Robber bees

An annoying and frustrating part of honeybee behaviour, is that of ‘robbing’. When hives have many forager-bees and can’t find good sources of nectar, these foragers might go looking for that nectar in other hives. In most of north-western Europe, July and August are the months where it is most common for this behaviour to…

Will my hive make it through winter?

It’s wasn’t December yet when I made this discovery, but I think one of my nucs from this spring is going to have a hard time getting through winter. When I checked the hive by looking up through the wire-screen on the bottom, I saw hundreds of dead bees. All my other hives clean the…

What have I done?! (Beekeeping)

This has been my first year with ‘real grown-up’ beehives. This meant I needed to make new colonies, nucs, artificial swarms, to prevent my bees from swarming. Although I haven’t lost any colonies and I’m now up to six working hives, I really should have put more care into selecting queens. I now have two…

Multiplying hives and growing new colonies

Since May, the three beehives I got as nucs last year have been giving me opportunities to make new colonies. Making new colonies is a normal part of the development in a production hive, as it mimics the natural way bees reproduce. In nature, honeybees would swarm. This would mean growing their original hive to…

Varroa treatment for honeybees with oxalic acid

In my previous post I mentioned one of the methods I use to get rid of varroa mites; sugar syrup with oxalic acid. I combine two kinds of treatment, both are appropriate at different times of the year. I currently don’t use any other chemical (synthetic or natural) than oxalic acid. Oxalic acid occurs in…

Carniolan queens

Last week, the weather was so nice I decided to do a hive check. I combined the hive check with the first varroa-treatment for 2019. My treatment plan to keep my hives low in varroa numbers has been taught to me by my teacher, Corneel Dewindt, who has been a beekeeper for several decades and…

Project cleanup: I got free beehives!

When it’s time to purchase new beehives for the coming year, have you ever found your mind drifting towards discovering a beehive-tree that gives you everything for free? Maybe you’d plant your crown board tree, your broodbox tree, a couple of frame bushes and plant your wax foundation tubers… Equipment is expensive! And if your…

Rendering down moldy frames in spring

Spring seems to have arrived early all of a sudden. It’s mid-February and we’ve gone from normal grey, rainy weather directly onto bright, 11-16°C beautiful spring weather. I am carefully sowing frost resistant crops and getting soils ready for planting. I’ve also done the first hive-check of 2019. Normally in my area, we don’t open…

Bee-eggs on the bottom drawer

I should start this by mentioning that the type of beehives that are used in western-Europe, always come with a screened bottom board AND a drawer underneath. I follow a bunch of beepeeking groups and blogs, within and beyond my own region. Watching these, I’ve noticed beekeepers in some warmer climates, or in places with…

Planning the apiary

2018 was my first year in beekeeping. The colonies that survive the winter will give me a honey crop in the spring of 2019. It’s difficult to predict how much honey you’ll get from a hive. In my area, a healthy hive can produce as little as 10kg of honey in a year if the…

An introduction to honeybee varieties

Across the globe, people harvest honey from various sorts of bee-types. In Asia apis cerana, Koschevnikov and Dorsata are used. Not all of these can be kept in hives, but humans have gone looking for colonies to harvest from for centuries. It has been a popular subject for photographers and documentary makers, to show people…

Planting for pollinators part 2

In part 1 of planting for pollinators, I focused mainly on plants that thrive in wetlands. Of course, not all valuable plants need a wetland to survive, many are more flexible. In this second part I’ll devote more attention to annuals and plants that grow on other soils.   Probably the two biggest assets to…

Quiet in the apiary

Today I believe my bees have finally gathered into their winter cluster. The temperature is circling 10°C and as I passed by the apiary a couple times today, I didn’t see any activity. During spring and summer, when the weather is cool or rainy, I can usually see bees peeking out around the entrance. Now,…

Water for honeybees

Every beekeeper should consider where his or her bees go to collect water. Water, besides pollen and nectar, is one of the main substances bees collect and bring back to the hive. Water is added to nectar to help it being digested again and again until it becomes honey, and when that honey is being…

Planting for pollinators: moisture loving plants

Do you live in a part of the world where water is one of the causes of trees dying and gardens failing? Does it govern what you can plant? Welcome to the club everyone belongs to! Most of the world, however, has a problem with not getting enough water! If you live in an area…

Beekeeping: I’m ready!

The most exciting new project I started in 2018 is certainly beekeeping! I have been fascinated by the life inside a hive, the life-cycle of these creatures and their habitat. Since October 2017 I have been taking classes with a local beekeepers’ association, and I have been getting my kit together. I made a hive…