Backyard/Urban Beekeeping for Beginners

Raising Bees requires timely handling and manipulations, which take both time and knowledge beyond Beekeeping 101 and basic how to keep bees know how. General upkeeping merits regular checkups during the warm seasons to make sure the queen is doing its thing( laying eggs), the swarm of bees are bringing enough nectar and pollen , and the hive is not running out of room .

 In the cold months, the colony clusters and uses up its food stores, only emerging when the temperature is above freezing to eliminate waste. You should stay away from bee apiaries at this time to make sure they do not lose precious heat when you open them. Management time and style will depend on the weather in your area, your hive style, and your particular breed of bees. All Bee Colonies are unique, and each Bee enthusiast will have a different experience. As a Bee Master you will eventually get stung.For example, a bee might end up in the fold of your clothing, go unnoticed, and be unable to get out. Honeybees are mostly very docile(unles they are a mean race as African Bees), and stinging is a last resort, since once they sting, they are gone(dead). Below are some subjects we consider important to understand as you begin as a Starting beekeeper.

BEEKEEPING IS LOCAL

The environment has a direct impact on Bee Colonies, hence, bee development and honey production varies according to the areas climate and flora. For example, the peak foraging season for bees will be much longer in the warmer south than it will be in the north.Also honey collecting season would be quite different for Temperate areas to Tropical areas.For a starting Beekeeper the best course of action is to set up just one Hive and at most Two to familiarize yourself with  practical beekeeping in your area. We also recommend joining your local beekeeper association, and finding an experienced apiarist mentor in your area.

In areas of the country where there are few agricultural crops, honeybees rely upon garden flowers to ensure they have a diverse diet and to provide nectar and pollen.Give your bees a better chance of surviving and yielding surplus honey by planting single flowering plants and vegetables.For North America plant any of the allium family, the mints, all beans(avoid any flowering herbs and French Beans).In the spring Bees enjoy Wild Lilac,Calendula,Hyacinth,Borage and Crocus. In many areas Bee balm, Cosmos, Echinacea, Snapdragons Foxglove, and Hosta are favorites for Bees in the Summer. For the Fall Season excellent Bee Forage are Sedum, Asters,Witch Hazel , Goldenrod and Zinnias.Bees need a lot of pollen and trees are a good source of it. Lime trees and Willows are exceptionally good.Since It varies from area to area,look around and ask members of your Local Beekeeping Association  for the best flowering plants for bees in your area and make an extra effort to plant those in your backyard or else place your bees close to flowering areas.

WHAT ARE HONEYBEES?

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If You want to become a successful beekeeper (even if it just as a Hobby or for health reasons) You have to to learn as much as possible about the bees if you want to make your beginning bee keeping foray a success. Taking into account the very diverse factors that affect bees, one might see something different every time you go into your hive. In order to make appropriate management decisions,the Starting Beekeeper must be flexible in their ability to figure out why bees are behaving a certain way, and how certain actions may impact their well being. We review several Beekeeping Books that cover different areas from Beekeeping 101,Bee Anatomy,Bee Management,etc.Pick one or more of these books to round up your Beekeeping knowledge. For Hands On practical , local beekeeping training,ask your local Beekeeping association if they offer Beekeeping Courses.Sometimes Community Colleges and even Universities offer really useful Beekeeping Courses.

A General Overview

Apis mellifera also known as European honeybee is the most commonly kept species, and the only species kept in North America,Chile and Argentina.It is also the prevalent species in Western Europe,Australia and New Zealand. Honey bees are just 1 species out of 19,900 known bee species worldwide. North America alone has 4,390 indigenous bee species including social bumblebee colonies and solitary ground nesting bees among others. Honey bees are the only insect that stores surplus food which makes highly valuable commercially .Due to The role Honey Bees play in High Value Commodity production in the form of Honey,Beeswax,Pollen and Royal Jelly.European Honey Bees were introduced to America in the late Sixteen Hundreds . Today,in America and generally worldwide, the value of Honey Bee Colonies has only increased, as Modern Beekeeping has become central in the current agricultural system as Pollination Services Provider. 29% of the world’s most used Commodity agribussiness harvests require honeybee pollination services.

Social Castes

Honeybees have three social castes, each with a different tasks or set of tasks the divide all labor inside the Bee Colony and that also changes with bee age(in the case of Bee Worker). The colony is made up of up to 60 thousands  individuals that function as a whole (also called a Superorganism)

The Queen

Worker Bees

Drones

Each Bee Hive has One queen bee who is the only Honey Bee capable of laying eggs in the colony. She will only venture off the hive under two specific situations: as a virgin queen to mate, and in many times, in the later stage of her life as a queen with a swarm. On mating flights the queen finds a drone congregation zone to copulate with up to 45 drones before returning to the bee colony. Thus she receives all the sperm that she will use for the rest of her fertile life that can be as long as 5 years but usually not longer than 3 years. The queen will lay all of the eggs in a Bee colony, choosing at will when to lay drones (unfertilized eggs), or workers (fertilized eggs).

Beekeeping Videos:How do Bees keep track of the Queen?

 

Worker bees are non-laying females that have as a mission doing all the foraging, feeding of larvae and young bees, honey processing and storage, wax production, hive sanitation, and defending the hive against enemies as wasps and ants. Each worker honey bee will do successively different jobs in her lifetime, which can last between 20 to 40 days during the peak foraging season. As they age, their tasks become more dangerous, and require traveling further from the Bee Apiary.

Beekeeping videos:What Do Worker Bees Do?

ECOLOGY

Honeybees and indigenous bees are a fundamental piece of the pollination ecological life cycle. The pollination cycle is accountable for the successful impregnation of more than 86% of all flowering vegetation and about 30% of foodstuff crops .Honey Bees hairy skin become covered in pollen when scrounging for food, and then gather the pollen into the pollen "baskets" in their legs to carry it back to the Bee Hive. Any pollen caught on hairs on their backs that they cannot reach is carried from one flower to other. On their gathering flights, Honey bees gather pollen and nectar to transport back to the Bee Hive. The nectar provides carbohydrates, which, when mixed with the catalyst in their honey stomach, can be stored and dehydrated into honey. Pollen, filled with proteins and amino acids, is mixed into a substance used to feed larvae. Bees make a local impact with a worldwide relevance. Most animals, including humans, directly or indirectly benefit from the bee pollination cycle for their food.

WHEN SHOULD I START MY HIVE?

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Honeybees are entirely behavior-dependent on the climate in which they live. The best time to installing a new hive changes widely according to the region,climate and even predominant vegetation in the area you are located.Anyone one that hopes to do the right thing keeping bees has to read up and reach out to Local Beekeeper Associations and Beekeeper Groups to learn how to do things right.Why go through a learning curve and make mistakes some one else has made before? . In the Tropics where I live we keep bees year around but if I was to start a brand new bee hive ,I would do it right in the middle of the rainy season in June.Of course it is quite different for some one who lives in a temperate climate and then it also depends on whether you are in Northern or Southern Hemisphere.In most of the United States the correct time to set up a hive is early in the spring right between late March and perhaps early May.As the probability of frost lessens or dissapears, early blooms will spring up, giving your bees the chance to collect nectar and pollen. Autumn and Winter are best used for maintanance and research.Demand for beehives and bees increases every year, and often You will miss the chance to get Bee Nucs to get started if you haven’t spotted a source for bees by January or February. When spring comes around, you will need to be all setup for your bees to arrive with all of your Hives assembled and put togehther in the place you have  picked in your backyard or other location.That way you will be sure you have a good opportunity for  being successful.

WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW?

As a starting beekeeper you will always be learning. ! As a natural beekeeper you are joining a growing and ever- changing beekeeping underground culture that is still not understood by the larger main beekeeping world. The run-of-the-mill commercial beekeeper might balk at your choice of ecological,bee-friendly hive design and methods but bee-friendly ,treatment -free and chemical free methods are the future of beekeeping , if we are going to have sustainable ,ecological beekeeping where the emphasis is on bee survival and NOT on raw profits.This concept is starting to gain foothold even emong the long-time,traditional keeper of bees . Join a local apiarist association , even if they find ecological beekeeping methods or philosophy strange. Work to educate them on new Natural,environment and bee-friendly methods and you may win converts. In spite of everything,much can be learned from long-time beekeepers despite their misunderstading and rejection of Top Bar or Warre Beekeeping.