The main reason that we encourage people to start with 2 hives instead of 1 is so that you have extra resources. I use the phrase, “rob peter to pay paul” quite often. That means if one hive has an abundance of honey, you can shake the bees off and give it to another that may be lacking. In fact, come late Summer or “dearth”, you will want to try and make your hives even. This helps with robbing.
A secondary reason to have 2 hives is to compare how different hives can be. I know that a lot of you want to see the same exact progress in all your hives, but unfortunately that isn’t going to happen.
You will have one hive that just looks amazing. There will be lots of eggs, capped brood, larva, honey and pollen. And there will be one that struggles along, building slow. I’ve seen this every year.
I’ve also seen an amazing hive slow down later in the season and the weaker one start to blow up. And, by the time late fall is here they are pretty much even in progress.
I know you want to monitor their progress and you get concerned when you don’t see immediate growth. Just bee patient.
Comparing a wild hive or swarm to a nuc or hive from me is not going to be a good comparison. Swarms are eager to build comb, so they will grow super fast. Trust me when I say, they slow down eventually.
In closing, I want to say that right now my bees are seriously bringing in the honey. They aren’t a bit interested in my sugar water. So, if your bees are the same, don’t worry. Let them bring in their honey and the minute the honey flow stops, try feeding them again.
Keep looking for eggs once a week. If you can’t see them, take a picture and enlarge it when you are inside. Take 100 pictures if you have to.
Remember, the first year is all about learning!
Sometimes queens die. Sometimes it happens in transportation, sometimes she dies in an inspection, sometimes she rolls off a frame. I've had all 3 of these things happen.
Knowing how long things take helps you predict where things are going or where things have been.
If you find eggs, but you can't find her, you know there was a queen 3 days ago. She’s probably still there, you just simply missed her.
If you find a queen cell and it's uncapped, it is less than 8 days old, as the queen cell caps at 8 days. The cell stays capped from 8 days, all the way up to 16 days. After 16 days, the queen will be born and within 8 more days, you should see eggs.
If you killed or lost a queen, how long before you'll have a laying queen again? Approximately 24 days.
If you find a capped queen cell, how long before it should emerge? 8-9 days.
If a queen is killed and the bees raise a new one how much brood will be left in the hive just before the new queen starts to lay? None. It will take 24 days for the new queen to start laying and in 21 days all the workers will have emerged.
If the queen starts laying today, how long before that brood will be foraging for honey? 42 days. Remember the bees get promoted and collecting nectar is the last stage of their lives.
It's unfortunate when your queen dies, but the good news is, they can requeen themselves if there are eggs in your hive!
Another option is to find a mated queen and requeen that way. Sometimes it's hard to find one just at the moment you need her, but if you can, you are definitely speeding up this process!
You have your new hive home! It is in one deep or what we call the brood chamber. It also has a feeder in it. What you’ll need to do is remove that feeder and add in a couple empty frames from your second deep you received from me. You will then place that feeder in your second deep and go ahead and put that on your first deep. You are now sitting 2 deeps tall and are ready to feed your hive.
1:1 – Take an old milk jug and rinse it out. Fill it ½ the way with sugar. (You will need a funnel of some kind to get the sugar in this jug.) It’s easier if you find something with a wider mouth to get the sugar into it. The rest of the gallon jug will be filled with warm water and you will shake it vigorously. Basically until you see no sugar crystals as they have all dissolved into the warm water. This is your feed.
If the bees don’t eat it, try sweetening it up a with a 2:1 ratio. This would be ¾ full of sugar and ¼ of water. You can also do a 2:1 ratio with water being the 2. Meaning 1/4th sugar and 3/4th water.
Why are you feeding bees? Because they have to draw out all those empty frames by covering them in beeswax. It takes 6-8 pounds of honey (sugar water) for them to create 1 pound of wax.
You are NOT ready for any other boxes at this time, just the 2 deeps. If your second deep fills up by mid-June, you can then place your queen excluder and your first super.
I talked briefly in class about running 9 frames in my honey supers. You can do that, or run all 10. That’s totally up to you.
Why don’t you just give them all 4 boxes? Because that’s too much empty space for bees to defend against hive beetles or other pests like ants, spiders, etc..
Your hives have all been treated. We discussed briefly about mite treatment methods. It’s important for you to find one that works for you. I blogged about my methods in the previous blog.
Hive beetles – haven’t seen a lot myself yet this year. I have big strong colonies right now and that definitely helps.
Keep your mite counts low, keep them fed and make sure you see those eggs once a week to two times a month and you’ll have more fun this year with your new bees!!
Finally, I want to say it really upset me that I couldn’t finish the second class yesterday and I had to cancel the 3rd class. I really wanted to give you all this information before you left.
We are looking at 06/07 at 9am for the makeup class. This is for those of you that arrived at 11 on 05/30 and we basically just loaded you up. Please contact me for confirmation that you are coming, and I’m going to be emailing all of you as well.
This has been a crazy year for swarms! I’ve had close to 100 calls about “swarms.” I want to talk about why I put that word in quotation marks.
When you see a cluster - or ball of bees - hanging in a tree, on a fence, or any other place where you can clearly see the bees are not living inside of something, that is a swarm. That is an easy pickup for any beekeeper, and most will come pickup the bees for free. If the beekeeper wants to charge you for an easy swarm capture, call someone else. And, please don’t ask the beekeeper for money for the swarm. We don’t pay you, unless it’s a bottle of honey for the call.
When you have bees living inside the wall of your home, that is no longer a swarm situation. That is what we call a cut-out. This requires a professional, licensed contractor to remove this hive. If someone offers to do it for free, that's between y'all. I don't want the liability myself, but to each their own! :)
I’ve heard so many times over the years, “well, I sprayed the ones I saw” or “I plugged up their entrance/exit.” Let’s talk about why those are bad and/or ineffective methods.
If you spray the ones you saw, that only kills the ones you saw. There are thousands more potentially living inside your wall. Bees build hives, and they aren’t typically tiny. Think about the length of a tree, their natural habitat. I’ve seen a hive built in about ¾ the length of a tree before.
If you block their entrance and exit, they’ll just find another one. Or, they’ll die and leave behind a mess that will have negative side effects like honey dripping through your wall, or vermin or other insects damaging your home, not to mention a foul odor.
Please call a professional. Midwest Bee Removal is my recommendation. 816-217-4214. I’ve actually added his information to my voicemail because I’m getting so many “swarm” calls.
Finally, let me say this, for the record. If the bees are living inside a tree, leave them alone. Let them bee! Unless you are worried because you are allergic, let them do their thing. We need to share this planet with all living creatures.
Several years ago, my husband and I decided to get a saltwater tank. We started doing a lot of research after we purchased a used aquarium at a garage sale. We found 2 places within 30 minutes of our house that sold saltwater fish. We visited these places often and spent a lot of money.
We’d ask a couple questions each time we visited, but all questions accompanied a purchase. In the 2 years we had the saltwater tank, we never once called them at the store to ask a question. It’s a lot of work keeping an entire store of small animals clean and safe, so we understood they were very busy.
Every fish was researched before we purchased it. Every coral or anemone was researched before we purchased it. We even built a refugium to help cycle the water.
Basically, we did our due diligence in caring for this amazing saltwater tank.
In the process of visiting one of these stores more than the other, we got to know the owner’s names and vice versa. While we had friendly comradery, we knew the expectation was that we would make our purchase and come back when there was another purchase to be made.
Why am I rambling on and on about this experience?
Because this bee business doesn't seem to have realistic expectations or boundaries. This is 100% my fault. I’ve been under this impression that in order to be a successful small business owner, you need to be available every single minute of your life. This is not true.
I love that people want to start beekeeping. I think it is a very important and rewarding hobby. But, it’s your hobby, not “our hobby”. The bees belong to you once you leave my driveway.
This doesn’t mean I won’t answer a couple questions here and there. But the expectation that I am going to be available to you for the whole summer and fall is unrealistic.
Your purchase of a nuc, hive or kit, doesn’t come with an unlimited amount of my time. Just like when I bought a $100 new fish, I didn’t expect the saltwater store owners to answer questions about that fish for months.
I offer paid consultations, if you are within 30 minutes of Belton, MO. If you have several questions, we need to set one of these consultations up. If you live outside the 30-minute parameter, we can set up a facetime consultation. $25 for a ½ hour on the phone.
It’s time to do a reset for The Kansas Bee Company and set up some realistic expectations and boundaries.
Thank you for your understanding!
Here are my top 3 ways to keep a beehive alive!!
FEED YOUR BEES!
I tell everyone at pickups – feed, feed, feed! It takes 6-8 pounds of honey being consumed for the bees to create 1 pound of wax. The more you feed, the faster your NUC or Single will grow.
Sugar/water ratio is 1:1. But, if the bees are not eating this ratio, go to 2:1, with 2 being water. I have a hive that will not eat 2:1 but will eat 1:1 and vice versa. I do not believe feeding is an exact science, but a lot of other beekeepers would disagree. They will tell you certain ratios promote comb production or a queen to start laying. If the bees do not eat any variation of sugar water, and are bringing in their own honey, stop feeding them.
Check your feeder every few days to start, to get an idea of how fast your hive eats their food. Asking me how often to check a feeder is irrelevant. Your bees may eat their food faster or slower than mine.
I feed my bees Pro Health. It’s expensive, but it prevents fermentation of the sugar water from happening as fast. Here’s a great recipe if you want to make it at home: https://www.funnybugbees.com/bee-nutrition-blog/honey-bee-healthy-recipe
CHECK FOR EGGS!
I check my hives twice a month for eggs. I’m going to suggest that you check yours once a week for a while. If your eyesight isn’t what it used to be, take a picture of a frame and blow it up on your phone to see the eggs. I do this on cloudier days as it’s easier to see eggs when the sun is out. Why are you looking for eggs? Because you are new and haven’t mastered how to inspect without possibly crushing the queen or rolling her off a frame. It’s nothing to freak out over, but you definitely want to check for eggs.
KEEP YOUR MITE COUNTS LOW!
I’m not going to blog about mites right now. That will be later in the year. I highly suggest you research how mites reproduce. Joining a bee club is an awesome way of learning beekeeping. Our club meets once a month and we devote an entire meeting to treating for mites. Cass County Bee Club in Harrisonville, Missouri. Hopefully, we can start meeting again soon! Please go to the CCBC tab on this website for info!
I'm happy to answer your questions, but I can't diagnose everything over the phone. If you have several questions, I am going to suggest a paid consultation. If you are within 30 minutes of Belton, Missouri, my fee is $100.00 a visit. The best way to get hold of me is through text. Especially once pickups are over...as I will only check email sparsely at that point. Please keep in mind that I work, have a husband, a home and my own bees to care for. Thank you!
The most important factor in determining where to place your new hive is where is the most sun! I understand it's a nice sentiment to want to give your beehive a lot of shade for the hot summer, but that is a hive beetle problem waiting to happen. Hive beetles love shady areas and hate full sun! So, put your new beehive in full sun. If you have to place them in some shade, an afternoon shade in the west is best. You want the bees up and out of the hive first thing, so their entrance/exit needs to be at the spot that sees sun first.
A colony will keep their hive cool in the summer. They spit water on the front porch and fan it inside the hive. The bees also hang outside of the hive to keep the inside temperature from getting too hot. This is called bearding. Why? Because it looks like a gentleman's beard.
Hay bales can block the cold wind in the winter, or you can place them in front of a line of trees...as long as those trees aren't shading the bees throughout the day.
OK, now what to put your beehives on! I use cinder blocks for the most part. I place 2 flat and then I place 2 on top of the flat ones. You can build a stand or buy a stand as well. It's really about how fancy you want to get. An example is chicken coops. I've seen some really basic coops and I've seen some coops that look like a human could live in them. They both have chickens that produce eggs - I'm sure! haha!
Just a reminder, bees fly anywhere from 2-4 miles a day to find food and water. This means, while providing them a watering source is very nice of you, it may be unnecessary.
I have a creek on my property and they visit it for their water. Bees love dirty water and clean water. The dirty water has minerals they require.
Again, it's all in how you want to keep your bees. If you want to provide a watering source, use a bird bath with some sticks or pebbles in it. Bees cannot swim, so they need places to land on where they can stick their little tongues out and slurp.
Have fun with your new apiary!!
These are the top 2 questions I get asked at least 5 times a week. I'm going to answer both of these on this blog and then refer to this blog going forward. That way, by the time we talk, you will already have an answer to these questions.
How do you start beekeeping
First, you'll need to check your city ordinance on the legalities of keeping bees. Most cities around Kansas City allow you to have 2 beehives in your backyard, but you'll need to check on this. Some cities have specific locations that the bees need to be placed. Meaning, they can't be within so many feet of your neighbor, etc.. Again, check with your city.
Once you find it's legal, you'll need to scout a new spot for them. Full sun is best! If there is shade, afternoon shade in the west is best. You do NOT need a bunch of land to have bees. Urban beekeeping is a thing!
Now, you need to learn about how to keep bees. There are 3 types of classes that I teach. One is the "inside the hive class". This class is an hour in a beehive with yours truly. I charge $75 a person for this class. If you are in a group, you can contact me for a group price. Typically I will have these classes in May/June, but with COVID-19, I'm not planning any right now.
The next class is "Beginner Beekeeping". This class is an all day class that is taught by a couple different beekeeper inside a "classroom". The typical time frame for this class is Jan/Feb/March.
The last class I offer is an "introduction to beekeeping" class. I offer about 10 of those a year and in several different locations. They run from late fall to very early Spring! This class is a sneak peak into beekeeping.
You can also do some research online and join a beekeepers club. There are clubs all over Kansas and Missouri. I'm the President of Cass County Bee Club that meets in Harrisonville, Missouri.
"Beekeeping for Dummies" is a great book! YouTube has a ton of videos about beekeeping!
How much does it cost to start beekeeping
You can anticipate spending around $850.00 to start beekeeping. This includes a book, your equipment, tools, suit, a class and most importantly your BEES! It is not a cheap hobby, but it is a rewarding hobby.
I sell kits in an attempt to make it more affordable, meaning one price gets you everything. I also offer payment plans to help. My Master Hive Kits are sold out right now, but if you are wanting to start beekeeping next Spring, look for them on my website in late fall of this year. Honestly, the best time to purchase for the Spring is the previous fall. If it weren't for COVID-19, I'd be sold out of everything right now.
I have a few options left for this year. Please read my blog titled "There's still time to start a beehive this year" for all the information on what is left to purchase.
I'm going to tell you that I've been selling bees for 4 years now. I know that's not a super long time compared to others out there, but it's long enough to know that when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. I've seen some really cheap prices for bees. I can also go to amazon right now and probably buy a cheaper kit from China. A few wooden boxes that have been fumigated to pass through customs. Bottom line, you get what you pay for. Your new bees deserve better.
Anyway, I'm not a pushy saleswoman. I respect the bees too much for that. Beekeeping is something you need to have a passion for. I'm just someone who loves the bees and wants to see new beekeepers succeed.
After you've read this whole blog post, are you still feeling the buzz?? Call me, let's talk. 816-739-0726.
First of all I want to say that swarming is NOT a bad thing! It means that your hive is healthy and growing! Now that I've made that clear, I'll tell you why bees swarm.
The first reason is because it's in their nature. Think about bees living in the wild. How do they replenish the earth with more bees? They create a split from their hive and make a new hive with that split. That is a swarm. So, when you hear beekeepers say they are making splits, what they are doing is trying to prevent their hive from swarming and in doing so getting an additional hive to add to their addiction, I mean hobby! ;)
When your hive makes it through winter and Spring is gearing up, the bees nature is to replenish the earth. So, they split because it's Spring.
The other reason they swarm is when they run out of room. If you get home with a NUC of bees and you leave it in the NUC box, the bees will swarm. Probably even a few times throughout the summer.
Bees need room to grow. Remember a queen can lay anywhere from 1,000-2,000 eggs a day during the peak bee season. That's a lot of bees being born.
Keep in mind that swarming is not the same thing as absconding. When a hive absconds it means every single bee just up and leaves the hive. That is due to an issue in the hive, most typically mites. But, it can also be a hive beetle infestation or a critter messing with it.
Now that I've shared the reasons they swarm, I'll tell you what happens inside the hive before and after it swarms.
The bees have a meeting and decide they are going to swarm. I'm joking, but you get my point. A laying queen is too heavy to fly long distances, so the workers will stop feeding her so she will stop laying eggs. The workers make 10-20 replacement queens (swarm cells), from the eggs she lays before she is put on her swarm diet. Once those swarm cells are capped, the old queen and 1/2 the hive take off to a new home. They know exactly where they are going before they leave, because scout bees have been looking for a new place to create a new hive. So, why do they hang on trees? They're resting on their journey to their new home.
What's left behind after the swarm is 10-20 virgin queens who are going to basically either fight to the death, or the first one born will go and sting all of the others to death inside their cells. Sometimes a virgin will swarm with the original queen and there's a fight once they find a new home. Sometimes there are a couple of swarms, one with the original queen, and another one with a virgin. Those are cast off swarms.
The virgin queen that is victorious and basically a bad ass, goes on her mating flight and hooks up with several drones. (don't judge). She flies home and is now the queen of the other 1/2 of the bees that were left behind. The next Spring this process will be repeated more than likely. In closing, I'm not saying that every single hive that overwinters will swarm. I'm saying it is highly likely they will. Set your swarm traps folks! Remember, a swarm in May is worth a load of hay...a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon...but a swarm in July is not worth a fly!
There are a lot of questions coming in about whether it's too late to start beekeeping this year. The answer is NO! Also, people are asking what they need to start. Here is a breakdown of what I sell and what you'll need in addition to each option below. Call me with any questions, but please read this first. It may have all the answers you seek.
Let's talk about all the options left for beekeeping THIS year!
First, we have a Single Box Hive for sale. This is your start to an amazing beekeeping year! The Single Box Hive you purchase from me includes a full hive of bees inside a deep box. The single also comes with a telescoping lid, inner cover, solid bottom board, feeder and an entrance reducer! You will need a second deep box with frames/foundation, one super with frames and foundation...if you're lucky two supers! You will also need protection, which can be a jacket, suit or veil. You'll need a hive tool, smoker and gloves. Those are your basic necessities for this year. At this time I am sold out of individualized equipment, tools and protection, with the exception of veils. Veils are $35.00!
Next we have our 5 Frame NUCS! Our NUCS are looking really good!! You will need a deep box with 3 empty frames/foundation to put your 5 frame NUC into so the BEES can grow! A feeder will take up the space of 2 frames! You'll also need a second deep box with 10 frames/foundation, and probably just one super with 9 frames and foundation. (I run 9 frame supers.) You will also need protection, which can be a jacket, suit or veil. You'll need a hive tool, smoker, gloves, telescoping lid, solid bottom board, entrance reducer and a feeder! At this time I am sold out of individualized equipment, tools and protection, with the exception of veils. Veils are $35.00!
The Pickup Date/Time for these 2 options is May 30th!
How to order - You can pay online for everything! It's super easy. After you've ordered, you'll get an order number. Hold on to that.