Archive for the ‘Honey Bees’ Category


Honey Bee Parasite May be a Greater Threat Than First Thought

The parasite that has helped contribute to the decimation of colonies of honey bees for a decade could be worse than first thought scientists have revealed.

Although the stresses that lead to colony collapse are many and varied including the use of pesticides, mites, disease and drought. The single cell fungal parasite ‘Nosema Ceranae’ is thought to be more of a danger than originally thought.

beeIt was believed that only adults were in danger from the parasite but scientists at the University of California published a journal showing that young bees are at risk as well.

The scientists exposed larvae to various concentrations of spores and found that 41 per cent of them became infected. Infected bees have been shown to lead significantly shoter lives as well.

This latest discovery may certainly help to explain the decimation of many colonies of honey bees but it has been admitted that many more studies will be needed to prove this.


Honey Beekeeping

Honey beekeeping is very lucrative and interesting activity. Honey bees are hugely popular and economically advantageous creatures.  They provide honey and beeswax.  With modern techniques, honey bees can be kept in artificial hives.  Though majority of people venturing into honey beekeeping do it for earning money, some honey beekeepers are hobbyists who keep a few hives.  They just enjoy working with honey bees.

Once you decide to become honey beekeeper, you can keep bees almost anywhere.  Choose such area that has flowers as they help in production of pollen and nectar which is transformed into honey. The site must provide protection from winds and should be shaded.  It is prudent to avoid low spots so as to avoid dampness.  Inform your neighbors about it so as to know whether they have any objection to it or not.  This is mandatory by law.  Select a site that does not place hive on paths of sidewalks or playground along with any public area. Provide bees with water source such as a container so as to prevent them from venturing into neighborhood for water.

Next step in honey beekeeping is acquiring beekeeping equipment.  The first equipment required is bee hive.  There are movable hives, simple package hives which have a screened box that has honey bees and a queen bee, fixed-comb hive, etc.  Next equipment is bottom board which is a wooden stand that helps in resting hive.  It should be kept off the ground.  Next, hive body should be procured so as to help honey bees to rear brood and store honey.  Queen excluder should be placed between brood nest and the honey supers.  This helps in keeping queen in the brood nest.

Honey supers should be installed so as to store surplus honey.  Next, inner cover and outer cover should be installed so as to prevent bees from attaching comb to outer cover along with insulating dead air space and provide protection from inclement weather.  Smokers, gloves and gowns help in protecting from bee stings.

Next important step that honey beekeepers should follow is to get bees for the hive.  A simple package of bees can be opted that has a screened box along with honey bees and a queen bee.  These bees can be transferred in the hive and the colony can be allowed to be built.

After this, honey beekeeping management schedule should be followed.  Honey beekeeper should take care of feeding and medication so as to derive maximum nectar flow.  Once queens lay eggs, brood production speeds up and supplementing the bees with feeds and nutrition becomes important. Care must be taken to prevent disease and pest from attacking bees. 

Last stage in honey beekeeping is to process honey.  This can be done with the use of hot knife and slicing off the cappings away from comb of honey.  Uncapping of tank can also help in collecting honey that drips through the bottom of the tank. Other methods include extracting, straining and using storage tanks.

How to Buy Honey Bees

One of the most essential parts of beekeeping is beekeeping equipment and supplies. The most important supply of beekeeping is bees itself. Due to the availability of vast number of honey bees and as there are different types of honey bees with different properties and characteristics, it is pertinent to buy bees with utmost care.

First, it must be decided which type of bees to buy. There are different species of bees. Majority of the bees are solitary, but some are social and they live together in colonies. They divide the work to be performed among the individual bees. All bees collect pollen and nectar from flowers, but only some of the social bees store the nectar in the form of honey. Also, among those bees who store honey, even fewer store it in sufficient quantity so as to make the honey harvesting effort worthwhile.

The different types of bees are sting-less bees like, Melipona and Trigona. Apis which is the true honey bee has four species, three native to Asia and one to Afro-European region. All of these look similar, but have different size and color. They build vertical combs which are two cells thick.

The Africanized bee is characterized by its unpredictability and defensiveness. Their sting is fatal making them one of the most dangerous bees to keep.  European bees build large colonies’ and produce huge supplies of honey, sometimes yielding 100 kg per year or more under optimum conditions.

So, keeping in mind the characteristics of types of bees, one must select and buy bees for beekeeping. Some points that help in buying bees are:

1. High quantity of honey production
2. Low tendency of swarm
3. Calm on combs during work in colony
4. Disease resistant
5. Little use of propolis
6. Gentleness

Now the question arises, how to buy or from where to buy honey bees. While selecting honey bees to buy, one must keep in mind the cost effectiveness, guarantee offered, payment terms, source of purchase, etc. The easiest method is to check online. While buying honey bees online, check the reputation of the seller and the cost offered. Check whether shipment cost is borne by the seller or not. Another method of purchasing honey bees is to opt for packaged honey bees. You get one prescreened box that has honey bees and a queen bee. Transfer these bees in the hive and allow the colony to build. Other option is to purchase a full-sized ready made colony of honey bees.

The best and the easiest way to purchase honey bee is to buy two fully established colonies of bees from a reputable local beekeeper. This helps in allowing interchanging of frames of brood and honey in case one colony becomes weaker and requires a boost.
Before buying bees or colonies, it is advisable to inspect the bees or colonies. Request for a recent certificate of inspection provided by state Department of Agriculture. It is advisable to buy bees in standard equipment only. Also, check the condition of the equipment.