We’ve talked before about joining your local beekeeping association.  You can learn quite a bit from these folks, be it bits and pieces of information you haven’t heard elsewhere to things that may be specific to your particular area.

To that end here’s what we learned from the last few meetings at our local beekeeping association, Puget Sound Beekeepers:

  1. Always have a bait hive in your bee yard.  What’s a bait hive?  An empty hive filled with frames (a single deep super or even a western size super will do).  Why?  Because if your hive throws a swarm they might just move next door!
  2. Killer swarms!  People freak out about swarms but as many know, swarms are rarely aggressive.  Prior to swarming, bees eat as much honey as they can to survive the long journey to their new home.  They are full and virtually drunk on honey and simply want to go home, so unless you’re hitting at them with a baseball bat a swarm is not something to run from.
  3. If you’re using a top feeder with jars and lids like Ron showed you on the Beyond the Basics DVD punch the feeder holes from the outside of the can in.  Why?  Because bees can actually cut their little tongues on the sharp part of the can hole if it’s pointed towards them.
  4. Want to avoid foul brood?  Keep hygienic bees.  If you were to take a can and place it on a comb of brood and use liquid nitrogen (or cut out a piece of the brood and freeze it in your freezer at home) it would kill the brood without causing damage to the cappings.  Bees who are very hygienic will be able to tell that this brood is dead and will uncap and clean out the dead brood within 24 hours.  Bees that aren’t so hygienic will often only clean up the area where the can squished the brood and slowly, a few days later, begin cleaning up the frozen brood.  Why is this important?  Because these more hygienic bees can often clean out foul brood prior to it becoming infectious… they’re simply a bit more tidy!

Well that’s it for the tips from this last meeting.  Do you attend your local beekeeper association meetings?  Pick up any good tidbits we should all know?  Share them below in the comments!

photo by david.nikonvscanon

4 Responses to “Notes From the Beekeeping Meeting”

  1. Scott Bade

    So you don’t have to destroy the supers and frames containing foul brood? We used to many years ago. But you are discussing having a handful of colonies, we had more than 10,000.

    • Jessica

      Scott, you absolutely do have to destroy frames and supers with foul brood. If you have bees who are hygienic they will keep the foul brood from developing. Think of it like a good immune system fighting off the cold before you actually get sick. This is what the bees are doing. If your hive gets sick however it’s time to burn your equipment.

  2. Sean

    Could I ask you to clarify what you mean in point 4 with “hygienic” Bees?

    1. Are you freezing the brood and testing if the bees will clean it out within 24 hours so you can gauge how hygeinic your bees are? Or are you just suggesting freezing the brood because you suspect you have foul brood?

    2. Are you training your bees to become more hygeinic by giving them frozen brood to clear out?

    Sorry for the noob questions!


    • Jessica

      Sean, you’re freezing your bees to see how long it takes them to clean out the dead brood. Since the brood will be capped less hygienic bees will not clean it out right away or recognize as quickly that the brood is dead. The only connection to foul brood is that bees who do notice and clean out the dead brood quickly are less likely to get foul brood as they will tend to (scientific studies show) clean out any hints of foul brood before it develops. You aren’t training your bees, just getting a sense for what you have and possibly deciding to get a different queen to change the genetics of the bees you have if your bees don’t respond well to this testing. It’s not something everyone does by any means, but if you were looking to optimize hive strength this would be one test you could do to get a feel for how your bees are doing.


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