Beekeeping for Beginners — Hive Set Up

Hi Im Tricia, an organic gardener. I grow organically for a healthy and safe food supply, for a clean and sustainable environment, for an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Increase the yields from your fruit trees and your vegetable garden and reap the sweet reward of honey by setting up a beehive in your own backyard. Today we’re gonna review what equipment you need and how to setup your hive.

First we need to select a dry level location that we can access year round. Ideally you’ll face the hive entrance towards the southern exposure. The bees will fly straight out of the entrance so make sure it’s not facing directly into a sidewalk, the neighbor’s yard, or your own family or pets play area. You can set up your hive to face a hedge or fence and the bees will quickly learn to fly up and over the barrier keeping them out of your hair, literally. Be aware of any pests in your neighborhood and plan accordingly.

For example, if you have bears in the area install an electric fence preemptively to keep them from getting a taste of the honey because once they get one taste they may just charge through an electric fence in the future. If you have skunks in the area build a stand for your hive to sit on that’s at least eighteen inches tall. What happens is the skunks at night will rile up the bees, then wait for them to fly out of the hive and eat them like candy. You can set up your hive either directly on the ground or on a flat surface like this pallet. This redwood hive stand will resist rot. This is a solid bottom board it helps keep the bottom of the hive secure. There also screened bottom boards that can help with monitoring pasts such as mites. This entrance reducer fits snugly into the bottom board and is useful while the colony establishes itself and does the trick for keeping mice out of the hive.

Once you see an increasing amount of bee traffic you can rotate the entrance reducer to the larger entrance or remove it all together. Depending on the weather and the availability of pollen when you get your new bees you may want to install a feeder. This will encourage the new colony to draw comb quickly so the queen can lay eggs and the workers can store pollen. If you want to use the entrance reducer and the feeder at the same time your going to need to cut your entrance reducer to size. The entrance feeder is great because you can add the sugar syrup without having to open the hive. The sugar syrup is just a combination of one to one ratio of organic sugar and hot water, let it cool before feeding the bees. Next up are the two brood chambers, these nine and five eighths inch boxes are gonna be the core of your bees home. Within these two boxes the queen will lay eggs which will turn into larvae, pupae and immature bees all of which are referred as brood, hence the name, brood chambers, or brood box.

These two brood boxes are where the bees will store their food to survive the winter. A beekeeper will inspect the chambers to be sure that they’re healthy but you don’t want to steal the honey from these bottom two chambers if you want your bees to survive the winter. Once the bees have filled up these boxes to about eighty five percent with brood and honey and that’ll take about six to twelve months then you can add an addition.

In order to keep the queen in the brood chambers lay a queen excluder on top of the brood chambers. The queen is much larger than the worker bees therefore she cannot fit through these narrow gaps but the workers can. Now for the sweet part, these are the honey supers and these are six and five eighths inch pine boxes that you’re gonna add to the top of your chambers. Add one of these additions at a time to your beehive. Once your super is about fifty percent full of honey you can add another one. You’ll notice that i’m setting up an eight frame hive today. This means that there’s eight of these wooden frames that the bees will draw their honeycomb onto in each box. Commercial apiaries will generally use a ten frame super but those can be very heavy up to about sixty pounds and for the home beekeeper you want it a little bit more manageable when you take your super inside the house to harvest the honey. the inner cover is set on top of the last super it has a hole for ventilation and provides insulation from extreme heat and cold.

And at last the cover which will provide protection from rain and snow and in this case it will add a decorative feature to the garden. Optionally you can secure your hive with tie downs or straps. This pine hive is beautiful and if you want it to retain its function and appearance it’s important to paint it before the bees arrive. I’m going to paint mine with this natural non-toxic poly whey clear varnish, but you can use latex on the outside. I’m starting with two hives and to make painting easier I’ve stacked all the boxes.

One of the best tips for beginners is to start with two bee hives like i’m doing today so that you can compare and contrast them over time helping you to better understand what normal looks like. Since bees can differentiate between colors have some fun and paint your hives different colors if you wish, and you’ll help your new bees better find their way home.

Now that everything is dry my hives are ready for the bees. I’m using the redwood base, the solid bottom board, the entrance reducer, two brood boxes, the inner cover, and the roof. I’m going to store the two supers and the queen excluder until i need them. So be a beekeeper and grow organic for life! .

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