Honey Bees and Beekeeping: A Year in the Life of an Apiary

Image:Delaplanefeature.jpgThis online video walks you through one year of managing honey bee colonies.


Part I

1. Introduction

  • A Brief History
  • Building Supers and Frames
  • Preparing Food Supplements and Medications

2. In the Beginning

  • Bee Biology and Equipment
  • Receiving and Installing Bees
  • Releasing Queens

3. Things are Buzzing

  • Things are Buzzin
  • The Brood Nest
  • Our Growing Hives
  • Migrating our Hives

4. A Mid-season Break

  • Requeening
  • Queen Rearing
  • Package Production, Beekeeping Associations, Books and Periodicals 

Part II

5. Diseases and Pests

Dividing a Colony

Why Divide?
The most common reasons for dividing a colony
are swarm prevention and the need to increase colony
numbers. A strong colony can be divided into two
or three colonies (splits). The number of splits will
depend on the amount of brood present in the parent
colony. For each split, you need three to five frames
of brood and a couple of food frames with pollen and
honey. Be careful not to split a colony too many times
or …

Collecting a Swarm

What is a swarm? Swarming is the natural mode
of reproduction for a honey bee colony in spring.
Swarming is induced as bees increase their population
size and require more space. A swarm usually consists
of the old queen (sometimes a new one) and 50 to 60
percent of the worker bees in the swarming colony.
Workers preparing to swarm engorge themselves
on honey and force the old queen out of the hive.
Changing weather conditions from cool and rainy …

Queen Marking and Requeening

We feel that the advantages of marking the
queen outweigh the disadvantages. A queen marked
with bright colored paint is easier to find. You
know the marked queen is one you introduced, not
a supersedure of unknown quality. You also know
her age. Younger queens are more prolific layers and
produce more pheromone that maintains colony
cohesion, thus making the colony less prone to
swarming and less susceptible to stressful conditions.


Removing Surplus Honey

The bees will fill the combs and cap the honey
when they have cured it to approximately 18 percent
or less water. Some of the frames of honey may not
be capped until several days after the nectar flow
has stopped. The frames and supers of honey that
are capped can be removed from the colony. Avoid
harvesting honey in uncapped cells. It is likely to
be too high in moisture content and will ferment in
storage without additional drying.…

Moving a Colony

On occasion, you may need to move a honeybee
colony. The move may be small, such as to another
location in your apiary. Or it may cover a greater
distance, such as to another apiary location, perhaps
to take advantage of a particular nectar flow.


Beekeeping Protective Gear

Beekeepers wearing different types of protective gear.

Some beekeepers wear as much protective gear as possible to reduce the number of stings they receive. Others wear very little protection and do not worry about stings. This is your choice. However, as a new beekeeper, you may want to start by wearing a full coverall and gloves. As you become more skillful and confident, wear less and take the gloves off. The amount of protection varies with the activity being done

Hardware and Tools for Beekeeping

Hive Tools

Standard hive tool on top. Maxant tool on bottom.

There are two types of metal hive tools used to pry apart hive parts that bees regularly glue together. The traditional hive tool resembles a prybar with a flat end and a bent scraper end. The other tool is called a frame lifter (or Maxant tool) because one end is inserted under a frame end bar while resting on the adjacent frame. The downward motion of the tool uses …

Wooden Components of a Modern Bee Hive

Bee Space Is Important

Traditional hive parts are made from wood. The design and dimension of hive parts are based on the concept of bee space. Bee space was first recognized and promoted by the Philadelphia minister Lorenzo Langstroth in the 1850s, when he introduced what is commonly known as the Langstroth hive. Langstroth discovered that bees build excess comb in a space larger than 3/8 inch. Bees will fill any space less than 1/4 inch with propolis. Therefore, a …

Working with a Bee Colony

Before entering the apiary, suit up in appropriate attire. If not wearing a bee suit (Beekeeping Protective Gear), dress in light-colored, cotton or rip-stop nylon clothing. Always wear a veil. Wrap the bottoms of your pants’ legs around the top of your boots and secure them in place with a rubber band or tape. Bees drop from handled frames to the ground and may crawl up your legs as you work around the hive. Gloves are optional. Beginners …