Creating your Apiary

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There are certain things that a beekeeper can do when building an apiary that helps to create a hospitable environment for bees. Some of them are obvious. Don’t keep a bug zapper in your garden. Don’t use pesticides either. Both of them kill bees. Another important thing that a new beekeeper should do is discuss his new hobby with his neighbours. Some neighbours will be afraid of the bees and it’s the beekeepers job to explain how important bees are, that bee populations are being decimated, and that bee colonies make safe neighbours.

There are other ways that a beekeeper can take care of bees that will provide the best environment for the bees. For example, a beekeeper should look forward to sunny days when he can visit his hives and do things for the bees that encourage colony health. Happy, healthy bees are going to make the beekeeper’s job easier and much more rewarding. The beekeeper needs to thoughtful about the colonies. He needs to think about what he did for the bees the last time he visited the hive. How have the bees reacted? Does the colony appear healthy?  By going through a hive completely a beekeeper gains knowledge about his colony and about the things he can do to ensure a healthy colony in the future.

A beekeeper should check for flying bees and the general look of the bee population. There should be a laying queen or fresh eggs or both. Are there any signs of disease? It’s wise to check for queen cups and swarm cells. If there appear to be swarm cells the beekeeper can make splits to prevent swarming. The beekeeper should see if the bees have enough nectar. There shouldn’t be so much nectar that honey supers are stuffed. This will cause swarming. The hive should be cleaned up by removing burr comb, odd brood comb, and comb configurations that are erratic. Any old comb, broken frames and broken down hive boxes should be exchanged for new equipment.

In the spring the beekeeper will want to make sure that his hives are getting the most sun that they can get, and preferably, the hives should be in a place that gets sun in the winter too. This saves the job of moving them when the weather gets colder. Is the location of the hives too windy? Are there diseases or pests in the colony?

Later in the summer and into early fall, the beekeeper should make sure that there’s still plenty of room for honey in the hive. He should check again for mites or other pests. If there appear to have been still born larvae, the equipment containing the foul brood (dead larvae) should be removed and bees should be shaken into new equipment that has a new foundation.

In the late fall and winter, make sure that the bees have enough food for the winter. The hive should be cleaned again, removing erratic brood and messy burr comb.

In winter, the beekeeper should check the colonies every few weeks. The bees need to have enough food to make it through the season. It’s also a good time to make sure that the hive is getting lots of sun and that the hive is kept dry during rain or snow.

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About the Author

My name is Nancy Ketner and I have been fascinated by Bees for as long as I can remember. Beekeeping can be a daunting hobby to start. Understanding and creating an apiary you need as a beginner can be difficult. I started Beekeeper Central as a free resource for others who wish to explore Beekeeping as a hobby or small business venture so people can get the most enjoyment they can from Honey Bees. Do come on over to to get your FREE mini e-course in Bees and Bee Craft.

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