Beekeeping Tips

Reader Contribution by Kim Walter
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It’s beekeeping; it is never a perfectly oiled machine. Just when you think you’re getting pretty good at it, the girls knock you down a peg. I’ve had days when I came into the house in tears crying to my husband that my bees hated me and other days where it seemed like the girls would hoist me on their tiny shoulders, if they were able. I’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way and done more than a few stupid things. I wanted to list a few of the lessons I have learned thru the years and share some of my ignorance in the hopes that it may spare some of you the sharp side of the stinger.

Never drop a frame full of bees; you will answer to winged fury from below.

Never bend over in front of an angry hive; they will find just the right spot to sting.

Never use black duct tape to mend a suit; bees really hate dark colors, it’s true, trust me.

Never use a flashlight for a night inspection; better yet, never conduct a night inspection, if you absolutely have to, use a red light.

Never open a hive that’s being robbed; you’ll just cause chaos in the bee yard.

If you have multiple hives open make sure you place the correct box on the correct hive; otherwise you’ll have a mess of bees fighting and angry.

Check every frame in the hive when inspecting; the swarm cell is always on the last frame.

Keep your smoker lit; nothing is worse that being knee deep in angry bees with an unlit smoker.

If a hive seems agitated before you open them up; believe them, check them another day.

Never place an unchecked hive tool under your arm in the bee yard; that is the most delicate of skin to receive a sting.

Have the tools you need before you go to your bee yard; not having what you need is flustering and can cause much exercise running back and forth.

If you get a bee in your ear, don’t panic; this would be a great time to recommend you check your suit for tears, holes and openings often!

Lastly, remember:

Small hive beetles will always outsmart you.

Wax moths will always find a way to ruin stored foundation.

Never go to the bee yard angry.

You will make stupid mistakes, you will make the girls angry, and you will feel like a terrible beekeeper sometimes. More often that not, you will be an amazing beekeeper, so don’t let the small defeats get you down. Learn from the mistakes you make and don’t feel bad if you have to make them several times before you finally get it. At the end of the day the girls are more forgiving than you think. 

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