Beekeeping for Beginners
There are basic rules - principles that must be followed when dealing with beekeeping.
- Beekeepers need to create the most favorable conditions for life, development and work for bees, according to their natural characteristics. Namely, people have been trying for centuries to tame bees, as they did with many domestic animals, but still failed. Realizing the bee's persistence in maintaining the primordial form of life, beekeepers, for predominantly economic reasons, subordinated the entire science and practice of beekeeping to the exploitation of their natural life. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to know in detail the composition, life and work of the bee society as a whole, as well as each of its members, which means queen, worker bees and drones, and especially their roles in that community. Understandably, it is necessary to know other scientific and practical achievements in the technology and technique of beekeeping, which is actually based on the basic principles of the way of life of the bee society. Beekeepers, and especially new beekeepers, must respect this bee lifestyle as much as possible.
- The works on the apiary should be planned for at least one year and every task from the plan must be done. If even the smallest task is not done, it can lead to a reduction in honey yield. It is recommended for new beekeepers to also make a plan, even before starting beekeeping.
- As far as possible, the hive should be placed in the most suitable place. That place should be sheltered from strong winds, not to be near garbage dumps, warehouses, refineries and similar facilities with an unpleasant and strong smell, then not to be near busy roads, walls or next to large rivers. The beehives should not be packed next to each other or more on one stand. It is best to place the hives in groups, from three to five in one group, but not in one row, but in a checkerboard pattern, which means the first group forward, and the second group pulled back and so on, but with as much distance between groups , and the hive should be at least 30 centimeters away from the hive in the group. When placing the hives on the stand, care should be taken that the flights are raised 30 to 50 centimeters from the ground, and that they are facing south or southeast. Hives with bee colonies should not be placed near the high voltage network. Transmission lines, high voltage, adversely affect bee colonies.
- All work on the apiary should be done on time. Any delay in the work of the apiary, especially some, has a very detrimental effect on the honey yield. Although beekeeping for beginners often means engaging in beekeeping as a hobby, it is especially important for beginner beekeepers to take care of the timely performance of the necessary work in the apiary.
- The queens should be replaced in time by young, healthy, fertile and selected ones. It is best if the queens are replaced every year, and those of better quality can be replaced every other year. The queen is one of the most important factors for creating strong bee colonies. In addition to reproduction, queens have a number of other very important functions in the bee colony, among which its effect on the harmonious and productive life and work of the bee colony as a biological whole is of special importance. It achieves this primarily by secreting certain parent substances - pheromones, which have a very strong effect on worker bees and drones, as well as on society as a whole to behave in certain moments, or in certain periods of time as it is most useful for the bee community. Beginner beekeepers do not have to breed queens, because they can also buy them. If beekeeping is a hobby, where honey production is not the sole goal of keeping bees, queens do not have to be changed every year.
The queen performs all her functions best when she is young. Compared to younger, older queens have a number of weaknesses, such as:
- They lay a smaller number of fertilized eggs, so they are not able to develop bee colonies to the required extent
- They lay a larger number of unfertilized eggs, so a larger number of drones are hatched than necessary
- Older queens have a harder time overwintering, which is why a larger number of bee colonies emerge from the winter without a queen, which causes very high damage.
- Older queens do not secrete sufficient amounts of the pheromones, and thus lose the power to act to the necessary extent on the harmonious life and work of the bee colony as a whole.
- Societies with older queens are significantly more prone to swarming, so it is most common for society to swarm at a time when it negatively affects honey yield
- The intensity of stinging worker bees in a bee colony depends almost exclusively on the queen. If the queen is removed from the most angry society, and another from a society that was calm and not aggressive is added to it, the former angry society soon becomes calm before all the worker bees are replaced by taking the young from the new queen.
- Since the queen is the only normal developed female in the bee colony, the offspring are obtained from the eggs she lays. If the queen is good, offspring are resistant to disease, calm, etc.. However, if the queen is old and bad then the risk of beekeeping is higher.
- The queen lives seven to ten years. During swarming, the old queen leaves with the swarm, and the young queen remains in the basic society. In this way, the society only replaced the queen. Some societies, when they feel that the queen is not capable of performing their function normally, perform the so-called queen replacement themselves. In this case, the worker bees build several bases for the queens in which the queens lay their eggs. Since the bee colony does not build many queens during the quiet change of queens, usually three to five, the worker bees are able to nurture and feed the brood of such a small number of queens, so very high quality queens are produced. It is interesting that in this way of making queens, if there is a richer pasture, the queen mother and the queen daughter stay together in the bee colony and both lay eggs, but only while the rich grazing lasts. As soon as the grazing starts to decrease, the queen is removed from the queen bee, and the young queen continues to live and work in the colony.
Only strong and extremely strong bee colonies should be kept in the apiary
- 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 able to achieve high honey yields. In order for societies to become like that, they need help.
The most important thing is proper quality nutrition, in which sugar plays an important role. It is especially important for providing sufficient quantities of honey to bee colonies for overwintering, and for helping societies to develop 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, and often novice beekeepers, do not use sugar in production or do not use it enough, considering it expensive. That's a mistake. Honey derived from sugar is excellent for hibernating bee colonies, and from one kilogram of sugar in crystal bee colonies produce about 650 grams of honey.
This amount of honey, compared to the price of sugar used for its production, is always at least 2.6 to 2 times higher, 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. . From this it is clear that sugar is not expensive even when purchased for these purposes and at retail prices.
- All societies in the apiary should have enough quality reserve food at any time of the year. It is especially harmful when bee colonies do not have enough reserve food just before taking, until the first significant spring bee pasture arrives, because at that time the bee brood begins to develop rapidly, which requires a lot of food.
- The amount of honey yield significantly depends on how the main pasture is used. Therefore, the issue of using the main pasture, ie the main pastures, must be paid special attention every year, because who knows how to properly use the main pasture, he also knows how to beekeeping. You can find more about the main pastures at the link Main bee pastures
Knowledge of life force - an important factor in directing bee colonies to achieve high honey yields. The vitality of worker bees depends on a number of factors:
- Among the conditions under which worker bees were hatched: honeycomb age, temperature in the immediate vicinity of the brood, quantity and quality of honey and pollen powder during brood care and feeding, strength of bee colony during brood development, and especially the brood was attacked by varroa , from climatic conditions during brood development, from the volume and quality of bee pasture, etc.
- from the race of bees and the special characteristics of individual societies of the same race. The worker bees of some breeds are more vital than others, and it is often observed that the worker bees of some societies in the same apiary and of the same breed are significantly more vital than others.
- from the season in which the worker bees were bred. Worker bees performed in the fall are significantly more vital than those performed in the spring and early summer
- - from the way of eating. The worker bees, which processed larger amounts of sugar - sucrose into honey, significantly lose their vitality and vice versa.
- from activities on performing certain tasks in the bee society. Worker bees, which, for example, intensively heat, nurture and feed the bee brood, significantly lose their vitality and vice versa. Bees hatched in the fall, if they did not process large amounts of sugar into honey, nor spend much on heating, care and nutrition of bees, retain their vitality until spring and then are capable of all the work performed by the youngest worker bees. They can very quickly develop a strong bee colony that can achieve high honey yields. It is characteristic that when worker bees work the most intensively, they live the shortest, and vice versa. The worker bees live the shortest time of the year during the main grazing season, but then the queen lays the largest number of eggs, so the bee colony recovers quickly. However, as bee grazing decreases in late summer and autumn, so does the life span of worker bees.
- Influence of various factors, primarily the use of larger amounts of pollen in the diet, less workload, some biological factors make bees more successful in preparing for wintering, etc. In late summer and autumn, slightly larger and heavier worker bees are performed, which are much more capable to produce, maintain and use heat, are more able to feed and nurture the litter more successfully under difficult conditions, are much more resistant to cold, etc. In short, they have more vitality.
- they are more vital than their older sisters who performed during the spring and in the first half of the summer period
- worker bees that enter winter have the greatest life force or, as it is commonly said, are the most vital. This provided that the bee colonies were properly cared for, properly prepared for hibernation and properly taken. However, the bee society as a whole, and even its members - worker bees and queens (in winter there are no drones in the apiary).
- They are most sensitive in the winter. Beginner beekeepers should know that and make sure that in the winter there are no such inconveniences with bee colonies that will significantly prevent them from having a normal last name.
The honeycombs in the hives should be replaced regularly and in a timely manner. In the process of honeycomb production, it 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, for example, 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.
Throughout the entire process of working on the apiary at the time of hatching of worker bees, and especially in early spring and autumn when there is no grazing, preventive measures should be taken to avoid predation. The most important thing is that only strong and healthy societies are always kept in the apiary, weak and sick ones should be rehabilitated as soon as possible, that when feeding bee colonies, strict care should be taken not to spill food on the apiary and outside the hive.
Examination of bees
Too much smoke is harmful to bees, especially when working with a material that creates hot smoke, and even more if the smoker does not have a grille to prevent the material from coming out of the smoker. Unprofessional and excessive blowing can even cause the loss of the queen. Therefore, bee colonies should be inflated as little as possible. Recently, scientists have been pointing out that with too much smoke, bees lose their power of orientation, that is, they find it difficult to find pasture. Smoking has been found to cause lower honey production.
Smoking calms the bees so that beekeeper can work more easily, but the harmful consequences of stronger smoking are very significant. In addition to the fact that a smoked bee colony consumes more honey for food, and produces significantly less honey, smoke can have a negative effect on the honey it comes in contact with. Honey under the influence of smoke can change color, taste and smell which affects the quality of honey. The extent to which these changes will occur depends on the intensity of the smoke, the material that is ignited, and the extent to which the honey is closed with wax caps.
In order to avoid such harmful consequences when inspecting bee colonies, it is necessary to smoke as little as possible, and to use a material that does not give off hot smoke. Finally, unnecessary controls should be avoided, and this can be achieved in a number of ways. Water sprayers can be used instead of smoke. As the bees are sprayed, they dry out very quickly, and this leaves no harmful consequences, especially on their orientation. Beginner beekeepers should pay attention to this, so that they do not accidentally smoke the bees too much or smoke them with the wrong material. It is best to consult a salesperson who knows the good practices applied in beekeeping for beginners.
Bee colonies should be inspected only when it is really necessary. Some beginners make the mistake of often opening the hives, usually out of curiosity and thus unnecessarily disturbing the bee colony. Excessive disturbance of bees by frequent inspections affects the reduced intake of nectar and pollen powder and increases the consumption of honey to feed the bee colony. This practically means that the total honey production is reduced. Therefore, bee colonies should be inspected only when it is really necessary, and frequent inspections, especially detailed ones, removal or movement of frames should be avoided. Such examinations can cause damage to the queen, especially if done unprofessionally and incorrectly, and under unfavorable climatic and other conditions that sometimes lead to the inclusion of the queen, which is why she often dies. It is recommended that detailed examinations should be performed twice a year, first after hibernation and second before preparing bee colonies for hibernation. Read more about the spring inspection at the Spring Bee Inspection.
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.
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.
There were experiments in which a drone brood was permanently destroyed in a certain number of hives, so that drones were not allowed to be carried out at all. Such companies could not develop sufficiently, while the control companies achieved high honey production. The normal number of drones in a bee colony ranges from about 200 to 600, which depends primarily on the strength of the colony. It is calculated that under normal conditions there should be about one percent of drones in relation to the total number of worker bees. A normal bee colony produces about 2,000 drones during one season (while there are drones in the bee colony). However, if the honeycomb is too old in the hive, or if the damaged queen lays a large number of unfertilized eggs from which only drones are hatched, then the number of drones in the bee colony will be significantly higher than normal, which significantly reduces honey production because the larger the number of drones, the smaller the number of worker bees. In addition, drones consume significantly more honey than worker bees. Almost three times more honey is used to feed a drone brood than a worker bee brood. Therefore, all necessary measures should be taken so that there are no more or fewer drones in the bee colony than is normal.
Every beekeeper, including novice beekeepers, must be breeders of bee societies. Particular attention should be paid to the fact that eggs, i.e. larvae for the production of queen cells and queens, i.e. for artificial swarming, are taken from those bee colonies that achieve the highest honey production in the apiary for several years, if there are records. It is also important that the society has other advantages, primarily that it is not prone to swarming, that it is peaceful, that the worker bees from that society sting as little as possible, that the bees are as large as possible, that there are no diseases and pests, etc. degeneration due to perennial fertilization of queens by drones from the same apiary, and perhaps from the same bee colony from which the unfertilized queens originate, the queens should be taken for fertilization away from their own apiary at least about ten kilometers by air.
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