Oops! It appears that you have disabled your Javascript. In order for you to see this page as it is meant to appear, we ask that you please re-enable your Javascript!

The Honey Bee Colony

A colony of honeybees in early summer consists of a queen, thousands of workers and a few hundred drones living together as a community upon double-sided combs containing brood and stores of honey and pollen. The queen alone lays the eggs from which the other members of the colony develop, the workers from fertilized eggs and the drones from unfertilized eggs laid in slightly larger cells. The combs are made of wax secreted by the workers. In colonies living ‘wild’ in hollow trees or in cavities in walls the workers construct the combs unaided, but in modern moveable-comb hives the beekeeper provides thin, flat sheets of beeswax, embossed with a regular hexagonal pattern and enclosed by hanging wooden frames, for the bees to use as a foundation upon which to build the rows of cells on either side. The fertilized eggs laid by the queen in worker cells take three days to hatch. The tiny grubs, or larvae, are fed by nurse bees and grow rapidly to reach their full size five days later. Their cells are then sealed over with porous cappings of wax and the larvae turn into pupae from which the young workers emerge in another 12 -14 days, when they chew their way through the cappings to join the older workers on -the combs. Drones take a few days longer to develop. By midsummer the colony will have reached its greatest strength, with up to fifty thousand or more bees if all goes well. Thereafter, the population of workers will decline, and by early autumn all the drones will have died, leaving the queen and a reduced number of workers to survive the winter. Breeding starts again early in the year, (January or February) , slowly at first, but with gradually increasing numbers of young workers emerging to replace the old, over-wintered bees until the peak of egg-laying by the queen is reached about four months later. The cycle of colony growth and decline might, however, be interrupted by the issue of a swarm, usually sometime in May, June or July. The causes of swarming are not fully understood, though it is known that overcrowding of the hive is one of the predisposing factors. Whatever the cause, the effect is that a large proportion of the workers, together with the queen, pours out of the hive during the heat of a fine day and flies around before settling in a tight cluster on a nearby bush or other convenient support. If the swarm is not taken by the beekeeper, the bees and the queen will eventually fly off to establish a new colony in a new home, discovered for them by scout bees, usually some distance away from the hive from which they issued. The rest of the bees will remain behind in the hive, with the brood. On the brood combs will be some queen cells large, acorn-shaped cells which hang mouth downwards and contain larvae hatched from normal fertilized eggs but fed on a special diet of ‘royal jelly’ produced by die nurse bees. In these cells queens will develop, one of which, after mating in the air with several drones in succession, will become the new laying queen of the swarm’s ‘parent / original’ colony. The issue of a swarm brings about a sudden depopulation of the hive, and a consequent decrease in the foraging capacity of the colony, at a time of year when nectar is likely to be readily available. It is, therefore, important for the beekeeper to take steps to avoid his bees to swarm, by using methods to be discussed later, if he in the maximum amount of honey possible.

Bait Hives

When a colony of honeybees is making preparations to swarm they start to send out scout bees to find a suitable new home. To start with, several different possibilities will be under consideration. This process starts before the swarm leaves the hive and continues while the swarm is hanging as a cluster close to the home hive. Once a consensus is reached as to the most suitable site, and this may take a few days, the swarm takes to the air and flies to the cavity that will become the new home of the swarm. Experimenters have investigated what constitutes the most suitable cavity. The cavity should be weatherproof, have a volume between 30 and 40 litres, have a small entrance about 10 sq cm in area, have an entrance facing south and the entrance should be near the bottom of the cavity. It is not a coincidence that a brood box and crown board on a hive floor can be ideal, except that the entrance should be small. Situation is very important. By preference the bait hive should be 3m or more above ground level, so that being placed on a flat roof can be ideal. Swarms will not readily go to bait hives within the apiary from which they emerged. Their instinct is to remove themselves several hundred metres (500m on average) from their home apiary. That does not mean that you will not catch a swarm in a bait hive in an apiary – it’s just that it is not likely to be your own. The ideal cavity is further enhanced if it contains wax comb. Foundation is OK but used comb is better. Swarm lure creams may further increase the chances of catching a swarm. By having a brood box full of frames and comb this will make it so much easier to manage a swarm if one is caught.

Introduction To Beekeeping

Beekeeping is a hobby which has an appeal to people in all walks of life. It can be practised with success not only in the country but also in many suburban areas and even successfully in towns & cities. Most beekeepers have only a few colonies and find their care a fascinating and often profitable spare-time occupation, though there is an important minority who keep bees on a scale large enough to give them a livelihood.

Together, whether as professionals or as amateurs, they make a significant contribution to the nation’s food requirements, directly in the form of honey and indirectly through the activities of their bees on those crops that depend upon insect pollinators for a good set of fruit or seed.

Unlike many other forms of livestock, honeybees do not demand regular daily attention from their owners. They forage for themselves whenever the weather is suitable, collecting pollen and nectar from flowering trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, both wild and cultivated, which offer them a succession of sources of food from early spring until the autumn.

Food not needed for immediate consumption by the bees and their brood (Young Bees) is stored in the combs for use when the weather is unsuitable for foraging.
By the end of the summer a healthy colony of bees is capable of storing not only enough food for its own requirements during the winter months but also, over and above this amount, a quantity of honey which the beekeeper can harvest for himself. The yield of honey for the beekeeper will depend upon the kind and quantity of bee forage plants to be found in the locality and the weather conditions prevailing when the various sources of forage come into flower. After a good summer in a district with plenty of nectar-yielding plants it can exceed 100 lb from one colony, but in a bad year the beekeeper may get no honey at all and have to feed his colonies with sugar to enable them to survive until the following spring. Basically, the beekeeper’s task is twofold:
Provide his bees with sound hives whose capacity must be enlarged or reduced according to seasonal requirements
Discover any other situations within the stocks that may need attention from time to time.

In order to do these things the stocks may need to be examined at intervals from April to September. But from October to March only an occasional visit is normally necessary, to ensure that all is well externally.
Pleasurable beekeeping calls for an ability to work among bees at close quarters, handling their combs gently and deliberately. The prospective beekeeper should, therefore, first find out whether he is temperamentally suited to acquire the necessary skill before committing himself to the expense of setting up an apiary. This he can best do by handling bees under the guidance of an experienced beekeeper. Some local authorities offer advice and instruction assistance at this stage, and the beginner should make application to the local beekeepers’ association . By joining such a group he gains the opportunity of meeting experienced local beekeepers and the benefits offered by the society to its members.

Introduction

Beekeeping is a hobby which has an appeal to people in all walks of life. It can be practised with success not only in the country but also in many suburban areas and even successfully in towns & cities. Most beekeepers have only a few colonies and find their care a fascinating and often profitable spare-time occupation, though there is an important minority who keep bees on a scale large enough to give them a livelihood. Together, whether as professionals or as amateurs, they make a significant contribution to the nation’s food requirements, directly in the form of honey and indirectly through the activities of their bees on those crops that depend upon insect pollinators for a good set of fruit or seed. Unlike many other forms of livestock, honeybees do not demand regular daily attention from their owners. They forage for themselves whenever the weather is suitable, collecting pollen and nectar from flowering trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, both wild and cultivated, which offer them a succession of sources of food from early spring until the autumn. Food not needed for immediate consumption by the bees and their brood (Young Bees) is stored in the combs for use when the weather is unsuitable for foraging. By the end of the summer a healthy colony of bees is capable of storing not only enough food for its own requirements during the winter months but also, over and above this amount, a quantity of honey which the beekeeper can harvest for himself. The yield of honey for the beekeeper will depend upon the kind and quantity of bee forage plants to be found in the locality and the weather conditions prevailing when the various sources of forage come into flower. After a good summer in a district with plenty of nectar-yielding plants it can exceed 100 lb from one colony, but in a bad year the beekeeper may get no honey at all and have to feed his colonies with sugar to enable them to survive until the following spring. Basically, the beekeeper’s task is twofold: Provide his bees with sound hives whose capacity must be enlarged or reduced according to seasonal requirements Discover any other situations within the stocks that may need attention from time to time. In order to do these things the stocks may need to be examined at intervals from April to September. But from October to March only an occasional visit is normally necessary, to ensure that all is well externally. Pleasurable beekeeping calls for an ability to work among bees at close quarters, handling their combs gently and deliberately. The prospective beekeeper should, therefore, first find out whether he is temperamentally suited to acquire the necessary skill before committing himself to the expense of setting up an apiary. This he can best do by handling bees under the guidance of an experienced beekeeper. Some local authorities offer advice and instruction assistance at this stage, and the beginner should make application to the local beekeepers’ association . By joining such a group he gains the opportunity of meeting experienced local beekeepers and the benefits offered by the society to its members.