How to Avoid Common Beginner Beekeeping Mistakes

Coastal’s Urban Farmer’s Almanac

Avoid Beekeeping Mistakes

 

Beekeepers are everywhere nowadays. As Matthew Teichman, Coastal’s bee expert recently explained, people are starting to keep hives on their farms and ranches, in orchards, among suburban homes, and even atop city high-rise buildings. With all those new beekeepers, we asked Matthew about the common mistakes beginners make and how to avoid those issues.

“The more bees the better,” Matthew explained when asked about the recent popularity of bees and beekeeping. “Everyone should have bees. But, they should start by joining a bee group or finding a seasoned beekeeper for advice.”

Get Some Experience

There are bee groups in your area. In Oregon contact the Oregon State Beekeepers Association (orsba.org). If you live anywhere in Washington, try Puget Sound Bees (pugetsoundbees.org). Both websites feature links and information about beekeepers in your community. You can also join the Art of Beekeeping Facebook group in Oregon and Washington.

Finding a beekeeper that is willing to share their experience and allow you to help them with their hives is priceless. It will help you be more relaxed the first time you encounter 60,000 bees, plus, you’ll learn their tips and tricks, as well as their mistakes. Once you have your hive ready, you can invite them over to your place to double-check your work and ensure everything is set up correctly.

“The beekeeping community is great,” Matthew added. “Beekeepers like to help each other out.”

Coastal tip: Check out our recent Beekeeping Working with Master Beekeeper George Hansen. In it, you’ll learn everything from the basics to more advanced tactics.  

Location. Location. Location.

Picking the right place for your hive is essential. Be sure it is not too close to an area where you like to enjoy time outside, but not too far away that it becomes a chore to work your hive. If you live in a city or suburb, check with your local government for regulations and legal restrictions. And be sure to check with your nearby neighbors to ensure there are no issues with allergies.

Heat and Cold is Not an Issue (Most of the Time)

New beekeepers often worry that their bees will be too hot in the summer. Thankfully, bees can regulate the temperature of their brood nests by either generating heat with their flight muscles, or cool the internal temperature by evaporative cooling. This often involves many bees standing by the door just outside the hive, beating their wings to bring in cooler air. Just make sure you have a nearby water source for your bees in the summer heat.

Coastal tip: To avoid overheating, place your hive so that it gets morning sun, afternoon shade, and some evening sun.

Don’t React to Stingers

First, you don’t want to worry too much about being stung. The more you worry, the more your fear and anxiety will attract bees and instigate an attack. Plus, stings are a normal part of beekeeping. When you do get stung, don’t overreact, drop your tools, or any frames you might be holding. Simply scrape the stinger out with your hive tool and smoke the spot. The smoke will cover the pheromone that will have been given off with the stinger.

To minimize stinging, wear light-colored clothing, and tuck your shirt into your pants. Also, tuck your pants into your socks. Finally, wear a veil and gloves.

Coastal tip: Wash your beekeeping clothing often to remove pheromones left by prior attacks. 

Don’t Worry about Differences or Drones

You’ll find that worker bees have many different colorings. Often this means the queen mated with several drones. Also, you may see more drones than normal in the spring. As long as your queen is healthy and your workers are strong, this is not usually a problem.

Wasps, Beetles, and Moths are Not (Usually) the Enemy

Your hive will try to keep these pests confined to the hive’s parameter. However, if you see a webby mess amid the frames, you could have a moth issue that needs attention. If beetles are the problem, you will find a lot of slime in the hive.

Get Your Bee Gear at Coastal

You’ll find beekeeping gear for newcomers as well as pros at your Northwest owned and operated Coastal, from protective suits to boxes, foundations, smokers and more. If you have any questions, you’re more than welcome to ask one of our friendly, knowledgeable employees.

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