How to Start a Beehive: Everything You Need to Know About Beekeeping

How to Start a Beehive: Everything You Need to Know About Beekeeping

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You would like to know how to start a beehive, but you don’ know much about beekeeping, and you would really like to find out? Well, look no further, because in this article we will tell you everything you need to know on how to start a beehive.

You have to determine what kind of beekeeping you want, its location, size, and what kind of beehives are for you, also, you need love towards bees.

Topics in this article:

  1. Bee community
  2. The size of the beehive
  3. Reproduction and embryonic development of bees
  4. The life cycle of the bee community
  5. Hives
  6. Beekeeping Supplies and Tools
  7. Bee products
  8. Bee diseases

Beekeeping is a specific branch of human activity and interest and love for bees are widespread in all ages and educational backgrounds of society. Bee habitats are large natural areas, primarily forests, arable land, orchards, vineyards, where the bees find the necessary elements to live and reproduce. Life and natural resources, especially flora, depend on insects and so on bees. The benefits of bees from pollination of plants are much greater than the immediate production of honey and other bee products. Beekeeping is becoming an increasingly important industry in all parts of the world.

Bees in zoological systematics belong to the largest group of the animal kingdom – arthropods (Arthropoda). The honey bee or domestic bee belongs to the insect or insect class, the order of the gnocchi or Hymenoptera, the bee or Apidae family, the genus Apis, and the species Apis Mellifica L. As early as the Stone Age, man specialized in hunting bees, looking for them in the cavities of trees and stones, where they were living. He destroyed the bees and took away their honey and wax.

The oldest historical records of the bee date back to 30,000 years ago. By constructing hives, the man attracted them to himself and began intensively engaging in beekeeping. Today, bees are bred on all continents, so it is said that there is no continent without the presence of the “sweetest insect”.

How to Start a Beehive: Everything you need to know

Bee community

Working bees

They are the most numerous members of the bee community. Their number varies from several thousand to tens of thousands. They are 0.4 – 0.5 inches long and are very light. Their hind legs have been modified to collect pollen. On their feet are baskets used to collect pollen, and not rarely propolis as well. They have a long proboscis that collects nectar and stores it in the honey bladder.

Upon arrival at the hive, they hand it over to home bees, which carry it to the honeycomb with food supplies or use it immediately for their own use. Workers have stunted ovaries, which are usually out of function under normal circumstances. Ovaries are only triggered when there is no queen when they lay eggs. They are armed with a stinger similar to a hook. They are primarily used in emergency situations or when the bee community is threatened. Working bees develop from fertilized eggs, which the nut lays in the worker’s honeycomb.

Their lifespan is about 30 days, but under favorable conditions, they can last up to 40 or 45 days. Their roles vary depending on age. Thus, crankshafts from day 4 to day 6 clean the hive from debris, polish the honeycomb, repair moth wax damage, and the like. From day 7 to day 13 they nourish and feed the litter. From the 14th to the 19th they secrete wax, build honeycombs, guard the entrance to the hive and orient themselves in nature. After day 20, they become collectors.

Queen bee

What distinguishes the queen bee is the length of the duck that is longer with the queen bees, but again the length depends on whether the queen is laying eggs actively or at rest and whether it is fertilized or not yet. The nut body length is 0.7 – 0.8 inches. Queens have hind legs longer and larger than workers, but they do not have pollen collection baskets, as they never do it in their lives. Their proboscis is shorter, so they can ingest food inside the hive, but not nectar from the flowers.

Under normal conditions, the workers feed them royal jelly which allows them to lay more eggs. Also, queens have a sting, but as a rule, they use it for their own conflicts within the hive. Queens, as well as workers, develop from fertilized eggs. The maximum life span of a queen is 5 years, and in commercial beekeeping, it is recommended that the queen be not kept for more than two years.

Drones

Drones are the only male members of the bee community. Their body length is about 0.6 inches, and they are longer than the workers but shorter than the queens. Their flight is slower and noisier and very easy to distinguish from workers. Their tentacles are longer and had no baskets on their feet. Their honey bladder is smaller than that of workers because they only grab for their own needs. They have no sting and have developed male genitalia.

Drones develop parthenogenetically from unfertilized eggs as haploid individuals. Their cells have 16 chromosomes, unlike workers and queens, which have 32 chromosomes. The development in the litter lasts 24 days (for queens it takes 16 days and for workers 21 days). After the 20th day, the sexes mature and live on average of 50 days. In the fall, with the first cold, bees stop feeding on drones and throw them out of the hive, and they then die from starvation.

Their main role is breeding, which is mating with a queen. In addition, with their presence in the hive, they encourage the workers to work more intensively, warm the litter, help regulate humidity within the hive, protect the queen and promote genetic diversity.

Procurement of bee communities

Purchasing the first hives with bees can be done in many ways, but the two are the most reliable: buying bee communities in the spring or swarms in the summer. It is best to buy a bee community in the spring. It is easier to start with such a community, get in touch with the salesman, and ask him to be a mentor for one year, and such wonderful sweet long-desired and long-awaited honey can be squeezed from such companies. Swarms are bought in June and July, which creates a problem for every beginner, as they need to be stored for the winter and this creates complications as some other conditions for swarm preparation must be fulfilled.

The size of the beehive

How many bee communities to start with? This is the question that every beginner will ask. It’s bad to start with one community, and even worse to start with many. Expertly and experientially speaking, start with 4-5 bee communities, then every beginner will test himself and his decision and see while learning what his potential for beekeeping is. The bee community is very interesting because bees as individuals cannot survive;

Reproduction and embryonic development of bees

Propagation of bee societies is done by swarming. Swarming is separating the division of a bee society into two. One part of the queen bees go to look for a new home and the other part of the queen bees, with the newly produced queen, stays in the old house. The queen plays the most important role in the bee community. She is the mother of all bees in the community and transmitted to offspring traits such as calmness or aggression, birth tendency, resilience, work trait, and outward characteristics.

The power of the bee community depends on the queen. Queen lays the eggs from which all members of the bee society develop. The strength of the bee community depends on the daily egg-laying capacity. So if a queen lays 1000 eggs a day, the bee community will weigh 8 pounds, if it lays 1500 eggs a day, the bee community will weigh 11 pounds, and if it lays 2000 eggs it will weigh 16 pounds. In addition to the quality of the uterus, the number of eggs laid is also influenced by environmental conditions and the state of the honeycomb cells in which the queens lay their eggs.

Swarming starts in the spring when the bee community is at its peak. The beginning of breeding in a hive can be considered as the development of a drone brood. When the bee company comes to the swarming state, the bees start extracting the rosaries at the ends of the honeycomb, which can be around 10 to 20 in the bee company.

The queen then gradually lays the rosaries. When a large number of young bees hatch, a big amount of energy accumulates in the hive and it becomes narrow. At swarming, most times the old queen emerges with a part of the community and settles in some convenient place in nature, mostly branches or shrubs. In doing so, the bees in the scout are looking for a new home for the bees at swarming, and it is up to the beekeeper to shake them off a branch and put them in a new hive. In this case, a large number of new bees lay in the hive from which the bees left, because a large number of eggs lay at the birth of the queens.

Finally, new queens are matured in society. The first queen kills other non-hatched queens and becomes the only one in the bee company. After laying the eggs in the hexagonal honeycomb, the embryonic development of the bees begins. The mother starts laying eggs 2 to 4 days after fertilization. Queens lay fertilized or not fertilized eggs. Fertilized eggs develop female members of society, workers and queens, and from not fertilized drones. Drones, therefore, have a haploid number of chromosomes, which in bees is 16. Queens and workers have a diploid number of chromosomes, 32. The act of laying the egg itself takes 9 to 12 seconds. After laying, embryonic and bee development begins, and the length of development depends on whether the larva is a drone, a worker, or a queen.

The development of a honeybee in the honeycomb takes place in four stages, namely: egg, bent larva, outstretched larva, and cocoon, after which a fully developed bee hatches. The development of drones takes the longest and lasts 24 days in total. Worker development takes 21 days and the queen 16 days. Queens and workers evolve from fertilized eggs, and feeding is a basic factor that determines which larva will turn into a worker and which into a queen. Feeding fertilized eggs in the first three days is the same, and the eggs are fed with royal jelly. After the third day, the larvae that will become queens continue to feed on royal jelly, which is extremely protein-rich, while the worker larvae switch to honey and pollen feeding.

The life cycle of the bee community

The bee community is a kind of microorganism that works perfectly, and individual bees function like the body cells of this complex being. Specifically, every bee without a bee community dies shortly. The biological cycle of the community depends on the climatic conditions in which the bees live. In temperate climates, preparation for winter begins as early as summer grazing when bees instinctively begin to gather larger amounts of food.

After the last grazing, the bees start throwing drones out of the hive, so that during the unfavorable period the community can survive with as few useless members as possible. In the fall, bees begin to enter larger quantities of propolis into the hive, trying to clog every opening that may have appeared on the hive walls. During evolution, bees have developed a unique mechanism for maintaining body temperature during long and cold days, which is to create a bee ball.

The outside temperature at which bees enter the ball depends on the strength of the bee community. So strong bee communities form a ball at 44 °F, medium-strong at 50 °F, and weak at 55 °F. The ball is formed in such a way that one of its parts grips a honeycomb. In the thermal center, the bee club maintains a temperature of 82 – 90 °F, which encourages the queen to lay its eggs.

The ball moves toward the honey stock, first up and then on one side, during the winter, bee communities can eat 44 – 55 pounds of food. As the temperature rises, the queens start laying more eggs. So warming in nature, the laying is intensified, and soon after the first spring grazing occurs, there is an increasing extinction of old bees and their replacement with young bees.

After the generation shift, there is an accelerated development of the community. An increasing number of domestic young bees are cleaning up all parts of the hive, queens are draining all the available honeycomb areas, and working bees are bringing more pollen and nectar into the hive. When the hive becomes too small for a large population, the queen starts the new cycle, and swarming begins.

The old queen, along with most bees, flies out of the hive and clings to a branch of a nearby bush or tree, accepting all the bees that have flown out of the hive. This phenomenon is called swarming. The swarm remains on the branch until the reconnaissance bees find an adequate location for it. It is up to the beekeeper to save such swarms and return them to the hive.

During swarming, the rest of the hive community contains young bees that have time to mature into gatherers. In addition, new young bees are coming out of the box, and soon the first queen is out, which instinctively starts killing all other queen bees. If more queens come, they clash with one another so that only one of them remains in the community very quickly. The queen goes on fertilization, mates with a dozen drones, returns to the hive, and in a few days begins to lay eggs. Bees in a hive form their nest consisting of several rows of honeycombs. Usually, a nest has one entrance which bees defend.

The basic building material used by bees is wax, and the auxiliary is propolis. Wax is a product of the wax glands of the worker bees and is used to build a honey bee (honeycomb). Propolis is a resin-like material that bees collect from the buds of various plants, and is used to adhere to cracks, reduce flight openings, isolate bodies in decay, etc. Several types of honeycombs differ in the bee nest. The most numerous are the workers’ stations from which the beehives lay, followed by the drones, honey cells, and queen cells.

Hives

The hive is a home for the bee community and should allow the bee company to store food, reproduce, protect, hibernate, and seamlessly perform all other activities. On the other hand, the modern hive should also allow the beekeeper to do all the work around the bee community more easily. The first hives were found in Egypt where bees were bred in clay hives. After that, the bees began to grow in stumps and tree trunks. It was not until the 1850s that the first foundations of modern beekeeping were laid. During this period and in the 20th century, the development of modern hives began.

Today, hives can be classified into two large groups: fixed hives and mobile honeycomb hives.

Beehives with stationary honeycomb are increasingly rare. These are primitive beehives made of wicker, straw, grapevines, and coated on the outside with a mixture of ashes, beef bagels with chaff, loam, and similar material. Today’s modern beekeeping is based on hives with mobile honeycomb. The honeycombs are 1.5 inches wooden slats that have folds on the bottom that the honeybees start to build.

Beekeeping Supplies and Tools

Beekeeping supplies and tools can be grouped according to the tasks performed with them:

  • Accessories and tools for working with bees: smokers, cap, beekeeping chisel, broom, gloves
  • Accessories and tools for inserting honeycomb bases: frame drill, wheel for inserting a wire into honeycomb base, transformer
  • Accessories and tools for taking honey: honeybee dispenser, fork or honeycomb knife, swirl, honey sieve, honey collectors
  • Wax Melting Supplies & Tools: Solar & Steam Smelter

Bee products

Honey is considered to be the first bee product used by humans. Honey has been used in cosmetics since ancient times. In addition to cosmetics, it was used as food and for medical purposes. Today, in addition to honey, bees produce propolis, wax, royal jelly, bee venom, and pollen.

Honey

Honey is crystallized, a viscous product of the thick consistency and sweet taste produced by honey bees from the nectar of honey plants or secretions originating from living parts of plants (conifers, foliage). Given the source, we divide it into flower honey and jellyfish.

Flower honey is divided according to the type of plants from which it is obtained, so on the market, we find acacia honey, chestnut, linden, sunflower, sage, and rapeseed honey. Each type of honey mentioned is different in taste, color, and other properties. The honeycomb is also divided into the deciduous medulla, which is a fuscous color, and the conundrum medulla, which is dark brown.

The quality of honey is significantly influenced by the following physicochemical properties such as electrical conductivity, optical properties, crystallization rate, hygroscopicity, refractive index, specific gravity, relative density, and viscosity. The basis of the chemical composition of honey is carbohydrates, which make up 95 to 99% of the dry matter of honey.

Of the carbohydrates in honey, we find monosaccharides (fructose and glucose), disaccharides (maltose, isomaltose, sucrose, and more), and oligosaccharides (erlose, panose, and more). Water, after carbohydrates, is the second most abundant ingredient in honey and can be in the range of 15 to 23%. Bee honey also contains organic acids, most commonly formic acid, oxalic, succinic, citric, tartaric, lactic, and many others.

In addition to the above, we find proteins (0-1.67%), vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Numerous medical properties of honey have been proven. Thus, honey has been shown to affect the secretion and motility of the stomach and intestines and is used in the treatment of gastritis or ulcer. Daily consumption of 0.3 pounds of honey over 20 days reduces cholesterol by 20% and increases the phagocytic activity of leukocytes by 7%. Regular consumption of honey improves blood flow due to the content of iron, manganese, copper, and cobalt.

Royal Jelly

It is created in the mammary gland of the worker bee and is the product of only the young worker bee within the first 14 days. It is thick like cream, with a slightly acidic taste. Beebread of all bee products has the highest protein content. It is used in cosmetics in various creams. It has been shown to have a positive effect on human health. It is bactericidal, anti-aging and is recommended for people who are stressed and under great mental stress.

Propolis

Propolis is a dark green to brownish liquid. Its chemical composition is diverse and contains mostly vegetable resins and balms, aromatic and essential oils, wax and pollen. It has antiseptic, bacteriostatic, anesthetic and antitoxic properties. It is a good biostimulator because it activates specific antibodies in the body. In folk medicine, it is used to treat purulent wounds, burns, calluses, scrapes, and inflammation. It is also used for painting wooden objects.

Wax

The wax smells like honey from the plants from which it is collected. Melted smells stronger than stiff. With longer standing, the smell disappears. The wax is yellow in color but in all shades. Beeswax is made up of fatty acids, esters, higher alcohols, and high molecular weight carbohydrates. The melting point is between 133 and 147 °F. The use of wax is multiple. Large quantities are used to make candles. In industrial processing, white wax is used in the cosmetic and pharmacological industries. It is also used in the textile, food, leather, and electrical industries. The wax is still used in dentistry, painting, and conservation purposes.

Pollen

Pollen grains of different types of plants have a certain size, shape, and color. It may differ in color from which plant it comes from. So raspberry pollen grains are white in color, apples are light yellow, sunflowers are golden yellow, brown with white clover, yellow-green with oak. Pollen has 9.5 to 12% water, 20 to 28% protein, 1.8 to 9.6% fat, carbohydrates 13 to 38%, minerals 1.8 to 7.6%, and cellulose in its chemical composition 26 up to 57%. In addition, it contains B-group vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamins E and D. Pollen has anti-anemia effects, increases blood hemoglobin levels, normalizes digestion, improves appetite and work capacity, and lowers blood pressure. Pollen in combination with honey is used in the treatment of diseases of the stomach and intestines.

Bee venom

It is made by workers and queen bees. They are synthesized by two toxic glands and stored in a poisonous bladder. Its biological purpose is to defend the bee community. It is a thick opalescent liquid with a bitter and acidic taste and a specific odor. Today it is used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. It is also used for medical purposes in the treatment of arthritis, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and veterinary purposes.

Bee diseases

Like all living particles, so bees can contract various diseases. Bee diseases can be divided into infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, and pests in hives. The most common viral diseases that attack bees are baggy litter and bee paralysis. Bacterial diseases are caused by American rot, European rot, sour litter, and false rot of bee litter. Molds cause diseases in bees such as limestone litter or stony litter. Of parasitic diseases, the most common are nosemosis, alkalosis, and varicosity.

Varroosis is the most severe and widespread disease of bees, which has been causing major problems for beekeepers lately. It is an invasive adult bee disease caused by the mite Varroa jacobsoni. The disease spreads from community to community with drones that can fly away, and to new areas it spreads by swarms, moving bees to pasture, selling queens, and other bee traffic.

Disease treatment should be carried out before a weakening of the community is observed. Physical and biological methods and drugs are used to combat varroa. Non-communicable diseases most commonly occur in various bee venoms. So bees can be poisoned with honey, nectar, pollen, table salt, and various insecticides or preparations based on arsenic, barium, or phosphorus.

Pests in hives can be members of different animal species. They damage honeycombs and larvae, some attack adult bees and some take honey. These are primarily the large wax moth, the beekeeper, the deadhead butterfly, ants, mice, wasps, hornets, bee lice, larvae of some flies, and others.

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