Beekeeping Tips for February
The Queen still remains in the cluster and as the days become milder she begins to lay more eggs.
The previous protein (Pollen Patty) is used to feed young larva. These bees will hatch out of the cell in 21 days.
When young bees are being raised and days are warm, the bees will consume more food. At this time, the cluster will begin to grow in size.
A Varroa Mite, Foulbrood inspection should be done and a proper evaluation of “Queen Activity”.
By Mid February, you should see bees carrying natural pollen into the hive. When this occurs, the Queen will also begin to lay drone Eggs (Unfertile eggs) these drones will hatch in 24 days.
- Check food stores (pollen and honey)
- Treat for Varroa Mites or Foulbrood if needed
- Begin a “Bloom Calendar” to document pollen and nectar
- Attend Bee Meetings
- Assemble Equipment
- Order Queens
Buy Healthy Honey Bees!
Let’s face it guys, not every business-man understands the importance of integrity and insuring the customer receives a perfect product. In fact, some self-proclaimed beekeepers are not beekeepers at all!
You know those guys who drive south to buy a trailer load of watermelons and sit on the side of the road for 2 weeks trying to sell them? Well, some wanna-be “bee sellers” do the same thing.
I hate to disappoint you, but some have realized there is money to be made by simply transporting or shipping honeybee packages. The issue is they don’t have the experience to care for them properly.
Yes, I do also see this opportunity, and appreciate that as well, but I am a beekeeper and I do know how to properly care for these honeybees in all kinds of weather conditions. I have seen some pretty sad situations where people cage the honeybees and keep them trapped in the cage for over a week! Yep, 7 days! That’s ridiculous and it leans toward cruelty in my eyes.
5 Tips for Purchasing Healthy Bees
- Find out as much information about the seller as you can. Are they reputable?
- What is the history of the bees and how long have they been held in the cage?
- Purchase hygienic bees. These bee have been bred to have the VSH (Varroa Sensitive Hygiene) trait.
- Join a local beekeeping club. Their members will be some of the greatest mentors, friends and companions on your beekeeping journey.
- Order early.
Since opening our doors in 1999, Bee Well Honey strives to cage the bees the evening before you receive them – less than 24 hours in the cage is the goal.
The bees are shaken from various colonies and given a freshly mated queen then brought to our warehouse and handed to you early the next morning.
Think about all the things that can happen if they were to be held in the cage for days at a time: dehydration, stress, constipation, diarrhea. That’s just the start of it. They can overheat or get chilled and the list goes on and on.
Now let me be clear, you will always have a few dead bees in the package due to normal mortality and management, but if you should see inches of dead bees piled in the bottom of the package refuse them and ask for the money back.
If the business-man is honest and fair he will understand. I believe in keeping the bees happy and my customers happy too! You don’t have to buy them from me, but look for the people that respect the bees and support them.
Bee Well this bee season!
Beekeeping Tips for January
During colder weather, the Queen is surrounded by thousands of worker bees. This is considered the “Winter Cluster”. You should not disturb this cluster, only open the hive and work bees when the cluster is loose.
Activity will be apparent on warmer days (45-50 degrees), this is when bees are taking cleansing flights. These days are acceptable for colony inspection. If feeding is needed, choose a feeding method that is near the bees so they can feed even when clustered. If the colony needs protein, a pollen patty may be placed directly over cluster of bees.
- Check food stores (Pollen & Honey)
- Check for proper ventilation
- Attend bee meetings
- Assemble bee equipment
- Order Bees
Kombucha Making Class
Kombucha is essentially a fermented tea drink and has risen in popularity thanks to its unique taste and its health benefits. Those benefits include boosting the body’s immune system, improving digestion and gut health and also being a healthy alternative to sugary sodas and juices.
Class participants will learn each step of the kombucha making process, from prepping the tea and flavoring to how best to store your kombucha starter.
- Date: February 3, 2018
- Time: 10:00 a – 12:00 p
- Cost: $20.00
- Prepping the tea
- How to store the kombucha starter
For some of us, this is our first winter as a beekeeper. Others, however, are old pros at beekeeping….. right?
Whether this is your first winter or just one of many winters as a beekeeper, we are continually learning how to hone our craft of beekeeping.
In December, the bees are in a tight cluster so do not open colonies, there is nothing you can do except hope you did everything right.
- Read a good book.
- Give honey as a gift.
- Continue to assemble equipment.
- Order bees.
- Plan for the new year.
Bees are necessary for about 80% of all crops that are used directly for food worldwide. But the last decade has been hard on them, reducing their numbers year after year.
I’m often asked “How can we help save the bees?” Here are five things you can do to help save the bees:
1. Plant Bee-Friendly Flowers and Herbs In Your Garden
Planting flowers in your garden, yard, or in a planter will help provide bees with forage. Avoid chemically treating your flowers as chemicals can leach into pollen and negatively affect the bees systems. Plant plenty of the same type of bloom together, bees like volume of forage (a sq. yard is a good estimate).
Good Plant Varieties:
- Spring – lilacs, penstemon, lavender, sage, verbena, and wisteria
- Summer – Mint, cosmos, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers, oregano, rosemary, poppies, black-eyed Susan, passion flower vine, honeysuckle
- Fall – Fuschia, mint, bush sunflower, sage, verbena, toadflas
2. Weeds Are Good
A lawn full of clover and dandelions is not just a good thing—it’s a great thing! A haven for honeybees (and other native pollinators too). Don’t be so nervous about letting your lawn live a little. Wildflowers, many of which we might classify as weeds, are some of the most important food sources for native North American bees.
3. Buy Local, Raw Honey
Buy local, raw honey that is from hives that are not treated by chemicals. It can be hard to find out what is truly “local” and truly “raw”–and even harder yet to find out what is untreated. Bee Well Honey exclusively sells local, raw honey.
4. Bees are Thirsty Little Creatures. Leave a Small Basin of Fresh Water Outside Your Home
They will appreciate it!
5. Learn How to be a Beekeeper
Find a local honey bee association that offers classes. Click here to visit the South Carolina State Beekeepers resource page to find an association near you.
I can relate to this question because – before I became interested in honeybees I had no idea how to buy them. My first hive was a gift from a friend. Funny thing was, he actually brought it to me in the backseat of a Camry with the seat belts around it to secure it. The two kids in the backseat were terrified! Probably the quietest trip that family ever made.
After I became obsessed with honeybees, I had to get more. Problem was I just wasn’t sure exactly how to do that.
Luckily for me I did reach out to the old time beekeepers in my region. I met a beekeeper named Mr. Gentry, and he invited me travel with him to buy bees in Vernon, Georgia from John Hardeman at Hardeman Apiaries. I gladly jumped at the chance to go, bu he made me drive. In fact he made me do all the grunt work but I loved the experience, especially since I had none.
When we arrived it was astonishing to me. Bees were everywhere – and I mean everywhere!
There were hundreds of little screened boxes – better known as packages. Each Honeybee Package contained 3 lbs of bees and a queen in a little wooden box. It was amazing! At this point I was searching for answers about the bee business and John Hardeman invited us into his house for lunch.
John’s wife met us at the door and gave me a good looking-over. I started politely asking questions, and of course, enjoying the food!
These were great people. I asked John, ” If you had to start over would you have still do honeybees?” He smiled and patted his wife on the shoulder and replied, “yes, but I would have started a lot sooner”. That’s all I needed. That was the day I started my bee business.
I bought fifty 3 lb packages of honeybees, and Mr. Gentry bought fifty. That was almost 20 years ago and now Bee Well Honey is the largest honeybee and beekeeping supply company in South Carolina.
We are serious about educating new beekeepers and carefully explain to them what a honeybee package is. We also make sure they understand how to care for them. We would never consider just pitching a package of bees in a car without making sure the customer knows how to care for them. Thus the reason for this blog.
Beekeepers who wish to sell honeybee packages are a unique group of individuals. The great ones know how to rely on other beekeepers and relationships to share methods, ideas, equipment, employees, queens, queen cells and the list goes on and on. But, the most important thing we share is failure.
Bee farmers continuously share things that they try, but did not work. Therefore they learn how to try it again, but in a different way. They never give up. They just keep trying until they get it right. Being a honeybee package bee provider is not easy and I have the greatest respect for all of them.
What Is A Honey Bee Package?
A package of honeybees contains approximately 3 lbs of honeybees, nurse bees, forage bees, guard bees, drone bees – which is a supreme mix of bees of all ages. This is critical for the longevity of the colony while waiting for the bees to establish themselves in a hive and for the queen to start laying eggs.
It will be 21 days before new bees start hatching after the comb is drawn out far enough for the queen to start laying eggs.
There is a freshly mated queen trapped inside a small wooden cage with sugar candy filling a hole in one end. The honeybees begin eating the candy and eventually the queen is released. This gives the colony time to get used to the smell of the new queen. Everyday some bees die until the new bees begin to hatch and then the colony explodes with honeycomb bees and honey.
It truly is one of the most fascinating things I have ever seen. Guess that’s why I am in the business. Bee Well and Good Luck!
If you are going to make a split in the spring then MAKE A GOOD ONE! It kills me when I hear beekeepers that want to make their splits before the weather is appropriate. If you make a tiny split it will struggle terribly to survive the cold temps and you risk killing them completely. Furthermore I really get steamed up when I hear about a person wanting to sell nucs too early just to try to get the jump on the “competition”. I wish they could just realize the importance of helping new beekeepers get started off successfully is the longevity of the business.
The nuc business is riddled with beekeepers trying to sell 2 or 3 frame nucs… REALLY? I have made 2 or 3 frame splits before in the summer, but I have never tried to sell such a small wad of bees to a customer in the spring.
A 4 or 5 frame nuc full of all age bees and brood has the proper ingredients and has a much better chance of survival in early spring than a 2 or 3 frame. As the season warms up and spring arrives these small splits can be made without trouble but it is very important to sell those to experienced beekeepers who know how to handle them.
A 5 frame nuc is a much better option for a beekeeper of any degree. Think about it! A Five frame nuc has everything it needs to survive if the beekeeper selling them cares anything at all about customer service and return business.
Don’t get me started on those guys that don’t stand behind their product!
Bee Well Honey Farm in Pickens South Carolina stands behind their bees and makes sure to give the customer what they are paying for.
A Five frame nuc is an established colony operating as it should with at least 3 frames of brood and 2 frames of pollen and honey.
If you don’t have all the ingredients you have not made a healthy split. Make sure your split contains 3 frames of brood and enough bees to keep that brood covered during the cold nights and days that still come in early spring then surround that brood with honey and pollen by placing full frames on each side of the brood then shake in 2 or 3 more frames of bees to make sure. This recipe will give you a healthy split queen or no queen. Good Luck!
Mead Making Class
Learn how to make the world’s oldest fermented beverage in our Mead Making Class. We will demonstrate how to make a simple mead. When done correctly, home brewed mead will be the best you’ve ever tasted.
Join us and see how simple it is.
- Date: December 2, 2017
- Time: 10:00 a – 12:00 p
- Cost: $20.00
- Mead Making Demonstration
- The History of Mead
- Special Mead Fermentation Techniques
- Mead & Honey Tasting
- Discussion of Different Mead Styles
These crisp mornings means we’re just beginning to enjoy all that fall has to offer. Beekeepers know that the cold weather means even less bee activity will send the honey bees back into cluster.
As fall swings into full force here are some tips to help you and your bees make it safely through the upcoming winter.
- Attend Bee Meetings.
- Make sure equipment is stored properly to stop wax moth damage.
- You can feed syrup when the temperature allows (45-50 degrees).