

Colony Collapse Disorder is a problem that has affected hives over the last few years. With this disorder, a colony will suddenly lose almost all of the workers. No bodies are found. There doesn't seem to be a reason for the workers to leave, the hive usually has a queen, sufficient honey and a brood.

It is thought that Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is caused by stress, environmental changes, pathogens or malnutrition. Researchers have not determined the exact cause of the missing bees.

Hive Robbers

Robbing is a common occurrence in some hives. Workers from other hives will come to your hive and steal food. When an intruder comes to the hive, your bees will attack. This can cause losses in your bee population. If the robbers are successful, then your bees will lose food, and over time your hive may become more aggressive.

If you see bees fighting at the entrance to the hive, then your hive is probably being robbed. Do not leave honey or sugar syrup near the hive and do not open it near the hive. If you discover that robbers are causing a problem, then add a reducer to the hive, which limits the number of bees that can enter the hive at once.


What are some of the common hazards encountered by beekeepers?


Bees can and will sting you. While most domestic bees are quiet and peaceful, getting stung is always a possibility. Therefore, if you, anyone in your family, your friends or immediate neighbors is allergic to bee stings, you may want to reconsider this as a hobby.

To a person with a bee allergy, a sting can be fatal. By introducing hundreds, or in some cases, thousands, of bees to the area, you're increasing the chances of that person getting stung. Even if no one nearby has a known allergy to bees, you should keep an epinephrine shot in your home. This shot will help someone who is experiencing an allergic reaction. It can save their life.

In order to reduce the chance of getting stung, teach the people who visit the hive, the proper use of the equipment. Make sure there is protective gear available for others to use, if you are going to need their assistance in moving or harvesting the hives. Ensuring that everyone understands how to handle the bees will reduce the number of bee stings your visitors will receive.


Even if you are using organic methods to control pests and insects, you can't control what others around you are doing. You must protect your hive from pesticides that are sprayed near the hive or on food sources.

Pesticides are the cause of the decreased number of honeybees in the wild. The chemicals in pesticides can also injure or damage your colony. Try to learn about the chemicals used by local farmers, and if necessary move your hives to protect them from dangerous substances and recently sprayed fields.

If you find large numbers of dead bees in an area around the hive, chemicals may be the most likely cause. Before blaming someone else, you need to first determine if you are at fault. Honeybees are susceptible to many chemicals. If you use chemicals in the area around the hive, the water source or the foraging area, then this may be the cause of the bees’ death.

In order to protect your bees, it's advisable to eliminate as many chemicals as possible when it comes to caring for the area near the hive. Instead of chemical pesticides, use fungicides, herbicides and microbial insecticides. These are usually safe to use around bees.

If you must use a pesticide, try to look for ones that state they are safe to use around bees. Use chemicals late in the day when the bees are less active. Ask other beekeepers about the types of pesticides they use. Look for granular products that are less likely to be carried on the wind.


As a new beekeeper, there are some mistakes that you'll make. These are common errors, which are often easily correctable.

Poor Maintenance Habits

The hive should be inspected regularly. This time should be used to ensure the health and safety of the queen and the brood. You should look for signs of pests and disease. Check the equipment for damage or defects. By adding this inspection to your routine, you can detect potential problems before they occur.

When you spot a potential issue, make sure to either fix it immediately or set a time to correct the problem. Get into the habit of handling problems as soon as possible. Poor maintenance of the hive or equipment can lead to the loss of bees by disease, pests or swarming.

Wrong Location

Bees require water and food to live. If you are not located in an area where these needs can be met, then you need to create water and food sources. A water source can be a shallow bucket that you fill up every day. Placing floating material on the surface will allow the bees to land.

Flowers are needed for the bees to eat, feed the brood and produce honey. Planting flowers throughout your yard can help ensure that the bees have enough flowers. However, you need to make sure you plant enough to sustain the number of bees you have in your hive.

Wrong Type of Hive

It's important that you only purchase new hives for your bees. Second-hand hives may contain diseases or pests. If price is an issue, consider building a hive. You can build it from plans or you can buy a kit. There are many books and plans available to assist you in building most types of beehives.

Wrong Bees

It's important to understand the characteristics of the bees you purchase. Some types of bees like to stray to other colonies or rob colonies, which can lead to disease. Other bees have a tendency to swarm.

By knowing the characteristics of the bees you will know what to watch out for. If you don't learn about the strain of bees you choose, you may find that you have the wrong type of bee. You may want a small colony and end up with a prolific breeder like the Italian Bee. Make sure the bee you choose is the best one for your intended purpose.

Too Many Bees

When you purchase your hive and bees, you must know ahead of time if you want a large hive or a small one. If you have a strain of bees that has a long brooding season, you may find yourself with too many bees and not enough space, which can lead to swarming.

In order to prevent this, make sure that you're prepared to either expand your hive or split your hive. Do not allow your hive to get overcrowded.

Not Enough Food

Make sure to plant a sufficient amount of flowers in the areas around the hive. You might also need to move the hive to another location, if there is not a sufficient amount of food in the area.

During the months when there are no flower sources, be sure to keep the hive supplied with a sugar syrup mixture, in order to feed them.


Where should you start?

The best place to start is by reading books like this on how to become a beekeeper. This can help you set up your beehives and gain some success with beekeeping. You'll also need to:

- Locate bee suppliers and determine which type of bee you'll be keeping.

- Determine which type of hive to buy, and purchase the hive or the material to build it.

- Buy protective gear and accessories.

- Find the right location.

- Set up the hives

- Order the bees

- Install the bees in the new hive

- Maintain and inspect the hive regularly

- Watch the hive grow stronger and healthier

- Harvest and extract the honey

- Prepare the hive for winter

- Care for and feed the bees over the winter and early spring

These steps can take you through your first year as a new beekeeper. During this time you'll learn more about bees and their care. After a few years, you'll know exactly what to do. You'll be a true beekeeper and be able to help others achieve the same success.

At some point, your hobby may become a business. You might create a company to sell your honey or you may have a small hobby business, selling your products at the local flea market. You may also decide against selling your honey, and instead share your bounty with your friends, family and neighbors.

In time, you may find others who want to learn about beekeeping. You can share what you have learned, and help to increase the population of honeybees, which can help to ensure the future of the food crops that feed our world.