Here at our Apiary we make all of our own hive equipment. Once we get caught up this year I will be listing complete packages in our shop. Before I start listing packages I created this page to make a complete list of everything that I use throughout the seasons and why!
Throughout the year as the seasons change the beehives will need modifications for the weather. Keeping up with the needs of your bees will greatly reduce your risk of losing them. There are a lot of ways you can lose your honeybee hive. The three main killers of honeybee hives are temperature, humidity, & predators.
Temperature can be helped by winterizing properly. Throughout the Winter I use hive wraps, quilt boxes, pine chip bags, sugar boards & entrance reducers but there are many other things to look for before you close up the hive before winter.. the most crucial is dead air space. Make sure there aren’t empty frames if there are take them out and reduce the hive to only full frames. Make sure there isn’t anymore than 2 brood boxes (some people split their hives into 1 10frame brood chamber). The reason for reducing the hive is once the queen quits laying and winter sets in the bees decrease by half so they need a smaller space to be able to stay warm. Humidity from the bees warming the hive is more apparent in larger hives because it’s harder to control the air through 2 brood chambers.
Other than temperature, wind or a draft in your hive is important to fix. By reducing the entrance and creating a wind block or making sure the hive cracks are sealed you can protect your bees from the elements.
Humidity can come in a variety of ways. Mother Nature (rain) is the main creator of humidity. During Winter & Spring the rain can come in any equipment if there are small cracks. Because the bees propolis the hive there aren’t as many issues under but up around the candy board and quilt box there can be spaces moisture can leak in. This is really important to look for because the bees already have moisture issues while warming the hive if there isn’t enough ventilation.
Also, I know everyone loves to feed their bees and I do too but around the cold months the bees won’t eat the liquid feed. In fact, if it’s sitting in the hive that occasional drip will build up and eventually leak into important areas of the hive that doesn’t need the moisture. The best think to do is add a sugar board and leave it until the warmer months (spring check). The sugar board helps with moisture in addition to giving the bees extra feed. If you don’t use a candy board, no worry but, take the jars away and add pine chip bags over the hole they would normally feed from. The wood chips will help absorb moisture. Which this leads me to a quilt box and the bees warming their hive. As the bees warm the hive it creates moisture. The best way to deal with this additional moisture is by adding a quilt box and wood chips.
Once you start beekeeping you’ll realize there are a lot of things that are out to get the bees. Even the bees can be a threat to themselves. Around nectar dearth the bees will test out neighboring hives and rob the weakest ones killing them off completely as they strip their honey. To deal with robbing there are robbing screens which basically screening the entrance and give the hive a secret corner entrance which the other robber bees are too frantic to find. For each predator there is a solution. Other predators include varroa mites, wax moths, hive beetles, yellow jackets, wasps, mice, skunks, raccoons, bears (not so likely in Ohio) & birds.
My first year I wanted to be an all natural beekeeper and started off using thyme, spearmint & lemongrass essential oils. I quickly realized you have to treat for varroa mites. Even if you start off with a clean hive bees migrate and mites will end up in your clean hive. Oxalic acid is a must in controlling mites and will not effect the honey or bees.
A couple other quick fixes I’ve found for serious pests are: to keep hive beetles at bay keep the grass groomed around the hive area with gravel directly under the hives. For wax moths use lures around your apiary. The lure is made out of an old pop bottle in which you cut a 1inch by 1inch hole in the neck by the cap. Lure includes: -Fruit scraps (plum & peach skins work best) -1 cup warm water -1 cup sugar -1 cup apple cider vinegar All you have to do is let it ferment and hang it from a tree.
In beekeeping it’s best to always be on the lookout for things bothering the bees. The bees temperament tends to change with the weather but predators are definitely something that affect their personality too. Always be careful not to drip sugar water and scrap comb off onto the ground. Try to be mindful that everything you do could have potential negative affects.