What is beekeeping?
Beekeeping Apiculture (beekeeping) is the practice of managing honey bee colonies to achieve the desired goals. The most common primary goals for colonial management are:
1.Ensuring that large, healthy honeybee populations coincide with large nectar streams;
2.To use these strong bee colonies to best implement the Farming Plan,
>Maximize the collection of nectar (ie to maximize honey production); and or
>Provision of pollination services for local food crops.
Some beekeepers have different goals for their bee colonies:
>Feeding of honey bees for sale to other beekeepers;
>Production of other honeybee substances, including bee pollen, propolis and royal jelly.
Planning is Key
In order to achieve the desired results, be it honey production, pollination services or other goals, the beekeeper needs a plan. The basic elements that control the plan are:
1.Knowledge of the local nectar streams.
This knowledge is important in that it tells the beekeeper which crops provide nectar and pollen for the honeybees, when the nectar streams occur, where the crops are and how fertile they are. This also provides time for moving honey bee colonies into and out of fields to pollinate various food crops for breeders. This knowledge not only gives the time to maximize the strength of the colonies to utilize nectar streams, but also identifies times when food becomes scarce for the bees
2.Knowledge about the biology of the honey bee.
The beekeeper must understand the natural instincts of the honeybee to create an environment that enhances the productivity of the colony. Honey bees are social insects, and so beekeepers need to manage honeybee colonies, unlike individual bees. In order to do this, the beekeeper must have good knowledge of the honey bee’s life cycle, the seasonal cycles of the bee colonies, the role of the different bee types and the diseases of the honey bees. Because most of the beekeeper’s goals focus on honeybees collecting nectar, knowledge of the colony’s nutritional needs and how the bees collect and process food is critical.
3.Beekeeping techniques to manipulate the colony.
There are a number of basic beekeeping techniques that are used to ensure good colon health and to maximize colony vigor at the desired times. Management techniques vary slightly and are tailored to the conditions in certain regions.
4.Decide on the goals and how to best use the colonies.
Given the local nectar flows, pollination possibilities and honey price, the beekeeper has to plan how to best manage the colonies to achieve the desired goals.
Beekeeping Tools and Equipment
Basic Hive Equipment:
Modern honeybee colonies are designed to mimic the dimensions and environment of a bee nest that was naturally built by wild (wild) honeybees with the added ability to remove individual frames of honeycombs for inspection and manipulation. The dimensions of the removable frames are similar to the honeycombs built in the wild. A noteworthy feature is that the distance between each frame, known as “bee space”, is about 8 mm. This space is enough to move the bees around, but not big enough so that the bees build extra honeycomb in the room, making it easy to remove the frames.
A standard bee hive consists of:
One or two incubators (each with 9 or 10 removable frames)
A queen excluder (to prevent the queen from getting to the honey supermen from the incubator)
One or more honey supers (boxes with 9 or 10 interchangeable frames each)
An inner cover
A telescopic hive cover
The essential tools a beekeeper needs to manipulate bee colonies are:
.Some beekeepers can additionally use a full bee suit with gloves and a bee brush.
Basic colony Examination
Beekeepers check their colonies about once every 10 days from spring to fall to make sure the colonies have good nutrition, good health and plenty of room. The best time to check the hive is on a warm, sunny day with little wind to prevent the brood from cooling and taking advantage of having most of the field bees away from the hive. The most important things a beekeeper looks for in a hive inspection are:
1.Are fresh eggs available? This means that a queen is present even if she is not seen during the inspection.
2.Is the breeding pattern good? A mottled appearance of the brood pattern may indicate a malfunctioning queen or disease problems.
3.Does the colony have enough honey and pollen? If there are not enough food supplies and little food is available, the colony may need additional feeding.
4.Are there signs of a disease? If this is the case, appropriate disease treatment protocols may need to be initiated.
5.Is there enough space? If the colony is strong and there is a rich source of food, a lack of space will make the colony rave.