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So You Want To Be a Beekeeper?

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This is a talk I gave recently to beginning beekeepers. How to get up the beekeeping learning curve, what equipment you need, how to get bees, how to care for your bees, honey production and how to prepare your bees to survive over a long cold winter.

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So You Want To Be a Beekeeper?

  1. 1. JONATHAN R. ENGELSMA, PH.D. H T T P : / / W W W. H U D S O N V I L L E H O N E Y. C O M SO YOU WANT TO BE A BEEKEEPER?
  2. 2. TOPICS • Getting up the learning curve. • Equipment you’ll need. • Getting your bees. • Caring for your bees. • Harvesting Honey • Wintering bees.
  3. 3. TOPICS • Getting up the learning curve. • Equipment you’ll need. • Getting your bees. • Caring for your bees. • Harvesting Honey • Wintering bees.
  4. 4. SCALING THE LEARNING CURVE • Get yourself a local mentor! • Join a local bee club. • Read some good bee books. • Engage in the online beekeeping community.
  5. 5. GET YOURSELF A MENTOR!
  6. 6. G E T I N V O LV E D : JOIN A BEE CLUB
  7. 7. READ SOME GOOD BEE BOOKS! • “Backyard Beekeeper” / Kim Flottum • “How to keep bees and sell honey” / Walter T. Kelley • “Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping” / Dewey Caron
  8. 8. VISIT SOME GOOD WEBSITES! • beesource.com • scientificbeekeeping.com • michiganbees.org • bees.library.cornell.edu
  9. 9. TOPICS • Getting up the learning curve. • Equipment you’ll need. • Getting your bees. • Caring for your bees. • Harvesting Honey • Wintering bees.
  10. 10. THE MODERN BEEHIVE • Invented by the Rev. L.L. Langstroth in 1851. • Removable frames • Size matters: “bee space”
  11. 11. THE HIVE • Decisions to make: • 10 frame vs. 8 frame / be consistent! • Deep vs. medium for brood chambers.
  12. 12. HIVE COMPONENTS • hive stand • inner cover • bottom board • outer cover • entrance reducer • rims / shims • hive bodies • honey supers • frames • feeders • foundation • queen excluder
  13. 13. SMOKERS
  14. 14. THE HIVE TOOL • Most essential tool! • Multi-purposes: prying, scraping, etc. • The simple $4 hive tool will suffice!
  15. 15. VEILS & BEESUITS, ETC. • Veil is essential equipment. • Wear a bee suit / white coveralls as needed. • Gloves / gauntlets optional. • Avoid wool clothing.
  16. 16. TOPICS • Getting up the learning curve. • Equipment you’ll need. • Getting your bees. • Caring for your bees. • Harvesting Honey • Wintering bees.
  17. 17. GETTING BEES FOR YOUR HIVE • 3 options for getting bees: • package bees • nucs • catch a swarm!
  18. 18. PA C K A G E B E E S
  19. 19. NUCS
  20. 20. C AT C H A S W A R M ! !
  21. 21. PA C K A G E S V S . N U C S • Packages • Nucs (northern raised) • raised in the south • build up faster • slower start • get stock that winters • no old combs! well. • you might get junk combs… ORDER YOUR BEES EARLY!!!
  22. 22. TOPICS • Getting up the learning curve. • Equipment you’ll need. • Getting your bees. • Caring for your bees. • Harvesting Honey • Wintering bees.
  23. 23. CARING FOR YOUR BEES • In order to care for your bees, you need to think like a bee… • NEED TO UNDERSTAND BASIC BEE BIOLOGY!
  24. 24. Source: “The Honey Bee” by Frank C. Pellett. 1919
  25. 25. CAN YOU FIND THE QUEEN?
  26. 26. CAN YOU FIND THE QUEEN? CAN YOU FIND A DRONE?
  27. 27. THE QUEEN • 16 days from egg to bee • fertile female: “mother” • lives 2 or more years • lays as many as 2000 eggs per day • mates (in flight) with a number of drones
  28. 28. HONEY BEE BIOLOGY • Worker bee • 21 days from egg to bee • infertile female • does all the work: housekeeping, childrearing, foraging, guard, etc. • Drone bee • 23 days from egg to bee • mates with queen (maybe) • kicked out when going gets tough…
  29. 29. BEEKEEPING / S P R I N G TA S K S • Start new colonies (feed!). • Feed wintered colonies if necessary. • Monitor/treat for mites • Split strong wintered colonies to prevent swarming.
  30. 30. BEEKEEPING / S U M M E R TA S K S • Monitor for mites • Super colonies • Harvest honey
  31. 31. BEEKEEPING / F A L L TA S K S • Monitor / Treat for mites • Feed if needed. • Prepare hives for winter
  32. 32. YOUR #1 CHALLENGE IN KEEPING YOUR BEES ALIVE: VA R R O A D E S T R U C T O R
  33. 33. D E A L I N G W I T H VA R R O A M I T E S • Hard Chemicals (miticides): not recommended • Soft treatments: formic acid, thymol • Integrated Pest Management Note: If you don’t do something for mites, you will most likely be buying new bees every year!
  34. 34. TOPICS • Getting up the learning curve. • Equipment you’ll need. • Getting your bees. • Caring for your bees. • Harvesting Honey • Wintering bees.
  35. 35. IF YOU ARE NICE TO YOUR BEES, THEY MAY PRODUCE S O M E V E R Y TA S T Y H O N E Y ! !
  36. 36. C O M B H O N E Y: R E A L LY R A W !
  37. 37. EXTRACTING HONEY • Required Equipment • Extractor (spinner) • Uncapping melter • Wax melter
  38. 38. EXTRACTING HONEY
  39. 39. TOPICS • Getting up the learning curve. • Equipment you’ll need. • Getting your bees. • Caring for your bees. • Harvesting Honey • Wintering bees.
  40. 40. GETTING READY FOR WINTER!
  41. 41. THANK YOU!
  42. 42. O U R C O N TA C T I N F O • Jonathan & Mieke Engelsma, Nunica, MI • Phone: (616) 209-9BEE • Email: sales@hudsonvillehoney.com • Web: www.hudsonvillehoney.com • Facebook: www.facebook.com/hudsonvillehoney • Twitter: @honeyandcandles

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