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Where to Put Bees When You Have No Yard

So many people have told me that they wish they could keep bees, but they don't have the space for them. "Rubbish!" is what I tell them. When I first started keeping bees, I lived in a studio apartment. It was on the 13th floor of a building in downtown Philly. I put the hive on the roof of the parking garage next door and it was great! No neighbors complaining my bees in their pool or stinging their dog. 

I strongly recommend people to keep bees somewhere other than their backyard. Unless you have a large yard and your neighbors are far away, it's a liability. If you have kids, there's always a chance a friend will come over who doesn't know they're severely allergic to bees or your curious dog will put his nose in the entrance. Not to mention that when you harvest honey or make candles, hundreds of bees from your hive will be at your door. 

Everyone in my family except for the 18 month old baby (knock on wood) has been stung many times at the house because of my...

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Why Beekeeping is the Ultimate Hobby in Self Sufficiency

When I first wanted to become a beekeeper it was because I read a little bit about bees and found them fascinating.  What I didn't think much about was the products you harvest from the hive. I knew beekeepers harvested honey, but that was the extent of what I knew. However there are endless possibilities of what you can do with honey, beeswax and propolis, so let's get started!

Uses for Honey

Cooking with Honey

Honey is the only food that never goes bad. 2,000 year old honey was found in King Tut's tomb and it was still edible! Honey isn't just for sweetening your tea. I use a light honey like Mesquite to sweeten my coffee because it has a very mild flavor. I prefer darker honeys like Macadamia Blossom to drizzle over pancakes and waffles and honeys that are not as sweet such as clover are great when cooking a teriyaki sauce or on cheese and crackers. 

Honey can be used anytime a recipe calls for sugar or corn syrup. Here's my cooking...

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The Boxes on a Langstroth Hive Explained

Brood boxes, supers, deeps, mediums, shallows – these are all names for the three different types of boxes you can have on your Langstroth beehive. It makes buying beekeeping equipment flat out confusing. The good news is that it's actually very simple. In short, there are three different heights for the boxes you can put on your beehive. They are deep, medium and shallow. There are additional names for these boxes, but what's most important is that you know the dimensions when purchasing the equipment. although dimensions vary by country the deep is usually 9-5/8", the medium is 6-5/8", and the shallow is 5-3/4". 

Let's break them down one-by-one.

The Deep Box

The deep box is sometimes called the brood box or the hive body. It is the deepest box you can put on a Langstroth hive. It measures approximately 9 5/8" deep.

This box is often used when first starting your beehive. You would purchase bees and put them into a single brood/deep box. Once this box gets...

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How to Use Apivar Strips

I'm always baffled by beekeepers who don't know what to do about varroa mites. It's as if some people think it's a mysterious plague with no cure. There are quite a few ways to get rid of a varroa mite infestation! It really is quite simple.

About Apivar Strips

This blog post is about Apivar strips. Apivar strips are quite possibly the easiest mite treatment you can get. They require no tools and there's only two things you have to do - put them in and take them out. 

They use a synthetic chemical called amitraz and this really zeroes out your mite levels in the hive. However, in some areas this chemical has been overused and varroa mites resistant to amitraz have developed. In these areas, apivar is not very effective.

Amitraz is a synthetic chemical and quite toxic to humans, so use caution when working with it.

Will it work in your hives?

There's only 1 way to know for sure, use them and see what happens. Do a mite test, first, to see what your hive's...

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How to Use Bitter Almond Oil to get Bees Out of a Super (Without Needing a Fume Board)

There are lots of tricks the beekeeper has to saving time. This is one of my favorites. When I worked for an apiary with 4,000 hives, it was run by just 7 beekeepers. A trick I learned from them is to use bitter almond oil to get bees out of a honey super so you can harvest the honey. 

When using bitter almond oil to clear out a super, it's recommended that you use a fume board or breeze board to disperse the scent throughout the hive. However, I really hate buying equipment that I will only use once in awhile, nor do I have the room to store all of this stuff, so I try to use what I have laying around whenever possible. This makes for some "interesting" beekeeping on my part, but, hey, I find it fun :) 

 

In the YouTube video above, I show you my experience using bitter almond oil without a fume board or breeze board. First I try using a smoker to billow the scent into the super. This is recommended on Fischer's instructions as an...

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Why Every Beginner Should Start with a Langstroth Hive

There's a lot to learn when you're first getting started keeping bees. One thing you don't have to worry about is what kind of beehive you should get. Really! I recommend ALL beginners start out with a Langstroth style beehive. If you'd like to experiment with other hive styles, thats great, but, do that once you're comfortable keeping bees, not when you're first starting out. 

Here are the reasons why you should start beekeeping with a Langstroth style beehive:

  • Most beekeeping books YouTube videos and blogs are for people using a Langstroth hive. It's harder to find information for other style hives. This may not seem like a big deal now, but when you have an obscure problem you need to solve, 2 months into having bees, you will wish you had a Langstroth hive.
  • Most beekeepers use a Langstroth hive, so when looking for help from your bee association or bee forums, there will be a lot more people to help you if you have a Langstroth beehive.
  • It's easy to find...
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How Beekeeping Changes Through the Seasons

When you inspect a hive, you're usually checking the temper, space, activity, brood, and laying pattern. But there are additional duties you should be doing or at least keeping an eye out for depending on the season as well. 

I created a chart to help you understand what these seasonal tasks are and when they should be done. Thank Angela for this guide! She is a student and asked about the seasonal tasks beekeepers do. 

Beekeeping tasks through the seasons

Click here to download our In the Seasons Beekeeping Guide for free.

 

When using this guide, use the temperature range for each season as your main guide for when your duties will be changing. What month it is is not as important. Keep in mind, beekeeping is not an exact science. Some years you have a rainy spring and some years it's warm in March! You have to listen to your bees and notice what's going on in your environment. You do this by observing what's blooming, how active the bees are, what the queen is doing and the outside...

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My Top Small Hive Beetle Traps & How to Use Them

The small hive beetle is a pest found within the beehive. It is not as destructive as the varroa mite, but is something the beekeeper should be aware of. The most important thing the beekeeper can do to prevent an infestation is keep varroa mite levels low. A strong hive with few mites can defend themselves against beetles. This is not just my opinion, but something I learned from working at a commercial apiary with 4,000 hives. They lost over 75% of their hives to the small hive beetle and now hardly ever lose a hive to beetles. The only thing they do differently is treat for mites.

It is ok to see a few beetles scurrying around your hive. You should only be alarmed if you see a lot of beetles in the hive (not just under the lid but on the frames) especially walking around the comb in the center of the hive. However, most beekeepers hate seeing these guys in the hive and want to trap as many as they can, whether it's necessary or not. If you live somewhere with a cold...

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How to Make a Bee Hotel

A lot of articles and news stories talk about the collapse of the honey bee population and how important it is to help them, but really, it’s all pollinators that need our help. 

There are over 19,000 different kinds of bees and 30% of them live in a tunnel or cavity. You can help these tunnel-nesting pollinators out by providing a place for them to call home. I'm not sure where the name came from, but kids these days are calling it a bee hotel. 

Making a bee hotel is a fancy way of saying you're collecting hollow tubes, putting them somewhere and leaving them alone all Spring and Summer. Some tunnel-nesting bees that might visit your hotel are leaf cutters, mason bees, yellow-faced bees and carpenter bees. However, leaf cutters and mason bees are the most common bees you will see at your "hotel".

 

Steps to making a bee hotel

 

A bee hotel is a fun way to say you’re gathering things with holes in them and leaving them alone. However, there are...

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U.S. Beekeeping Associations According to State

Here's a list of state bee clubs as well as local beekeeping associations according to state.

If you can't find a local club in our list below, here are some additional ways you can find a local bee association:
  • Search on google for "[your county] bee association" as well as other nicknames and descriptions for your area. Some associations are named after their county, town, city or area of the state (like the Northern Jersey Bee Association). 
  • Search facebook for your local bee association. A lot of associations are moving to facebook instead of having a website.
  • Go to beesource.com, Women in Beekeeping facebook group or other Facebook groups with a lot of members and ask if anyone in your county knows of a local bee club. The Women in Beekeeping Facebook group is very active and has over 20,000 members. 
  • Ask the person at the honey table at your local farmer's market if they know of a local bee association.
  • In the list below, I have also...
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