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General notes

  • oil seed rape - Dark bees can work better than Italian bees
    • Summer - crystallises easily

Recommended reading

  • Guide to Bees & Honey by Ted Hooper
    • Read - excellent introduction to bees and their ways
    • Feeding etc not necessarily the recommended way today
  • Principles of Practical Beekeeping by Robert Couston
    • Especially useful for northern beekeepers
    • excellent somewhat dated/difficult to get - out of print
  • Practical Beekeeping by Clive De Bruyn
  • Beekeeping Study Notes by J.D. Yates and B.D. Yates
    • for exam

Beekeeping year


  • Check for normal laying pattern


  • Verroa strips impermeate wax don't use during heather honey collection


  • cover hive in chicken wire - protect from woodpeckers


  • Don't insulate during winter so bees will properly hibernate - Dark bees in the north
    • Otherwise use up all stores and starve
    • Insulation can work well for larger colonies

Essential equipment

  • Hat
  • Smoker
  • Hive tool or two
  • Queen cage
  • Bee escapes
  • Tool box
  • Bee brush
  • Queen excluder

Can expect 30lbs of honey per hive per year



Type number
Queen 1
Drone 250 to 2000
Female foragers 20,000
Female house bees 40,000
Lave 9000
Pupae 20,000
Eggs 6,000
Total 90,000 to 100,000


  • Queen - size bigger especially abdomen, thorax wider, may be reddish, wings longer
  • Drones - Blunt, rounded abdomen, thorax wider bigger rounded eyes, wing shape

Queen excluder relies on size of thorax - also stops drones

Bee Space

4.3mm Queen excluder spacing
4.5 - 5mm Single bee space
5mm Pollen stripping space
7mm Good gap for top bars
9mm Back to back bee space
>9mm Brace comb


  • Antennae - Taste, smell, hearing (Johnston's organ)
    • Antennae cleaner notch on front leg
  • Tongue - five parts forms a tube
  • Eyes - compound, movement sensitive - more UV biased - no red
  • Honey stomach- carrying nectar home
  • Bristles on back leg to collect pollen from body
  • Pollen basked on hind leg
  • Notch in knee to compact pollen
  • Breath through spiracles (holes in body) by pulsating
  • Nasonov gland - scent to call bees to gather - Lemon balm similar scent
    • Use crushed lemon balm leaves on hands to help calm bees when handling
    • Used to attract bees to hive - Esp in Africa
  • Stings gives off attack scent - scrape out with hive tool asap

Bee's ingeniously built - a flying swish army knife

Tanging - banging pots/pans to make a swarm land - Theory is sound of thunder causes bees to try and find somewhere to settle

Angry Bees

Reasons for angry/aggressive bees

  1. Handling at wrong time of day
  2. Lack of pheromones - weak queen
  3. Bad handling
  4. Bad smells (for bees) Alcohol/perfume etc
  5. Lack of crops - Bees are loyal to a particular crop if this goes out of season while many bees are still loyal to it...
  6. Noise
  7. They are an aggressive strain - genetic

Keeping tips

  • Let the bees get cold in winter - don't over insulate
    • Don't make it too cosy or they keep too many over winter, they eat all their stores, they stave
    • Only for northern bees
  • Feed them honey over winter not sugar
    • The honey is a better food and will keep them healthier
    • Use only local honey - foreign may cause illness
    • Over heated honey (shop) will kill antibiotic properties
  • Use chicken wire to stop wood peckers
  • Bang tray/pans to capture/stop a swarm
    • Sound of thunder makes the swam land
    • Bees can hear - recently discovered
  • Bees nasanov gland is a call to other bees
    • Lemon balm can be used to capture bees - similar scent

Making food - sugar syrup

Over heading sugar syrup (boiling) creates HMF (HydroxyMethylFurfuraldehyde) toxic to bees Also commercial product: Ambrosia syrup

Shopping List

  • Protective clothing
  • Smoker
  • Hive tool
  • Feeder
  • Marker pen
  • Queen cage
  • Bee escapes
  • Tool box
  • Bee brush/feather
  • Queen excluder