Beekeeping for Dummies was extremely helpful for me(it has pictures with every step of hiving package bees). One mistake I made was to put the second deep on way too early and then having to take it off and play musical chairs with some partially drawn out bee frames.
My overwintered 1st hive swarmed and was queenless (or in the process of rearing a new queen) for about 4 weeks. The swarm freaking out the neighbors was one incident that I would like to forget (I doubt that they will ever forget), but even worse was that my gentle, happy, sweet bees went on a friggin' rampage when I checked in on them a week after the swarm. Even though I was in full protective gear, looking down at my gloved hands completely covered with stinging bees (gloves stopped "most" of the stings) was kinda scary. I checked again 2 week later and was met with the same fury. Checked again last weekend and all was back to normal - new queen, plenty of eggs, and brood, nice gentle bees.
I would call it more of a learning experience more that a "mistake", but all I can say is bee careful and dont go around thinnking you have got it all figured out after 1 season.
Haven't been beekeeping long enough to make a really big mistake (unless choosing to keep bees was it ).
I can think of two that might help -
1) if you feed bees syrup with essential oils (like lemmon grass) mixed in - don't use a bug repellent with the same oil in it... The bees will follow you everywhere trying to get a lick
2) Keep your veil on during inspections - even if the bees are very quiet. Eventually you will get it. Did this last year (bees were very nice through the inspection - removed the veil as I was about to finish up. Right away a bee decided she wanted to look in my nostril. Got it on the side of the nose - That hurts.
I think (a lot like life) really big mistakes don't happen so much - it's all the little mistakes that roll up into a big mistake.
Not learning from my mistakes can be a bad thing.
i can not really think of a big bad mistake with bees. The basic reason for that is I learned alot from cows. Yes cows are a million times bigger, but they are livestock just the same. So my big mistakes were with cows the lessons learned can be applied to bees.
1. Keep good genetics. If more has to be done to a hive to keep it productive than the rest of the hives, knock it down and split later on. On this note, it gets easier when you look at a hive and decide to knock it down...after the first one...just down hill from there :lookout:
2. Nutrition. Yes the bees bring in pollen. But the pollen is only as good as the plants and trees it came from. Plants that are under stress from too much moisture, too hot, too cold, and too dry, heavy pest loads, do not produce pollen with a good TDN...total digestiable nutritents. In laymans terms, plants that are under stress will have a lower protien level, than plants which grow in ideal or close to ideal conditions.
3. Nutrition covers a multitude of sins...so to speak. Just like us, when we are not eating properly, we get run down and sick....so do bees. Good nutrition will help to prevent or maybe keep in check the virus and spore loads in a hive.
4. Rotate out your brood comb. Each brood chamber holds 10 frames. Replace 2 frames every year. Either with drawn comb from the honey supers or with foundation. Older comb harbors disease, pesticides, spores, entombed pollen. Start now, get used to the idea of tossing out old frames. And yes it gets easier with time.
Now don't go getting your knickers in a knot cause i say toss out your frames. I mean render them down, send them to a rendering plant..etc....but do not reuse the wood part. Wood is/was a living object. It is pourus by nature and will absorb stuff from the hive. No sense in putting in a new foundation with a dirty frame...frames are cheap.
5. Do not get into the habit of letting your bees rob frames that have been pulled for rendering. Robbing creates a frenzy, an angry mob if you will, of bees. It is also an easy way to spread disease. Not to mention, you will bring in ants, wasps, hornets, and nearby bees from other keepers...keep your bee yard clean!
6. Here is a big one. This lesson came from cows, and applies to bees...
"If you are going to have livestock...you will have dead stock...it is enevitable!"
get used to it, and get over it. All we can do is manage the bees in an effective and productive way. And as true with cows, if they are going to die, they will find a way, and make up a new way just to keep us off balance. Nothing we can do to change that.
AND YES....bees are livestock!
1. Moved two hives one night by taking them apart and carrying them to their new location (possible bear problems). Basically don't go into a hive an night.
2. Couldn't reach a swarm with my extension ladder, so I backed my pickup up and put the base of the ladder in the pickup so that I could get to the base of the limb that they were on the end of. Then tried to gently cut the 4" diameter fir limb off so that I could slowly lower the swarm.
I have written the details of both of these escapades on Beesource sometime in the past.
One of my biggest mistakes(and I made many) was not being prepared for Spring. Be sure to build or buy some hive bodies, frames and a swarm bait box or two. You cant have too many extras in the Spring when you need to make splits and catch swarms! So be prepared for it.
Biggest mistake. Thinking the bees are tame little bugs and working my hive with out a vail or smoker. and having one crawl in my ear and sting me. and the past Posts are correct Invest in books and read them.
As a second year beek, in retrospect, I'd say tearing completely into a hive too often just to see "how things were doin'"... A rolled queen really doesn't do you much good.
I personally have gravitiated to looking down from top, and then tipping brood box and looking up from bottom. Unless I see somethiing suspecious while doing that, I don't pull too many frames, esp during nectar runs.
On a positive note, spend time looking at the gazzilion youtube vids on beekeeping, some are bad, wrong, but many can teach you something.
Buy some of the books you see frequently mentioned in the forums.
My biggest mistake is getting in too big of a hurry. I'll get in a big hurry and that's when you make big mistakes. Slow down and enjoy yourself and your girls. I've gotten in such a hurry that I've forgotten my gloves or something and decided to work my bees anyway. I got about 15 stings on my and just because I was in to big of a hurry.
Admititedly the things that cost me the most money and work is I wish I'd started with eight frame mediums and foundationless frames. Cutting down equipment was time consuming. I'd have bought a lot less gadgets. Every experiment was expensive. Reading the old classics, like Miller's 50 years among the bees and Jay Smith's books I see they went through the same thing of changing over equipment from time to time as experiments failed or a better idea came along. So I guess I'm in good company. But it would have been cheaper to not have to make all those.
As far as mistakes that are heartbreaking or painful, I suppose hearbreaking is when you realize you closed up a hive and forgot to open it back up and painful is when you shake a swarm off a limb and half of them go down the back of your shirt...
I seem to make this mistake every year (blame it on my age) underestimating how quickly a swarm can fill up a box, and another, and another. A natural swarm seems to fill boxes much faster than splits or packages. Check frequently.
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