Running List of Bee Keeping Issues We’ve Experienced by Year

When we first got into beekeeping, we knew it would be a multi-year effort before we got an appreciable harvest.

There are many reasons for this, including it taking a while for beehives to grow their populations, draw out comb, and save enough honey stores for winter- not to mention all of the issues that we, as beekeepers, may bring to the table (killing a queen, anyone?). Getting to the point of having a healthy colony with enough honey reserves to take the excess from could take two or three seasons at the best of times.

All of these are highly variable elements. Your bees may draw out combs quickly in year one, but they may be slow in year two. You may not kill a queen in year one, but you may kill two in year three. The issues that plague beehives do not follow a set schedule and could rear their ugly head at any time in your beekeeping journey.

To showcase this, we thought we would start a running log of our beekeeping journey year-by-year- what happened, what issues we ran into, what we did to fix them (if applicable), and what happened after. Many of the the issues we've seen in our hives have been minor, such that we wont be writing long articles on them in the slightest, but felt like this running log would give a good glimpse into the yearly variations and issues we've had all the same.

As we update this article with each passing season, be sure to check back as we update our progress!

Current Status: Beginning year three. We have two hives in winter hibernation that will be split to our max zoned rating of four hives in the spring.

Read more

Planning on Keeping Bee Hives? You Need At Least Two

We have loved getting into beekeeping as a hobby for the reward of getting a honey harvest in the season and maintaining a colony of pollinators in our local ecosystem. 

One tip you'll see come up time and time again is that those looking into keeping bee hives should start with at least two hives. As this is a crucial tip that can determine whether your hive(s) succeed or fail, we wanted to go more into why it is necessary in this one.

Read more

Most Important Beekeeping Equipment for Setting Up an Apiary

Beekeeping is one of my favorite hobbies at home. It is a relaxing activity, great for maintaining pollinators (although some argue this), and nothing beats locally cultivated honey!

Unlike other gardening and farming activities (bees are livestock, after all), you typically do not need a massive plot of land to reap the reward of starting a beehive or three.

Yes, local zoning laws in cities may change this, but since bees fly several miles a day in search of nectar and return it to their compact space of a hive, getting into beekeeping can be incredibly easy.

So if you are looking into setting up an apiary, we thought we would share a breakdown of all of the beekeeping equipment you need to purchase, as well as others you may want to purchase.

Read more

How to Perform a Beehive Split – Easy Walkaway Split Method

If your beehive is growing and showing signs of swarming, or perhaps you want to grow your apiary and turn one hive into two, it is time to make a beehive split. 

While there are many ways to deal with swarm management and split hives, we love the easy walkway split method as it is simple, has a fair bit of success, and requires minimal intervention on our part.

So in this one, we thought we'd tackle what a split is, why you may want to do it, and why you may have to do it.

Read more

Should I Have Bee Hives if I Am Allergic to Bees? No!

Before getting bees, I read just about everything I could on the hobby to make sure it was something I wanted to get into due to its high starting costs.

One question I saw come up again and again was what to do if you are allergic to bees. The advice often runs the spectrum from “that is a really bad idea” to “I'm allergic and have never been stung” and everything in between. But as people with their own allergies, some on the riskier side, we have a simple answer to this question- no, you should not keep bees.

Read more

5 Lessons Learned in My First Year Bee Keeping

As we wind down our first year of having beehives at our house, I have to admit that I learned a lot- way more than I originally thought I would, if I am to be honest.

I made mistakes (plenty of them). I made some strides. I even got a little bit of a honey harvest out of one overly productive hive.

So while we are busy prepping for winter hibernation, I thought I'd take some time to look back on some of the biggest lessons learned in my first year beekeeping for others who are thinking of getting into it.

Read more

How Long Until a Beehive Pays Itself Off? It Really Depends

When we decided to launch this homesteading project of ours, our main goal was to be as self-sufficient as possible with our little plot of land in the city. 

A secondary goal of ours was to try and offset spending that we had for items, particularly around food, that we could grow/make/ferment ourselves as opposed to buying at local markets and stores.

As such, we always love to take a look at how much value our purchases bring to the table, and if we find something that could pay itself off in short order (read: months, not years), we know we have to buy it for our property as soon as possible.

But when it comes to my drive to get into beekeeping, the analysis became tricky. So in this one, we thought we'd share the numbers on how long it takes a beehive to pay itself off, but then jump into an even deeper analysis about why a hive may never actually do that at all!

Read more

Why We Chose Bee Hive Top Feeders Over Entrance Feeders

It is obvious that bees consume honey as their primary food source. But we, as beekeepers, may not live in regions with enough nectar year-round to meet their needs. When this happens, bees have only one option- to deplete the stored honey in the hive.

This can happen when you have a new hive (as a package of bees comes with very little syrup and nucs may only have a frame or two of honey), during summer dearth (when nectar and pollen production goes down in local flowers), if a hive is struggling (such as when a queen dies and hive numbers decrease for a while), or over winter (where bees need somewhere between 50-100 lbs of stored honey to make it through to the following spring) to name a few.

Since we, as beekeepers, like to take excess honey for ourselves, any scenario that causes the bees to deplete their stores may delay or outright prohibit our ability to harvest honey when nectar is flowing abundantly. So many beekeepers turn to feeding their bees food, in the form of sugar syrup, to help get them to build up their stores and allow us access to harvesting that sweet, sweet honey when the time is right.

So in this one, we thought we'd share a bit more about feeders you may want to consider for your beehives, and why a simple top feeder may be the best option!

Read more

Hoover Hives Review – The Best Beehive For Beginners

When we decided to get into beekeeping, it didn't take long for us to realize that we wanted to buy wax-coated hives. 

In being located in southwest Pennsylvania, we are no strangers to the elements. It can snow 12″ here overnight. It can break 100 °F in the summer. We can get several inches of rain out of nowhere. It can be incredibly humid or horribly frigid (or both). More or less, name a weather condition that occurs in the continental United States, and we can see it- many combinations all in a single week, too!

As such, we knew wax coating on our hives would provide an extra layer of protection from the elements and give our bees the best chance of survival. 

When going down this rabbit hole, we discovered Hoover Hives and immediately fell in love with the product and purchased two pre-assembled hives from Galena Farms in Ohio as they seemed like the best bee hive for beginners by far.

It was the best decision when getting started.

Read more

Humble Bee Suit Review – You Should Wear a Bee Keeper Suit

When you go online to read beekeeping advice, you are inundated with a million opinions on why you should (or shouldn't) wear a bee keeper suit. 

Bee suits can be hot. Gloves can be bulky and make it hard to work. They're not 100% sting-proof. I could go on. Some people wear full-body suits, some only wear a veil and gloves, and others wear no protective gear at all.

I cannot advocate for anything less than a full bee suit.

While all of the concerns about bee keeper suits are indeed valid ones, the simple issue is that bees sting (yes, even docile colonies have bad days), and bee stings hurt. Stings in certain locations can hurt a lot, too. So to minimize your chances of getting stung, a bee suit is a must.

I was given a Humble Bee Suit as a gift when I started my own backyard apiary and wanted to share a bit more about it in this review!

  • Disclosure: My body apparently has zero issues with bee stings, so please keep this in mind when reading. Some folks are outright allergic, and others experience minor-to-significant swelling when stung. Do not assume that a bee suit is going to change how you react to a sting. At best, a bee suit may lower the frequency at which you're stung and possibly reduce the time a stinger remains in your body for reasons we will discuss below. Your sensitivity to bee stings is not likely to change.

Read more