The 10 mistakes a novice beekeeper makes always provide an opportunity to learn and correct and learn to identify them.
When we start in beekeeping, we have to learn alone, making mistakes that sometimes cost us the loss of the hives, I wish we always had someone to advise us while we learn. We tell you here the 10 mistakes that a novice beekeeper usually makes.
1. Assess the health of colonies only from abroad
In the first place, you cannot rely only on the level of «bee traffic per sting» you must check if your bees are bringing pollen indicative of brood spawn or stop an invasion of ants or wasps.
You should also familiarize yourself with what is «normal» in terms of traffic and in terms of the number of deaths near the hive.
In this way, any changes can be recognized, as long as they are produced differentially, comparing them with another hive.
Indoor and outdoor observation
Despite these possibilities, observation from the outside is not a substitute for internal reality, so opening the hive and examining the inner combs is essential.
Often times, if a problem is noticeable from outside the hive, it has progressed too far inside to be remedied.
In addition, inspecting the inside of the hive correctly, it will allow correcting the problems in time, before the damage goes further.
Reviews every two to three weeks
Equally, recommend that novice beekeepers check their hives once every two to three weeks, but no more often than that, so as not to cause undue stress on the bees.
The process of opening the hive is stressful on the bees and disturbs the atmospheric conditions carefully controlled by them within, which is why many experienced beekeepers make few openings in the older and stronger colonies.
2. Failing to acknowledge the loss of a queen.
Moreover, a hive cannot survive without a queen, on the other hand, it is a misconception that colonies that have lost theirs are going to alter their behavior in such a dramatic or obvious way, as indicating that something is wrong.
There may be good bee traffic at the entrance, and upon inspection, you will find plenty of honey and bees inside.
When a colony loses its queen little by little, the population will shrink. The first sign will be a lack of eggs, then a lack of young larvae, and eventually you will have no brood at all.
Normally you will see an increase in honey and pollen, since, without any type of larvae to care for, the bees are completely focused in search of nutrients, in the pecoreo.
Control the presence of the queen
Finding eggs of the first three days, and we are not talking about the capped larvae or pupae, but only about the eggs. If there are eggs it means that the queen has been active laying young.
3. Leave spaces where there should not be them.
Bees can build a honeycomb in any empty space we leave them. If you use fewer frames than corresponds to the type of box or use an inappropriate lid, you will run into a problem, honeycombs where there shouldn’t be any.
The hives are designed with this idea, everything fits so that they only build honeycombs in the places that suit us.
Exceptions to the rule
Some beekeepers may prefer to use one less frame in their brood chamber (9 instead of 10) or honeycomb risers, to allow more room to work during checks.
As long as the space occupied by the paintings is distributed evenly and respecting the «bee step», this is fine.
These managements should be temporary and corrected before the hive runs out of enough «natural» space for storing honey for the winter.
4. Collecting honey too early or in excess is another of the beekeeper’s mistakes.
As a general rule, honey should not be harvested in its first year as the bees are not yet sufficient to produce and store the amount that allows them to overcome the non-flowering periods.
Seek advice from local beekeepers on how much honey should be left to bees in your region.
5. Not feeding the new swarms properly.
Some beekeepers feed their bees water and sugar too easily, often causing their immune systems to weaken against disease.
But in this there is also an exception: When you buy or reproduce a pack of bees or swarm in the spring, it is essential to feed.
The new swarms are confused, weak, and don’t have enough honey. It takes a minimum of a month of consistent feeding to try to strengthen the colony.
The core is likely to die in the fall, unless the apiary is in an especially nectar-rich area during spring and summer.
If the novice beekeeper is reluctant to feed, I recommend letting the kernel sit for a week and then inspecting to see if they are building combs and introducing pollen. If not, you need to feed.
The apiary must be in front of abundant sources of food, with flowering in various seasons of the year, and furthermore with guaranteed water every day.
Feeding well means giving them honey, pollen and propolis, everything else (sugar water) only generates false excitement of expectations in bees, with dire consequences of weakness in the face of diseases.
A good and inexpensive food should contain 2 parts of honey for each part of water, 10% pollen and 5% propolis.
To do this, it is good that you collect clean pollen and propolis from your strongest hives, in small amounts.
6. Place hives in a problem spot.
It must comply with the guidelines of national or regional regulations regarding protection distances from inhabited, livestock, leisure or transit areas. Also, the radius of exclusion between beekeepers.
The ecological apiary should be installed away from monoculture areas and polluted waters.
7. Not protecting yourself properly is one of the mistakes that cost us dearly.
Before opening the hive, check the zippers and weak points of the equipment, which gives us so much heat but must be carried.
Novice beekeepers tend to have an idealized concept of what beekeeping is all about.
They may have started by watching videos of experienced beekeepers from countries with other, more peaceful bee subspecies, who manage their hives without suits and thus come to believe that they can do the same.
Factors that irritate bees
Likewise, they are influenced by many factors, irritation, lack of pecoreo activity, bad weather, the supermoon, a neighbour who bothered them (it could be a mouse or a wasp attack). The rain or hail that fell the day before.
8. Do not use the smoker.
As a new beekeeper, this can all sound quite stressful to you, so you might choose not to use the smoker at all. And this is a mistake, it is not recommended.
Beekeeper use smoke to distract the bees: It makes the bees believe that a forest fire is near and pushes them to gorge themselves on honey in case they have to flee.
It also blocks the chemical signals that are sent to each other, preventing them from organizing a defensive attack against you, since you are a usurper.
Make sure it smells different, that it has aromas of aromatic and medicinal herbs.
If you don’t use your smoker, bees react defensively almost always, and in the end there will be more damage to them, they will be crushed during handling.
9. Starting with few hives is a serious mistake.
When you have four hives, you learn very quickly, just compare how one and the other are doing. You can also test the tests affecting only one of them.
If one is weakened, you can transfer some brood from the strong colony to help increase the weak.
You could also lose a queen, and you can organize a more intelligent reproduction than multiplication, division, blind hive or those things that many beekeepers do who do not know the biology of bees.
10. Settle for a limited knowledge of beekeeping.
Finally, in beekeeping you are always learning, I have met many beekeepers who «know how to do things», but do not understand what they are seeing when they are in front of their hives.
Expanding your knowledge of bees is the best part of the job. There are many resources available: courses, tutors, books, documentaries and serious videos.
Search, and do not stop learning!
Original article by Hilary Kearney, Girl Next Door Honey’s blog