Beekeeping is full of pot holes, bumps in the road that interfere with success. Here are eight beekeeping mistakes commonly made by newbees that can hinder both the bees and the beekeeper but are easily avoided.
- Opening the hive too often: Yes, it is natural to want to see what’s going on, but a hive that is disturbed too often may supersede the queen or abscond. Let them alone to do what bees do.
- Not feeding enough syrup after installing a package: The bees have nowhere to live and nowhere to raise brood, especially when you start them on bare frames or foundation. They will need lots of energy to build comb—which means lots of sugar syrup.
- Feeding honey to a new package of bees: It’s tempting to help them out with honey, but unless you know that your honey is disease-free, give them sugar syrup instead. Some of the worst bee diseases—such as American foul brood—can be spread by tainted honey.
- Skimping on protective clothing: Okay, you’ve seen experienced beekeepers work with minimal protection and they look really cool. But until you are used to working with bees and know how they respond in various situations, go ahead and cover up—both you and the bees will be more comfortable because you won’t be acting weird in front of them. You can be cool later.
- Not taking Varroa seriously: There’s a lot to learn when you first begin beekeeping and it seems overwhelming, so thinking about mites is something that is easy to put off until later. After all, your hive is new and it probably doesn’t yet have mites, right? Wrong. You must start tending to mites right away. There are many ways to handle them, but you must pick a way and work it into your beekeeping schedule.
- Fretting over swarming: You need to spend your first year learning about bees, watching them, and learning how to handle to them. If they swarm, they swarm. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Certain beekeeping activities—like swarm prevention, queen rearing, and regression to small cell—are exciting and fun, but you need to learn the basics first. No matter how much you’ve read about bees in advance, handling them still requires practice.
- Trying to harvest honey in your first year: Bees starting off in a new hive will spend most of their energy building comb, raising brood, and storing honey and pollen for winter. They will be lucky to store enough honey for themselves, let alone anyone else. You will be surprised how much honey they require.
- Starting with only one hive: I know this decision is often based on finances, so if you can afford only one hive then that’s the way it is. But it’s a little like learning to swim with one arm tied behind your back—possible, but difficult—and if something goes amiss with the one hive, you will have to start over the following year.
Honey Bee Suite