Brushy Mountain Bee Farm's Resources for Beekeeping, Candle Making, and Soap Making

Bee-ginner's Guide
2nd Year Beekeeping
Buzzing Gardens with Harris Seeds
Know Your Product


    Back to the Basics

    Welcome to the Back to Basics Blog where we go over some of the basic steps a beekeeper should take in getting the most out of their hives.

    The abundance of resources has ignited your bees and your colony is functioning at its peak. You will soon find that your colony will be ready for that next super, especially those that survived through winter. The desire for bees to store a surplus of nectar is what beekeepers prepare for early in spring. Try not to get overzealous as you begin to see flowering plants. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

    April showers can sometimes wash away May flowers. The humble raindrop plays an important role in agriculture and can help or hinder the honey bee. Prolonged periods of rain will prevent bees from leaving the hive to forage for nectar and pollen. Rain may also wash away pollen grains and can dilute the nectar produced by plants. On the opposing end is extreme drought in which flowers lack the resources to produce nectar. It is best practice to keep a feeder on your hive until you add on the first honey super.

    Remove all feeders once you add on the first honey super. You or your customers will not want sugar/corn syrup tainting the true flavor of honey. Bees will travel the shortest distance in order to obtain the resources they need and a feeder offers the easiest source.

    Know when to add on the next super. A good rule to follow is to add on the super when you finding the outside frames of the top hive box are beginning to be drawn out with new comb or, for existing comb, nectar and pollen is being stored in cells. Bees prefer to work up rather than out; therefore, enthusiastic beekeepers that add the super on before the colony is ready will have outside frames that go untouched and space wasted in the hive.

    Do not apply treatments while honey supers are on the hive. Varroa treatments, other than MiteAway Quickstrips, can contaminate the honey. The honey will still be acceptable for the bees but unsafe for human consumption. Organic methods can keep the mite population in check for those hives that are suffering from high mite levels. A drone frame in the brood chamber will not have an impact on your honey and may knock back the mite population plus keep it from expanding.

    Prevent the queen from laying eggs throughout the honey super by using a queen excluder. Placing the excluder on as you add on the honey super may deter the bees from moving up into the super; therefore, let the bees begin working in the honey super before applying the excluder. Add the queen excluder when you observe two to three frames being worked and ensure your queen is not in the honey super when applying the excluder.

    Plan for how you intend to extract your honey and build your frames accordingly. There are many choices for foundation and each style offers various extracting methods. Here is some guidance:

    Frames placed into an extractor will need the support built into the foundation to prevent it from being thrown out. Crimp wire foundation will work but the added use of support rods/pins will better secure the foundation as it spins through the cycles.

    Frames will require clean, cut comb foundation or thin foundation for markets that prefer comb included in with the honey. Wire run through the foundation will prevent clean cut outs. Drone foundation in the honey super is an excellent choice for those that want to maximize on their honey crop. Cells are larger and offer more room to pack in honey to be extracted. Reducing your 10 frame super down to 9 or an 8 frame down to 7 to further maximize your honey production by allowing your bees to draw the comb out further and store more honey.

    Prepare your hives for the nectar flow and maximize on your honey production with the correct selection of foundation.