Beekeeping for Beginners

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Beekeeping for Beginners

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There are fundamental principles and rules that one must adhere to when engaging in beekeeping.

  1. Beekeepers should strive to provide an environment that is best suited for the life, growth, and productivity of their bees, taking into account their natural tendencies and characteristics. For centuries, humans have attempted to domesticate bees like other animals, but have been unsuccessful in taming them. Unlike other domesticated animals, bees have persisted in their primordial form of life. Beekeepers, primarily for economic reasons, have therefore developed an entire science and practice of beekeeping that exploits the natural life of bees. This requires a detailed understanding of the composition, life, and work of the bee society as a whole, as well as the roles of each member, including the queen, worker bees, and drones. Additionally, beekeepers must be familiar with scientific and practical achievements in the technology and technique of beekeeping that are based on the fundamental principles of the bee society's way of life. It is essential for beekeepers, especially novices, to respect the lifestyle of bees as much as possible.
  2. Pčele košnica
  3. Proper planning is crucial for maintaining an apiary and ensuring optimal honey yield. Ideally, beekeepers should plan their tasks at least a year in advance and diligently complete each one. Even the smallest oversight could result in a decrease in honey production. For novice beekeepers, it is especially important to develop a comprehensive plan before embarking on beekeeping operations.
  4. To ensure optimal conditions for bee colonies, it is crucial to carefully choose the location of the hive. Avoid placing it in areas exposed to strong winds or in close proximity to garbage dumps, warehouses, refineries, or other facilities with strong and unpleasant smells. Furthermore, it's best to avoid placing hives near busy roads, walls, or large rivers. To prevent overcrowding, hives should not be packed closely together or placed on the same stand. Instead, it's recommended to group hives in sets of three to five, arranged in a checkerboard pattern with ample space between each group. To ensure proper airflow, hives should be at least 30 centimeters apart. When placing hives on a stand, ensure that the entrance to the hive is raised 30 to 50 centimeters above the ground. Additionally, it's best to face the entrance south or southeast to maximize sunlight exposure. Finally, avoid placing hives near high voltage transmission lines as they can adversely affect bee colonies.
  5. To ensure a healthy honey yield, it is crucial to complete all apiary tasks on time. Even slight delays can have a significant negative impact on productivity. While beekeeping can be a rewarding hobby for beginners, it's important to emphasize the importance of timely apiary maintenance. As novice beekeepers, it's essential to prioritize regular upkeep and complete tasks promptly to ensure the health and productivity of the hive.

  6. Queen bee


  7. Replacing queens in bee colonies with young, healthy, and selectively bred ones is crucial for maintaining strong and productive hives. Ideally, queens should be replaced every year, while the best quality queens can be kept for up to two years. Queens play a vital role in bee colonies beyond reproduction, as they secrete pheromones that regulate the behavior of worker bees and drones. Their influence on the harmony and productivity of the colony as a whole is particularly important. For beginner beekeepers, buying queens is a good option instead of breeding them. If beekeeping is a hobby that prioritizes honey production, it may not be necessary to replace queens every year. However, keeping an eye on the health and performance of the queen is still crucial for maintaining a healthy and thriving colony.

    Queens are commonly thought to be most effective in performing their duties during their youth. However, as they age, they may develop various weaknesses and limitations, such as:

    • Queen bees that lay fewer fertilized eggs result in smaller bee colonies that cannot develop to their full potential.
    • Queen bees that lay more unfertilized eggs result in a higher number of drones hatching than necessary.
    • Older queen bees have a harder time surviving winter, which can lead to a larger number of bee colonies without a queen, causing significant damage.
    • Older queen bees may not secrete sufficient pheromones, leading to a breakdown in the harmonious life and work of the bee colony.
    • Societies with older queens are more prone to swarming, which can negatively impact honey yield.
    • The aggressiveness of worker bees in a colony depends mainly on the queen bee. If an aggressive queen is replaced with a calm queen, the colony will usually become calmer.
    • The queen is the only fully developed female bee in a colony, and the quality of the offspring is determined by her. A good queen produces offspring that are disease-resistant and calm, while an old or unhealthy queen can put the bee colony at risk.
    • The average lifespan of a queen bee is seven to ten years. During swarming, the old queen leaves with the swarm, while the young queen remains in the original colony. If the colony senses that the queen is not performing well, they may replace her by building bases for several new queens. With fewer queens to nurture, worker bees can produce high-quality queens. Interestingly, during times of abundant resources, the old queen and the new queen may both lay eggs in the same colony. However, once resources become scarce, the old queen is removed and the young queen continues to lead the colony.

    Keeping only strong and extremely strong bee colonies in the apiary

  8. Weak bee colonies should be rehabilitated as soon as possible, and the formed swarms should be intensively nurtured and fed so that they develop into normally strong bee colonies as soon as possible. Only strong and extremely strong bee colonies are capable of achieving high honey yields. In order for societies to reach that level, they require assistance.

  9. The most crucial aspect is providing high-quality nutrition, with sugar playing a significant role. It is especially important for providing sufficient quantities of honey to bee colonies for overwintering, and for aiding societies in developing into strong and extremely strong colonies in the spring, which will be able to make good use of pasture, primarily the main one. Many beekeepers, especially novice ones, either do not use sugar in production or do not use it enough, considering it expensive. This is a mistake. Honey derived from sugar is excellent for hibernating bee colonies, and from one kilogram of sugar, crystal bee colonies produce approximately 650 grams of honey.

    This amount of honey is always at least 2.6 to 2 times higher than the price of sugar used for its production, not counting the value obtained due to all the advantages in the technical process, or the value of increased honey production due to the use of sugar as a reproductive material. Hence, it is evident that sugar is not expensive even when purchased for these purposes and at retail prices.

  10. All societies in the apiary should have a sufficient reserve of quality food available at all times of the year. It is particularly harmful when bee colonies do not have enough reserve food just before winter until the first significant spring bee pasture arrives. This is the time when the bee brood begins to develop rapidly, requiring a lot of food.

  11. The amount of honey yield is significantly influenced by how the main pasture is utilized. Therefore, it is essential to pay special attention to the use of the main pasture every year. Those who know how to use the main pasture properly also know how to keep bees. For more information on the main pastures, please visit the following link: Main bee pastures.

  12. Worker bee


  13. Factors Affecting the Vitality of Worker Bees and Achieving High Honey Yields

    • The vitality of worker bees is influenced by various factors, including:
      • The conditions under which worker bees are hatched, such as honeycomb age, temperature, quantity and quality of food during brood care, strength of bee colony, and exposure to varroa and climate.
      • The race of bees and the unique characteristics of individual colonies.
      • The season in which worker bees are bred, with fall-born bees typically more vital than spring and early summer-born bees.
      • The diet of worker bees, with those that process large amounts of sucrose into honey losing vitality, and vice versa.
      • The tasks performed by worker bees within the colony, with those performing intensive brood care and feeding losing vitality, and vice versa.
    • Fall-born worker bees that did not process large amounts of sugar into honey, nor spend much on heating, care and nutrition of bees, retain their vitality until spring. They are capable of performing all the work done by the youngest worker bees and can quickly develop a strong bee colony that achieves high honey yields.
    • Worker bees live the shortest during the main grazing season when they work most intensively, and vice versa. However, the queen lays the largest number of eggs during this time, allowing the bee colony to recover quickly. As bee grazing decreases in late summer and autumn, so does the lifespan of worker bees.
  14. Various factors influence the preparation of bees for wintering. These include the consumption of larger amounts of pollen, reduced workload, and certain biological factors. In late summer and autumn, the worker bees that emerge are slightly larger and heavier. They are much more adept at producing, maintaining, and utilizing heat. They are also more capable of feeding and nurturing the brood successfully under difficult conditions. Furthermore, they are much more resistant to cold, which makes them more vital than their older sisters who perform during the spring and the first half of summer.
  15. The worker bees that enter winter with the greatest life force are considered the most vital. This is provided that the bee colonies are properly cared for, prepared for hibernation, and managed appropriately. However, the bee society as a whole, including worker bees and queens (as drones are absent during winter), is most vulnerable during this season.
  16. Beginner beekeepers should be aware that bee colonies are most sensitive during the winter. It is crucial to ensure that they are free of any issues that could significantly impede their survival during this season.


The honeycombs in the hives should be replaced regularly and in a timely manner. In the process of honeycomb production, they should not stay in the brood for longer than 4 years. This means that every year, one quarter of the frames with old, worn, and blackened honeycomb should be changed in the fruiting body. If there are 12 frames for hatching, then every year three frames should be replaced with old honeycomb. Thus, in normal production in such an orchard, there will be three frames with one-year-old, three with two-year-old, three with three-year-old, and three frames with four-year-old honeycomb. Young honeycombs should always be produced on one of the earlier pastures: oilseed rape, fruit pasture, dandelion, etc. You should never produce honeycombs on the main pasture because this would significantly reduce honey production and the quality of honeycombs.


Every beekeeper should provide sufficient quantities of built honeycomb before the main grazing of the year. It is a big mistake if during the main grazing, frames with wired wax bases are placed in the honeycomb so that the bees first build the honeycomb and only then fill it with honey. Bees waste a lot of time and spend material and energy to build honeycombs instead of producing honey. That is why the production of a spare honeycomb should be done on one of the earlier pastures so that when the main pasture of the bee colony arrives, it will work only on collecting nectar and processing it into honey.

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Preventing Bee Robbery

During the process of apiary maintenance, especially during the hatching of worker bees and in early spring and autumn when there is no grazing, it is important to take preventive measures to avoid predation. The key is to keep only strong and healthy societies in the apiary while rehabilitating weak and sick colonies as soon as possible. When feeding bee colonies, it is crucial to take strict care not to spill food inside or outside the hive.

Examination of Bees

Excessive smoke is harmful to bees, particularly when using materials that create hot smoke and when the smoker does not have a grille to prevent material from escaping. Unprofessional and excessive blowing can even lead to the loss of the queen. Therefore, bee colonies should be smoked as little as possible. Recent studies suggest that too much smoke causes bees to lose their power of orientation, making it difficult for them to find food. Smoking can also reduce honey production.

Pregled pčela

While smoking calms the bees, making it easier for the beekeeper to work, the harmful consequences of stronger smoking are significant. A smoked bee colony consumes more honey for food and produces less honey. Additionally, smoke can negatively affect the honey it comes in contact with, altering its color, taste, and smell, thereby reducing the honey's quality. The degree to which these changes occur depends on the intensity of the smoke, the ignited material, and the extent to which the honey is sealed with wax caps.

Inspecting bee colonies can have harmful consequences, but these can be minimized by smoking as little as possible and using a material that does not give off hot smoke. Beginner beekeepers should take care not to accidentally smoke the bees too much or with the wrong material. Water sprayers can also be used instead of smoke, as they do not leave harmful consequences on the bees' orientation. Consult with a salesperson who knows the good practices applied in beekeeping for beginners to ensure proper technique.

Bee colonies should be inspected only when necessary to avoid excessive disturbance, which can reduce honey production by affecting the bees' intake of nectar and pollen powder. Detailed examinations, removal, or movement of frames should be avoided to prevent damage to the queen, especially if done unprofessionally or under unfavorable conditions. It is recommended to perform detailed examinations twice a year, once after hibernation and once before preparing bee colonies for hibernation. For more information about spring inspections, read our article on Spring Bee Inspection.

Pregled pčelinjaka

Easy routine inspections without moving the frames in the brood box can be performed as needed and more often, and they can be used to establish the situation in the bee colony between the two detailed inspections. The most important thing is to work carefully and quickly. It is especially harmful to disturb societies during the main grazing.

Honey production

In order to achieve high honey production, it is necessary to have a normal number of drones in bee colonies, especially during the intensive collection of nectar and its processing into honey. The bee society is a biological whole composed of queens, worker bees, and drones, which exist only in the period from early spring to late autumn. That is why it functions, lives, and works best only when that biological whole is normally assembled.

Experiments have shown that permanently destroying drone brood in certain beehives, preventing drones from being carried out at all, hinders the development of such colonies. Conversely, control colonies with normal drone populations achieve high honey production. Typically, a healthy bee colony has between 200 to 600 drones, depending on its strength. Ideally, the ratio of drones to worker bees should be about one percent under normal conditions. In a season, a typical bee colony produces around 2,000 drones, provided that the honeycomb is in good condition and the queen is healthy. However, old or damaged honeycomb, as well as a large number of unfertilized eggs from a damaged queen, result in a higher-than-normal number of drones in the colony. This negatively affects honey production since a higher number of drones means a smaller number of worker bees, and drones consume much more honey than workers. In fact, it takes almost three times more honey to feed a drone brood than a worker bee brood. Therefore, it is essential to maintain normal drone populations in bee colonies.


Beekeepers, including novice beekeepers, should focus on breeding healthy and productive bee colonies. They should select eggs or larvae from colonies with the highest honey production records in the apiary over several years, if available. Additionally, the selected colony should be peaceful, with low worker bee aggression, and free from diseases and pests. To avoid degeneration from prolonged fertilization by drones from the same apiary or even the same colony from which the unfertilized queens originate, beekeepers should take the queens for fertilization outside their own apiary, preferably at least ten kilometers away by air.

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