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Learn How to Become a Beekeeper (PART 2 of 5)

Posted by BeeWeaver Buzz on 23rd Jan 2018

BEGIN BEEKEEPING (PART 2 OF 5)

Now that you know what kind of hives you may own and operate it is time to learn what bees products will are appropriate for your hives. We have had customers pick up their bees from us to only learn the product they brought home to their hive is incompatible. Don’t let this happen to you!


An Established Colony

COMPATIBLE WITH ANY HIVE TYPE (it is the hive!)

An established hive is a colony of bees established in standard Langstroth equipment, or in a top bar, hybrid or other hive type. It contains brood, bees, honey, pollen and a laying queen. With an established colony, you will be ready for pollination and honey production immediately.

PROS

Your colony is ready to go and contains a large population of bees, a laying queen, brood of various developmental stages, honey and pollen. Without delay, it is fully functional and ready for supers to be added to hold the honey that will be produced. There is no need to buy or build hive equipment or decide between a nuc or a package.

CONS

Established colonies come at a slightly higher cost compared to packages (swarms) and nucs. Additionally, you miss the education and rewarding experience of building a new colony from a nuc or package.

An established hive is a colony of bees established in standard Langstroth equipment, or in a top bar, hybrid or another hive type. It contains brood, bees, honey, pollen and a laying queen. With an established colony, you will be ready for pollination and honey production immediately.


Colony Nuclei

ALSO CALLED “NUCS”

Nucs are miniature colonies with 4-5 combs of brood, bees, honey, pollen and a queen. A nuc is easily moved from the packaging into your hive upon arrival.

PROS

A nuc has drawn comb, a queen, bee brood, adult bees, honey and pollen. A nuc is an established colony in miniature.

CONS

Nucs must eventually be installed in Langstroth equipment. You cannot easily start a top bar hive with a nuc, unless you have a hybrid hive.

Package Bees

OR WILD SWARMS

A colony of honey bees may be started with a wild swarm, or with an artificial swarm produced by us or another beekeeper. An artificial swarm is also known as a “package” of bees and consists of three pounds of bees and a queen. A package of bees is used to start a Langstroth, top bar, hybrid and other types of hives. If cared for appropriately and environmental conditions are favorable, a package will grow into a full-strength colony in short order – usually about three brood cycles.

PROS

Installing a package is easy and rewarding, and growing one replicates the natural way colonies propagate by swarming. The most cost-effective option for starting a new hive, packages can be installed in Langstroth, top bar or hybrid hives.

CONS

It takes more than three weeks from the time you install the package until the baby bees emerge from brood and the colony begins to grow. A package is like an artificial swarm: the bees have to build a new comb before the queen has a place to lay eggs and the bees have to have a place to store pollen and nectar. Hives started with packages of bees need more start-up time and attention. Starvation is a risk if the bees run out of food soon after installation.

In summary, choose bees that will work with your hive type and is economically feasible. Packages and nucs hived within 2 weeks of each other will not look any different from each other several months later. Each hive’s success is dictated by the weather, habitat, queen (all important!), and beekeeping techniques. Typically beekeepers must order their spring bees in the fall. Producers sell out and buying bees in the spring for the spring can be difficult. It is best to plan ahead!