How to Start Beekeeping for Survival Purposes

Beekeeping as part of your survival plan will not only provide you with sweet tasting honey, but a natural healing agent as well as sustainable and substantial bartering material.

A beekeeper has ample bartering options when running a successful backyard operation. Honey can be used to prevent bacteria from getting into wounds and enhance the time it takes for the injury to heal. It has also been used as a way to preserve meat for thousands of years.

honeycombs and beehive frames on top of open beehive

Renting out healthy beehives to farmers and gardeners (which will be everyone who wants to put a meal in their belly during a long-term disaster) to pollinate their crops, is yet another way to use your bees during a survival situation.

The beeswax created inside the hives is also a valuable bartering commodity. The wax can be used to make candles and is a base ingredient in a plethora of DIY natural salves.

Even if you are living on a small survival homestead or in the suburbs, enough space to keep bees most likely exists. As long as you are not violating local laws, establishing up to three beehives on merely a ¼ of an acre of land, is entirely possible.

You do not need to wait until a SHTF event to start making money off bees as part of your survival plan. There are only about 6,0000 beekeepers currently in operation in the United States. That might sound like a large number, but they still struggle to produce the 161 million pounds of honey that is consumed in our country each year.

Selling honey, wax, and even propolis created by the bees in your hives, could be done at a local farmer’s market, at a roadside stand on your own property, or online through retailers like ETSY.

Colony Collapse Disorder

One of the reasons beekeepers in America (and around the world) are struggling to produce as much honey as expected each season, is due to Colony Collapse Disorder. Since 2005, around 40 percent of the honeybee population in our country has died.

The population decline numbers continue to send shockwaves through the beekeeping community every year since CCD first made national headlines over a decade ago.

Why Colony Collapse Disorder remains an intensely heated topic, with none of the supposed experts being able to agree on what causes the mass deaths of bees – only that it just keeps happening.

Many beekeepers and environmentalists feel chemical pesticides with glyphosate (like Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready) as well as genetically modified seeds (GMOs) are to blame for the deaths of the pollinators we depend on for 75 percent of our food to grow.

Bees afflicted with Colony Collapse Disorder become fatigued and disoriented due to a disrupted nervous system. In this confused state, a bee often cannot find its way back to its hive, or dies of starvation even when surrounded by incredible amounts of food.

Beekeeping Equipment

Hive Stand

The beehive stand is typically comprised of wood. The purpose of the stand is to keep the hive elevated from the ground to prevent weakening and warping of the wood. This also prevents moisture from getting into it as much as possible, and prompting deadly mold to grow.

Not ever beekeeper uses a stand, but it generally extends the life of the hive and prevents unnecessary wear and tear on your back.

Hive Body

Almost every beehive is made of two parts, with one being placed directly on top of the other – this is the hive body. The top part of the hive body is where the colony actually lives and the lower portion is where the colony stores their food and baby bees.

In a properly placed hive, the lower portion is always warmer than the upper portion to help incubate the thousands of baby bees growing inside at any given time.

You can get beehives on Amazon.

Frames

The type of beehive you build or buy will dictate what type of frames you need. The frames are removable to the beekeeper can tend to the colony and the hive.

Popular manufactured hive brands include Langstroth, British National, and Warre. The frames sold to go with specific hives are sold in varying sizes – shallow, medium, and deep.

You can get frames from Amazon as well.

beekeeper suit

Beekeeper Suit

This suit prevents the beekeeper from being stung profusely and being overly exposed to propolis.

A good beekeeper suit is not exactly cheap. They can be purchased as a coverall suit or a jacket and suit combination suit. A hood with a mesh vail to better protect the face and neck as well as thick gloves, are also part of a beekeeper suit set.

Smoker

The smoker puffs smoke inside the hive in an attempt to calm the bees down before the beekeeper opens the hive for maintenance, repair, or related activities.

Beehive Tool

This manual tool is used to pry open the beehive boxes and remove frames.

Uncapping Knife

A beekeeper uses this sharp manual tool to remove beeswax cells from the interior regions of the hive body.

Mesh Screen or Bottom Board

This part of the beehive box is where the rails that support the frame are located. The bottom board or mesh screen help to make certain the honeybees are not exposed too intensely to the elements. When the honeybees get too chilled a condition referred to as “cold brood” that can kill the entire colony in one fell swoop.

A bottom board is typically used during the late fall through early spring to keep out as much cold as possible. The board is replaced by the mesh screen during the warm weather months to increase ventilation and prevent the honeybee colony from becoming overheated.

Both the board and the mesh screen can help prevent varroa mites from getting inside the beehive – which some folks blame for Colony Collapse Disorder.

Entrance Reducer

This beehive attachment is placed on the entrance to the hive body to both regulate the temperature inside and control ventilation. This is also often referred to as a cleat. It is quickly and easily manually adjusted as the weather changes.

The entrance reducer leaves about a one inch opening for the bees to fly through when it is cold outside. The entrance reduce can be increased to create a four inch wide opening during the summer months.

Super

A super is attached to the beehive to collect the honey the colony is not using. A super typically comes in two sizes – shallow and medium.

A shallow super stands a little more than five inches tall and is capable of holding up to 40 pounds of honey. A medium super stands close to seven inches tall and can hold approximately 55 pounds of honey.

Centrifuge

This beekeeper tool is also often referred to as a “super extractor.” It is optional, but highly useful. A centrifuge eliminates overly thick and slower moving honey from the super to make removal a less tedious and time consuming chore. You can find them on Amazon.

Inner Cover Tray

This type of tray is used by beekeepers who prefer to establish a hive that does not include a top feeding area for colony members. The tray goes on top of the beehive upper body to prevent the little pollinators from flying away and almost always include a ventilation hole.

Outer Cover Tray

This type of beehive cover is basically a roof that is securely placed on the upper hive body. It goes a long way in preventing debris and excess water from getting inside the hive. It really helps to keep both the honey and hive far more clean and potentially block possibly harmful bacteria from infiltrating your beekeeping operation.

Start-Up Costs

The initial investment for all of the startup beekeeping needs is roughly $500 – depending upon whether your build the hive body boxes yourself and how many hives you set up.

Beekeeping Legal Considerations

Typically, folks in rural areas can keep as many beehives as they wish. But in the suburbs, urban areas, and even small towns, restrictions (or an outright ban) could impact a planned beekeeping operation.

Examples Of Common Beekeeping Restrictions

  • Hive location – A regulation requiring the location of hives no closer than 15 feet from a sidewalk or property boundary is not uncommon.
  • Number of beehives
  • Permits – expect to pay a fee on an annual basis if you live in an incorporated small town or larger municipality.
  • Government Inspection – Before establishing an apiary, a permit fee might need paid and an inspection of the beekeeping setup may be required. Such inspection might carry a fee and be required on an annual basis.

Honeybee Colonies

Queen Bee

Every hive has to possess a queen bee to survive. Each hive will support only one queen bee, any potential contenders are either forced out or killed inside the hive. If a queen bee fails to live up to her royal duties, another female may challenge her for the throne.

The average lifespan of a queen bee is about four years. She will be most active reproductively from the late spring through the early fall.

A queen bee’s only chore is to mate and give birth to tiny pollinators. A honeybee queen typically produces thousands of baby bees annually during her peak production years. During her life span, a quality queen bee can produce up to 500,000 babies.

A colony without a queen will fly away in search of one. How a queen bee is introduced into either a new of existing colony is crucial to the success of the hive. Simply because a bee is sold as a queen does not mean the colony will accept her.

There are two ways to introduce a queen bee into a hive, the direct and the indirect method.

Introducing a Queen – The Direct Method

In this method, a beekeeper just opens up the container the queen bee arrived in, and pushes it into the beehive entrance. What happens next could go two ways.

Either drone bees will accept and welcome the queen, and allow her deeper inside the hive, or they will attack and kill her immediately. Since queen bees of good quality can cost as much as $150, smart beekeepers rarely ever uses the direct method to introduce her into the colony.

Introducing a Queen – Indirect Method

Using this method takes more time than the one above, but almost always yields more positive results. To introduce a queen bee to her colony in this manner, place the container holding the queen in the entrance or into a feeder frame where the drones can see and smell her, but not actually get to her.

Watch how the drones respond to her over the course of several days to a week. Their initial response should be inquisitive yet suspicious. The drones will likely fly near her and then quickly fly away – possibly mimicking an attack.

Hopefully, over the course of just a couple of days, the drones will fly to the queen and spend more time around her container, behaving in a protective and non-violent, manner.

Once the drones behave in this manner, it is time to release the honeybee queen into the colony – and cross your fingers she is accepted.

Drones

All drone bees are male. They too have just one job in the beehive colony – mating with the queen bee. While this might sound like a dandy job to have if you were a bee, once her royal highness is done mating with you, your life ends. If a drone bee is not up to his task, he is killed by his fellow colony members or the queen bee herself.

The average life cycle of a drone bee is only a couple of months long. It takes a lot of strength and agility to be a drone – they mate with the queen several hundred feet in the air. Drones are the lowest percentage of the population in the beehive colony.

Worker Bees

These bees can be both male or female, but in a typical beehive, most of the worker bees are gals. The average life cycle of a worker bee is about six months, unless they are born in the summertime and their lifespan is shortened to about only six weeks.

Worker bees must stockpile the colony’s food supply, create the elaborate honeycomb, and help guard the hive entrance.

Honey Bee Life Cycle

  1. Eggs are laid and incubated for three days.
  2. Beginning on day 3 and ending on day 10, the eggs are immature larvae and feed upon the honeycomb habitat surrounding them.
  3. Worker bees deliver both nectar and pollen to the developing larvae to supplement their food source from day eight through day 16.
  4. Beginning on day 14, the young honey bees start to leave the comfort of the beehive, and begin to gather their own pollen and nectar.
honeybee

Honeybee Breeds

There are different breeds of bees just like any other form of livestock found on small or large homesteads. Each specific breed has distinct advantages and disadvantages, with some being more hardy to cold climates than others.

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Selecting A Honeybee Breed

  • Will these bees be kept purely as part of my survival plan and as a hobby or used as a homesteading money-making endeavor, as well?
  • What is my level of bee handling experience? This is especially important if considering purchasing a honeybee breed that is known to be at least somewhat aggressive, or has a tendency to swarm when startled.
  • Is the breed of bees I want going to be hardy in my climate during both the winter and summer?
  • How will this breed of honeybees be disease-resistant to the environment in my area?
  • Will this breed and its queen be too expensive to replace if colony numbers die off or baby bees do not appear as quickly as predicted?

Top 5 Honey Bee Breeds

1. Italian

They are light yellow with a striped belly. Italians are recommended for beginner beekeepers because they are far less aggressive than other breeds. Italian bees are not cold climate hard, but are diligent workers, great at producing quality honey, avid foragers, and disease resistant.

2. Carniolans

This is a small stature honeybee that is a dark brown shade with brown spots. They are also a fairly docile breed and not prone to swarming. Carniolans are avid foragers, cold weather hard, disease resistant, and although they make a great tasting honey they produce a lesser quantity than some other breeds.

3. Caucasian Bees

This honeybee breed is a shade of light silver with brown adornment. They are cold weather hardy, and will even forage for nectar and pollen when it’s chilly, reducing the amount of supplemental feed they require during the cold weather months.

Their honey is sweet and delicious, but also not produced in a quantity as high as Italians and several other breeds. Caucasian honey bees produce significant levels of propolis, which means the hive will need cleaning more often. They are not disease resistant.

4. Russians

This breed of honeybees is one of the most disease resistant, even when it comes to mites. Russians are either dark brown of black in color. They are cold weather hard and adapt well to a change in habitat.

This breed of honeybee is also excellent as warding off attacks by other bees attempting to take over their hive. They are somewhat aggressive in nature and will swarm if they fill too confined inside their hive. Russians also refuse to fly far in search of a food source.

5. Buckfast

These yellow honeybees with brown stripes area cross between Italian and European honeybees. They are exceptional pollinators, extremely docile, and very mite and disease resistant.

Buckfast honey bees are best kept in warm climates as they are not cold weather hardy, and require a higher level of supplemental food when the temperature drops than most other breeds.

Honeybee Buying Tips

  1. When possible, buy bees from a local apiary so they are already hardened to your native climate.
  2. While queen bees are sold individually, drones and workers can be purchased in small amounts or 100 or so at a time.
  3. Honeybees can also be purchased in a nucleus – or nuc. This might be the most expensive way to purchase bees, but you are getting an established colony in proper proportions of members and an accepted queen.
  4. If you must buy bees online, plan ahead. It would be rare for beekeepers to be willing to ship bees during cold weather months. Exposing them to the stress of shipment typically can result in a small amount of colony member loss. Shipping bees during cold weather, especially if doing so results in a substantial change in climate, the deaths would be far greater.
  5. Always check on a warranty for the honeybees, especially if they are being shipped. Sometimes a beekeeper will offer a partial refund for a replacement queen if the colony refuses to accept her.
  6. Attracting wild bees to a hive is strongly discouraged for newbie keepers. Heck, many expert beekeepers advise against it for anyone. It can be done, but the chance of swarming is just too great, even though you would acquire expert foragers that are hardened to your specific climate and against localized diseases.

Questions to Ask Before Buying Honeybees

  1. Where are the bees from?
  2. What breed are the bees?
  3. How many frames are included when purchasing either a full colony set or a nuc.
  4. What breed are the bees?
  5. What equipment the beekeeper used and his or her sanitary practices if the equipment is reused after a colony is sold.
  6. Never be shy about asking for references from local beekeepers.

Installing Honeybee Tips

It is always best to introduce honey bees into a hive from their package during the afternoon. That time of day is the warmest and offers the most light inside the hive, allowing them to become better acquainted with their new living corners without adding extra stress.

Always provide some supplemental food during the installation process, regardless of the time of year. Sugar water is what most commercially raised bees will be most accustomed to eating.

Offer the supplemental food about every 15 to 30 minutes to ensure every bee gets to eat and to teach the pollinators this is where they can expect to be well fed and safe.

Keep the area around the hive quiet and calm. Keep pets and curious children away from the hive for several days to avoid the colony members from feeling threatened – which can lead to a desire to swarm.

bees

How to Install Bees Into a Hive

  1. Put on your beekeeping gear.
  2. Light up your beehive smoker and keep plenty of fuel at hand just in case the smoke runs out before you get any problem bees safely ushered into their new home.
  3. Before opening the package the bees arrived in, bump it gently on the ground so that all of the bees are loosened from the lid where they have surely congregated.
  4. Carefully cut an opening the package using a sharp knife. This process goes far better when two people are involved – one to deal with the container of honeybees and the other to work the smoker.
  5. Remove the feeder from the container of honeybees. If the package containing the queen is inside the main container, remove that as well.
  6. Using a soft bristled brush to gently and carefully remove any stubborn bees that are still attached to the lid of the transportation container of the container housing the queen bee so they are urged to remain on the bottom of the container.
  7. Close the lid on the package to deter the honeybees from getting out and flying away.
  8. Review the state of the queen to make sure she is both alive and up and walking around inside of her container amid all of the excitement. If the queen is dead or does not look healthy, it is unlikely the new colony will remain in the hive. Calling the breeder or shipper is an immediate must.
  9. If the queen bee is healthy, place her inside on of the bars – frames in the hive. She should be away from the entrance. Using paper clips, hand her container onto the bar or frame. The adjacent bars – frames will be where the honeycomb is formed to feed your new bee colony.
  10. Pick a deep spot in the hive bars – frame to cultivate as the living quarters for the colony.
  11. Open the container again and carefully scoop out a small group of bees with a coffee cup or similar smooth and safe cup or bowl.
  12. Put the bees near the queen. The honeybees should begin to cluster around her container in an effort to protect her. In doing so, they will release pheromones that will call the other bees into the hive.
  13. Wait a few minutes before place placing the rest of the bees into the same space as the first small group.
  14. Use the smoker to keep any bees that want to fly back out of the hive, back inside.
  15. Put the top bars – frames and lid back on the hive.

Hive Installation Checklist

First Review

Wait a couple of hours to let the bees settle down and then check to make sure the colony is still clustering around the bee. If this is not happening, it likely means another female is attempting to emerge as the queen bee.

Such a challenge so soon after the colony has been installed means chaos will erupt inside your new beehive. Finding and getting rid of the second queen has to be done – as quickly and safely as possible.

You will likely need help and a smoker to accomplish this task. Look for bees clustering around the wannabe queen. Removing her may mean you will lose some of her protectors, as well.

Next, place your own supplemental feeder into the hive. The bees will still be in a state of agitation at so much disruption – so keep that smoker handy. It is best to place the feeder near the queen bee where colony members are already clustering.

Second Review

As hard as it may be, wait a full three days before poking your head into the new beehive again. The honeybees should be flying around inside of their hive. They may be doing this in a slightly disorganized manner, but this is normal behavior as they get better acquainted with the new and spacious surroundings.

Not all of the honeybees will survive the transport and acclimate into the new hive. You will also probably see what beekeepers dub, “undertaker bees” carrying out their dead colony members to protect the hive from disease as their tiny bodies decay.

By three or four days in you should be able to sit near the hive and witness worker bees flying pollen and nectar back into the hive. If such behavior is not occurring, contact the beekeeper or shipper the colony was purchased from immediately.

Third Review

By day four or five after the release into the hive, it is time to free her royal highness from her private shipping container. Be very careful when adjusting bars or frames to release the queen. The newly developing honeycomb will be extremely fragile at this point.

Expect the worker bees to have attempted to free the queen on their own by this stage. Watch quietly for about 30 minutes or so to make sure the colony is accepting the queen after her release before closing up the hive.

Fourth Review

At the end of the first week, open up the hive again to see if the queen bee is laying eggs. If no little honey bee eggs can be found, the hive is not functioning properly and the beekeeper or shipper must be contacted.
https://youtu.be/zDZDYgBkCx0

Nuc Installation

A nucleus colony generally consists of five frames. Three of these five frames will already contain honey, stores of pollen, and an active brooder. The queen bee has already been introduced into the colony of honeybees and is respected as their leader.

How To Install A Nuc

Installing a nuc is far less taxing than installing honeybees from a container with a separated queen. The possibility of a swarming when releasing a nuc is typically far less likely than a similar and shocking turn of events happening when releasing container bees.

  1. Put on your beekeeping gear and get a smoker ready – but it is unlikely you will need to use it.
  2. Double check the measurements on the nuc frames to make certain they will fit your hive.
  3. Adjust any frames in your hive so there is ample room to install the nuc ones. The filled frames must be placed in the hive in the exact same order as they were packaged.
  4. Put the supplemental feeder in the hive and fill it with the sugar water syrup mixture.
  5. If a queen excluder came with the nuc or you purchased one, install it now. The tool prevents the large queen from leaving the hive while she get acclimated into her new home. This tool may also prevent swarming because only a single worker or drone bee can exist at any one time.
  6. Follow the same beehive review steps as noted above after closing the lid on your box after putting the nuc frames in place.

Beehive Location

The amount of space required for each individual hive will depend on the size of the hive body boxes.

Average Hive Measurements

• A Langstroth beehive, one of the most popular varieties in the United States, stands about 16 inches by 22 inches.
• A Top Bar beehive, also a popular model, stands about 40 x 20 inches

While beekeeping is most often associated with rural and to a lesser degree, suburban areas, thousands of urban residents have now taken up this valuable survival skill as a profitable hobby as well.

The possibility of urban beekeeping is enhanced if your building allows rooftop use for apartment dwellers to garden or for similar use. Setting up beehives on a rooftop is not the typical environment, but it can be turned into a viable one by adding attractive plants and pots in portable containers.

Urban gardens have nearly become commonplace in most cities. Working with local urban gardeners or a growing co-op is yet another way to cultivate honeybees outside of an typical agricultural area.

Vacant and neglected lots are an eyesore – and a perfect place to start an apiary and urban garden in metropolitan areas. Rosebay willowherb is one of the first plants to pop up after a building has been torn down or left in a stage of neglect. Honeybees will naturally appear in such locations because of the abundance of a reliable food source.

Tips For Urban Beekeepers

  • Join a beekeeping group that is focused on establishing or enhancing apiaries in urban areas, or at least find an experienced beekeeper in the city to learn from and shadow.
  • You will need both the time and access to check on the hive at least once a week. You will need a secure place to store your beekeeping equipment either near the hives or within a short distance that allows for easy access. Toting all of your beekeeping equipment up a fire escape simply is not viable – especially during the long winter months.

Beehive Entrance

There is a reason the phrase “made a beeline” was coined. A honeybee always prefers to fly quickly in a straight line to get to its food and water source and back home again. Place the beehives as close to their food source as possible and make sure the area is not filled with obstacles in the flight zone from the entrance to sustenance.

Placing a beehive directly in the garden, fruit grove, or near wild berry bushes is highly recommended. There is no reason for all of the beehives to be located in the same area or covered with a lean to, unless local law dictates such practices.

You will likely need to adjust the direction the hive entrance faces as the seasons change. During the summer months, the beehive entrance should not face towards the south like it does in the winter to prevent overexposure to heat.

Beehive Setup

Hive Feeder – Multiple different types of hive feeder exist for a nominal price.

Feeder Frame – A feeder frame is a popular option for providing supplemental food to the colony without exposing is to added moisture or debris – or creating extra waste the hive must be opened to clean.

Ladder Feeder – These are another affordable and popular hive feeder option. The ladder is placed inside the hive at an angle so a large amount of colony members can use it from multiple sides at any one time. This is an added safety feature designed to help prevent honeybees from crawling into a feeder tray and becoming trapped in the sticky supplemental food source.

Not all hive feeders ware designed to fit universally with differing manufactured or homemade hives. Read the description of the hive feeder carefully to make sure it will function and fit properly in your beehives.

If you choose to make your own hive feeder, make sure to keep it shallow and narrow to help prevent honeybees from crawling into it.

Supplemental Feed

Honeybees do not usually require supplemental feed until it gets closer to winter time. You can buy manufactured supplemental feed for bees, but it is easy to make – and far cheaper, as well.

My honeybee supplemental feed recipe will provide nutrients for a pollinator colony that weighs approximately 120 pounds – approximately 100 bees.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of sugar
  • 1 gallon of water

Directions

  1. Mix the water and sugar together.
  2. Pour the mixture into a shallow hive feeder or outside of the hive in a shallow bird bath. While honeybees love water, they can drown in liquid that is only 1 inch deep.

Honeybee Food

Plant or provide the following honeybee high nutrient options for your colony to forage or be fed during cold weather months.

  • Pumpkin
  • Calendula
  • Echinacea
  • Lemon Balm
  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Sunflowers
  • Pollen patties
  • Marshmallows
  • Their own honey
  • Fondant icing
 bee drinking water

Water

Provide clean water for honey bees at all times, especially during times of intense heat, humidity, and drought like conditions. Remember to keep any container user to provide water less than 1 inch deep.

Beehive Space

Beehives will rarely roam more than six to 10 feet from their hive in search of food. Hive, regardless of size, should be placed about 10 feet apart. Novice beekeepers often place hives right next to each other, this is a very bad idea.

Placing hives too closely together will result in fighting for food and water. It can often cause bees to become confused and fly into the wrong hive and get attacked.

Beehive Maintenance Tips

  • Review the hive and engage in maintenance when most of the colony is busy out searching for pollen and nectar. This practice reduces the chances of swarming. A warm and sunny afternoon is the best time to do maintenance on a beehive.
  • Even if most of the bees are out doing their food gathering chores, blow a few blasts of smoke into the hive just to be on the safe side – but only a few. If the bees are bombarded by too much smoke they will be incited to panic thinking the hive is on five and flee..or swarm.
  • Always wear only clean beekeeping gear. The scent the bees leave when landing on your protective wear will attract bees to you and encourage their desire to sting.
  • Checking on the honeycomb is second in importance to making sure the queen bee is alive and healthy. Without a sturdy and proper honeycomb, you will not be getting any honey.
  • As the cold weather months are looming, consider relocating your hive to a sunnier spot and make sure the entrance is facing the south. In the Midwest, winter preparation of hives should begin by the end of October or the beginning of November. Do not move the hive until just before dark when all of the worker bees have made it back inside.
  • I recommend moving the beehive only a few feet a day so the change in location is less noticeable to the colony. The least amount of disruption to their daily routine and direct access to a food and water source is vital.
  • When moving the hive, especially if relocating it a large distance, temporarily block the entrance so the colony cannot fly out – but still maintains proper ventilation.
  • During the cold weather months, if you notice the bees huddling together in a cluster when you do hive reviews, they are not warm enough. Being exposed to too much cold and moisture can make the honeybees sick or kill them. Consider relocating the hive, insulation the exterior of the hive with cardboard duct taped around the side or dirt mounds, and open the lid slightly on unseasonably warm days for about a half an hour to dry up excess moisture.

Common Honey Bee Pests

  • Tracheal Mites – These internal parasites both live and then breed inside the the same tracheal tubes the little pollinators need to breathe. Due to their microscopic size, even experienced beekeepers do not realize they are in the midst of a bad infestation until bees begin to die off in significant amounts. Fumigants that are recommended to spray in hives can prevent or control tracheal mite infestations.
  • Varroa Mites – These parasites are perhaps the number one honey bee pest. Varroa mites feed off of the bee pupae and the blood of mature bees. Varroa mite infestations weaken the bees and can cause the development of pathogens and viruses that are capable of wiping out an entire colony. Fumigants can help prevent these deadly mites, but none are entirely successful at the task.
  • Small Hive Beetle – These tiny beetles invade the beehive and create foreign waste and debris inside the home of the pollinators. Using fumigants will kill or run them off in most cases.
  • Wax Moth – The moths infiltrate a hive and cause severe damage to the honeycomb. Keeping the hive clean and the colony healthy is the best defense against wax moths. When extra portions of honeycomb are removed from the hive, store them in a protective container until after the first hard frost before winter to avoid attracting theses pests. Beehive that have proper ventilation and sunlight are less likely to be infiltrated by wax moths. Fumigation products designed specifically to combat these moths will be necessary to get rid of them.

Honey Bee Disease

Foulbrood

Foulbrood is both a lethal and contagious disease that can spread not only from hive to hive on the same property, but to those well beyond. It is caused by spores formed from bacteria. Foulbrood causes honey bee larvae to die after their cells in the honeycomb become encapsulated – preventing the worker bees from doing their job and delivering pollen and nectar.

This honey bee diseases weakens the entire colony and makes it far more susceptible to “robber bees” from coming in and taking over or stealing all of the honey. Antibiotics can help prevent the spread of Foulbrood temporarily, but not completely stop of prevent it. Colonies and hive infested with Foulbrood must be burnt to stop the spread.

Chalkbrood

This fungal disease typically materializes during the early weeks of spring. Beekeepers typically only know their hive has been affected when they find larvae stricken with chalkbrood near the beehive entrance.

There is no cure for this honey bee disease but it rarely ever has a serious impact on the colony. Sterilizing the wood portions of the hive and throwing away the honeycomb usually prevents the spread of chalkbrood.

Sacbrood Virus

This beehive disease is mildly contagious and impact only larvae. Introducing a new queen into the colony often stops the spread of the disease because it interrupts the brood cycle long enough for worker bees to get rid of the infected larvae.

Beginner Beekeeping FAQ

Make sure you can answer these questions before investing several hundred dollars in beekeeping equipment, hives, and the honeybees themselves.

Is beekeeping for me?

If you are allergic to bees, even in the slightest, this survival skill should not be on your agenda. Beekeeping means not just diligent work for the bees, but for you – if you want to keep them alive and producing.

Can beekeeping be profitable?

Beekeeping can be very profitable – as long as the bees do not die due to poor apiary husbandry practices…or bad luck. You could recoop your investment in beekeeping tools, hives, and bees the very first season.

As noted above, you can sell the honey, wax, and propolis that the colony creates. Organically grown honey can sell for up to $12 a pint. A 1 pound brick of wax commonly sells for about $8 to $10, and harvested propolis about $11 an ounce.

When’s the best time to start keeping?

The best time to start beekeeping is during the middle to late spring, after the winter chill and last chance of frost is over. A beginning beekeeper will often struggle with keeping a colony alive in chilly weather at least that first year.

Starting in the spring gives both you and the colony time to get acclimated to the tending of the hive during moderate weather. The bees will do best when they can start foraging for food right away and not get reliant upon supplemental feed or fly away in a desperate search for a natural food source.

How much time should I devote to it – at minimum?

At the bare minimum, you will need at least one hour a week to inspect the hive. Once the colony starts producing honey that will need to be harvested and processed, factor in at least three hours a week of work for maintaining the hive and processing what it produces to stockpile and – or sell.

Before purchasing honeybees, meet with local or regional keepers to garner advice from experts in your own environment and climate. Taking a class locally or online is also highly recommended.

Local beekeepers also may be your best resource for discovering regulations pertaining to creating an apiary in your area and the best place to score good deals on quality honeybees, gear, and supplies.

Do not be discouraged if all of your bees die the first year operating an apiary. Such a disappointing failure is often the case when just starting out – or even into the second year. It takes a little while to learn how to keep the bees alive and more often than not, Mother Nature can be your worst enemy.

A cold snap, drought and intense heat, or a case of Foulbrood roaming around where you live, is all that it will take to wipe out an entire colony – no matter how experienced of a keeper is watching over them.

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7 thoughts on “How to Start Beekeeping for Survival Purposes”

  1. As I reread this piece I forgot one tip. While you can use nearly any flammable material for the smoker fuel, the best & easiest thing I found are cedar shavings. I purchased a bag (3 or 5 pounds IIRC) from the local pet store or pet aisle, normally used for gerbil or hamster bedding.
    In several years of use I have barely dented the original bag and still have probably a lifetime supply.

    Reply
  2. I started working with an older cousin and his bees when I was 14, and have been fascinated and working with them off & on since then.
    I had equipment; but, for years the DW wanted nothing to do with them; but, when she finally gave in, and we had established hives, I would often see her out in the bee yard, just standing & watching, when she finally realized they were not planning an attack. LOL

    Beekeeping as part of your survival plan will not only provide you with sweet tasting honey, but a natural healing agent as well as sustainable and substantial bartering material.

    For me, it’s mostly the sweetener, since other than honey and maple syrup, other sweeteners are rather hard to produce post SHTF. One could grow sugar beets in the north; but, processing them into useable crystals is hard. For those in the south, sugar cane could do the same; but, still has quite a complex post harvest step to put sugar in the sugar bowl.

    Honey as a general topical wound dressing is also a great feature of this sticky stuff.

    Honey aging & curing of meats is also a time honored method of preservation, as is of course, smoking; but, even smoked meats are better when cured with honey, molasses, or brown sugar, with honey easier to make and keep on hand, post SHTF.

    The beeswax created inside the hives is also a valuable bartering commodity. The wax can be used to make candles and is a base ingredient in a plethora of DIY natural salves.

    And of course, cosmetics for those inclined, LOL.
    Making dipped beeswax candles is also a time honored and easy task, need ing only wicks and weights, and wicks can easily be made with any organic string (cotton, jute, etc.) and salt brine.

    Colony Collapse Disorder

    One of the reasons beekeepers in America (and around the world) are struggling to produce as much honey as expected each season, is due to Colony Collapse Disorder. Since 2005, around 40 percent of the honeybee population in our country has died.

    I think there are several factors involved with so called CCD being mostly used as a scapegoat. Much of the honey shortage comes from increased demand from the natural / organic food movement, people who eschew white sugar for honey or stevia. Many of the lost colonies are the ones used primarily for pollination out west, where the hives are trucked by the thousands all over the area from orchard to grove, and the money made is the payment for pollination services, and not the honey, that is often discarded.

    The population decline numbers continue to send shockwaves through the beekeeping community every year since CCD first made national headlines over a decade ago.

    I think my bold section tells a lot of the story, since we all believe what the nation media tell us, right?
    At least here in Ohio, beekeepers are not seeing colony losses much beyond what is expected, in a normal year, with properly managed apiaries.

    Many beekeepers and environmentalists feel chemical pesticides with glyphosate (like Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready) as well as genetically modified seeds (GMOs) are to blame for the deaths of the pollinators we depend on for 75 percent of our food to grow.

    First of all Round Up is not a pesticide; but, an herbicide, and as far as I know has no proven affect on insects; but, does knock down broadleaf plants we might call weeds.
    Feelings are however not facts, and the only correlation with GMO I know of are GMO Canola (mostly in Canada) whose plant material and nectar contain Neonicotinoids, by genetically adding the tobacco gene that creates nicotine that kills the insect eating the plant; but, is claimed to not transfer to the seed oil.

    Beekeeping Equipment

    The beehive stand is typically comprised of wood. The purpose of the stand is to keep the hive elevated from the ground to prevent weakening and warping of the wood. This also prevents moisture from getting into it as much as possible, and prompting deadly mold to grow.

    Actually a good stand will tend to isolate the hive from the ground, to keep crawling insects like ants from coming into the hive and robbing the honey. Often the stand for multiple hives will be constructed of iron pipe, with grease smeared on the uprights to keep crawling critters at bay.

    Hive Body

    Almost every beehive is made of two parts, with one being placed directly on top of the other – this is the hive body. The top part of the hive body is where the colony actually lives and the lower portion is where the colony stores their food and baby bees.

    There is actually a third section that may be made of multiple supers with frames, stacked on top for honey stores. As the topmost frame fills with honey, adding additional supers with frames and foundation above that gives the bees more storage
    One item that has not been mentioned is placing foundation in the frames. Empty frames will be eventually filled with comb and honey; but, it will be ugly and interconnected and pretty much defeat the organized purpose of the Langstroth hive.

    Frames

    Popular manufactured hive brands include Langstroth, British National, and Warre. The frames sold to go with specific hives are sold in varying sizes – shallow, medium, and deep.

    I think you will find that most hives in the U.S> are of the Langstroth construction. Each of the frames will also need to include foundation.
    Adding sheets of foundation, containing hundreds of hexagonal pits, gives the bees a starting point and a pattern from which to work. I personally prefer wired wax (beeswax) foundation; but, some successfully use plastic and others plastic dipped in beeswax. These are inserted into the frame while assembling the hives, and placed there to give the bees a starting place to land and to build from.

    Beekeeper Suit

    This suit prevents the beekeeper from being stung profusely and being overly exposed to propolis.

    I don’t know what overly exposed to propolis means, since it is not hazardous, and most apiarists often work with only a smoker, veil, and gloves, since the bees really don’t want to sting you.
    I only ever completely suited up once, when a friend was out of town, and his wife called me asking what to do with his hives, that had been blown over by a storm and were in a pile on the ground. I suited up, smoked the place until it looked like a war zone, and then simply picked up the supers, and restacked them.
    None of the bees even tried to attack, since unless threatened, like one being crushed, they are generally rather docile, just trying to do their work.

    A good beekeeper suit is not exactly cheap. They can be purchased as a coverall suit or a jacket and suit combination suit. A hood with a mesh vail to better protect the face and neck as well as thick gloves, are also part of a beekeeper suit set.

    Often you can purchase only the veils or the jacket with attached veil. I had to give up bees after my stroke in 2015; but, plan to start again next spring, with the help of my DW, who tells me she will require a full suit. LOL

    Smoker
    This is an essential tool, since there are times, like hot days, that opening a hive requires some help calming down the bees.

    Beehive Tool

    This manual tool is used to pry open the beehive boxes and remove frames.

    A small pry bar or a large flat blade screwdriver and a good knife will work as well; but, the tool is a handy single item to have with you.

    Uncapping Knife

    A beekeeper uses this sharp manual tool to remove beeswax cells from the interior regions of the hive body.

    This is actually used to cut off the caps (small wax domes) of the capped honey, to allow extraction. I have an old one that allows circulation of hot water through rubber tubes, some are heated with electricity; but, a good sharp knife, especially an electric knife like one would use to carve a turkey, also work well.

    Mesh Screen or Bottom Board

    A bottom board is typically used during the late fall through early spring to keep out as much cold as possible. The board is replaced by the mesh screen during the warm weather months to increase ventilation and prevent the honeybee colony from becoming overheated.

    The easiest way to do this is with a combination. The bottom board has the mesh in it with a slot to slide a piece of metal to seal the bottom, allowing the board to be configured as needed.

    Entrance Reducer

    This beehive attachment is placed on the entrance to the hive body to both regulate the temperature inside and control ventilation. This is also often referred to as a cleat. It is quickly and easily manually adjusted as the weather changes.

    These are normally only used when winterizing your hives, to help the bees keep them warm over winter.

    Super

    A super is attached to the beehive to collect the honey the colony is not using. A super typically comes in two sizes – shallow and medium.

    There are actually three sizes including the deep. The problem with a deep is that when full of honey, it often weighs 50-80 pounds, and may be hard to handle around a live colony. I always use a deep on the top for a secluded space for the feeder, when installing a new package or nuc.

    Centrifuge

    This beekeeper tools is also often referred to as a “super extractor.” It is optional, but highly useful. A centrifuge eliminates overly thick and slower moving honey from the super to make removal a less tedious and time consuming chore. You can find it on Amazon./

    A centrifugal extractor is a very convenient item to have, and is available in numerous configurations. A friend and fellow poster here (BLACK) has plans for a DIY version made from 5 gallon food grade buckets and driven by a hand drill. I’ve helped him extract with it, and it does get messy. One nice thing about honey cleanup is there is no need for it. The cut caps, mostly empty comb, and all of the utensils and tools used for extracting honey, may simply be set back outside, and your bees will come and lick the things clean, since to them it’s just a free meal.

    Inner Cover Tray

    This type of tray is used by beekeepers who prefer to establish a hive that does not include a top feeding area for colony members. The tray goes on top of the beehive upper body to prevent the little pollinators from flying away and almost always include a ventilation hole.

    Usually an inner cover is used to provide the correct ”bee space” on the top hive body and provide good air ventilation for the hive. With a bee escape device in the ventilation hole, an inner cover can also be used to clear bees from a super prior to collecting honey.
    I always use one when installing a package of bees, using it as a base for a DIY feeder I’ll describe below, and covered with an empty deep and a top cover.
    Outer Cover Tray

    This type of beehive cover is basically a roof that is securely placed on the upper hive body. It goes a long way in preventing debris and excess water from getting inside the hive. It really helps to keep both the honey and hive far more clean and potentially block possibly harmful bacteria from infiltrating your beekeeping operation.

    Normally the top cover is a wooden cap with a painted metal cover, to protect the hive from outside elements like rain and dirt.

    Start-Up Costs

    The initial investment for all of the startup beekeeping needs is roughly $500 – depending upon whether your build the hive body boxes yourself and how many hives you set up.

    It is often less expensive to purchase the hive pieces as a kit, since shipping flat pieces of wood is easier than assembled boxes. They dovetail together, fasten with screws and a coating of latex paint, and you’re good to go. Assembly with two people is much easier and doing it alone.

    Beekeeping Legal Considerations
    I am lucky that in our rural area we have no restrictions.

    Honeybee Colonies

    Every hive has to possess a queen bee to survive. Each hive will support only one queen bee, any potential contenders are either forced out or killed inside the hive. If a queen bee fails to live up to her royal duties, another female may challenge her for the throne.

    This is generally true; but, a simple challenge does not elevate a worker to queen status. A dead queen if live eggs and brood are available however, can allow the colony to create another queen, by feeding royal jelly exclusively to a larvae that then develops into a queen. If an unfertilized worker bee lays eggs, they will develop into drones, and queens and drones may be created when required. An over exuberant laying worker can however, overrun the colony with drones, so one must watch for this and add a queen quickly, lest the colony die out.

    A colony without a queen will fly away in search of one. How a queen bee is introduced into either a new of existing colony is crucial to the success of the hive. Simply because a bee is sold as a queen does not mean the colony will accept her.

    More often flying away (swarming) is an indication of overcrowding and requires a split. Loss of a queen can start the generation of a new one, if fertilized larvae are available.

    Introducing a Queen – The Direct Method

    Either drone bees will accept and welcome the queen, and allow her deeper inside the hive, or they will attack and kill her immediately. Since queen bees of good quality can cost as much as $150, smart beekeepers rarely ever uses the direct method to introduce her into the colony.

    It ‘s the worker bees who will accept or kill the new queen, not the drones, that have no stingers. I know of no one that uses this method.

    Introducing a Queen – Indirect Method

    Using this method takes more time than the one above, but almost always yields more positive results. To introduce a queen bee to her colony in this manner, place the container holding the queen in the entrance or into a feeder frame where the drones can see and smell her, but not actually get to her.

    That container holding the queen is called a queen cage and once again it’s the worker and not the drones who acclimate to her.
    The queen cage is a block of wood with a trough gouged in it covered by a mesh screen. One end has a hole in it, blocked by a piece of sugar candy and a cork. You remove the cork, insert the cage between two frames, and wait. The screen allows the pheromones of the queen to permeate the hive allowing the workers to acclimate during which time they are starting to tend to the new queen, feed her, and eventually (3-5 days) eat their way through the candy and release her.
    You need to check to make sure that the queen has been accepted & released.

    Once the drones behave in this manner, it is time to release the honeybee queen into the colony – and cross your fingers she is accepted.

    Once again, it’s not the drones; but, the female workers, who will release her on their own.

    Drones
    When overcrowded, drones are created along with a new queen, who mates with the drones, and then swarms with part of the colony to establish a new hive.

    Worker Bees

    Worker bees must stockpile the colony’s food supply, create the elaborate honeycomb, and help guard the hive entrance.

    They also make up about 99.9% of the colony with drones making up the other tiny number. Drones number from 50-200, with workers in the 20-80,000 range ruled by a single queen.

    Honeybee Breeds
    Around here in Ohio we generally use Italian or Russian; but, I know a few who use Carniolan.

    Honeybee Buying Tips

    When possible, buy bees from a local apiary so they are already hardened to your native climate.

    Good tip and at least here in Ohio, there are many sources, within driving distance of most places.

    While queen bees are sold individually, drones and workers can be purchased in small amounts or 100 or so at a time.

    I don’t know of any place where only this small amoun can be purchased, since most packages are sold by the pound, generally 3 or 4 pound with about 3-4,000 bees per pound, or 9-10,000 bees in a 3-pound package. The initial worker bees in the package are not offspring of the queen, and may be of any breed.

    Honeybees can also be purchased in a nucleus – or nuc. This might be the most expensive way to purchase bees, but you are getting an established colony in proper proportions of members and an accepted queen.

    True; but, packaged bees are also together long enough that the queen and the workers have acclimated and when installed properly, generally do OK.

    If you must buy bees online, plan ahead. It would be rare for beekeepers to be willing to ship bees during cold weather months. Exposing them to the stress of shipment typically can result in a small amount of colony member loss. Shipping bees during cold weather, especially if doing so results in a substantial change in climate, the deaths would be far greater.

    True and generally why you order bees in February, lest they run out of them, and expect shipment or pickup in April or May. Bee packages are actually sent via UPS or US mail.

    Always check on a warranty for the honeybees, especially if they are being shipped. Sometimes a beekeeper will offer a partial refund for a replacement queen if the colony refuses to accept her.

    Because of the way they are shipped together, I’ve never seen this happen; but, sometimes the queen dies enroute, so make sure she is alive when you receive the package. If the queen and workers in the package do not acclimate, they will not tend to her and she will starve to death in the package. Apiarists generally keep the packages long enough to ensure this does not happen.

    Attracting wild bees to a hive is strongly discouraged for newbie keepers. Heck, many expert beekeepers advise against it for anyone. It can be done, but the chance of swarming is just too great, even though you would acquire expert foragers that are hardened to your specific climate and against localized diseases.

    Attracting swarms is something every beekeeper dreams of, since it gets you free bees. I have an eBook I purchased years ago: ”Bait traps and swarm hives” and searching for the same thing will get you many hits on constructing such a device. In more than 50 years I have only ever captured 3 swarms; but, know a few who have, mostly for fun. Quite often when you miss a split of your own hives due to overcrowding, you may need to capture your own swarm.

    Installing Honeybee Tips

    It is always best to introduce honey bees into a hive from their package during the afternoon. That time of day is the warmest and offers the most light inside the hive, allowing them to become better acquainted with their new living corners without adding extra stress.

    I disagree, since the inside of the hives are by nature dark. What was suggested to me years ago that has always worked, is to install packages at dusk. This gives you enough light to work; but, since the honeybees will not fly at night, keeps them from swarming, allowing them to spend time in the hive, settle in, and get to know the place. At first light some bees will leave on their orientation flights and report back, and within a few days the hive will be humming.

    Always provide some supplemental food during the installation process, regardless of the time of year. Sugar water is what most commercially raised bees will be most accustomed to eating.

    Yep. The packages come with a can of sugar syrup that the colony feeds on during transport.

    Offer the supplemental food about every 15 to 30 minutes to ensure every bee gets to eat and to teach the pollinators this is where they can expect to be well fed and safe.

    I find it easier to use a continuous feeder.
    Two items not mentioned that are very handy are a few new 1 gallon paint cans with lids and a clean spray bottle. Fill one can about half full of water, add a 4 or 5 pound bag of sugar, stir, fill to about 1 inch below the top with water, put on the lid and shake. This will give you sugar syrup that can be used for feeding and is also very useful for package installation.
    Take one of the cans, and make 20-40 tiny holes in the lid using a hammer and the tip of a small nail. Fill the can half to two thirds full of syrup, and take it to the hives. Make sure the lids are tight, and then quickly invert the can, holding it over the ground, since some of the syrup will spill out. I then place this on the top board lifted by a few sticks or dowel rods to keep the bottom (actually the inverted top with the holes) about half an inches above the board, leaving space for the bees to feed. They will quickly find the feeder, go in under the can, and suck syrup out of the tiny holes. A DIY continuous feeder for less than $2.00
    On occasion you can simply pick up the feeder and judge by it’s weight if it needs more syrup.

    How to Install Bees Into a Hive
    Your description looks like a textbook method; but, there is a simpler way that requires no smoker, and we generally don’t even suit up or use a veil; however, gloves may come in handy. You’ll be doing this at dusk, while there is still enough light to work; but, when it gets dark quickly enough to keep the bees in their new home to acclimate.
    You’ll need to have the hive ready with farm in place.
    A package of bees (shown here: https://beegurldotcom.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/two-packages.jpg) is a wooden 5 sided box with a screen on the 6th side. The top contains a large hole filled with a can of sugar water, like the feeder described above, along with a queen in her cage shown here disassembled with no queen: https://www.betterbee.com/images/threeholequeencage_l.jpg
    While in transit, the bees feed on the syrup and tend to the queen through the screen on the queen cage without being able to harm her while they acclimate,
    For installation, you remove the queen cage, being sure to keep her warm and install her between two frames with foundation <strong<AFTER REMOVING THE CORK from the cage. This step is vital, since leaving the cork in place will not allow the workers to eat through the candy plug and release the queen.
    You then fill the spray bottle with syrup, and heavily spray the bees through the screen on the package. This calms them & wets them down so they are unable to fly.
    You now remove the syrup can from the package and unceremoniously dump the wet mass of bees into the top of the hive. You may have to tip the box and shake to get them all out of the hole.
    I generally add another super, a top board, another super (usually a deep) insert the feeder, and install the top cover.
    For the next few hours until dusk turns to dark, the bees will be feeding by licking the syrup from each other, and establishing themselves into their new home, ready to start flying their orientation flights in the morning.

    Check daily; but, by the third day, you need to check and make sure the queen has been released from her cage or release her yourself.

    By day four or five after the release into the hive, it is time to free her royal highness from her private shipping container. Be very careful when adjusting bars or frames to release the queen. The newly developing honeycomb will be extremely fragile at this point.
    I don’t know what kind of package you are using; but, this is done as explained above by the workers.

    Nuc Installation

    A nucleus colony generally consists of five frames. Three of these five frames will already contain honey, stores of pollen, and an active brooder. The queen bee has already been introduced into the colony of honeybees and is respected as their leader.

    While a nuclear hive may be easier to install than a package, since you can simply set it into your ready to go supers, the acclimation of the queen is similar in both cases.

    Installing a nuc is far less taxing than installing honeybees from a container with a separated queen. The possibility of a swarming when releasing a nuc is typically far less likely than a similar and shocking turn of events happening when releasing container bees.

    I have installed dozens, maybe hundreds of packages over the years as described above, and have never had them swarm.

    A Langstroth beehive, one of the most popular varieties in the United States, stands about 16 inches by 22 inches.

    The Langstroth hive box dimensions are exact (in inches)
    • Deep: 16x 19 x 9 5/8
    • Medium: 16x 19 x 6 5/8
    • Shallow: 16x 19 x 5 7/8
    With the frames built to fit each size.

    A Top Bar beehive, also a popular model, stands about 40 x 20 inches

    While a simpler design, top bar hive operators generally harvest honey in the spring, since there is no good way to harvest in the fall and know how much honey is available for overwinter feeding.
    This is probably why the Langstroth is the favorite.

    There is a reason the phrase “made a beeline” was coined. A honeybee always prefers to fly quickly in a straight line to get to its food and water source and back home again. Place the beehives as close to their food source as possible and make sure the area is not filled with obstacles in the flight zone from the entrance to sustenance.

    The important thing is to keep the path and the hive area the same, sudden changes during the day can confuse returning bees that use sight to find their way into the hive.
    You also should not move an active hive more than a few feet during the day. The rule for moving the hive anytime is no more than 3 feet unless at least 3 miles. The greater distance allows them to determine things have changed, and send out orientation flights to reestablish their positions.

    Placing a beehive directly in the garden, fruit grove, or near wild berry bushes is highly recommended. There is no reason for all of the beehives to be located in the same area or covered with a lean to, unless local law dictates such practices.

    Keeping all hives in a bee yard together is usually done for the convenience of the apiarist; but, spreading the hives around may not help much, since bees range at least a 2 miles radius from their home.
    In my case that gives them tons of space to feed and a close creek and other water supplies ready at hand.

    You will likely need to adjust the direction the hive entrance faces as the seasons change. During the summer months, the beehive entrance should not face towards the south like it does in the winter to prevent overexposure to heat.

    I find facing east or south in a shaded area works well, since changing the direction of the entrance is more easily said than done.

    Reply
    • Steve, I just added a (much-needed) print button to all of the articles at the bottom, right under the Pinterest image.

      Reply
      • Dan,
        Thanks for the print button.

        Steve & all
        For windows there is a free program that installs as a driver, called CutePDF. When you print, it shows up as a selectable driver that then asks for a filename and path and ”Prints” the document as a pdf file.

        Reply
        • OP,

          Thanks for the alternative. I would still use the print button because it allows to remove stuff you don’t want printed out, such as generic photos, logos and such, so you end up printing less pages.

          Reply
          • Dan,
            I agree, and meant for someone to use the combination, allowing one to creat a “clean” PDF copy of an article.

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