Posts Tagged ‘Honey Bees’


  

Alternative Ways of Beekeeping

For an alternative method to the normal techniques we have been discussing. This article introduces some interesting alternatives.

Top Bar Hive – An Alternative Beekeeping Method

The topbar beehive is not a new concept. Historical reference to the top-bar hive date back to the 1600’s. Most of today’s top bar bee hives are derived from work in the 1960’s. It was perfected for use in Kenya, Africa, and is often referred to as the Kenya Hive. Today it is also used in many other developing countries for it’s simple design and cost effective management methods. In recent years it has also become more popular in the United States.

The traditional Langstroth beehive consists of several boxes (supers) and numerous other parts that are either difficult to build or expensive to buy. In addition to the beehive, the Langstroth hive requires many other pieces of equipment to harvest honey and manage your bees. Not so with the top bar hive as you can read below.

Simple and Maintenance-Free

The top bar hive has only a few components: the hive body (box), 20 to 30 top bars (frames), and a lid. That’s all you will ever need. Compare that to your Langstroth hive. Bees build their own comb which eliminates the need for costly frames. The top bars are re-used after the harvest.

Non-Invasive Design

The top bar hive is healthier for bees. To check your bees, you will not have to take the whole thing apart. Hence, your bees will be less disturbed by your presence and checking of the comb.

Easy Harvest

To harvest your honey, you simply remove the bars with honeycomb. Unlike traditional methods, you won’t have to take the hive apart and disturb the bees as much. Not only is the top bar hive less stressful to harvest for you, it also does not disturb the bees as much. In addition to honey, the top bar hive has more beeswax to harvest. You also do not need a honey extractor/centrifuge or uncapping knife which saves you thousands of dollars. Smoking is completely unnecessary and many top bar hive users do not wear protective clothing either. (For the beginner I do advise to use some kind of protection, gloves and veil as the minimum!) Once you remove the honey comb, the bees will go about their business as usual. Try that on a Langstroth hive.

Healthier Bees

The top bar hive is designed for the bees’ optimal living conditions. This makes a colony much stronger and enables it to fight off pests and diseases on their own, much better than in a Langstroth hive. Besides healthier bees this will save you hundreds of dollars in medication as well as disappointment.

Why doesn’t everyone use top bar hives?

The top bar hive is not designed for maximum honey production, although there have been reports otherwise. For the hobby beekeeper a few pounds less honey are well worth the ease of management. You will harvest more beeswax with a top bar hive though. Any hobbyist should have more of an interest in keeping healthy bees than in squeezing out a few more pounds of honey from a stressed, overworked colony. With just one top bar hive, you will still have more than enough honey for your whole family and friends.

By: petitepets

Article Directory: http://www.articledashboard.com

More information about the top bar hive as well as pictures, construction plans, forum and sources to buy one can be found on PetitePets.com

 As you can see there are many different ways to the normal beekeeping techniques we have become accustomed to.

Beekeeping in Utah

Beekeeping in Utah has a long tradition and it has more than 300 registered beekeepers. All interested persons who would like to be beekeepers in Utah have to obtain a license from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. The cost of license is $25 per individual or business. All apiaries and hives in the State of Utah need to be marked with the owner’s or business’ name, UDAF license number and phone number. Markings should be legible and permanent.¬† To facilitate inspection of colonies of honey bees, they need to be maintained in hives that have removable frame equipment. To move bee colonies in and out of the State of Utah, inspection of bee colonies is mandatory. Residents of State of Utah need to contact local county inspector and non-residents need to contact the state entomologist for inspection before entry into State.

Utah Beekeepers Association keeps beekeepers in the State of Utah well-informed regarding events and news in the beekeeping industry. It helps in promoting beekeeping and production of honey for all types of beekeepers viz, commercial, hobbyist and sideliners. The association’s membership dues are as follows: for hobbyist who own 0-49 colonies – $10.00 per year, for sideliner who owns 50-299 colonies – $20.00 per year, commercials who own 300 or more colonies – $30.00 per year.

Another beekeeper’s association in State of Utah is the Utah County Beekeepers Association (UCBA). It is a group of individuals that shares a common passion for beekeeping, bees, and honey. Members’ participation is encouraged so as to have diverse views and opinion that helps in success of beekeeping and honey production. UCBA provides a forum for local beekeepers to share ideas, explore methods, discuss the culture and support each another. It educates general public regarding importance of beekeeping in Utah County in particular and in US in general. It aims at benefiting local businessmen, educationists and last but not the least, the beekeepers.

UCBA guides new beekeeper regarding time to begin beekeeping, temperament required for beekeeping, capital investment, supplies, equipment, selection of apiary site along with medicines and pest control information. It provides all the information regarding laws and regulations governing beekeeping in the State of Utah. It helps beekeepers regarding selection of bees, preparing hives, honey extraction, processing honey and wax and then selling processed honey and wax. The association also helps in giving tips on preparing various items like candles, polish etc. to its members.

UCBA has vast resource of books that help enrich knowledge and information for the members as regards to beekeeping. Books by renowned beekeepers are treasures that members can access and enrich themselves. The association makes available two magazines, American Bee Journal and Bee Culture which focus on broad areas of beekeeping and are helpful to all those who are interested in beekeeping. Association organizes classes for beginners each spring which lasts for six hours and it covers all the required information.

Thus, beekeeping in State of Utah has progressed rapidly due to informed beekeeping by its beekeepers and assistance provided by UCBA and Utah Beekeeper’s Association.

Compact Bee Hives

A beehive is an enclosed structure that houses and raises honey bees.  Natural beehives, also called as nest, occur naturally on natural structures like trees, bushes etc. and are occupied by honey bee colonies.  Honey bees that are domesticated for production of honey are housed in man-made beehives.  Generally, only subgenus Apis species reside in hives, and out of these species only Apis mellifera, also known as Western honey bee, and the Apis cerana, known as Eastern honey bee, are domesticated.

The internal structure of a hive consists of a matrix that is densely packed with hexagonal cells that are made of beeswax.  This is referred as honeycomb. These cells are utilized to store pollen and honey and for providing shelter to eggs, larvae and pupae.

A man made small bee hive should be economical, compact and easy to handle.  There are various types of hives:

Fixed-comb hive: This is man-made cavity that can be bark cylinders, hollowed-out logs, basket of straw, wooden boxes, bamboo or wicker, metal cans, or drums.   You will find honey bees attached to the combs directly at the upper surfaces of fixed-comb hive generally to the sides. There is space between combs left by honey bees. This hive cannot be replaced as comb can be removed only by cutting it.  This kills the bees.  Though this type of hive is economical, it is not widely used for this reason.

Langstroth hive, which is widely used hive for domesticated honey bee, is moveable frame hive.  It is so named because it was invented by Rev. Lorenzo Langstroth.  It is used in 75% of beekeeping around the world.  This small beehive is compact hive which provides bee space which helps them to propolize small spaces which is less than 1/4 inch.

Langstroth hive makes use of standard size for hive body that is a rectangular box without top or bottom and a frame.  The parts are interchangeable and the frame can be
removed easily to inspect and replace without killing the bees.

Langstroth hive body is rectangular-shaped styrofoam or wooden box which is stacked to expand the space that can be used by the bees. Frames inside the boxes are hung in parallel fashion.  The size of the hive depends on air temperature outside along with source of food in winter.  In winter, large food storage is required.  The box is made slightly deeper in winter. 

Langstroth frame is a thin rectangular structure that can be made from plastic or wood.  It has plastic or wax foundation that is the base for honey bees to draw out the comb. The frame holds the beeswax honeycomb that is manufactured by honey bees.  Generally, 10 frames that are side-to-side fill the body of the hive along with leaving the required amount of bee space between each frame.  This also leaves enough space between the end frames and the hive body.

Langstroth frames should be reinforced with wire.  This helps in extracting honey in centrifuges that spin the honey out of the frames. The empty frames are reused next season.

What is an Apiary?

An apiary, which is also known as a bee yard, is a place where beehives of honey bees is reared and kept. Beekeepers are also known as apiarists.  Apiary or apiculture, which derives its meaning from Latin word apis which mean bee, is maintenance of honeybee hives by humans. An apiarist might keep bees with the objective of collecting honey and beeswax or with the objective of pollinating crops or producing bees for sale to other apiarists.  Beekeeping apiary is one of the oldest forms of food production.

To start an apiary, two bee colonies is considered an ideal number. You can expand it in few years as you gain experience.  It is assumed that a single hive produces 50 to 100 pounds of honey every year. Start with right type of hive.  Assemble bees in hive using experts.  You can either build your own hive or get one build from local tinsmith.  You can also order all the parts of hives from a store. 

Plan bee apiary in upcoming season by ordering bees, hives and other apiary supplies and equipment well in advance.  Fall is the best time to buy all the supplies.  All the equipments should be assembled in winter so as to make arrangement for bees to be placed after arrival.  Then place hive at the designated place for the apiary.  At this juncture, you can become member of local apiary association to gain further information about beekeeping.  This will also help you in sharing your problems with more experienced apiarists who will eagerly help you out. 

Location of apiary is very important.  It is advantageous to place apiary where there is plenty of pollen and nectar source such as flowers and corn, ornamental trees and plants.  Apiary should be near a good source of clean water.  It is prudent to provide water source so as to prevent bees from moving into neighbor’s area in search of water. A bee apiary must face south or southeast along with a windbreak behind.  The area must not be damp and must have sufficient shade.  The apiary must be easily approachable for you to work around it.

Selection of correct apiary equipment is very essential.  Buy new equipment if you are new to beekeeping apiary.  If you purchase colonies or equipment from other beekeeper, get it tested by concerned department for any disease or pest stains.  Irrespective of how and from where you purchase your apiary equipment, it needs to meet the standard required by you.  Buy all the protective gear required for beekeeping apiary such as overalls, gloves, masks, veil and smokers so as to protect from bee stings as well as facilitate easy handling of bees.

Take precaution against spread of disease.  Use Terramycin twice every year before and after the honey flow so as to prevent foulbrood disease.  Use Fumadil "B" (Fumagillin) to control Nosema disease which inflicts adult bees.  Hive should be tilted slightly so that water does not accumulate inside.  The hive should be properly ventilated from top.  Food supply should be ensured to prevent bees from dying due to hunger.

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.

How to Start Beekeeping

The first step that is important for a beekeeping startup is to know the seasonal cycles. As there is no period during which the colony is fully inactive, careful planning of the timing or seasonal cycle is very important.  Flowering of plants, nectar flow are influenced due to seasonal change in weather pattern.  So, first check out the seasonal cycles before venture to start beekeeping.

Next step to start a beekeeping is to manage honey bee colony.  Honey bees generally build nests in a cavity where the combs are attached to the upper part. To manage hives, you need to manipulate the combs so as to adjust the space needs or to inspect the condition of the colony. Hence, a practical system is a prerequisite to start beekeeping that allows easy replacement and removal of combs without destroying them.  Knowledge of bee space also helps in construction of hives that separate the brood nest from the honey stores.  This allows separate access to each area.

Next step to start a beekeeping venture is to select hive.  There are many options like movable hive, simple package hives which have a screened box that has honey bees and a queen bee, fixed-comb hive, etc.  Whichever type of hive you select, it should be cost-effective and provide the desired result which is speeding up the process of obtaining honey.

Next step is to select arrangement of the apiary and placement of hives.  To protect bees from toads and ants, you can opt for putting hives on stands that are at least one to one-and-half foot above the ground.  Tall grass and weeds need to be cut so as to lessen the number of ants and other insects and to keep the apiary clean.  You should not place hive close to each other in long straight rows as this might results in drifting and may confuse the bees of different colonies.  This can also lead to transmission of disease.

Once the hive place and type are decided, it is important to have a proper gear to work with and equipment needed to start beekeeping.  As it is well -known face that bees sting, to protect from bee stings, the person working within the apiary should be well-protected.  A smoker helps in controlling bees and thus minimizes stings. A veil is important part of protective clothing.  This can be made of plastic screen or metal screen or nylon mesh or mosquito net.  A veil should cover full face as well as neck.  Rubber or elastic bands can be used to hold it in place or hold it over a hat.  The veil material should be dark as it limits reflection and help in clear visibility while working in sunlight. Gloves and loose fitting full body gown are a must while working in an apiary. 

Next, find a source of bees.  You can get them from a bee farmer or other bee keepers or local outlets.  Place these bees in hive and let the colony built.  Next reap the fruits of your labor by extracting honey and selling it to make a tidy profit.