You might think that it’s hard to care for bees, but it isn’t and we are here to show you how with the basics to get you started!
Bees are a really important part of our food production systems. They pollinate a lot of our food plants, they are responsible for a huge amount of food globally and of course, they produce delicious honey.
So, if you have space for a beehive and you’re thinking about it then it’s worth getting these in your garden.
We can help bees by planting a variety of flowers (i.e. sunflowers, alyssum, and bluebells) that the bees can feed on.
To improve sanitation and the honey your bees produce, reduce or avoid the use of pesticides. You can also consider natural means such as planting onions.
Our friends the Bumblebees (Pollination Agents) love to hibernate and it’s advisable to have a ready-made bumble bee box or leave some piles of stones and leaves.
As a beginner, you can get the standard hive called a Langstroth beehive and it’s pretty much what you’ll see almost everywhere.
As far as the position of your hive is concerned you want a spot where you get the morning sun to wake the bees up and get them active. You also need a little bit of shade through the hottest part of the day and protection from prevailing winds.
In a hive, we’ve got what’s called a bottom box (lower part) a brood box where the Queen has up to 80,000 worker bees. The top box (upper part) is called a super where the bees create the honey that we take off. Ensure there’s a grill in between to stop the Queen from going up into the top box and laying eggs.
This is because eggs would hatch to larvae and eat the honey that we like to take. So, it’s vital that all the activity goes on down the bottom box and all the honey production goes up to the top box.
All About Your New Bees
Use smoke that doesn’t sedate the bees but confuses the messages that they send to each other. You’ll have guard bees around the outside and they might send the alarm off.
The smoke just masks the pheromones sync signals and keeps everybody nice and calm. Break the seal between the top box and the bottom box which is the grill called a queen excluder.
Typically a queen can lay up to 1,500 eggs a day, she’s pretty busy and the average queen bee can live for around two years. Most of the bees in a hive are female worker bees who are sterile so they can’t reproduce. Life spans are around six weeks.
As far as maintenance is concerned during the spring and into summer, frequently inspect your hive once every seven to ten days just to make sure that the Queen is okay and the hive is happy.
More About Your Bees
There’s no chance that the queen is going to swarm and go off somewhere else especially during the summer. Bees need some water and if you’re going to put a beehive in your garden you might think of having a shallow pond so that they can help themselves to a drink.
A busy hive in full production can produce around 40 kilos of honey in one box which is brilliant, especially for those cold winter months when you want to put it on your porridge.
During the summer there’s normally plenty of nectar around to feed the bees. However, during the winter there’s not that much nectar, so feed the bees with a sugar solution. There is some maintenance and feeding that goes on during the colder months for optimal care of your bees and hive.
There are drones, these are male bees and primarily they are there to mate with queen bees. They don’t have stingers and can’t really defend the hive but they do help maintain the temperature of the hive.
There are many different ways and methods for keeping your bees. For every two beekeeper’s there’ll be three opinions on how best to care for your bees.