Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bee Activity

I noticed a lot of activity around one of my beehives today - they were swarming all around the hive and crawling over the brood chamber. I posted some footage on youtube which you can see below:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

First week nucleus colony inspection

I inspected both my beehives today and added an extra frame of foundation to each hive. The I found a lot of brood on the frames which indicated that the queen was laying well and there was also some honey stored. I removed two feeder frames which were now empty then closed up the beehives. I plan to give them some more sugar-water this Friday or maybe on the weekend. Below is the footage I filmed of my inspection:

Feeder frames

I inspected both my beehives today after leaving them alone for a week. All of the sugar water had been completely consumed by the bees and they had started to build a bit of wax in some areas on the outside of the frame. I only found a couple of dead bees at the bottom which most probably drowned so that meant that the pieces of wire I had inside the frames to help them out were more or less doing their job.

I plan to add some more sugar water on Friday to the beehives in order to help them grow in numbers.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Website available

I now have my website up and ready at

A lot of information from this blog is now up there, and I will be adding heaps more as it is a continual work in progress. The website is to serve as a resource for anyone wanting to learn more about beekeeping, while this blog will act as a journal of my beekeeping experience.

I'm going to inspect my nucleus colonies this Sunday afternoon so I hope to have a new post and some video footage on youtube ready by that night.

When should I add a super to my beehive?

When the bees start to hang out the front of the beehive in large numbers and there are a lot of bees under the lid when you inspect the hive, it is time to add a super. Remember to place a queen excluder between the new super and the brood chamber below. This is done in order to prevent the queen laying eggs in the super, which is where you want the bees to store the honey.

If you do not add a super then you run the risk of the bees becoming so overcrowded that they will swarm. This phenomenon involves the queen leaving with half of the bees in the hive. The remaining bees will try to build emergency queen bee cells in order to rear a new queen for the colony. Therefore, while swarming does not necessarily mean your hive will cease to function, it however it does mean that you will not get as much honey from the beehive that year.

How much honey can one beehive make?

If the beekeeper knows what he is doing, then s/he can average 90-150kg of honey in a year per beehive. There have even been cases of beekeeper's recording averages of up to 225kg of honey in a good year.

How often should I check my beehive?

If you can, try to inspect your beehives every one or two weeks. Do not try to bother the bees too often, since smoke from the smoker disorganises bees and it can take them several hours to get back to their normal work patten.

What happens if I put too many frames of foundation in my beehive?

If you put too much foundation in the beehive for the bees to use then they will chew up the wax, resulting in you having to embed more foundation into the frame later on.

How do I stop cane toads eating my bees?

It is usually a good idea to put your beehives on a stand or some blocks instead of just resting it on the ground. This way cane toads cannot sit outside the front of the beehive and consume your bees as they come and go.

Does it matter what type of sugar I feed my bees with?

YES!!! Only feed your bees white or castor sugar. Brown sugar will give the bees dysentery which will weaken or even possibly kill your bees.

Beehive activity

I saw an interesting thing today whilst observing the entrance to a beehive. One of the bees was dragging another bee out of the hive. The bee was struggling against the other one and trying to get back in but for some reason neither of the bees were using their stings against the other. After several minutes the bee succeeded in pushing the other one off the bottom board and onto the ground where I lost sight of it. I wonder whether this bee was from a different hive and was being expelled or it was sick/old and was being disposed of.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I have planted some sunflowers in pots and sprinkled some seeds in the area around my beehives. Even though the sunflower only has an 18.5% amount of crude protein for the bees, it will be convenient for the bees to have so many flowers so close to the hive.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Website

I am currently building a website at

I will continue to use this blog for updates on my beekeeping activities, but I will place most of the information I have learned about beekeeping on this website

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Youtube account

I now have a youtube account called bees4beginners. I plan to set up the video camera on the tripod when I inspect the beehives and upload the content to this account. I'll also embed each video here on my blog.

The first video I filmed today of the beehives is embedded below. It's a little bit shaky as I'm walking around but in the future the tripod should fix this problem.

The beehives today

While I wasn't intending to open the beehives up today, I decided to add one more frame of foundation to each hive in order to give the queen some extra room for her to lay her eggs.

I had a look at the frame of foundation that was added only two days ago when I originally had the nucleus colony put in my brood chamber. Already the bees have started building comb on the wax. It must be a bit over two centimetres thick now.

One of the frames of foundation I added on Saturday

Feeding and inspecting the beehives

This afternoon I decided to open up the beehives in order to check how the bees were going and to give them some protein patties and sugar-water. Note the pieces of wood blocking half the entrances to both hives – this makes it easier for the bees to defend the smaller space. I think I will block off more of the entrance tomorrow.

Should I get Australian native bees?

In terms of honey production, the Australian native bee does not even come close to the European honeybee. While you can get anywhere up to 225kg from a single hive of European bees, most native hives only produce a kilogram of honey a year. The only reason so far I have heard for keeping native bees is as pollinators for the native flora.

My beehive situation

I currently have two beehives with the four frames of bees in each from the nucleus colony I bought yesterday. There is an additional frame in each of plain foundation which I supplied. This frame is located in the middle of the others and from what I could see when I briefly opened the hive today to feed the bees, they were already working to build comb on it.

To to sum up, I have five frames in each hive as well as a sugar-water feeder frame and a protein patty. I'll leave the bees alone for the next 5-7 days, and then I'll open it up and probably place another two frames of foundation in the middle of each beehive.

What flowers are good for bees?

In order to achieve a satisfactory level of honey production, the pollen of the flowers that the bees visit need to have a crude protein level of around 25%. Below are some of the common pollen types in Queensland and New South Wales and their crude protein content:

Wattle: 25%-28%

Daisy family: 14.5-24.5%

Bottlebrush: 30%

Spear thistle: 31.8%

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Got two nucleus colonies today

Today I bought two nucleus colonies from a queen bee breeder. He put four frames of bees in both of my hives along with one frame of foundation in the middle. We found the queen bee and gave her a green mark on her back. After he had put the frames in the beehive the beekeeper then banged the nucleus box on the ground and then tipped the rest of the bees into my hive. Below is one of the beehives we put the frames in today.

What race of bees should I get?

The European honeybees are subspecies of varieties of Apis mellifera L.

The European, German, Dutch, black, brown, or dark bee - Apis mellifera var. mellifera L.: This race originated in central europe north of the Alps. It is not a very popular bee type since it tends to resent interference, is particularly susceptible to wax-moth infestation and is generally less prolific than other races.

Caucasian bee - Apis mellifera var. caucasica Gorbatschev: Originally from the southern part of the USSR, this bee is good natured and has a very long tongue.  It is very good in colder climates as it is tolerant of of severe winters. The bee is also prolific and industrious. The main disadvantage of this race is the large amount of propolis this bee creates in the hive, which hinders the easy removal of frames.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Getting a nucleus colony

Tomorrow I am buying two nucleus colonies of bees. I have prepared two beehives and two frames embedded with foundation for each one.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Getting Started

When I decided that I wanted to take up beekeeping as a hobby, one of the great difficulties I found was trying to find a comprehensive source that could answer all of my questions. I had to read numerous books and consult dozens of websites to get a basic understanding of beekeeping. Still, no matter how much research I did, there were always some niggling questions I had that were never addressed no matter how hard I looked. Questions like: “Do I paint the inside of the hive?” Some sources said yes and some said no and I was constantly left baffled by the information I found which was so often contradicted by another source.

By the time I had prepared sufficiently last year to buy my bees the season was over and I had to wait for spring so that I could purchase a nucleus colony. I used this time to attend a beekeeping course at the University of Queensland Gatton campus and read up on bees and much as I could. Now that I am about to get two nucleus colonies this Saturday I thought that I could create a blog as a journal so that other aspiring beekeepers can get a bit of an idea of what it is like starting off as a beekeeper before they get their hives.

I will try to update this blog frequently and include video and pictures in addition to my written updates. My blogging pattern will begin with the very basics of assembling equipment and preparing for the arrival of my bees. It will progress as I learn more about beekeeping and my hives grow.

Since I would like to attract readers globally I will discuss my activities in terms of the seasons and not the months as this can get confusing (as I have found in books) for people on the opposite side of the equator. I will also be able to reply to comments and questions from readers who want to learn a bit more and I am also happy to accept any tips that other beekeepers may have and I will update my blog with any good ideas that are submitted.