When I started beekeeping some 5 or so years ago I never would have guessed that this post would be necessary. There are so many nuances about this craft that a short discussion is never enough to cover all of the bases. Bee management is a highly debated topic on every bee related internet forum, or social media platform. With the advent of my Bees For Sale page ( I know the name is so original it nearly blew my mind) I thought it best to break down my view points a bit. Mainly just so folks who are considering purchasing a nuc, or queen will know where I stand on certain hot button bee issues.
Feeding- I feed any split. They have been artificially reduced in size, and I feel they need it. Drawing comb requires a huge amount of resources, and I feel it’s best to help a new split, or nuc, that has little or no drawn comb along. Once a colony has reached “full strength” I no longer feed. Full strength to me is when they are ready for their third hive body. I haven’t had many instances where I would feed a full strength colony except in a possible starvation situation do to weather, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve had to do that. I do use pollen substitute early in the year because I’ve noticed that they are frantically trying to drag any scrap of nearly anything resembling pollen into the hive before anything is blooming. I have had bees on the chicken feed, the cow feed, and I’m sure if I had other types of feed they would try to use that also. I’m going to be experimenting with pollen sub more this year, I really haven’t used it all that much.
Treatments- (this is the big one) I do not treat my bees, period. That doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to them, or that I’m a “beehaver” rather than a beekeeper. In fact I simply don’t see the point in treating bees. I believe that if your bees can’t handle a mite load on their own you are at best delaying the inevitable by treating. The other end of it is that I know too many beekeepers who treat, and have much higher death loss than I do. Why is that? I’m currently sitting on an 83% overwinter rate. I’ve lost an experimental 5 frame nuc, and another weak nuc that was showing signs of nosema on our last warm up. I don’t expect to lose any more unless we have a blizzard in march (and most would probably live through that). I lifted the lid on most all of my hives yesterday, and see no reason why they won’t live. Like most other beginners, I did treat my first year with a half dose of apivar. I wish I could turn back the time dial so I could have stopped myself. I am now 4 years removed from that, and have since learned because of it. I hold no animosity toward those who choose to treat. I get it, its human nature to want to try to overwinter 100%. I just don’t believe bees are designed to overwinter 100%. Bees breed faster than rabbits, they adapt to their situations faster also. I think if beekeepers become less reactive to the effect, and focus more on the cause, we will all have better bees because of it.
Typical Hive Set Up/ Winterization- This is something that is ever changing, and should be. I am gearing toward using three deep brood chambers. My supers are also deeps right now. That will likely be changing this year. I am using most all solid bottom boards, and a raised migratory covers. For winter prep I do not insulate, in fact the only screened bottom board I have in use right now is still open. I did not use Candy boards this year. I do believe they are beneficial, however I wanted to see if my bees really needed them or not. I think in future years I may only use them on nucs.
I think that should about cover it. If you have any questions please ask in the comments. If you enjoyed reading this please subscribe by clicking follow, or sign up for email notifications. Be sure to click the like button. another article you might enjoy is Self Sustaining Your Own Apiary On a Small Scale