10 Tips for healthy honey bees

Apiarists across the globe are faced with many threats during the season including foulbrood, hive beetles, viral infections and a host of other dangerous invaders.  That’s why it’s important to have every possible method of keeping your colonies healthy at your disposal.  Here are several simple steps you can take to ensure healthier hives year round.

1.  Open your colonies as little as possible.

A bee hive is much like your house.  Whenever someone opens the door it requires re-adjustment by your heater or air conditioner.  If a person were to remove your entire roof – chances are a lot of external dust particles would get inside the house, not to mention goodbye heat or cool air.  Bees require a very specific temperature within their hives, and keep it meticulously clean.  The less you inspect, the healthier they’ll be.

2.  Do as much as you can at one time.

In many hive types, opening up and managing is an essential task.  When planning work, be sure to do as much as you can in one period, working quickly to minimize the amount of time the hive is open and exposed.  This will ensure your bees and brood are not compromised.

3.  Use natural treatments.

Treating for various diseases and pests is a necessary part of maintaining a healthy honey bee hive.  When choosing your solutions, be sure to side with natural alternatives whenever possible to guarantee safe, non-toxic honey and a better environment.

4.  Feed bees with a quality food source.

When natural nectar is not available, your bees still need to eat, and what you feed them has a large part in determining the overall health of the colony.  The regular sugar found in grocery stores can be used, but only as a last resort.  The best choice is an organic cane juice with a supplemental additive to make it more structurally similar to nectar (such as Nectar Gold, the natural nectar substitute), as the amino acids and minerals found in natural nectar are essential to healthy and rapid growth.

5.  Regulate entrance size.

Depending on the time of season, the size of your colony entrance can be a critical factor in overall health.  The entrance is a bee colonies method of regulating the temperature, and is the main line of defense from invaders.  By making it bigger or smaller, you maximize the potential of the hive depending on the level of development.  Small hives have less workers to defend and regulate temperature, which means a smaller entrance.  Small entrances are also important during the winter to help preserve the colonies heat.  When your colony is large and thriving, you can open the door wider to allow for increased traffic, but don’t open it too much!  Finding the right amount of entrance is important as you don’t want your colony too vulnerable.

6.  Know your environment.

Being aware of the nectar flow, seasonal temperatures, and pollen timetables are an important part of managing a bee hive.  This information will help you determine when best to heavily feed your bees as well as supplement pollen.  Knowing and understanding your local environment is an absolute must for any serious apiarist.

7.  Watch for invaders.

Honey Bees have many natural enemies, and keeping an eye on the activity of your hive and addressing invaders early is the most effective way to keep your colonies pest free.  Be especially vigilant when wasps and other predatory insects make hones near your bees.

8.  Start the season early.

It’s never too early to start feeding your bees if the temperature is above 50 degrees.  Since honey bees are unable to fly below this temperature, when they sense a rise they will often leave to forage for sugar sources.  This is the ideal time to get a heads up and start strengthening your colony.

9.  Diversify your genetics.

Keeping a variety of Queens can help diversify your genetics and ensure your colonies maintain a healthy diversity of beneficial traits.

10.  Supplement with the right nutrients.

And as always, feeding with Nectar Gold provides the essential vitamins, nutrients, and amino acids honey bees need to thrive.  A simple addition to any feeding regiment it’s well worth the negligible price.

2 Responses to “10 Tips for healthy honey bees”

  1. Pierre says:

    It is incredible to see how in the space of a month the hives have deeolvped totally different characters, and yes as Brian says one hive is vey feisty, and the other much more gentle but now without a queen. It is a temendous learning experience for all of us adults and young people from Global Generation. Each week Brians colourful stories illuminating the science of bees become a reality as we eagerly peer inside our beautiful cedar hives to record the amount of nectar, larvae, capped brood and honey. This week there was enough honey for a mini harvest and we also discovered about six queen cells on one of the frames. So it looks like there’s a battle ahead, as they work out which one will rule the hive.

    • Nectar Gold says:

      Cedar is the best way to build a hive; and allowing nature to find the most robust queens is the only way to go. When the nectar flows, harvest as much as you can and take advantage of those bees hard work!

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