Perhaps you are ready to dive into beekeeping. You’ve been talking to your friends and family, and now you are finally ready to buy bee hive kits and set up a few colonies within your garden.
Beekeeping is a great hobby – but new beekeepers face a sharp learning curve that can sometimes discourage them. The practice takes patience and a willingness to continually learn. Ultimately, there is no substitute for taking classes, reading, and talking with experienced apiarists. However, you can learn a lot by reading online, and discovering some beekeeping don’ts when first starting out. Read more on below to find out the 5 most common mistakes new beekeepers make when starting out.
1. Not enough preparation
It’s no secret that bees take work. Too often, new beekeepers don’t prepare enough, leading to frustrating experiences when it comes to keeping a colony.
This means research, research, research. Understand what you need to do to encourage your hive to thrive. Head to the local library and take out books on beekeeping. Find local beekeepers in your area who are willing to share their knowledge.
When it comes to the job itself, make sure you take the time to suit up properly. While it may be romantic to stand amongst your hives with just a veil, this is bad practice – especially when new. And take your smoker with you, even if your bees are calm. Preparation means taking the time to do things properly from the outset, so you can understand how your bees behave.
2. Inspecting too often
When we start out beekeeping, we have a tendency to check our hives too frequently. We want to see the activity, and observe the excitement of worker bees coming and going. It makes sense to be obsessed!
But beekeeping rewards patience – after all, bees are able to their job best when undisturbed. Inspections disrupt activity, and sets the production of a colony back. So, keep your inspections to one a week, at the very most, and leave your bees to do their thing.
3. Losing your queen
Your queen is the life of your hive. With your queen comes brood – new workers who can collect pollen and nectar and produce honey. Going queen-less spells the decline of your hive, and while you can introduce a new queen, they don’t always take to the colony.
Sometimes it can be hard to determine whether your queen has been lost. Activity can remain the same, with bee traffic remaining high.
Every inspection, make sure you can see eggs. Eggs spell activity from the queen – and since they hatch within three days, eggs mean your queen has been active up until at least three days ago.
4. Harvesting too much honey
Your bees require honey to feed themselves through the winter. Depending on where you are located, your bees will require a different amount of honey in order to make it through the season. Put simply, if it is particularly cold where you are, the bees require more honey.
New beekeepers can become excited by the production of comb – but harvesting too soon can spell disaster for your hive. Most beekeepers recommend not harvesting honey in the first year of a colony. As the colony is still gaining its feet, a premature harvest can ruin your bees’ hard work, and lead to a collapse.
It can be difficult to know where to start with harvesting honey, so this is where being prepared pays off. When you chat with local beekeepers, they will be able to advise when and how much honey they take, helping give you an idea of what may be suitable for your hive.
5. Limiting yourself to just one colony
This point may be more contentious. It can be tempting, when starting out with beekeeping, to limit yourself to one colony, for money and time reasons.
However, we recommend starting with two, simply because it is not much more work, and you will learn much more. Through comparing hives, you will gain insight into how two different hives are doing. If one colony is weakened, and appears to have lost its queen, you can transplant brood, and encourage the production of a new queen.
Lastly, two hives mean two chances to have a colony survive the winter and into the next year.
Begin your beekeeping journey with Nuplas Apiarist Supplies
Nuplas Apiarist Supplies has everything you need to establish yourself as a beekeeper. We offer plastic bee hives available in starter kits to help you kickstart your beekeeping journey. Browse our range online or contact us today.