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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Taos County New Mexico

    Default Top Ten Rookie Bee Mistakes

    Anyone care to share their best rookie beekeeping learning experiences?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Re: Top Ten Rookie Bee Mistakes

    Keep in mind back when I started we didn't have internet nor cell phones. Opened a healthy booming hive in the spring and it had 20 plus queen cells in it so I cut them all out......not knowing they had already swarmed.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Baytown, TX., USA.

    Default Re: Top Ten Rookie Bee Mistakes

    My mistake? This is like engineering, study, build, buy, insert, reap. Done. Well, then the little ladies arrived and the learning curve got real steep!! My three hives have made it one year this month and I have caught one old swarm. So far I have only reaped some great fun (and some costs) but there is hope for better times ahead!
    Julysun elevation 23 feet. 4 Hives, 2 years.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Casey, Il, USA

    Default Re: Top Ten Rookie Bee Mistakes

    I opened a hive with no smoke on a fairly chilly windy overcast kinda day, figured I'd get in and out and add a box, but that didn't work out too well, they poured out of there like a plague of locusts LOL Will always have the smoker on standby now LOL

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Ojai, California

    Default Re: Top Ten Rookie Bee Mistakes

    For many a new beek, the most common one is not staying equipment ahead of the bees in a timely manner. In the spring-through-early-fall, you'd be wise to keep 2 to 4 hives ready to go if there are swarm calls. Another is only keeping only one hive - if it goes queenless, you could be out of luck in a hurry! (Much better to figure on keeping between 3 and 6 hives as a hobbyist).

    Another common mistake is to think that you just get a box, add bees, then enjoy all this honey! HAHAHAHAHA! The learning curve is a bit steeper than that for most of us.

    My ex-girlfriend's rookie mistake was getting stung under the veil, then taking it off and running! (Result? => 6 stings)

    My first rookie mistake was getting vehicle trouble in LA the day before queens hatched in Ojai. (Result? => 2 live queens out of 32 cells)

    My most painful one was not having all my hives on pallets and bolted, ready to move in my queen yard. A sudden, hurried move caused a huge die-off, including the loss of an AFB-resistant colony of very productive, well-behaved bees.

    There was a big thread recently here on Beesource about stolen hives, so another is not branding your equipment! I'm at the point where I won't make anymore woodenware until I complete my branding irons. Face it, building hives and queen equipment is a lot of work and expense. START BY MAKING OR BUYING YOUR BRANDING IRON!!! You won't regret it.

    The saddest mistakes often involve wintering. Hives must be strong - 130 lbs for a 2-box 10-frame deep Langstroth colony - with pollen and honey going into winter. Weaker colonies should go in a double-nucleus over a double screen board setting on top of a strong colony, or just newspaper combine them with a strong colony.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Evansville, IN

    Default Re: Top Ten Rookie Bee Mistakes


    I did the same thing, only I didn't even have a veil on. I'm pretty smart (and have three college degrees to prove it), won't do that again.

    I suspect the number one beginner beekeeping mistake is to fail to feed a new hive enough. I know at least four people who wanted to keep bees but insisted that they were supposed to be "all natural" and didn't feed them. Guess what? Most hives (90% or so) die if you don't feed them in the first year. I fed mine to start with, then failed to realized that Italian queen from Mississippi or wherever didn't respond to a lack of forage and kept laying until they ate all their winter stores. Died off in the spring after a failed supersedure attempt and a wax moth infestation.

    Fed my swarms up almost too well the second year.

    The other beginner mistake that is very common is to fail to provide the correct hive space in a timely manner, either by not giving them enough room and letting them swarm or by adding too many boxes and having wax moths make a mess.

    Like every thing else in life, practice improves performance.

    I'd say #3 is probably incorrect use of the smoker, either not enough smoke to calm the bees properly or sending billowing clouds of hot smoke through the hive and getting the bees really annoyed just before opening the hive. Takes a while to get the hang of smoke, I think. I've learned one long, slow puff in the entrance and a quick one under the cover is all I need with my current bees except when they start pouring over the tops of the frames and top edges of the box. Then another puff will run them right down out of the way. I usually just drift the cloud of smoke over the hive, I try no to puff smoke into the hive except into the entrance.

    I've avoided most of the rest of the really bad things, I think, or maybe I just have bees that recover from my poor efforts at management well enough I'm not doing any real damage!


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