Links to the “How To” articles are listed below:

How-To Articles

  • How to kill bees with soapy water

    I want to address this issue because lots of non-beekeepers land on this site looking for ways to kill bees without using pesticides. This is good news because it shows that people are becoming aware of the dangers of pesticides to our environment, children, and pets. But killing a swarm ...

  • Another take on Taranov

    A beekeeper here in Olympia, Dave Hurd, sent me the following photos of splitting a hive with a Taranov board. His design for the ramp is slightly different than my own but the principle is the same. Because he split a Langstroth rather than a top-bar hive, I thought you ...

  • How to make a walkaway split

    In contrast to a swarm-control split where you need to know the whereabouts of your queen, a walkaway split can be made without having to find the queen. The steps for setting up a walkaway split are easy:[list icon="sign-in"] Examine the brood nest of the hive you want to split and ...

  • How to prevent moldy syrup in bee feeders

    A reader asked this question yesterday and I thought it was worth writing about. Sugar syrup will mold very quickly, especially in the physical conditions of the hive. A white, fluffy growth may be seen in just a few days. A small amount of mold doesn’t seem to bother the ...

  • Doing the Mississippi splits

    I’ve described many types of splits in the past, including: Walkaway splits Swarm control splits Cut-down splits Shook swarm splits But now, of course, someone wants to know about Mississippi splits. I have to say, I just love that phrase. It has rhythm. To me it sounds like a dance, an ice skating trick, or ...

  • How to clean up from Nosema apis

    Cleaning up after a Nosema apis outbreak is no easy chore. Your best course of action is to prevent an infection in the first place. My second piece of advice is to make sure it actually is Nosema apis that you are trying to clean up. It is easy to ...

  • How to convert sugar syrup to a different ratio

    Someone asked how to convert 2:1 sugar syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water) to 1:1 syrup (1 part sugar to one part water). I think the easiest way would be to weigh the syrup, divide by 3, and add that much water to the mix. Right now, your syrup ...

  • Pyramiding: getting bees to move up

    I have a few questions about my bee colony. The hive swarmed twice this year and has still grown to a good size colony, which means there was not a lot of space within the hive. We placed a second level on top a month ago but only a handful ...

  • How to move a hive

    You hear it all the time: you can’t move a hive a short distance because the field force will return to the original location of the hive and become lost. The usual advice is that you must move the hive at least two miles away, give the bees a few ...

  • How to find your queen bee

    Sometimes you need to find your queen, and sometimes you only need to know that she is alive and well. The presence of eggs means she was there sometime during the last three days. The presence of larvae (uncapped brood) means she was there between three and nine days ago, ...

  • How to keep queen bees in reserve

    Every spring I re-queen my strongest hives in order to reduce swarming. A colony is less likely to swarm when the queen’s pheromones are strong, and the pheromones are strongest in a first-year queen. In fact, according to most sources, a new queen is the single best ...

  • Ick! Mold in my hive!

    Mold seems to be the topic of the week, but that is not surprising. This is the time of year when you open a hive that has overwintered with little interference from you. What you find in there is not gleaming combs of honey and pollen, but empty cells rimed ...

  • How to manage bees for section honey

    Managing bees for cut comb or chunk honey is relatively simple, but coaxing them into other containers is a different story. Unless a colony is prepared for sections or jars, you will often see a dozen bees examine the supers, indifferent and bored. This can go on all season: you ...

  • How to attract bees to your garden

    Here are eight simple ways to attract more bees—both native bees and honey bees—to your garden.[list icon="plus"] Plant species that bloom in sequence. Just like any animal, bees need a constant supply of food. A garden containing blossoms throughout spring, winter, and fall will attract the greatest number of bees. Plant in ...

  • The great divide: a Taranov split

    I recognized the cacophony coming from my top-bar hive. The insistent roar told me those bees were ready to swarm. They were milling about, climbing up the sides of the hive, flying but not foraging. I had just returned from a week on the road and didn't feel like messing with ...

  • How to make a moisture quilt for a Langstroth hive

    For years I’ve been trying to reduce moisture accumulation in my wintering hives. Then last summer, after much reading about Warré hives, I decided to modify a Warré-style quilt box into something that might work on my Langstroths here in the Pacific Northwest. I spent quite a while thinking about this ...

  • What size hardware cloth is best for beehives?

    If you are building or repairing your own bee “furniture” you will find there are many sizes of hardware cloth available. Usually, the ones you need are the hardest to find. Here in the States, hardware cloth is numbered according to how many squares fit in a linear inch. So #5 ...

  • How to super for section honey

    ­­­­­­­For many years, Honey in the Comb by Eugene E. Killion was considered the bible of comb honey production. On the flyleaf is a photo of a single brood box topped with eleven section honey supers. The caption states that the hive eventually held fourteen section supers and earned a ...

  • “Why did my bees leave?”

    Several people wrote in to say they installed a new package of bees only to have all the bees disappear a few days later. They want to know what they did wrong. First off, having your new bees abscond is not only heartbreaking, it’s expensive. You spent lots of time and ...

  • How to install a package of bees

    For the hobby beekeeper who is managing a small number of hives, installing a package can be quick and easy. I’ve tried different methods and I like this one the best.[list icon="sign-in"] Have your hive prepared in advance. Have your feeder ready. Make sure the entrance is open so bees can ...

  • How to move a bumble bee nest

    The first question to ask yourself is this: Must you actually move the bumble bee nest? Is such a drastic measure really necessary? Consider: [list icon="plus"] Bumble bees in many parts of the world, including species endemic to the United States and Great Britain, are threatened with extinction. Some species are already gone. A ...

  • How I photograph bees

    People keep asking me how to photograph bees. I think this is funny—a little like asking your 911 operator how to do brain surgery. You see, I don't know how to photograph like a pro, I just do it with dogged persistence. But since the requests keep coming in, I'll ...

  • How to move a hive any distance

    It's really odd to find something you wrote being used as the main topic of somebody else's video, especially when you've never met or even heard of the person. That's the internet for you. In this case the videographer is LDSPrepper and, luckily, he found that my technique for moving ...

  • How to use a quilt with a candy board

    This week I want to share some more variations of the moisture quilt that were sent in by readers. Each of them has been customized for local conditions or unique problems. Today's rendition was sent to me by Herb Lester in Tennessee. Herb starts by making a candy board with a ...

  • How to get stung 22 times in one place

    Whenever I mention that I got stung 22 times in one place, someone asks, "How did you do it?" as if it were a special skill of some sort. Truth to tell, it was quite easy. It was a warm April morning that smelled of earthworms and spring onions. Stellar jays ...

  • How to use a swarm guard

    A swarm guard is similar to a queen excluder except it is designed to fit over the entrance to a hive. Just like a queen excluder, the swarm guard keeps both queens and drones from passing through because the wires are close together. Worker bees are small enough to pass ...

  • How to avoid squishing bees

    If you don’t use smoke, how do you avoid squishing bees when replacing supers? I learned this technique from another beekeeper. We worked together teaching beekeeping at a state prison where things like matches and lighters were hard to come by. Rather than going through the hassle of getting permission to ...

  • Monitoring mites with a sticky board

    A lot is written about how to monitor mite loads with a sticky board. A sticky board is just a piece of thin wood or corrugated plastic that is covered with a sticky substance—usually pan spray—and placed below a screened bottom board. A certain number of mites drop off and ...

  • Partially capped frames: what to do?

    It's that time of year when we look at partially filled, partially capped honey frames and say, "Now what?" Here is a question I received last night: I have a problem that I hope you can help me with. I have a honey super that has partially filled and capped frames ...

  • How to use a slatted rack

    The slatted rack is my all-time favorite piece of bee furniture, and I wouldn’t try to keep bees in a Langstroth-style hive without one. I insert one whenever I build a new hive and leave it there year-round. If you’re not familiar with them, a slatted rack (sometimes called a ...

  • How to make a vertical split

    This is one of the easiest ways to split a colony and, if things go wrong, it is easy to undo. I call it a vertical split, but some call it a top split, an over/under split, or a top-and-bottom split. Like all the other splits I have described, it ...

  • The how and why of bee beards

    If you are unfamiliar with such things, a bee beard is a stunt or trick. It is a way to get bees to cluster on a person’s face in such a way that it looks like a beard. If you’ve never seen this done, type “bee beard” into Google Image ...

  • How to wrap a hive

    Editor's Note: Today's post is written by Jim Withers, a six-year beekeeper who keeps 140 colonies in and around Genesee County, Michigan. When I began blogging in January 2010, I averaged five readers per day but soon dropped to one per day in February. Still, I kept at it until one ...

  • How to prevent swarming with a Taranov board

    The Taranov board is an ingenious system used to separate bees that are going to swarm from bees that will stay in the parent hive. Once separated, the swarming bees and old queen can be placed in a new hive while the old colony is left to raise a new ...

  • Using the Cloake board method to raise queens

    The Cloake board, invented by Harry Cloake of New Zealand, is a piece of beekeeping equipment used to raise queens. The Cloake board method of queen rearing is popular with newer beekeepers because it allows the beekeeper to raise queens with a minimum of equipment and very little disturbance to ...

  • How to make starter strips

    Starter strips can be used in nearly any type of hive. They are used in place of foundation in hives where you do not want to introduce chemical contamination from commercial foundation. The purpose of starter strips is to get the bees to build comb in straight parallel lines. Bees need ...

  • How and where should I store empty supers?

    Over the years I have developed a specific way to store empties, but a lot will depend on how many supers and how much storage space you have. Another issue is pests. Mice and wax moths can be especially hard on stored equipment. I keep empty bee boxes—with or without drawn ...

  • How to make bees go through a queen excluder

    Beekeepers often call them "honey excluders" for a good reason: worker bees hate to go through them. The theory I hear most frequently is that the bees don't want to build comb in places where the queen can't go. But there are ways to entice your bees through the queen ...

  • Demaree demystified

    The Demaree method of swarm control was first published in the late 1800s and has evolved since. When using the Demaree method, the beekeeper separates the queen from most of the brood by manipulating the frames and a using a queen excluder. The result is a hive with little congestion ...

  • How to make a cut-down split

    A cut-down split is a special technique often used by comb honey producers. The purpose of a cut-down split is to maximize the number of foragers that are bringing in nectar by minimizing the amount of brood a colony has to care for. With little brood to feed, foragers concentrate on ...

  • How to make protein-enriched candy boards

    I just made my first batch of candy cakes enriched with pollen substitute and I am very happy with the result. For years I’ve been messing with pollen substitute in different formats. Many times I’ve tried making it into patties. Some of these patties got runny and dripped down between the ...

  • How to mark a queen

    Many experienced beekeepers mark a queen by holding onto her legs with one hand and quickly dabbing the paint with the other hand. It looks easy and takes only a moment. But unfortunately that method does not work for me. I like to have lots of hardware between me and ...

  • How to eat comb honey

    The first time I saw extracted honey in a jar with no comb, I wondered why anyone would do that. Why would someone separate two things that belong together? Imagine eating a yolk without the white or a chocolate chip without the cookie. What’s the point? Where I grew up ...

  • How to use a double-screen board

    What is it? A double-screen board is about 1-inch deep with an opening in the center. The center opening is covered with screens on both sides so that bees on one side of the board cannot contact bees on the other side of the board. It often comes with openings in ...

  • The secret to brushing bees

    Beekeepers who do not use fume boards or bee escapes to remove bees from their honey supers often brush the bees from each frame before extracting. This works if the brush has long, soft bristles and if the bees are flicked off the frames rather than scrubbed. It's all in ...

  • How to make a split

    In simplest terms, a split is made by dividing an existing colony into two or more parts. Many variations exist. In fact, the methods of making splits—and the reasons for making them—are as varied as the beekeepers who do them. The most common reasons for making splits are to:[list icon="sign-in"] create more ...

  • Crushing and straining . . . and moaning

    Normally, I do not extract any of my honey. In fact, the reason I keep my own bees is so that I can have a steady supply of comb honey. On those occasions when I need some liquid honey for a recipe, I just gather the drips that accumulate under ...

  • How I overwintered ten out of ten

    I have been thinking about this post for about a month, but I didn’t dare write it until spring was here for sure. But on Thursday, when a fur-coated bumble bee alighted on the patio and a bee fly examined my shoe lace, I knew I could call it. To be ...

  • How to make an awesome nesting block

    The conventional wisdom about nesting blocks is that you take a 5/16-inch bit and drill holes that are roughly 5-10 inches long. This will attract orchard mason bees, which is typically what people are trying to do with nesting blocks. But recently my whole attitude toward these blocks was changed ...

  • My design for a bait hive

    I have been using two of the commercially available flower-pot shaped swarm traps for years. Each year I hang them up at the recommended height (8-12 feet) and facing the recommended direction (south or southeast). Each year I purchase fresh pheromone lures (the three-component USDA-endorsed type) and each year I ...

  • Tips for planting a pollinator garden

    When planting a pollinator garden, keep in mind that pollinators need food during the entire growing season. Although some species live only a few weeks, different species become active at different times of the year. In other words, something must be in flower at all times throughout the spring, summer, ...

  • How to start a queen in a two-frame nuc

    I had a request to write about how I start queens using a two-frame mating box such as the Brushy Mountain “Queen Castle.” The Queen Castle is a standard size deep brood box that can be divided into four two-frame sections, each with its own entrance. But the following instructions ...

  • How to stop robbing

    No matter how you do it, you must stop robbing or you may lose your colony. Robbing bees will tear open all the honey cells and clean up every last drop. Fighting between bees will kill many and, once the hive is overpowered, predators such as wasps will move in ...

  • A water feature for the bees

    What every bee needs is a good watering hole, and the bees at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture in Corvallis, Oregon have the fanciest one I've seen. Water comes in through a drip irrigation-type system. The hose from the source runs up the side of the structure and through ...

  • How to make a screened inner cover

    Screened inner covers can give your hive a lot of good ventilation. They are used in place of regular inner covers and are designed the hold the telescoping cover up on two ends (or two sides) so that air can flow from the hive and out from under the telescoping ...

  • How to over-winter a nuc

    After my last post, “How to keep queen bees in reserve,” a number of people asked, “Then what? What do you do with them in the winter?” Last year was the first year I attempted to keep nucs over winter and it worked really well for me. Bear in mind, however, ...

  • How to assemble a bee box

    Unless you order your bee boxes assembled, they will arrive at your door in four pre-cut pieces with a bag of nails. They sometimes come with instructions and sometimes not, but I never follow them anyway. Everyone does this differently, but here is my take on the subject. I’ll concede right ...

  • How to do a simple brood nest inspection

    Your very first hive inspection can be scary. Here are a few tips to make easier. To begin: Know why you are opening the hive before you do it. It helps to know exactly what you are looking for. Pick a warm and sunny day when most of the foragers are out in ...

  • How to prepare your hives for winter: a checklist

    How you prepare your hives for winter depends on where you live, so some of the suggestions below may not apply to you. Nevertheless, the list may give you some ideas. Although the calendar still shows September, those long, dark, cold days of winter are just around the corner. It's ...

  • How to tame a baggie feeder

    Although more art than science is required to use baggie feeders, they are still my favorite bee "service" because they drown so few bees and because I can use them in any type of hive, including a top-bar. Since many beginners will be using them this spring, I assembled a ...

  • My bees left! How to prevent absconding

    You are a brand new beekeeper. Three days ago you proudly installed your first package of bees according to directions that you read a dozen times. Today, covered in protective gear from head to toe, you open your hive to make sure the queen has been released from her cage. What ...

  • A quick way to paint supers and ekes

    If you've got a lot of bee boxes to paint, you can make it easier by stringing them on a board suspended between two saw horses, chairs, or whatever is handy. The job goes fast because you can stand in one place and just roll the supers around the board ...

  • How to checkerboard a hive

    Before I explain how to do it, I want to repeat that checkerboarding is done above the brood nest. You do not disturb the brood nest in the process. Checkerboarding is often confused with opening the brood nest, pyramiding, or unlimited brood nest management—all of which are different, and all ...

  • How to get started in beekeeping

    A reader from Orlando wrote to ask if he really needs ninety-some lessons before he can keep bees. My answer: absolutely not! Don’t even think about it! Very little about beekeeping has to be pre-learned. For one thing, the word “lesson” has negative connotations—at least for me. Expressions like, “I hope ...

  • How to use a baggie feeder

    A baggie feeder is nothing more than a 3-inch deep super—a perfect tool for the hobbyist. You can buy them, build them, or slice an existing super into several layers. Each feeder will hold two 1-gallon plastic zip bags of sugar syrup. If you prefer, you can use just one ...

  • How to make an overnight split

    The overnight split is a good choice if you are unable to find your queen but you want to know where she is after the split is complete. The downside is that it takes two days to complete. Here are the basic steps: Prepare a new brood box to hold the split. ...

  • How to use an eke

    Okay, I admit it. I’m enthralled with the word “eke.” But even though I called them “spacer rims” until recently, I’ve been a fan of ekes for a long time. An eke in the Langstroth world is just a very shallow super. Most are between two and three inches deep, but ...

  • Another rendition of rendering beeswax

    The following description of rendering beeswax, written by Sergey in California, landed in the comments section this morning. It is very similar to something I read about once before, but since I had lost those directions, this rendition is most welcome. I particularly enjoy Sergey's attention to detail. Here is the ...

  • Managing packages and swarms

    Sometimes little gems of wisdom get hidden within the comments section. In this tip, Jim of Withers Mountain Honey Farm in Flint, Michigan, describes how he bolsters new bee packages with brood from strong hives that might swarm. It is a way to equalize the strength of his hives while ...

  • How many frames should you put in a Langstroth box?

    Recently, my friend Phillip at Mud Songs.org wrote about the pros and cons of using 9 frames in a 10-frame Langstroth. He began by writing about honey supers and then segued into brood boxes as well. Since I’m sort of a renegade on this subject, I thought I would add ...

  • Update on how to eat comb honey

    Since my post on eating comb honey, I’ve been looking for additional suggestions. The following is just a variation on what I already wrote, but it is truly delicious. I sliced whole grain artisan bread into half-inch slices and then cut squares about 1.5 inches (4 cm) on ...

  • How to make follower boards for a Langstroth hive

    Here is one method of making follower boards for a Langstroth hive (also known as dummy boards). I made these for a deep brood box, but you can make them for any size box using the same method. 1. Start by measuring your frames from top to bottom and from side ...

  • Seven types of beekeeping advice to avoid

    [caption id="attachment_7128" align="alignright" width="376"] Hive by Lori Leaumont.[/caption] Having trouble sorting through all the conflicting beekeeping information? Can't tell fact from fiction? If so, you are not alone. Here is a list of criteria I use myself: Be wary of advice containing the words “always” or “never.” Very few things in life ...

  • Splitting the top-bar hive with a shook swarm

    Today I split my top-bar hive. It is eleven months to the day since they swarmed down from the sky and took over the abandoned hive. Twice during the winter I thought I was losing them, and twice I moved them into the garden shed to keep them warm. But ...

  • Converting Langstroth frames to foundationless

    There are several ways to convert your Langstroth frames to foundationless frames. The basic problem with any foundationless system—including top-bar hives—is to get the bees to build comb the way you want it. The way you want it is simple: one comb per frame, each parallel to the other, so ...

  • How to combine colonies using newspaper

    Beekeepers often want to combine two colonies, usually because one is weak or queenless. Because each colony has its own unique odor, combining colonies without an “introductory period” can cause fighting among the workers. Worse, the queen could be killed in the fray. If the two colonies have a layer of ...

  • How to remove propolis from your camera

    I hate to spend time re-inventing the wheel, but that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Whenever I take pictures for this blog, I always end up getting propolis stuck to my camera. I’ve tried wearing gloves or not, tried wrapping plastic bags around my camera, and tried cleaning my hands between ...

  • How to determine the purity of honey

    I received the following from a reader. His comments and questions are so relevant to the discussion of pure honey that I decided to expand on them. How do you test that the orange blossom honey is really from oranges? Well, you can look at the pollen present in the honey. ...

  • How to build a bee block

    Of all the bees native to North America, about 30% use some kind of tunnel in which to lay their eggs. The diameter of the tunnels, as well as their preferred length, varies with the different species of bee. So, to attract a wide variety of native bees, it is ...

  • How to feed crystallized honey

    Over the last few years, I’ve learned many interesting tidbits from Phillip over at Mudsongs.org. Several weeks ago he wrote something about feeding crystallized honey back to his bees by just leaving it in the jar. Why did I never think of this? I usually try to do something to it, ...

  • The minimalist guide to winter feeding

    In the past, I have cooked for my winter bees. I have made fondant, slurry, semi-hard sugar cakes, hard as rock sugar cakes, candy boards, and pollen-laced patties. I have stood over a witches' cauldron of bubbling, boiling syrup, stirring and measuring and timing. I have used thermometers and cool ...

  • Avoid a honey drip free-for-all

    One of the worst parts of honey extraction is the accumulation of sticky, gooey frames that remains after the process. These frames of uncapped comb, known as “wet” frames, are a storage nightmare until they are cleaned of all traces of honey. Fortunately, honey bees are more than happy to do ...

  • How to cut comb honey

    Whenever I bake cinnamon rolls, I always slice the delicate roll of dough with dental floss. I wrap the floss around the dough and pull it tight like a ligature. The result is a clean cut that doesn't compress. Lately I've started using this same technique for cutting comb honey. It ...

  • How to open the brood nest

    Now that I covered checkerboarding as a swarm control strategy, I want to at least mention a practice called “opening the brood nest.” This is a technique where empty frames are placed between frames of brood. Many people confuse checkerboarding with opening the brood nest. The important distinction is that ...

  • How to attract bumbles to an artificial nest

    If you’ve made or purchased a bumble bee box, you are probably wondering where to put it and how to attract tenants. I’ve scanned dozens of documents looking for the secret formula and learned that location is the most important criterion, followed by nesting material. Moisture control runs a close ...

  • How to keep 2:1 syrup from crystallizing

    This question, asked by a reader, perplexes me because I've never had any 2:1 syrup crystallize. In fact, several different times in the past I've had a half gallon or so sit in the fridge all winter long with no problem. The next question, then, is what did I put in ...

  • How to start multiple hives from a swarm-control split

    Last time I wrote about a simple way to split a hive to prevent swarming. It is quick and easy and results in two fairly equal hives. However, if your original hive is loaded with swarm cells you may be able to raise a few extra queens or start more ...

  • How to make a swarm-control split

    Hives can be split for many reasons. A beekeeper may split a hive in order to increase the number of hives, to raise queens, to increase the number of workers, or to keep a hive from swarming. There are dozens of ways to do a split, depending on what you ...