Skip to Content

Top Best Practices – Beekeeping 101

November 1, 2017 • leesrosen

Lee S. Rosen –  Bee Keeping 101

Apiculture (beekeeping) is the practice of honeybee management in hives for pollination, production of honey and other products such as wax, royal jelly, propolis and pollen. In addition, an important aspect of beekeeping is the production of bees, queens, package bees, etc. Good beekeeping practices involve proper management of the apiary that can prevent bee diseases and, at the same time, allow to obtain high quality products respecting the consumer’s health.

Bee Farmers

Good beekeeping practices that normally should be adopted in the apiary involve:

  • inspection the surroundings to place the apiaries in appropriate areas: non-humid, not exposed to cold winds, not subject to pollution sources such as intensive agriculture and industrialization (Fig.1); selection of suppliers, of bees and beekeeping equipment and verification of the health status of swarms, colonies and queen bees;
  • observation of quarantine measures for all new introductions that have to be made in the apiary;
  • identification of each hive by applying a unmistakable numerical code for purposes of hive individuation and subsequent documentation (Fig.2);
  • controls on the productivity and resistance to illness;
  • frequent renewal of honeycombs (every 2 years) and regular replacement of queens (every 1-2 years), selection of queens who show resistance to diseases, hygienic behaviour, docility, low tendency to swarm and high productivity;
  • maintenance of colonies at similar strength, ensuring that hive capacity is sufficient to discourage swarming; preventing acts of looting (not having in apiary highly diseased, weakened colonies  that are more subject to be sacked; perform maintenance of hives);
  • adoption of appropriate techniques to ensure the welfare of colonies, especially those younger / weaker (feeding colonies having no food stocks or in case of unfavourable weather conditions as in autumn, winter and excessively cold or rainy spring; ensuring good wintering; providing adequate water supplies particularly in hot periods, etc.);
  • provision of candy or glucose/fructose syrup avoiding the use of honey to feed the bees. verification of origin and wholesomeness of supplies provided to the bees;
  • appropriate use of the bee smoker (respecting the bees welfare and avoiding using toxic material that can contaminate the honey);
  • elimination of the use of toxic substances or paints for hives (e.g. disinfectants, chemical treatments for wood, etc.);
  • elimination of the transfer of honeycombs from one colony to another if the health status of the colonies is unknown. Separation of the sick from the healthy hives; destroying, if necessary, infected colonies;
  • exclusive application of drugs registered for use in bees respecting instructions and guidelines and recording drug use in the logbook. Improper and untimely use of chemicals during honey production may lead to its contamination;
  • periodic mowing of grass in front of the hives;
  • maintenance of the apiary and the beekeeping equipment in good order and clean; ensuring the required maintenance and, when necessary, renewing the materials;
  • referral to expert assistance in case of anomalies, whenever necessary.
Categories: General