Beekeeping Myth #1: It Doesn’t Take Much Time

I’d like to dispel the myth that beekeeping doesn’t take much time. Wrong. It takes a lot of time. For the first two years of my beekeeping, for every hour I spent working with my bees, I spent at least five hours reading and taking notes or watching instructional videos of some kind. And I was glad to do it.

This is my cautionary tale for people who probably shouldn’t bother with beekeeping. If It doesn’t take much time is the final selling point for you, do yourself a favour and walk away right now.

A swarm of bees hanging off a tree branch. (June 17, 2012.)

A swarm of bees hanging off a tree branch. (June 17, 2012.)

For anyone who doesn’t want to read up on everything they can about honey bees and beekeeping, and for anyone who isn’t glad to spend as much time as possible with their bees, I say don’t waste your time with it, because you probably won’t enjoy it. And your bees are likely to be dead after a few years from negligence anyway.

Forgive me if I sound like a jerk for saying that, but I’m feeling a little annoyed at the moment.

Someone recently asked me for some information on how to start beekeeping in Newfoundland. Among another things, I sent them a link to my How-To page, essentially my personal guide to beekeeping in Newfoundland, and they said, “I don’t have time to read all that.” To which I responded: “Then you probably don’t have time for beekeeping.”
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Weighing Down Hives

I know some new beekeepers in eastern Newfoundland who read Mud Songs from time to time. If you’re reading this around 1pm on Friday, now would be a good time to weigh down your hives if you haven’t done so already.

According to the CBC, Hurricane Maria should smack into us right about now with winds around 120km/h (75mph), plus a whole lotta rain. My hives are well protected from the wind and have weathered through worse storms than this. But if your hives are out in the open, you might want to take some precautions.

No Sandal Zone

Today’s tip for backyard beekeepers: Don’t wear sandals.

The bees in our backyard fly around our raised beds to drink water from lettuce leaves and soak up moisture from the black composted soil. They also wander around the grass here and there, grass we don’t bother to mow, and so it’s easy for the bees to inadvertently crawl onto our feet while we’re standing there digging the weeds in the garden. And if I’m wearing sandals, it’s easy for a bee to get stuck under a strap, freak out and sting me. The pain from a honey bee sting isn’t too bad compared to most stinging insects. But when they first get you, it hurts. One of them got me about five minutes ago.

Honey Bees in Flight (Video)

Here’s some video I shot yesterday while taking photos of the bees flying around Hive #2. Not the most exciting video, perhaps, but it does demonstrate the difference between Hive #2 and Hive #1, which we thought was queenless (and who knows, still could be).


I just noticed two bees fighting it out (at the 1:16 mark) on the bottom board and then falling off the edge. September is fighting month for the honeybees.
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Prop Up a Weak Colony, Or Not?

We have two honey bee colonies in our backyard, both started from nuc boxes 35 days ago and housed in Langstroth hives. Hive #1 has been fed a water-sugar mixture just about every day (with some honey mixed in for the first three weeks). We added a second brood box a week ago because 9 of the 10 frames in the hive were partially or fully drawn out — the colony was ready to expand.

Hive #2 wasn’t fed until the second week, but for the past week has had two Boardman feeders installed. It doesn’t get as much late-afternoon sun as Hive #1, and the last time we checked a couple days ago, only seven, maybe eight frames had partially or fully drawn out comb on them. (We also pulled a huge ugly slug from the bottom of the hive the same day.)

Those are the differences between Hive #1 and Hive #2. Here’s a quick video I shot today that illustrates the differences:

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