Would you like to know more about honeybees? Do you wonder what all the fuss is about? Could you picture yourself in a beekeeping suit but are afraid to try?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, our beekeeping class may be for you.
Our popular one day Beekeeping Boot Camp is a good introduction to the world of the honeybee.
This beekeeping class will give you a great start on your journey to become a new beekeeper.
Commercial Beekeeper, Kerry Owen, owns Bee Well Honey Farm and operates over 2000 hives.
Master Beekeeper, Charlotte Anderson, is the first female master beekeeper in SC and a former SC Beekeeper of the Year. We will have a great lecture during the morning session and actually go into the hives during the afternoon ! Don’t miss this opportunity to learn first hand from experience beekeepers.
Our next class is Saturday March 11, 2017- cost is $75. Register now.
Bees For Sale in South Carolina
The holiday season is just around the corner but some South Carolina residents are searching the internet for “bees for sale”. Yes, bees ! Honeybees to be exact. Much like gardeners who love to thumb through seed catalogs with excitement and planning, we beekeepers spend many hours debating on the best way to procure honeybee colonies.
Why do we need to purchase more bees ?
Sometimes new colonies are needed to replace winter loses. It is certainly a fortunate beekeeper in these days who can come through the winter season with no colony deaths. On average, a US beekeeper may begin winter with 10 colonies and only have 5 living by Spring. This loss is due to many of the challenges facing honeybees today including pests, diseases, environmental pressures and other unknown factors.
In addition, a beekeeper may want to increase the number of colonies in his/her bee yard. Bee Well Honey Farm encourages beekeepers to keep at least 2 colonies for easier management and sharing of resources.
Due to social media coverage of the “plight of the honeybee” , we are seeing an increase in new beekeepers. Buying package honeybees is a great way to get started in the hobby.
Where can I find bees for sale ?
Honeybees can be purchased from several sources. The most common method of acquiring bees is to purchase a “package” of bees. A 3 pound package of bees will contain roughly 10,000 honeybees and a mature queen. Over time, the beekeeping industry has determined that this is the optimum number of bees to start a colony in most situations. Sometimes, bee packages are shipped through the US postal service or even UPS. If you are lucky enough to have a local pickup point, obtaining bees from a local beekeeping supply distributor is usually your best bet.
Oddly enough the best time to order bees for pickup next Spring is now ! Orders placed in the late Fall or early Winter will have the best choice of pickup dates for next Spring. Bee Well Honey Farm sells hundreds of bee packages each season and offering healthy bees for sale to our customers is a pleasure. We are currently taking order for March/April 2016 pickup. Order Bees Now
What should I do after I order my bees ?
Once you have placed your order, you still have many exciting things to do ! Spend the next few months reading and learning. Beekeeping is not difficult but it takes time to learn how to manage a bee colony. We have several good books in our beekeeping supply section. We also offer a one-day Beekeeping Boot Camp for new beekeepers or those who want to re-fresh their skills. You should get your equipment and have it ready for the bees well in advance of their arrival.
Why should I consider Bee Well Honey Farm ?
Bee Well Honey Farm has been providing quality bee packages to the upstate region for over 10 years. You will not find another supplier with more experience and dedication to the beekeeping community. We appreciate all of our many regular customers who return year after year. Thank you for being a part of our beekeeping family.
Protecting Your Bees with Nite Guard
Beekeepers are charged with protecting their colonies from pests, diseases, environmental conditions and predators. It is common to think of your bees as pets – even though they are considered “livestock” by USDA. Beekeepers in many areas of the country deal with predators such as : skunks, opossums, bears and humans. All of these “animals” may cause problems for your bees in the upstate of South Carolina.
Nite-Guard is a solar powered predator deterrent. Charged by the sun during the day, the solar light activates at dusk and flashes all night. Nite Guard is weather-proof and earth friendly. Safe for people, pets and livestock – it looks like a security camera and may even deter intruders. Many wild animals are distrustful of the flashing red light that signals danger. While no items works in every situation with every type of predator, these lights have proven very beneficial for many users around the county.
Placement of your nite-guard lights will vary depending on the type of animal you are targeting. The company has a great website that gives the consumer tips and ideas to ensure the best use of the product. Nite Guard
Bee Well Honey is proud to offer Nite Guard to our customers for use in your beeyard, garden or home.
Bee Packages Vs Nucs
What is the best way to get started as a beekeeper ? The first step in your journey may be to chose a source of bees ! When buying bees, you will be faced with the decision of purchasing package bees vs nucs. Both choices have advantages and disadvantages.
Thousands of packages of honeybees are sold each year. The most popular size is a 3# (weight) package of bees with a young mated queen. They are transported inside a small wire/wooden box with a can of sugar syrup to feed them on their journey. Package Bees are the most economical and readily available source of bees. Generally available early in the Spring season, package bees are often preferred for beekeepers who want to get started early in the season.
Nucs (also know as nucleus colonies) are small starter bee colonies. A nuc usually consists of 5 frames of bees (including drawn comb, honey and brood) and a mated queen. Not all nucs are created equal and when purchasing you should be clear on the size of the colony (# of frames) you are purchasing.
Which is better packages vs nucs ?
Which is better for the new beekeeper ? Packages vs nucs ? Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question and the best answer will depend on the genetics of the bees involved, the climate/geographic location and the management style of the beekeeper.
Packages vs Nuc (the nitty gritty)
Package bees are more economical, less prone to spread pests or diseases (because no honeycomb is involved) and are more readily available. They are slower to build up a working population and have to go through the queen acceptance procedure. Buy Package Bees Now
Nucs – Nuc colonies are more expensive than packages of bees. They include drawn honeycomb, some brood and bees to cover the frames. Their mated queen will already be laying and accepted. This gives them a jump start initially over package bees. However, the presence of drawn comb also brings with it the opportunity for pests and disease. Buy NUCS Now
Both package bees and nucs are a great way to get started in beekeeping. Bee Well Honey Farm has been providing bees to area beekeepers for more than 11 years. Always purchase your bees from a reputable dealer and this will help insure that you get off to the best start possible.
If you are new to beekeeping, we offer beginners beekeeping classes in the fall and spring. There are many great beekeeping books available but nothing takes the place of a good hands-on class. Check out our classes
Varroa mites are a parasitic pest of honeybees and create a “world of woes” for beekeepers worldwide. They developed in Indonesia – where they only reproduced in drone brood and did little damage to the bee colony as a whole. In other parts of the world, Varroa has had a devastating effect on Apis Mellifera (our European Honeybee). The reddish mites are small but visible to the naked eye. They suck the blood (hemolymph) from adult bees and feed off of brood. In addition to weakening the bees, the mite also serves are a vector for viruses. There is no treatment for a virus. Our best plan of management is to keep the “mite load” low so we will have the largest number of healthy bees possible.
August is the time of year when varroa mite numbers start to explode in our area. Also, the queen bees may slow or stop laying eggs and the result is a lower number of bees and more mites. Hot daily temperatures in August causes many beekeepers to be less than vigilant in monitoring their hive and the total collapse of the colony may be the result. There are many resources online regarding how to take a “mite count” and how many are too many. Sometimes these sources disagree but the general consensus is that if you do a “sticky board count” you don’t want more than 50 mites dropped in a 24 hour period in August.
Once you have an idea of how infested your colony may be, you need to decide on a treatment option. Bee Well Honey has several products available for mite control. Ranging from a synthetic chemical (such as Apistan) to the “softer” more natural options such as “thymol” or “mite away”. Beekeepers have wonderful arguments over the best treatment method but there seems to be no silver bullet for varroa. Each product has directions on the package. Be sure to read and follow directions in regards to placement and removal of strips and temperature restrictions.
Managing varroa levels now will help insure that you have healthier bees in September that will be able to raise healthy over-winter bees.
Don’t delay – send mites away !
This DVD is a great way to spend a hot summer afternoon. Pour yourself a glass of iced sweet tea and kick back in the air-conditioning. Vanishing of the Bees is a 2009 documentary film by Hive Mentality Films & Hipfuel films, directed by George Langworthy and Maryam Henein and released in the United Kingdom. Available in our store for $14.99 plus tax.
Package Bees the first summer
Across the Carolinas, many beekeepers buy package bees each year to fill up boxes from lost winter colonies or to expand their bee yard. Package Bees are also the starting point for many new beekeepers. Though some people recommend purchasing a nuc (nucleus hive) to give your colony a headstart, many beekeepers prefer package bees and actually say that packages can out perform nucs during the season.
If you are installing your package on new foundation, your bees have a lot of work to do before they will be self sustainable. As the beekeeper, it is your responsibility to tend to the maintenance issues that will keep your packages on a good growth trend to full functioning colony.
Are you keeping the feeders full ?
Feed your bees well. If you have a lot of blooming nectar producing plants in the area, your package bees may actually slow consumption of sugar syrup or quit all together. Sugar syrup left in the feeder too long can grow cloudy or even mold. When the natural nectar dries up as the summer grows hot and dry, colonies that had been ignoring your feeder may suddenly consume the syrup at an alarming rate. Bee Well Honey recommends feeding your colony until the bees have “drawn out” on all 10 frames in the hive body and at least a shallow supper. We want the shallow supper to be full of honey before the end of fall. Don’t neglect proper feeding during this first summer. Always, remove the feeder when adding honey collection suppers for yourself.
Check your Queen periodically
Bee Well Honey always reminds you to check your queen status a few weeks after installing a package of bees. We want to see the queen present and a good brood pattern. What is a good brood pattern ? A nice area of capped brood with few empty cells in the area, brood of similar ages grouped together, not an overabundance of drone brood and drone brood should be on the perimeter of the nest area not in the middle.
If you have trouble finding your queen, don’t panic. Keeping a marked queen in your hive does make it easier to locate her on a frame with thousands of bees. You don’t have to look for the queen everytime you inspect your colony. In fact, you may be disturbing the bees unnecessarily and causing them stress. Instead look for signs of the queen, if you see a good brood pattern with fresh larva and eggs chances are your queen is just fine. Check for her presence at least once a month throughout the summer. If your colony swarms (yes packages CAN swarm their first year) you want to make sure the colony is successful in requeening itself.
Mites & Pests
By mid summer the varroa mite population will be climbing. Research and decide on a varroa management plan for your hives. There are several different methods for evaluation and treatment. Doing nothing for mite control is not an option for most of us. Mites can weaken your colony even if they do not cause the collapse of your hive completely. You will need to implement your plan in mid Summer to allow for healthy winter bees to emerge in the Fall.
We want our Spring Bee Packages to have a good laying queen, a plentiful population of healthy bees and a full food super come October. Do you best and remember that beekeeping isn’t always easy and sometimes the beekeeper who does his/her best will still experience hive failures. Don’t give up, beekeeping is a learning process that takes time and patience.
Happy Bee Keeping – Bee Well Honey
Kerry Owen has the red freightliner loaded down with package bees for our sold out bee day tomorrow ! Hundreds of excited beekeepers will be at the Pickens store bright and early Saturday morning to pick up bees that they have preordered. Each box of bees contains a mated queen, approximately 3# (10,000) bees and a can of sugar syrup for the journey. (You take snacks when you travel right ?) Bees need constant energy and this can of sugar will provide that until the new owners get them home and in a hive.
Kerry is very serious about providing good package bees for our customers. He does not have them shipped but actually goes and picks up the bees himself. These Italian Hygenic bees will fill up hives all across the upstate. Some beekeepers will experiment with new lines by replacing the Italian queen with one of the Carniolan Queens we have in stock. We stock all the bees supplies you might need.
Bee Day is always an exciting time and we are opening one hour early tomorrow to allow excited beekeepers to get those bees soon. We hope that everyone has their equipment ready and some sugar water already mixed as feeding new packages is very important.
We have several more bees days planned for the next few weeks and still have a few available for sale. Visit our Bees for sale page or call (864) 898-5122 to place your order. Spring is a great time to get started in bees and we will be glad to help you on your beekeeping journey.
Now, if you see a lot of excitement at Bee Well Honey early in the morning…. you will know why !
A gaggle of geese, a herd of cows, a pack of wolves, a cluster of bees…. its all semantics.
What is the cluster size ? This is a common question you may hear among beekeepers when discussing the size of a honey bee colony. The honeybee cluster is the main brood area of the hive. Here the queen will lay eggs and the nurse bees will feed the young. Honey and pollen will be stored near by for ready access. The cluster area is the “heart of the hive” especially in winter.
Most of the year, the honeybees will be spread out over the frames going about their daily chores. But the arrival of cool weather forces the bees to begin the clustering behavior. Because of the rearing of young, the brood area must be keep warm. When brood is present the temperature at the center of the honeybee cluster will be near 94 degrees. The bees produce heat by moving their wing muscles. As you move toward the outside of the cluster the temperature will drop. When the weather gets colder, the bees cluster tighter together.
Most beekeepers want a large cluster of bees going into late Fall. Throughout the winter, some of the older bees will die and the hive population will decrease. We want a colony to have a large enough population to sustain some loss before new bees begin to appear in late winter.
Genetics also play a part in cluster size. Some strains of bees (such as Russians or Carniolans) will carry smaller clusters into winter and then expand the brood nest rapidly upon the arrival of early Spring.
When bitter cold weather arrives, the bees will not leave the cluster to bring honey close by. If the cold weather continues until the honey supply near the cluster is exhausted – the bees will die. This is especially a danger to small clusters. So, a honeybee colony can perish even when they have a full super of honey on top or several frames away. The honey stores have to be in the right place at the right time.
We wish the very best for all of our beekeeping friends and their bees during this winter weather !
This is a great time of year to prepare new equipment for Spring. We have everything you need : order here
Honeybees and Spring
The Christmas Holidays have passed and now we begin to look towards working with our honeybees and Spring. Tired of long, damp winter days we look forward to opening the hives and evaluating the condition of our bee colonies. New beekeepers are reading and learning all they can as they prepare to establish hives for the first season. It is a great time to look for classes as most local bee associations will offer them in Jan-Feb. Bee Well Honey offers a one day Boot Camp in early March.
Red Maples are one of the first major nectar and pollen sources for the bees. You will notice the reddish blush in the tops of trees. Red Maple flowers are very small but their resources help the small overwintered colonies start their buildup for the major flowering season. Most beekeepers do not see any surplus honey from the Red Maple bloom. Cool chilly weather will prevent the bees from harvesting on many late winter days.
The pollen brought in from the Red Maples is not red but is actually a light greenish color.
Remember, bees do eat pollen but its major use is to feed their baby bees. It is a protein source. They don’t really need pollen to make honey but they do need it to make bees !
Knowing the natural bloom time of local plants is of great benefit to the beekeeper.