Risky Beekeeping Mistakes to Avoid

Beekeeping isn’t something you can just learn overnight. It is a continuous process where you get to pick up something new here and there. 

However, while you’re on your way to becoming a successful beekeeper, there are several costly mistakes you should avoid at all costs to ensure that you will be travelling on a primrose path.

 Assuming That a Busy Hive Means a Healthy Colony

Just because your hive is busy doesn’t automatically guarantee that the colony inside is healthy. Watch out for a less active colony that gets extremely active all of a sudden. Most of the time, this isn’t a good thing. Robbing wasps or bees are often the culprit behind such sudden activities. 

An active hive doesn’t always ensure a thriving colony within

Make sure you check your colony when you notice an unexpected and sudden change in the level of activity. Install a robbing screen or try other corrective methods if there is any form of robbing taking place. 

Not Opening a Hive Because It’s Too Cold

This is probably one of the most ridiculous beekeeping mistakes you can ever make. Think of it this way. You don’t add feed to the hive because you feel like it’s too cold to open it, not knowing that the colony inside is already dying of starvation. Rather than losing a few bees if you opened the hive to add feed, you end up losing all of them instead because you decided against opening it. 

Beekeeping - hive
There’s no such thing as ‘too cold’ to open a hive, especially when the bees inside urgently need food

Opening a hive during winter months is possible as long as you prepare ahead of time and decide on the exact steps you will be taking. List down all the necessary equipment you will be using. Go through each step and give it a go once everything is set and ready. 

Thinking That Your First Year Will be Free from Mite issues 

For some reason, some new beekeepers seem to think that mites aren’t often an issue during the first year. Sorry to burst your bubble but no, this is not the case. Mites are and will always be a problem. It’s even very likely that your new swarm, package, or nuc came with these pests pre-installed. This kind of assumption usually ends up killing more bees than other mistakes in this list. 

Top 5 beekeeping tips for a soon to be new beekeeper

Assuming You Know Everything There is to Know 

Just because you’ve watched all those videos on YouTube and you’ve read every book you can find about keeping bees doesn’t mean you already know everything out there. There’s no other way to know until you do it yourself. 

To prevent this costly mistake as a beekeeper, you should be familiar with the movement, sounds, and smells of the bees. Of course, this will only be possible if you have hands-on experience that requires years to master. 

Trying a Lot of Things in One Go

While there’s nothing wrong with wanting more, it’s never recommended to bite more than you can chew. As far as keeping bees is concerned, taking it easy is always the best way to go, or else, you’ll just exhaust all your resources and face bigger issues down the road. It’s also better to wait for a year or so before you put all your egg baskets into this hobby. 

Not Feeding New Colonies 

Just so you know, new colonies, specifically the ones that started from packages, can never get going on their own because they lack food stores. They require all the energy they can get to do their thing, from raising the young, maintaining the warmth in the nest, building comb, foraging for pollen and nectar, and defending the hive

If several workers need to forage for their basic food supply, there will be slower brood rearing, resulting in a languishing colony. During wet, windy, or cold weather, rearing brood might not even start at all.

Be sure to mix some water and sugar and feed your new colony until it develops the strength it needs to thrive on its own. 

Not Recognizing a Nectar Dearth 

Believe it or not, bees can do some weird stuff in a nectar dearth. You’ll know what you’re seeing if you have an idea when a dearth is taking place. You might also need to feed the bees or else, they might starve if you have no idea that a dearth is already in progress. 

Nectar dearths can occur at any time, particularly during midsummer and winter. Just because there are flowers doesn’t guarantee the absence of dearth. Bees don’t find some flowers valuable so it’s important to be familiar with the blooming flowers. 

Harvesting More Honey Than Necessary 

Never get too much honey than what you need because most of the time, you don’t even have a share at all. If you find it hard to resist the temptation of tasting your first-ever harvest of honey but the crop is still too small to harvest, use the tip of a spoon to take a tiny sample. 

Doing so will give you the chance to taste it. After all, nothing beats the joy of tasting warm hone directly from the hive. Just make sure that you only do it once a day and never more than that. 

Ignoring Signs of a Queenless Hive 

Make sure you know the signs of a queenless hive. Always check to see if your bees are acting queenless. A timely inspection will help you save the colony so listen to your instinct and get a closer look. 

You wouldn’t lose anything if there is nothing wrong with the queen. Ignoring the health of the queen bee is among the most expensive but common beekeeping mistakes that most beekeepers make. 

Complicating Simple Jobs

Believe it or not, most aspects of beekeeping are quite easy. It means that you shouldn’t make a big deal out of simple tasks like treating varroa mites, smoking a hive, or making sugar syrup. 

Be wary of advice that has lots of caution and rules. Many things work just fine even if they weren’t perfect the first time around. 

At the end of the day, beekeepers are very hardy creatures and they can endure most things now and then. However, try to avoid these beekeeping mistakes to ensure a smoother journey as a beekeeper. 

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