The passionate beekeeper knows there are times when you can leave a hive alone and other times when human assistance is key to their survival and success.
A beehive should not be left totally alone. Care and monitoring will ensure better chances of a healthy and thriving hive. Bees and humans have formed a mutually beneficial relationship over time. Bees provide humans with food production. Bees supply us with honey and wax.
In this article, we will look at how beehives can flourish with human assistance. Productive and protected beehives keep the world pollinated and honey flowing.
Is It Ok to leave a Beehive Unattended
The honey bee has been brought to the public’s attention in recent years as bee populations dwindle; they need our help for survival. Beekeeping is not just a hobby; it is a great way to boost the bee population and produce delicious honey.
Leaving a beehive unattended for a week or two at a time is typically okay. What happens if a hive is left unattended too long is the possibility of a swarm. This means there is an overproduction of bees. The bees will divide and leave the hive. The bee swarm could certainly pester neighbors who may react by poisoning your bees. The bees could bring the poison back to the hive.
Placing A Successful Beehive
Raising bees in your backyard can be done with just a few supplies and little intervention from the keeper. For less monitoring follow these few easy steps.
- Sun With Partial Shade: Make sure your bees are in an area that gets an adequate amount of sun, yet offers shade from those hot days.
- Water: Bees need access to fresh water to stay hydrated just as we do.
- Off the ground: Naturally, Beehives are off the ground in high places like trees or cliffs. This is the way they keep the hive away from unwanted pests and invaders like bears or rodents.
- Space: Placing your beehive away from busy areas will keep people and the bees safer. Bees are known to travel about two miles from the hive while foraging.
- Feeding: Plant bee-friendly plants and flowers near your hives or feed bees nectar. Of course, even without your help, bees will forage and feed themselves.
- Shelter: Bees are delicate creatures and can easily be affected by harsh weather. Being sure to have an area with protection against summer or winter storms can pave the way for a thriving hive.
Having these tips in mind will allow a safe and protected area for your bees, now you can simply monitor the hives and their production with peace of mind.
What To Avoid With Beehive Care
Now that we have looked at ways to aid your beehive let’s go over what to avoid so that your hive can reach its highest potential. It is all about learning as you go, but here are a few things to keep in mind while tending your hive.
No Queen No Hive
Periodically check on your hive and make sure the queen is there. Once in a while, a hive will go through a period where they will more or less dethrone the existing queen and raise a new one in her place. It is very renaissance in style if you think about it. If you notice that there is no queen, they may be going through this process. Things to look for would include less eggs and a decline in your bee population. If a queen is non-existent for a long period of time, you may want to introduce one.
Harvest at The Right Time
When it comes to harvesting your honey, it is all about timing. If you harvest too soon, it can result in the fall of the hive. Generally, you should not harvest honey the first year of a new hive. This is because the bees need every drop of precious honey to build up their own strength. This will help your beehive make it through the winter. If you take too much, the bees will starve.
Feed the Bees When in Need
If you have purchased your bees or they have come in a package, chances are they are hungry and confused. You will know if these bees are hungry if they exhibit some of these behaviors:
- They are new to the hive
- No new combs
- Nectar Shortage
- Increased Aggressiveness
- Bee Cannibalism
- Reduced Bee Population
Start With At Least Two Colonies
Starting off with more than one colony will give the keeper a better chance for a successful hive if, by chance, one should fail. If one colony is stronger than the other, they can be used to strengthen each other. This would be done by taking some of the healthy bees from the stronger hive and slowly introducing them to the weaker hive.
Check for Pest Invasions
While you can leave a hive alone and to take care of itself, it is still imperative to periodically look at your combs and status of the hive health. Checking for pesky invaders such as:
- Wax Moths
There are ways to naturally ward off these pests. By taking preventative action, you can limit how much you tamper with the hive. This could include planting mint and other plants bugs find repelling or using essential oils to treat the surrounding grounds.
Feed Your Bees With These Bee Friendly Plants
Honeybees are natural foragers and can easily fly near and far to find food stores. For the beekeeper, having plants and trees accessible to their bees is ideal. This is why you will often find beehives placed around perimeters of orchards and gardens.
Honey Bees are pollinators and are often busy at work, flying to and fro to pollinate the green world around them. If you look closely, you may notice thick yellow legs covered in pollen.
Bees will pollinate the beautiful flowers the pop up on fruit trees and vegetable vines; they will also enjoy a few of these plants:
7 Herbs Bees Enjoy
7 Flowers Bees Love
- Black Eyed Susan
Beekeeping Tools For The Keeper Of Bees
When it comes to beekeeping, whether you are the owner of a self-sustaining hive or a closely monitored hive, there are a variety of tools to have on hand.
There are a few different options for your beehives. You could of course, build one yourself, or you could save the time and hassle and order a premade design.
(Note: links go to Amazon)
Apimaye: The Heavy Duty Plastic Hive protects your investment like no other. This hive is the first place winner of the Beehive Innovations Award. This hive is not made of traditional wood and is insulated to keep your honeybees cozy all year round. A hive like this would make it harder for the invasion of unwanted pests.
Traditional Wooden Beehive: This hive comes as a kit. It includes ten frames and beeswax coated foundation sheets. The cedar wood used in its construction is a natural repellent to some pests.
Beekeeping Toolkit: This beekeeping toolkit makes the hunt for tools easier and more affordable. You could buy each of these tools separately if so desired. This seller offers a money back guarantee if these tools do not impress. This kit includes:
- Bee Smoker & Extra Shield
- Beehive Grip
- Thick Beekeeping Goatskin Gloves
- Bee Brush
- 3 Hooks: J Hook L Hook and a Thumb Hook
- 1 Uncapping Fork
- 1 Uncapping Scraper
- 1 Queen Cage
- 1 Queen Mark Tube
- 2 Beehive Beetle Tubes
Beehive Smoker Pellets: Keep your bees calm when harvesting with the use of your smoker and these smoker pellets. These burn for about twenty minutes and have no fillers, producing a clean pleasant smoke screen.
The Beekeeper Suit: No one likes a bee sting. Though honeybees are relatively non aggressive that does not mean they won’t defend their home if they feel threatened. This beekeeper suit protects your entire body from head to ankle. It includes thick gloves with elastic cuffs for a snug and secure fit. The suit also comes with a J Hook.
The Beekeeper’s Protective Pull Over and Hood: If the entire bee suit is not your style, there is the option of the pull over, protective top. This is made in hoodie fashion with a veiled hood. It comes in the typical white fashion or Camo! The Camo design also has an unzippable veil.
The Beekeeper and Hive Relationship
Ultimately taking on the task of a beekeeper is about honoring the relationship or bond between bees and humanity. Bees fuel our lives in many ways and keep the world beautiful. Respecting their existence creates harmony. Giving these bees a safe and protected space creates a happy bee home. Happy bees make better honey. These tips will help create a safe place for your beehives with low maintenance and provide an efficient care plan.