Beginner's mistakes
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Princess Anne, Maryland
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    263

    Default Beginner's mistakes

    It is that time of year that those who are getting ready to start beekeeping are hopefully doing research. So I thought it would be a good idea to start a thread with early on mistakes made so others may avoid the same ones. I myself have killed thousands of bees, I wish I could have avoided that.
    I think probably the number one mistake made is underestimating the Varroa mite. First year I was naive and thought I could get away with sugar dusting only. This past year I thought I was doing good by using hopguard. This year I will be sampling and using MAQS as needed. Packages are ok, but do a little research and try to find local nucs. Definitely start with at least two. Since you really should not count on getting honey the first year, I would let them build up and source some queens and split them. If average losses are 40%, then I would imagine that beginners losses are higher and more likely 60-75%. Why not try and give yourself a better overwintering chance. When spring comes and you do not want to have that many sell off extra colonies. As I said packages are ok, but from here on out I am treating them asap to knock down the mites to give them a better chance to tolerate mites. Breed is entirely up to the individual, after this year I will continue to use Carniolans. I feel they are more user friendly for beginners. They build up fast and make a lot of bees great for splitting. Make sure you feed your bees. Keep them fed during dearths and well fed going into winter. Along with feeding build robbing screens, they are very easy. A cheap investment that will save your bees. First year I did not recognize robbing soon enough, my colonies were already weak from varroa and it did not take much to kill off a few.
    I am sure I missed something. Read, read, and watch YouTube videos. Be prepared to treat your bees!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    4,616

    Default Re: Beginner's mistakes

    Decide very early on the trip if you are basing your moves on idealism or practical considerations. If you dither with idealistic quandaries in the face of problems you will commonly come to the point that even practical solutions are then too late.

    Basically this is what PyroBee is encouraging with his advice regarding being proactive with feed and pest control. Well fed, disease free bees with suitable winterizing for your climate will experience very few winter losses.

    Dont take for granted that all the advice you see proposed in books or the internet is good advice or the most practical.
    Frank

  3. #3

    Default Re: Beginner's mistakes

    I teach beekeeping classes and see a lot of the same mistakes over an over again. I wrote a whole blog post on it: http://beekeepinglikeagirl.com/10-mi...ekeepers-make/

    Some additional ones people mentioned after reading my post are:

    -Adding too much space for the bees to build in. This makes it hard for the bees to control their temperature. Or alternatively not giving the bees enough space and they then become overcrowded and swarm.

    - Using the smoker too aggressively.

    - Doing a full inspection (going through every single frame) when you usually only have to pull a few frames to find out what you need to know. (Is there a queen, is she laying well, do they have honey/pollen.) Doing a full inspection is unnecessary and it stresses out your bees.
    Beekeeping Instructor / Live Bee Removal / San Diego, Ca / 90 hives. Check out my new book: Queenspotting

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Mirabel, Québec, Canada
    Posts
    608

    Default Re: Beginner's mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by Girl Next Door Honey View Post
    I teach beekeeping classes and see a lot of the same mistakes over an over again. I wrote a whole blog post on it: http://beekeepinglikeagirl.com/10-mi...ekeepers-make/

    Some additional ones people mentioned after reading my post are:

    -Adding too much space for the bees to build in. This makes it hard for the bees to control their temperature. Or alternatively not giving the bees enough space and they then become overcrowded and swarm.

    - Using the smoker too aggressively.

    - Doing a full inspection (going through every single frame) when you usually only have to pull a few frames to find out what you need to know. (Is there a queen, is she laying well, do they have honey/pollen.) Doing a full inspection is unnecessary and it stresses out your bees.
    Doing a full inspection is usually unnecessary, but it does help beginners get a hold of how the colony is organized and how it evolves. It does stress the bees, but they can tough it out and it's a worthwhile exercise for someone who is starting and only has very few hives, in my opinion.
    www.apisrustica.com Bee Breeding: Canadian nuclei & queens
    www.facebook.com/Apis.rustica

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    2,547

    Default Re: Beginner's mistakes

    Watching a 10-year commercial bee worker pointed out a lot of things to me. He watched hives for a few moments, then knew what was needed by their fly-out rates. He pointed out the hives that needed attention.

    The other guys opened those and did what ever was needed. He'd tilt up a box and look under the frames, take a frame out of the brood nest and look at the pollen barrier between the brood and the honey. That was what told him what was happening in the hive.

    These guys all knew the diseases to look for, but that foreman knew the mite loads at a glance. Most of them could guess which frame the queen was on before it was pulled, and if they were wrong it only took them 2 tries.

    They covered the entire drop quickly, actually doing very little work, and moved on to the next drop. Watching them work for a few hours really improved my game.

    One thing that was a repeated mistake was keeping bees at other people's orchards and not having a backup location already to move them to. The man wanted the bees there, the wife or girlfriend ordered them gone and commenced to destroying equipment, throwing bee gear in the trash, burning the wood, etc. Don't waste time with control freaks. Go to real orchards that want a beekeeper to succeed, or use your own land. Starting over is a PITA.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Sonoma County, Ca
    Posts
    488

    Default Re: Beginner's mistakes

    My mistakes from my first year (still in progress) that I will try to learn from and not repeat....

    1) When picking up a super or feeder, make sure there are no frames glued to the bottom with burr comb. I dropped a frame of bees while in a hurry when if fell from the bottom of the feeder on to the ground. I was lucky the queen didnt get lost. I now pull and twist to ensure everything is free.

    2) Don't be passive about mite treatment / assume I have mites and be proactive. I had a hive lagging big time last year, and blamed the queen. Once I treated with 3x OAV, the hive exploded and went in to winter with the most stores and best population.

    3) Go in to the hive with a plan and idea what to look for. I seemed to get lost everytime I would do an inspection last year, then when walking away from the hives wish I had looked for something or done things that I forgot. This year I am going to keep simple notes on each hive, that way I can get in, look for signs of a laying queen, and address any issues... and get out asap.

    4) Not worry so much... No less than 5 times last year I was sure my hives were doomed, the queen was gone, or there was a major problem. I need to do what I can to help them thrive, but leave my worries behind and trust that they are a very resilent species.

    5) Try to take honey. I think I could have taken a decent amount of honey this year, but wanted to be sure to leave them more than enough to get through the winter. While so far the hives have plenty of weight and seem to be okay (which makes me glad I did what I did)... I want to see a reward for my time/effort/money. I would really like to have honey for myself and give quite a bit to my friends.

    6) Expect major frustrations, but embrace them and learn from them. I am realizing that I am going to find dead/doomed hives and I am just going to have to deal with it and move on. I have been terrified to have a hive die, and while I hope for the best and will do whatever I can to prevent that, I can't let the idea of a deadout take the fun out of it for me.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Johnson City, TN
    Posts
    257

    Default Re: Beginner's mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by Girl Next Door Honey View Post
    I teach beekeeping classes and see a lot of the same mistakes over an over again. I wrote a whole blog post on it: http://beekeepinglikeagirl.com/10-mi...ekeepers-make/

    Some additional ones people mentioned after reading my post are:

    -Adding too much space for the bees to build in. This makes it hard for the bees to control their temperature. Or alternatively not giving the bees enough space and they then become overcrowded and swarm.

    - Using the smoker too aggressively.

    - Doing a full inspection (going through every single frame) when you usually only have to pull a few frames to find out what you need to know. (Is there a queen, is she laying well, do they have honey/pollen.) Doing a full inspection is unnecessary and it stresses out your bees.
    Just thought I'd say that your queenspotting instagram game really improved my ability to spot a queen on a frame my first year LOL!
    4th Yr. 8 hives. Italian/Carniolan apiary. 3 loss over 4 yr. W.NC location.
    https://instagram.com/jacquelinehinshaw/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Kingsport, TN
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: Beginner's mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by Girl Next Door Honey View Post
    I teach beekeeping classes and see a lot of the same mistakes over an over again. I wrote a whole blog post on it: http://beekeepinglikeagirl.com/10-mi...ekeepers-make/

    Some additional ones people mentioned after reading my post are:

    -Adding too much space for the bees to build in. This makes it hard for the bees to control their temperature. Or alternatively not giving the bees enough space and they then become overcrowded and swarm.

    - Using the smoker too aggressively.

    - Doing a full inspection (going through every single frame) when you usually only have to pull a few frames to find out what you need to know. (Is there a queen, is she laying well, do they have honey/pollen.) Doing a full inspection is unnecessary and it stresses out your bees.
    That article was excellent, thank you for sharing.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Smithfield va
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: Beginner's mistakes

    Know what orientation flights look like and understand the huge numbers that can be involved in these flights. I mistook this for robbing and mistaking intervened, when nothing was wrong. I inadvertently set back my hives by at least a month.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Princess Anne, Maryland
    Posts
    263

    Default Re: Beginner's mistakes

    I wish that I could have my first year over. I killed so many bees. I would have treated for mites and would likely be further along. Definitely addicted and want.to continue to learn.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Rosebud Missouri
    Posts
    3,942

    Default Re: Beginner's mistakes

    Don't open feed. Even if "you" only have one or two hives. Promotes robbing. Ask me how I know.
    Cheers
    gww

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Egg Harbor Township, NJ
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Beginner's mistakes

    Make sure as a new beek that you know the difference between a wasp and a honey bee. Don't sit outside your hive killing drones because you think they are wasps, LOL

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Placer County, CA
    Posts
    442

    Default Re: Beginner's mistakes

    Quote Originally Posted by mdohertyjr View Post
    Make sure as a new beek that you know the difference between a wasp and a honey bee. Don't sit outside your hive killing drones because you think they are wasps, LOL
    Oh, that reminds me. Drones have a different "buzz". Don't freak out when you hear a different buzzing sound.
    On my 5th year with bees, 2 hives.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Derry, New Hampshire
    Posts
    2,279

    Default Re: Beginner's mistakes

    invest straight away in oav treatment setup. don't try to do treatment free till you have ten hives to lose.

    if you are going into this solo get a go pro chest mounted camera. its invaluable at looking at what happened a month ago or what it looked like a 2 weeks ago. also when starting out and you drop a full frame of bees trying to get a camera shot its kinda scary.

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