Table of contents:
- Tips for Beginner Beekeepers
- Bee venom is serious
- Selection of hives
- Bee lands
- Which bees to choose?
- Swarming bees
- Freedom to collect honey
Video: Organizing The Life Of Bees In The Apiary
Tips for Beginner Beekeepers
Having visited any agricultural exhibition, you will be amazed at the abundance of honey and beekeeping products offered by representatives of different regions. Usually these are products of large beekeeping farms from Bashkiria, Altai, Stavropol and other regions. But more and more often you can see a couple of hives in garden plots. The number of amateur beekeepers is growing. However, one should not think that keeping a bee colony is a simple matter. There are many secrets here. We'll talk about some of them today.
Bee venom is serious
If you decide to keep bees in your garden, be sure to remember or ask if you or your loved ones are allergic to a bee sting. You should also ask your neighbors about this. If no one has allergies, you can freely have bees and keep them on your site all summer. But if at least one of the family members is allergic to a bee sting, then think it over carefully before introducing these insect toilers. The fact is that if a person does not even come close to the hive, sooner or later he will be bitten by bees. There are many reasons for this:
- when selecting honey, bees become angrier and can bite everyone around them, not just the beekeeper;
- if you get into the hive and somehow anger the bees, then they can attack strangers;
- if a person stands in front of the entrance or walks past him, then he will certainly be bitten by a bee or several bees at once.
According to scientists, the effect of bee venom depends on the amount that has entered the human body, and on how the human body tolerates bee stings. If, for example, you are stung by from 100 to 300 bees at the same time, then there is a general poisoning of the body. The symptoms of this poisoning are felt by people who are allergic to a bee sting. Doctors consider 100 milligrams of bee venom to be a lethal dose. If this translates into bee stings, then you should be bitten by about 500 bees at once. Bites on the lips, tongue and the side of the neck are especially dangerous. With these bee stings, a person can die.
To make the bees bother your neighbors less and bite them less, I recommend making a continuous fence with a height of 2.5 to 3 meters between neighboring areas. Then your bees, flying over the fence, will fly over the areas of neighbors and, accordingly, will not bite them.
Selection of hives
When choosing the type of hive, I recommend proceeding from the local climatic and honey-gathering conditions and the location of the hives: will your bees stay in the summer during the main bribe in the country, or will you roam with bees, taking them to places of abundant flowering of herbs, linden and other plants, so that they collect more honey. I have used different types of hives in my practice:
- single-body for 12 nest frames, frames were Dodan systems;
- a lounger for 20-22 nest frames of the Dodan system;
- multi-body hives.
In a single-hull 12-frame hive and in a lounger, the size of the nesting frames is 435 x 300 mm. And in multi-body hives there are no nesting frames, in each body the frames have the same size: 435 x 230 mm. Such a hive is convenient for transporting bees, as well as for joining several bee colonies into one colony and for dividing a bee colony into several different colonies. Therefore, if you are going to roam with an apiary, I advise you to pay attention to multihull hives.
One drawback of these hives: bees hibernate worse on their frames and come out weaker in spring than in hives with 435 x 300 mm nest frames. If you have a warm and dry wintering room for bees, where the temperature does not drop below -3oC in winter, then you can choose multi-hive hives. But if you will not go out with bees in the summer, I recommend keeping them in bee-beds for 20 nest frames or in hives for 10-12 nest frames.
If you are going to keep bees only in the country, then before you start them, I recommend to ask if there are enough honey plants within a radius of 2-3 kilometers from your garden plot. If there are no honey plants, or there are very few of them, then your bees will not be able to provide honey not only for you, but also for themselves with food for the coming winter. They simply have nowhere to find and bring nectar for making honey. And if they do not store honey for the winter, they will die of hunger.
If there are enough honey plants in the area, then the bees can be kept in the garden area, without even going to other places in the summer. A strong bee family will always provide itself and you with real honey.
How many hives do you need
Some novice beekeepers start only one hive for testing - one bee colony. I recommend starting several bee colonies at once: at least two. This is for insurance purposes.
It so happens that in one of the bee colonies, for some reason, the queen disappears. And while in the hive, and this happens, there is no open brood, because of which the bees will not be able to breed a new queen. Such a queenless bee colony is doomed to perish. But if you have two or more colonies, you can rearrange the frame with the open brood from another hive into the hive without a queen, and in this way save the queenless bee colony. On the eggs of the open brood, bees will lay queen cells and hatch a new queen.
Which bees to choose?
Most novice beekeepers are interested in bees that are peaceful, not very angry, especially if the beekeeper plans to keep an apiary in the country all summer.
Peace-loving bees include: Caucasian and Carpathian bees, and evil honey bees - Bashkir forest and Central Russian. If you want to keep bees all summer only at your summer cottage, then I recommend opting for Caucasian and Carpathian bee breeds. But if in the summer you will take your apiary somewhere to remote places where there are few people, then I recommend using the Central Russian breed of bees. This breed is most adapted to central Russia, where winters are long, and there may be few summer days in summer.
The fact is that in the Caucasian breeds of bees, according to experts, the intestine for keeping feces is designed for a period of only 4 to 5 months, and since in our area the period of cold time can be longer, bees can be in the hive from 6 up to 6.5 months. Carpathian and Caucasian bees cannot stand such a period of stay in the hive, because of this they often empty their intestines right in their "home", which sometimes leads to the occurrence of various diseases. This is not observed in Central Russian bees, since this breed is designed for a long winter.
I keep Carpathian and Caucasian bees, as my apiary is at the summer cottage all summer. However, because of this, I cannot get young queens early. The reason is that there may not be any heat at which the queens of these breeds fly around in May and June. Bees intensively lay queen cells, queen bees hatch, but they cannot fly around - the temperature may not rise to + 25oC for a whole month. After some time, the queen becomes infertile, and the bees replace it with another.
According to experts, if the queen has not mated with the drones for 30-35 days, then she loses the ability to mate, and the bees have to replace her. To do this, they need an open brood. If the beekeeper puts them in the hive with a frame with eggs (with open brood) from another hive, then the bees will be able to breed another queen and replace the old one with it. But if a bee colony lives in the wild and does not depend on man, then such a bee colony dies, since they no longer have eggs to lay new queen cells.
In Central Russian bees, the queen flies around at a lower temperature, therefore in our region it always flies around. If the Central Russian bees were not evil, then I would keep them on my site, and I would collect much more honey.
Hive-loungers for 22 nest frames of the Dodan system
Many novice beekeepers believe that you can only put a beehive with bees on your garden plot, and it is not necessary to follow and care for the bee family. If you do this, sooner or later the bees from this hive will begin to swarm, and then they will completely scatter. Swarming is a reproductive instinct in bees. The harm from swarming is felt by the owner of the apiary, since a bee colony that swarmed at least once this season will bring significantly less honey than the colony that has never swarmed.
Here is an example from my practice: a family that did not swarm gave me about 60 kilograms of honey, while another bee colony that was swarming gave me only one store - about 15 kilograms.
Experienced beekeepers know that if a bee colony is not brought out of its swarm state in time, it can form and release up to ten swarms. First, the first swarm, consisting of half of the bees that are in the hive, flies away, then the second swarm, consisting of the half of the bees that remained in the hive after the first swarm. And this will continue until all the bees fly away from the "grief of the beekeeper."
Basically, bees swarm until June 15, but due to some changes in the weather, swarming can sometimes last until June 30. In my practice, there have been cases when a bee colony swarmed even in July. If your task is only to get as many new families as possible, and you are not interested in honey, then you can wait for a swarm, and when it flies out, catch it and put it in a new hive. By the fall, a strong bee colony will grow out of it, which can then be sold or kept to increase the apiary.
Some novice beekeepers who have caught a swarm for the first time tend to plant it in a new hive through its top (roof) by shaking off the bees. This is a gross mistake. With this method of planting a swarm, bees can fly away from the "home" that you provided them.
So that your swarm does not fly away a second time, you need to plant it not through the top of the hive, but through the entrance. Each bee must enter the "door" of her new home, then she will be sure that she is in a new home. This procedure may take several hours (the time depends on the size of the swarm), but at the same time you can be sure that the swarm you have planted will not fly away from the housing you provided, but will remain in your apiary. I recommend planting the caught swarm only in an empty hive, providing it in advance in its new "house" with all the conditions for a normal life:
- be sure to put in an empty hive into which you will transplant the swarm, several frames with dry land - in them the bees will add honey, which they took with them on the road;
- do not forget to put frames with stretched foundation - swarm bees have a lot of building energy, since they produce a lot of wax, they also need to provide a place where they use it;
- I also recommend putting a honey-beech frame if you have one.
In no case do not plant immediately, if there is no bribe, a newly caught swarm into someone else's bee colony - the bees of this bee colony can interrupt the swarm, even if the swarm bees are with honey. If you want to connect a newly caught swarm with another bee family, do not connect it immediately, but after a few days and only through the newspaper.
Once, having caught a swarm, on the same day in the evening I launched it into another bee colony through the entrance. “Once swarm bees with honey, they will not be killed in a strange family,” I thought. The next day, getting up early, I was saddened to find that the whole swarm that I had launched into someone else's bee colony had been killed. If I connected the swarm not on the same day as I caught it, but a few days later, and connected it through the newspaper, then the bees would connect gradually and, perhaps, the swarm would remain whole.
Only their queen could have suffered, because two queens cannot live in one bee colony. And the bees would have to choose queens. Since any bee colony lives for the "future generation", it is in its interests to choose the healthiest and most fertile queen. There were cases when a bee colony accepted a swarm and killed its queen, and the swarm, which came with the swarm, left to live in its family.
I do not advise you to combine a caught swarm with a bee family that is in a swarm state. First, take the bee colony out of the swarm state and only then connect it with the captured swarm through the newspaper. A strong bribe helps to bring the bee colony out of the swarm state. But if there is no strong bribe, and you are not going to create it artificially, cut out from the bee colony all the queen cells that the bees laid. If you miss at least one mother plant, then the swarm from this family will definitely fly away.
When a swarm leaves its family, it grafts onto the nearest tree or bush. The height of the inoculation depends on the age of the uterus: if the uterus is old, the swarm sits low, and if the uterus is young, it can graft on the tallest tree that is in your area or near it. He will sit there for about three hours, until the scout bees sent by the swarm find shelter. But if the swarm leaves its family, and the weather suddenly deteriorates, then the bees do not necessarily return back to their "home", to their hive. In my practice, there were cases when a swarm lived on a tree waiting for good weather for about seven days!
Once, watching the bees, I saw with horror a swarm flying out of the hive. Due to the rainy weather all week, I could not see this bee colony and take measures to prevent the bees from swarming. First, the swarm flew to the top of the pine, but then descended a little and sat on the trunk of the top of the spruce, the height of which was about 9 meters. It was impossible to get to the swarm, since I did not have a ladder of this size. Moreover, the branches at the top were thin.
Then suddenly it started to rain. And instead of flying away in a few hours, the swarm stayed at the tree to spend the night - as if he was giving me a chance to take it off. He hung like that for several days, and I walked around the tree, but I could not help it. When the weather improved, the sun came out, he calmly left my site and flew to an unknown home for me.
Since the swarms sometimes sit high, the beekeeper needs to be able to climb trees. After all, he needs not only to climb to the swarm, but also, sitting high on a tree, be able to skillfully plant it in the swarm, while transferring bee stings! Therefore, before allowing the swarming of a bee colony and having bees, think: can you do such acrobatic "tricks"? I recommend that if you are going to allow swarming, you need to take care that there are no tall trees in or around the site.
But if you don't want your bees to swarm, consider the following:
- while there is no bribe or there is, but very bad, divide the bee colony in half. In the part that was left without a queen, the bees will lay queen cells in order to bring out another queen. In the same half, place the frames with the printed brood from the half with the old queen. Then, when the main bribe begins, unite the two families into one again. In this way, you will avoid swarming of the entire bee colony, and if you are lucky, you will bring out a young queen. Just remember that in the half that you left without a queen, the bees will take care of themselves and begin to work fruitfully only when they hatch a young queen, which flies around and starts laying eggs;
- if it is impractical to separate the bee colony, try to load the bees with work. The more work a bee colony has, the less bees "think" about reproduction. It is very good when there is a strong bribe. Then the bee colony will mobilize all its relatives to bring as much nectar as possible for itself and for the "future generation". The instinct to get as much food as possible is higher than the reproductive instinct of bees. But if the weather deteriorates, and the bees cannot even fly out of the hive, then after a few days they can go into a swarm state. So that the bee colony in bad weather could not even “think” about swarming, some beekeepers at this time begin to give it sugar syrup. Thus, they give the bees work, and the bee colony does not think about swarming.
But bees can swarm not only from a lack of work, but also from a lack of "living conditions": if they are cramped in the hive, some of them will fly away to look for new spacious housing. Sometimes bees swarm when they realize that the queen has nowhere to worm - all frames are filled with honey or bee bread. In these cases, so that the bees do not feel crowded in the hive, I recommend expanding the bee nest in advance. To do this, you can put additional boxes with dry land and foundation (if the hive is multi-hull) or additional stores (if you keep the bees in a bed).
Freedom to collect honey
True, this can only be done in warm weather. Free space in the hive is also very important for honey collection. It is necessary for bees to make honey from nectar. Therefore, I recommend: if there is a strong bribe and the weather is warm, put one additional building or store with land, where the bees will put the newly brought nectar, which will gradually ripen.
Several years ago, in the fall, when forming a bee's nest for the winter (you can read how to prepare bees for winter in my article in # 8, 2013), I gave the bees sugar syrup so that they could supplement their incomplete frames and seal them. Some families took syrup well, and a few hives took almost nothing. When I examined these hives, I saw that the bees had nowhere to put syrup and even more so from it to make honey. In the hive there was no free space for this - free honeycombs! Therefore, if in the summer during the honey collection the bee colony will work poorly for you, be sure to see if it has free combs, where the bees can put the newly brought nectar.
Some beekeepers have a deficit of frames during a bribe, because of this, during a bribe, they have to take unsealed honey from the bees and pump out the unsealed honey, and put the frames back in the hive. When selecting honey, I advise you to take from the hive only completely printed frames, in extreme cases, there should be at least two-thirds of the printed frames. Unprintable honey can be taken only if the bribe has not been more than three weeks. If you hurry up and pump out unprintable (unripe) honey, then it can turn sour afterwards.
But mature honey can also deteriorate if stored in a damp room, where it can absorb a lot of moisture. Therefore, I recommend storing the pumped honey only in a dry place. Be sure to ensure that no water gets into it.
Good luck in keeping bees and a good bribe for the new season to all novice beekeepers!