I bought an active bee colony last September from some lovely people who were moving out of the country. I always thought about getting into bees, but I knew there was a lot I needed to know before I did. When the opportunity presented itself via a Facebook ad I weighed my pros and cons, decided fall was as safe a time to start as any, and jumped in feet first.
Over the winter the I did a lot of reading, watched a ton of Youtube videos, and signed up for the online provincial beekeeping course. By the time spring hit I was as prepared as I ever would be to take a look inside that hive. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t terrified; I w as just prepared and terrified all at once.
There were a few things I did take away from the online beekeeping course, and they would be really helpful for beginner beekeepers who are cracking the lid of that hive for the first time. These are just simple ways to get your feet wet when you’re a beginner beekeeper.
Reverse your two brood boxes
According to honeybeesuite, an amazing online resource, and my instructor for the beginner beekeepers course, rotating your two main brood boxes might be a good idea. I say might because my instructor online said yes, and honeybeesuite said she no longer does it.
One argument for reversing is that it forces the bees into the bottom box. According to Rusty at honeybeesuite, her bees will move down into the bottom box all on their own anyway.
Like everything with beekeeping, you have to take all of the advice thrown at you and make your own call. I reversed my boxes this year, but I might not next year.
Find your Queen
I’ll testify to the fact that this is incredibly difficult. I searched through all of the frames and I didn’t see her. I know she must be there because there was capped and uncapped brood all over the place, but I didn’t actually spot her when I was searching. In my defense I was pretty freaked out by all of the bees flying around, and I did end up getting stung twice.
I will be searching for her again the next time the sun comes out. If you get stung, my mom recommends rubbing the sting with a raw onion. I thought she was crazy, but it really does work.
Don’t pull honey
If you left all of your honey in the hive so your bees would have food for the winter, don’t feel as though any leftovers are fair game yet. Early spring is too early to pull honey, especially if your trees and flowers aren’t blooming yet.
Wait until you know there is nectar for your bees and you won’t feel guilty for being a honey robber.
I’m definitely one of the many beginner beekeepers just finding their way this spring, so if you have tips you’d like to share, feel free to share them here.