How to start keeping bees can be confusing. The number of hives to start with is entirely up to the individual. We recommend at least two hives because with two hives you can share resources between hives. If one hive becomes queenless and fails to replace their queen, a frame of eggs can be carried over from the other hive and the queenless hive can raise their own queen. If one hive becomes low in numbers, frames of brood from the strong colony can be moved over to strengthen the weak hive. Certainly starting with one hive is acceptable, but there is an advantage to starting with more than one. Click here to read entire article.
In commercial operations, four hives are placed on a single pallet. For the hobbyist, the distance between hives is usually determined based on the comfort of the beekeeper. The beekeeper may want to work all the hives without walking a considerable distance between each hive. I usually recommend at least two feet between hives. They should be further apart when installing new packages to help prevent absconding.
Traditionally, we recommend the opening of the hive face south or southeast. However, it really does not matter too much. It does help if the sun can reach the hive first thing in the morning. This will cause the bees to start gathering nectar sooner than if they were in the shade.
4. How Close To The House Can I Put My Hives?
Use good judgment. Bees will fly miles away from their hive to find nectar. If a hive is near your house, the bees will still fly up and away. However, it may take six feet from the hive for bees to gain six feet in altitude. Keep this in mind so that hives are not placed near sidewalks, decks, and clotheslines. Place them so that when the bees leave the hive, they will not be immediately near people or pets.
5. What Should I Plant To Help My Bees?
6. How Do I Manage My Bees Every Spring?
7. Should I Buy Medication For My Bees?
When various pests and diseases were identified among bees, many chemicals became available. However, some of these chemicals proved to be harmful to bees over time. Certainly, some medications do fight certain pests and diseases. However, we prefer not to use chemicals or medication in our hives. This is a personal choice. In my Online Courses, I teach practical management techniques that are natural and as effective as medication or antibiotics.
8. How Much Honey Will I Get My First Year?
First-year beekeepers should not expect much honey from a new hive. It takes eight to eleven pounds of nectar for the bees to produce one pound of wax. The first year the colony is producing a lot of wax to build up their comb. Certainly, some first-year hives can produce a full crop of honey, maybe 70-200 pounds of honey. But this would be in a perfect situation, or from a second-year hive. So it is better to have no honey expectations the first year, but if your bees do produce extra honey for you the first year, it is an unexpected surprise. Year two is when you can expect much more.
9. How Much Honey Can One Hive Make Each Year?
An average hive in Illinois produces around 70 pounds per year. This can change to more or less depending on the weather and the health of the bees and the skill of the beekeeper. The most I’ve produced from one hive in one season is 210 pounds. If a hive produces 70 pounds and you sell it for $10 per pound you make $700. $10 a pound is a common price for 2019.
10. Can I Save Money By Using Old Equipment?
There are several diseases that can linger in old equipment. American foulbrood is one of the more deadly diseases and AFB spores can live perhaps 50-80 years in old comb. It isn’t worth taking a chance unless you are absolutely sure the old equipment was not exposed to diseases. There is really no way to clean or test old equipment. As a family business, we pride ourselves in the beekeeping equipment that we sell. Please support our family business so we can continue to provide top quality beekeeping information and equipment. Check out our full line of hives and equipment.
11. Should I Leave My Screen Bottom Board Open In The Winter?
This is a personal preference. However, we prefer to have plenty of ventilation in the hive even during the winter. We leave our screen bottom boards open. If you prefer to close the screen bottom board, simply slide in a thin piece of metal or plastic. In my courses, I teach how to wrap hives for winter and to use our Winter-Bee-Kind feeding system to feed the bees in the winter and to provide upper ventilation.
12. What Do You Recommend To Combat Varroa Mites?
Varroa destructor will be found in all beehives. We recommend these natural methods:
b. Green Drone Comb Trapping. Click here to read my article on the using Green Drone Comb To Trap Varroa Mites.
c. Powdered Sugar. See our article by clicking here.
d. Removing the queen to break the mites brood cycle.
13. How Do I Treat Small Hive Beetle?
Since we prefer not to use harsh insecticides in the hive, the best method is be sure your colony is strong in population. Small hive beetles love smaller colonies to infest. Always smash and trap. We have extensive teachings and videos on trapping small hive beetles.
14. What Do I Do If I Want Northern Bees But Can Only Find Southern Packages?
All packaged bees come from the sunshine states, southern states, and California. There is absolutely NO WAY anyone in the north can provide packages prior to May, and probably not then. Many northern beekeepers like the idea of a nuc, which is four or five frames from a strong hive, and a queen. But nuc producers can never produce the volume of bees to ever replace the number of packages sent to new beekeepers. Therefore, many northern beekeepers purchase southern packages, and if the queen fails, they replace her with a northern produced queen.
15. Should I Start With A Top Bar Hive Or Langstroth Hive?
We believe new beekeepers should start with a traditional Langstroth type hive and only try a top bar hive or other types of hives after they have become more familiar with beekeeping.
16. Which Feeder Is Best? There are many types of hive feeders all serve a different purpose.
17. How Important Is It That I Take A Beekeeping Class?
18. Should I Register My Hive? Check your local state requirements.
During the winter bees do not hibernate. Instead, they cluster tightly together in their hive and generate heat to keep each other warm. They eat honey and pollen that they collected during the spring and summer. Many beekeepers make the mistake of hoping their bees have the stored honey they need to stay warm in the winter. However, science has shown us that bees need protein (pollen) too. Bees eat what we eat, carbohydrates and protein. We have a new approach to feeding bees by adding pollen into our winter-bee-kinds in the winter, and into our sugar water in the spring and fall. It is so important because without this needed protein, the colony is unable to raise young bees properly. David’s “Getting Your Bees Through The Winter” class is available online. Click here.
Once your new hive is established, we recommend that you inspect your hive every two or three weeks to ensure that your queen is healthy and laying well. Many new beekeepers find beekeeping so fun that they will open up their hive several times a week. This is fine but really not necessary.