When it comes to the basics of beekeeping, just like everything else in life so far, there’s a learning curve. Cathy Isom fills you in on how to avoid some common mistakes as a beginning beekeeper. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.
From: Modern Farmer
With so much to learn as a new beekeeper, missteps are as inevitable as bee stings. Yet failures do provide an opportunity for learning. As a beekeeping instructor, I often see the same set of errors over and over again—many of them I made myself as a beginner. Hopefully this list will keep some of you from following in my footsteps.
1. Assessing colony health based solely on the level of “bee traffic.”
I encourage beekeepers to observe their hives from the outside on a weekly or even daily basis so you can see if your bees are bringing pollen or even catch a pesky ant invasion. It’s also a good idea to make yourself familiar with what’s “normal” for your bees—in terms of traffic (the number of bees flying in and out of the hive), and also in terms of how many dead bees are near your hive. That way you can recognize any changes if and when they happen.
Despite these merits, observation from the outside is no substitute for actually opening up your hive and examining the combs within. Often if a problem is noticeable from the outside of the hive, it’s progressed too far to be remedied. Hive inspections, when done properly, will catch problems early and give you a chance to fix them before too much damage is done—and they’ll also give you a great opportunity to learn. For that reason, I recommend that new beekeepers inspect their hives once every two to four weeks, but no more often than that. The process of opening up your hive is stressful for bees and disturbs the carefully controlled atmospheric conditions within the hive, which is why many experienced beekeepers perform less frequent inspections on their older, more established colonies. To a new newbie, this might sound like a catch-22, but I firmly believe new beekeepers should inspect their hives regularly for learning purposes, and because it’s likely that their colonies are also new and less stable.