Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. It takes the beginner through their first two years of keeping bees. Explaining the hive, how it works, and constructing a National hive and frames. Chapters also cover the equipment you will need and where best to place your hive. It also covers the life cycle of the honey bee, how to get your first bees, do This is a Colour Photograph lead book for the Novice Bee Keeper.
It also covers the life cycle of the honey bee, how to get your first bees, doing inspections, collecting swarms through to wintering your bees. Finally covering how to extract honey and selling it.
The book also has a glossary of bee keeping terms useful list of website links and a Colour Pollen Guide. Get A Copy. The new edition offers the same holistic, sensible alternative to conventional chemical practices with a program of natural hive management, but offers new sections on a wide range of subjects, including:. Also, a completely new chapter on marketing provides valuable advice for anyone who intends to sell a wide range of hive products.
Ross Conrad explains in fine detail that the key ingredients of organic beekeeping are disease-resistant stock, favorable apiary sites, and good colony management, plus a reverence and respect for the bees. More Reviews and Praise. While newer parasites like varroa mites are making chemical treatments a normal part of hive ownership, many people are still looking for ways to manage their hives organically in order to reduce the amount of chemicals that affect bees, other pollinators, and the environment in general.
This new edition adds information about urban beekeeping, top-bar hives, and marketing for those interested in selling honey and other products from their beehives. A comprehensive glossary and resource list will assist novice and experienced apiarists searching for equipment, mite-resistant bee suppliers, and pesticide testing and reporting agencies. Highly recommended for purchase wherever urban farming is taking root. Ross Conrad learned his craft from the late Charles Mraz, world-renowned beekeeper and founder of Champlain Valley Apiaries in Vermont.
He has led bee-related presentations and taught organic beekeeping workshops and classes throughout North America for many years. His small beekeeping business, Dancing Bee Gardens, supplies friends, neighbors, and local stores with honey and candles, among other bee related products, and provides bees for Vermont apple-pollination in spring.
Google Preview. Natural Beekeeping. Plus, it focuses on natural, bee-centric, sustainable beekeeping practices. Read what others had to say about it on Yelp. Thinking about starting your own backyard beehive? Amen, 10 times over! ALL of these points we have discussed at one time or another with almost every new beekeepr we mentor. This 10 point presentation needs to be presented to ALL new beeks taking the Beekeeping Class, and is WHY we are successful with those who DO understand these 10 points, as we have not used chemicals since !
Its unfortunate that so many who want to help bees are actually the ones doing them great harm. Good article. Great article. If I scrape them off, honey oozes out and leaves a big ugly scar on the combs. But the growth between the frames only seems to be getting worse. What to do? Hi this is a good article, but I had bought a frame nuc of bees and put them in my new hive in UK BSN 11 frame hive the bees were very slow to build comb and therefore the other 6 frames got infested with wax moth..
In future is it ok to insert frames a few at a time to avoid wax moth? No, I would be sure you have all your frames in there. What you are describing is very unusual. Moths will only take hold in a sick colony. Was the nuc healthy when you got it? Love this, thank you. Headed into my first winter with a hive and relating to many of these missteps.
Not a word about mites in any of the 10 potential mistakes. A new beek could diligently follow the advice associated with all 10 mistakes. The advice here is a nothing more than a one-way ticket for a quick trip into the Trough of Disillusionment. Mite treatment is a controversial topic I did not care to tackle in this post. I happen to be a treatment free beekeeper so, I disagree with you completely.
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Have you thought about how as a pro treatment beekeeper you are weakening the entire gene pool? You have to. The mite-bomb is not a theory. If they did, they would be sick in the spring. So the question is what do we do now? Let it turn in to a mite-bomb… that helps no one… or do something about it.
A treatment-free beekeeper can do nothing about it… and in my treatment free yard… I would fold up that hive. I tell my mentees to use the first year to get to know the bees and do the 10 things you list above, again great article… and not to be discouraged if they lose some bees. It happens. Beekeeping is not like raising chickens. You do have to be watching, and learning. Kind regards. I usually requeen when I see a colony struggling with mites. If you really want to give treatment free a shot, I find that the reason most people fail is because they cannot find the genetics necessary.
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It takes time to weed out the strong bees and breed from them. I intend to write an article about this soon. Thanks for your comment. For all I respect the folks on BEE-L, anyone may participate—and lots of times the above beeks have posted. And the treatment free model is not a rare discussion point. For one thing, how do you explain the ability of Apis cerana, of SE Asia, where it lives in harmony with the varroa mite, to continue to prosper if humans are not treating them with chemicals?
EHB was not exposed to this pest till very recently, and, like the American Indians mowed down by smallpox and measles on the arrival of Europeans, the evolution of immune response will be the only real answer in the long run. I am using partially Africanized feral bees taken from the urban environment here in LA from situations of conflict with humans. These cutouts, trapouts and swarms are vigorous, resilient, small cell, and never get treatment.
They are kept foundationless bees have been drawing their own combs for 70 million years so their wax is less contaminated with toxins from foundation, they make great honey crops and are a pleasure to work. I have 27 colonies in the city. I do not run a bee hospital, counting mites. But I have a lot of fun beekeeping and teaching newbees, giving talks, and selling honey. Good luck in that treatment free regimen. Mark you calendar for a thousand days from now and send me an email on how it went, ok?
I have 50 colonies. Typically lose less than 10 in a year. Normally small colonies I rescued late in the season or nucs that never took off. I have been reading your comments about natural beekeeping and am impressed. Here in Australia there are commercial beekeepers, and a bit of monoculture going on as well, but not as extensively as in the USA. So far we are Varoa-free , seemingly the only country in the world, next to new Zealand, which, I understand has had some signs of it recently.
Australia is isolated from infected countries, but it is inevitable that it accidentally hitches rides on aircraft and other modes of transport. Fortunately the Australian quarantine has honed its skills to such a degree that airports have bee traps set up around the unloading areas etc, and more traps further afield. We also have sugar coating tests and other methods to check any future infestation, which is bound to occur sooner or later.
There is advice about using chemical strips and other drastic methods, but we have a higher percentage of natural bee keepers who would not contaminate the hive and the resulting honey with chemicals. I have used natural methods with my show poultry and have never vaccinated against Marrecks and other contagious diseases, and have found that they build their own immunity, and over the years I have never had any of those diseases.
Some people like to see the glass half empty and they are not prepared to see the other side of the coin, or learn from the experience of others. Sarcasm is a sign of frustration, not knowledge. I live in the mountains and a valley with thick Australian bush, and am encouraging beekeepers here to plant bee-friendly plants.
I have organized the propagation of Leatherwood and Geraldton Wax plants to plant in their gardens which are Australian native plants famous for their beautiful honey. The health of the bees and strength of the hive depends on the foraging abilities and hive care, and nothing can beat the natural environment and clean living for the production of pure, natural honey. Keep on promoting Natural Beekeeping, and have a wonderful christmas and New Year. My husband is a novice. His hive was doing great but had an abundance of beetles. Last weekend he refilled beetle traps and added a couple.
He also put in something to prevent mites. Today he checked and all the bees are gone! Do you have any suggestions? What did he use for mite treatment? Most mite treatments are pretty harsh on the bees and come with really specific instructions. It can easily be applied incorrectly by a new beekeeper and cause the bees to abandon the hive. It may also be that the hive was already weak and left because of the many problems it was having. What makes you say they were doing great? Did they have a good brood pattern? Steve, I have a 7-year old top bar hive that has never had any treatments, and actually very little intervention.
They are still thriving. One of these colonies was a swarm and the other was a purchased nuc. I just started beekeeping for the fun of it and to hopefully help the bee population. Both these same colonies have made it through the winter each year including this year which is season 5 and are thriving. I live in Georgia south of Atlanta. I believe mite treatment makes weak bees and strong mites. Ruby, the sugar dusting is not a treatment. If you do it correctly, you put about bees into a container with icing sugar and roll them gently in the sugar, whichi then dislodges any varroa mites attached to the back of the bees.
This is a test to check whether there is varroa mite in the hive. When you release the bees they lick the remaining sugar off and get on with their lives. If you think it works as a treatment, you may have no need for treatment in the first place. Although that is a technique for counting mites, there is another method for supposedly controlling varroa populations that also uses powdered sugar. Yes, this is the technique we use. However, we have measured mite loads before and after the powdered sugar and they have been significantly decreased.
The mites fall off in the roll, and would do the same when used on the entire colony. But you would need to have a mite trap at the bottom of the hive to collect all the mites? Meaning you have to disassemble the hive to get to the base every time you need to clean it. So far so good, but this sounds interesting, if it works. Ruby, out of curiosity, since you are doing it to help the bees, are you taking any honey from them?
If so how much do you take? That said every family member I have has asked me for honey when the time comes… But I feel like if I just leave the honey for the bees they will be better off… Can you tell me what your policy is for that with your bees? Diana, as a general rule of thumb, you should not harvest any honey from a first year colony. They need all the honey to build up and get strong. When friends and relatives hassle me for honey, I tell them to plant a bee garden and then talk to me. Diana, in 4 years I have taken a total of 2 medium frames of honey.
A medium frame of honey actually equals about 3 maybe 4 qts of honey to my amazement! Well, my bees usually go into winter with 3 supers of honey and they do fine and a small amount will be left in the spring. Thanks Hilary for promoting Natural Beekeeping. For me, mites rank very low in my list of apiary issues.
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Yet, it continues to be a hot topic. I violate 6 located in full shade and continue to deal with the elevated beetle level as best I can. But its only been an issue for nucs, queen rearing, cutouts with comb, and hives that have swarmed. Hi Hillary, yes, I was not planning on taking any honey the first year. I had read that and have had several people tell me not to expect any honey the first year. The theroy is that if you spray something like olive oil on the shelf then the mites fall through the screen and get stuck on the olive oil on the shelf. Excellent article and thought provoking.
I would have never thought of keeping two hives, however it makes complete sense. If people would do their research about beekeeping months to a year prior to keeping bees, it will make a better keeper. Thanks for the information! It can be very intimidating. I live in PA. I have bears in my backyard daily… Other than in winter. I am concerned about keeping the hive safe from them.
Any ideas? Thanks again! To keep bees safe from bears, use electric fence. There are many ideas how to use it, all work good under certain circumstances. Mine is to use a high joule output charger — delivers 6 joules of strength. That is the sizzle in the snap.
Here in Massachusetts, our black bears are well populated, and sometimes mobile, meaning we have locals, and some passers through. Should a bear try to reach or climb, they will feel the error of their ways, if they dig down to go under, they will hit damp ground even during dry spells, and the 6 joules will send them packing. Overbuilding for security is worth it.
If you are not near a standard power source, you can use a smaller output charger and bait the predators in with bacon strips or else peanut butter smeared on aluminum foil wrapped around the hot wires. Both are effective. I feel the biggest problem is not adequately preparing themselves for managing bees. This is somewhat related to number 10 on your list, but I feel it starts way before an individual even first acquires bees.
For example I usually recommend the bee-curious spend a few years helping out other beekeepers so they know what they are getting themselves into. When speaking to urban beekeepers I feel this is doubly important as the potential cost of mistakes is higher. Hi, yes, I agree. Corporate trolls are a big part of the bee keeping experience. Their agenda is to focus on mites and ignore Monsanto, Bayer, etc. I am new to bee keeping and treat for mites but that does not make me unaware of the real problems facing the world.
Bees are the canary threating a mine closure. Monsanto, Bayer, etc want you to know that the canary died from other causes. There are some beekeeper who are employed by these chemical giants and try to spread misinformation to distract from the fact that neonicotinoid pesticides are killing the bees. However, there are a lot of other beekeepers who truly believe treating mites is best for bees. In the end most beekeepers want the same thing. To keep their bees alive and healthy. I try to take an organic by EU standards approach and manage the varroa with minimal pharmaceutical treatment.
The long term answer will lie in natural selection, I believe. I own a bee friendly farm. Neonicotinoids are small part of what is killing this planet. I have observed that beehives located away of agriculture have mites but not a mite problem. Thus my feel that farming is killing bees more then mites. Current farming practices can not be sustained. Farmers are just starting to get it. Mostly because they are forced into getting it loss of irrigation rights, soil being tits up, etc.
I think the correlation between mite load and farms is likely because of neonics. Nice article with some good information, but I also disagree with some of what you said. I am only going to address 8. Not using your Smoker. As I approach any hive I take notice of active and their behavior towards me.
I knock on the hive, to be polite, prior to popping the cover off. And then proceed into the hive for inspection or harvest. I rarely get stung. I do have colonies that are more aggressive and these I will dawn my veil and use a bit of smoke, but not much. During season, I am constantly around these hives inside and out and I am sure they know who I am. Come harvest time, not blowers or chemicals are used to remove the bees for the frames selected.
Instead, a Goose feather is all I need. No chemicals are added to the hives for any reason and smoke is used ONLY if I have to, but very little is used. Knowing your colonies and knowing how to work a colony without using aggressive techniques are far superior to scaring the shiite out of your bees with smoke. Now, for new keepers, I would recommend suiting up and have the smoker at ready. I agree with you and I actually do the same thing, but this post is written for new beeks. Also, keep in mind I am in an Africanized zone. I have seen some pretty frightening behavior from unsmoked bees.
Timing is everything — the season, the weather, even the time of day affect my bees. Yes, the more I work with them, the better I understand them. I wear a white jacket, but mostly for the pockets and to protect my clothes. One thing I hate about the smoker is arriving home smelling like a campfire! Many years ago, before I even had my first hive of bees, I went to a commercial beekeeper — a man who was the 4th generation in his family to have beehives — and the words he said still ring in my ears to this day. You do it before you put on your veil.
Before you ever approach the hives. It uses their natural instincts to make them go in and eat a bit of honey — and a fat bee is a happier bee. It also will cover the alarm pheromone that the guard bees of ALL hives will produce. In a nutshell, it WILL reduce the likelihood of a person getting stung. It makes the decision on whether or not to use smoker or not a very easy one.
I know a little something about teaching newbees…. Hey, Bill—you do not say where you live—urban or rural or in between—or what kind of bees you are keeping. These things matter in regards to using the smoker. Too often, newbees in this environment do not use their smoker with good technique and the fallout can be bees passing over the fence to the next patio, stings to the neighbors and a resulting call to the authorities.
Not all of us may have the distance from neighbors to opt out on smoker use. Bees that are fractious can be much easier to work—as our partially Africanized ferals can be—with judicious smoking. The package bees I have seen and worked are so complacent, they hardly seem alive at times. Finally, I do not use the smoker only at the beginning of a inspection.
The bees do not respond well to having their sisters ground up in the woodware. I break propolis bonds slowly and allow the bees the time to adapt to my movements. Great artical, I shared it. I am passionate about getting new people into bees. I have different types of hives. This past year I put two styles of hives on a school roof so students could watch them.
I had 5 queens emerge from cells placed in an incubator in the classroom. You left out the one big mistake I see many newbies make — giving the bees too much room. My first two years seemed to be my most productive in terms of honey production but the colony died during the second winter I live in Utah and was using Langstroth style hives. I also stacked bails of straw around the hives during the winter to help provide wind protection.
I bought new packages at the beginning of the 3rd season and started a second hive. They both appeared to be doing well for the first 8 weeks and then one of the hives vacated. The other hive appeared to be ok but died during the winter. The 4th season, I again bought packages but had queen problems and neither colony did very well. That was 3 years ago. I read what I can but often see contradictory information in the available literature. My wife and I would love to go to one of your classes.
Perhaps a California vacation is coming up. As a bonus, I would love eating honey from my own hives again. Thanks for the helpful and encouraging information. Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad I am helping you to be inspired again. Losing hives can be very frustrating. If you start again, maybe you can try catching a feral hive.
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They tend to do better than bought bees in my experience. Dan—I teach beekeeping in Los Angeles and have 27 colonies of feral sourced honey bees—meaning they came from swarms, cutouts, and trapouts and were surviving spendidly in their unconventional location, but were not in acceptable digs for humans. If you can get survivor stock swarms or cutouts, you will likely get bees adapted to their location and with strong genetic diversity.
You need to figure out what type of beekeeping you are interested in doing and then winnow out the educational sources that are not in line with that philosophy. You need to find a mentor or bee club that supports your interest. I decided I did not want to run a bee hospital, counting mites and applying in-hive chemicals. I knew what I wanted to do, so I arranged with a group member to help me with a cutout of some bees I found in a water meter box. Finally, like a lot of newbees I teach, try to get over the fixation on when you get honey.
Thanks Susan. I will start looking for people who are in line with that philosophy. Also, I agree that I was probably too focused on honey during my first attempt and a large portion of my problems was probably related to taking too much honey and trying to make up for it with feeding sugar water. In the meantime, it is good to find a community that can provide me some advice and support.
Thanks again. Just so you know, L. Most of the rest of us had to go at it solo and were discouraged by local beekeepers. I made a lot of gut decisions as a newbie and decided not to listen to the old timers telling me I was wrong. Hi, Dan—you have not said where you are, but as Hilary says, there are more feral beeks out in LA than a lot of places. BUT—they are out there! Sam Comfort, at Anarchy Apiaries, is all over the US, check his website and could probably point out some contacts. I will start looking for local rebels and see if I can strengthen the movement.
Thanks for your advice and information. Merry Christmas! And that was only honey amounts, there was a lot more about bees shared too. Thanks for the great info.
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This was my first year beekeeping a i learnt you can never get too much info. Thanks for great info. My first biggest mistake was that I had one hive swarm 4x times. I was devastated, lucky the hive was strong; but I feel no one warned me. I will be telling new beekeepers.
I found your post very interesting Hilary, with some great advice for newbees. The one point where I would strongly disagree is the frequency of hive inspections. As you correctly note, hive opening is extremely stressful for the bees. In Australia we have very strong honey flows which require somewhat more active management of hives, but three to four times a year should be enough. Both diseases such as chalkbrood and pests such as small hive beetle are known to result from over-frequent hive openings.
Valid points. In my area we have Africanized bees. Their hives grow large, swarm and become aggressive and then they are completely unprepared for how to handle the situation. It can be disastrous in backyard settings. Our club in Tulsa Northeast Oklahoma Beekeepers Association is working on advancing mentoring as an integral part of its educational activities. Thank you for this article and all the comments and responses are very interesting.
I live in central Virginia and will be starting 2 Langstroth hives in the spring. They will be 8 frame medium hives.
And will be getting 2 packages of Italian bees from him in mid March. Those bees are coming from Georgia. I feel pretty sure that after I learn the ins and outs I could probably do it but I have asked Jerry about going treatment free and he does not recommend it, so I would have no support from him. Like Dan, I too was a biology major in college and understand the need for our bees to evolve natural resistance to the varroa mite.
I even understand the process.
Even tough everybody in my family asks the same question, When can we get some honey? Does that exist? I intend to write an article soon on how to be a treatment free beekeeper. Just from reading your comment here, I think Jerry is probably right in this case. If you want to be a treatment free beekeeper you need to be careful where you get your bees.
Check with your breeder. So, that is something to keep in mind. Lastly, it is unlikely that you will find support for most natural beekeeping practices in your local area. When I first started out, everyone in the beekeeping group here told me I was crazy. Now, they want me to be a board member.
If you are interested in foundationless beekeeping or small cell beekeeping, check out my two most recent posts. They are always large cell stock bees, and you must regress them with small cell foundation well described by Michael Bush and Dee Lusby This process is a whole other advanced technique, but you could do it if you had a experienced mentor.
Small cell foundation is sold by a few bee suppliers in the US. Your fear that not providing them foundation means they will become crosscombed is missing a understanding of the in between issue—-that large cell bees will tend to draw large cells in their brood nest. The average cell size can be assessed by measuring with a millimeter marked ruler, horizontally, across 10 cells and dividing by 10 to get the average per cell The theory with encouraging small cell bees is that their development time for the worker brood is shorter than the time required for the full development of the mites within the cell, so the brood hatches before the mite has completed development.
Since the drones are more expendable in terms of the work needing to be done in the hive, the drones can be sacrificed. Hope this helps! Excellent advice. My two biggest mistakes not on your list have been 1 opening up the hive after it got too dark.
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