How To Make Your Beehive Thrive?

30.09.2019. 13:00

Beekeeping Buzz: How To Make Your Hive Thrive 

Beekeeping is a noble endeavor, but it has also become incredibly challenging. The gloomy forecasts for the future always seemed to hinge on the extinction of frogs and bees, and it appears that the issues predicted are slowly rearing their ugly heads.

While compiling list of issues to overcome has discouraged many individuals to delve into the beekeeping business, it is not a challenge that cannot be overcome with the implementation of a few smart strategies. If you are determined to make this work, here’s how to make your hive thrive.

Learn how to take care of yourself first

First, you need to know whether you are allergic to bee stings. Beehives cannot thrive or produce raw honey appropriately without a diligent owner, can they? Anaphylaxis is a dangerous factor, and it can be a deal-breaker for many people. Prescribed medication such as EpiPen needs to be available to you, lest you experience an anaphylactic shock. You’d also need to forgo regular immunotherapy in the form of inoculation, for a period of a few years. This usually reduces the response to bee venom.

It’d also be smart to learn at least rudimentary home bee sting treatment. A pair of tweezers should rest in your pocket next to the prescribed meditation so you can take the stinger out right after you’re stung. Timing is important, so you need to reach the nearest sink and soap as soon as possible to wash the stung area. Always have hydrocortisone cream at hand and apply it to the washed area. This should do the trick.

Work on yourself and find quality sources for learning

Every project begins with acquiring information. Beekeeping is not a simple business, so you need to venture online and find online forums, YouTube channels about beekeeping. Become a member, subscribe, and bookmark everything you can, and keep your tab de-cluttered from all the superfluous internet trivia, because the knowledge and shared experiences of other beekeepers will become an invaluable asset in your arsenal down the line.

This cannot be stressed enough - you need to learn as much as you can, as fast as you can. If you want to purchase useful books on the topic, stay laser-focused on beekeeping management. This topic is the key to helping your bees thrive.

The housing for your diligent bee-workers 

You can choose between purchasing a preset beehive or building your own variant. Though, if you are truly a beginner, it is logically recommended to make matters more efficient and purchase first before taking up any DIY projects in the field.

Learn how to make your own beehive in the video!

The type and size of the hive are all about your preferences, and it is not a deciding factor for bees. The typical practice is to stack these wooden boxes together and keep them low to the ground in order to provide better shelter from the elements - more on this below. Essentially, this is not where the issue lies - the cornerstone of a thriving hive comes down to choosing the right location, which is a rather immense topic.

Location, location, location 

As the years roll by and the civilization extends further into what used to be overwhelmingly natural landscapes, many who take up this project have to become urban beekeepers. In fact, there aren’t a lot of choices otherwise, unless you have the time and money to take your bees on the road. Traditionally, the beehives were kept in meadows, on the outskirts of wooded areas, or in the vicinity of a rural farm. These days, you have to make the ordinances in your locality aware of your efforts.

If you are already a gardener who owns their own patch of greenery, this makes matters somewhat more feasible. Otherwise, you might want to contact family or friends who own a tract of land in a decidedly rural area, and move your beehives where whilst providing necessary management.

The first stipulation is to place the beehives into an area that has ample plant life, that much is clear. However, it is also of absolute importance to ensure the area has a good air-flow. This can be tricky because you need to study the area carefully to discover whether the prevailing winds can harm the bees during the biting winter. You have to balance on that tightrope.

On the one hand, moist, low-lying areas are more secluded but don’t get the proper airflow, while exposing the hive too much can lead to equally devastating results. Placing the beehive among the evergreen trees that will take the brunt of the coldest winds might be a winning combination, but any seclusion in the form of greenery will go a long way.

A matter of sunlight

However, you’ll want to avoid keeping them in constant shade. Like most other productive air-dwellers, bees respond to the sunlight and arrange their cycles according to it. As soon as the sunlight hits the openings on the beehive, the little workers embark on their quest for pollen. Now, you’ll want to position the hive in such a way that the bees get a welcoming respite in the form of the afternoon shade. Otherwise, they’d spend a lot of energy on cooling the hive.

Now, let’s go back to the sensitive topic of winter months for a moment. During the winter, a hive should get at least six hours of sunlight every day. This will help keep the colony warm. The bees won’t have to clutter together 24/7, and they’ll have the luxury to go out on cleansing flights every now and then.

The food sources - plant your own garden

This one sounds fairly simple. Placing beehives in on the above-mentioned patch of greenery which is lush with plant life is a deciding factor, but there are a couple of hacks you can apply to make matters easier for them. Bees will go through their honey food stores if the alternative sources are not made available to them, so regular irrigation of clover fields, which are to be planted near the hive, will keep them satiated.

Creating your own small garden and placing the beehive next to it beats the alternative. You know what you’ve invested in those fields and you’ll definitely make sure that excessive pesticides aren’t used. Otherwise, the bees might venture to the closest track of crops which could be covered in chemicals. That is the risk that you don’t want to make.

Since bees can travel for 3 miles in search of food, nectar, and pollen, you should consider planting a bona fide bee forage playground. A garden with flowers will fulfill all of their needs, and worker bees tend to be so occupied with their mission to collect as much food as possible that none of your family members have to worry about bee stings.

Keep the water that giveth life close

The same rule applies to water sources. Bees are creatures of habit, and once they discover a water source, it can become quite difficult to ‘reprogram’ them. Of course, this is a double-edged sword you can use to your advantage. The easiest thing in the world - and certainly one of the easiest tasks on your list - is to create a bee watering station. Now, even this you have to do right.

Bees are not particularly good swimmers. In fact, they will drown fairly easily so relying on local ponds, buckets and bird feeders are not the most optimal idea. Instead, you can use a plate you’d otherwise discard from your own dish counter and keep it filled with freshwater, but only slightly.

To make it more convenient for bees to drink, you can also find some gravel and place it on the plate. The water level should never overflow the gravel. By setting it up like this, you are essentially giving your bees a convenient maneuvering space so they’re never in danger of slipping in.

Gear up

Of course, as a manager of a thriving beehive, you need to have all the necessary tools at your disposal in order to be productive and keep your diligent workers prolific as well. Of course, some of these essentials simply make your life easier and your skin safer.

What you need, at least as a basic part of your toolkit, is a bee suit, an invaluable smoker, and a stainless-steel hive tool. When it comes to the piece of garment, you can go with a jacket instead of a suit, but the latter one just takes it a step further. Of course, you’ll have to learn how to use them before you apply them, but that shouldn't be that big of an issue in the brave age of the internet.

Conclusion

Countless gardeners take up beekeeping as a hobby, and they typically fall in love with the entire process, its joyous aspects, creative problem solving and, above all else, the contribution to so many facets of life: primarily healthy nutrition and pollination.

Naturally, beekeeping is not for everyone. It is a complicated endeavor laden with complex procedures and cycles, so you really have to feel strongly about it to persevere. Also, the broad rundown of what you need to know to make the hive thrive is also obligatory.

This article is written by Nemanja, editor-in-chief of The Gear Hunt.