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Moggs 

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I have been thinking that I could share some of my hard-won first year experiences, which might benefit (or strike a chord) with any new beeks. Experienced beekeepers will no doubt chuckle in fond remembrance of their own early adventures.

I should stress that these are drawn from my own personal experiences, your mileage may vary. As such, this is probably not the best thread to conduct debate on the relative merits and demerits! Although, I am quite prepared to stand corrected if I am about to inadvertently mislead anybody.

You will note that some items are more light-hearted than others. Some may be contentious. All of them have affected me in one way or another this year, hence the title. Hope you enjoy them (I have split them into four postings for better readability). Please feel free to add your own 'golden rules'.

Standard disclaimer applies...
 

Moggs 

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  1. Light your smoker before putting veil on
  2. Gloves – come in two grades - ‘too thick’ and ‘too thin’
  3. Bees like to climb uphill – bicycle clips are optional
  4. Don’t open the hive unless you have a good reason
  5. Don’t open the hive in bad weather
  6. Work your aggressive colonies last of all
  7. Bees don’t like beekeepers’ aftershave (even the more feminine varieties)!
  8. Don’t stand in front of hives
  9. Bees don’t like woolly jumpers
  10. Learn the key signs of disease
 

Moggs 

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11. Look for the key signs of disease
12. Try not to split the brood as a result of any manipulation
13. Think ‘bee space’
14. Work slowly and gently
15. Check for eggs if you can’t find a queen
16. A frame of eggs or young brood is likely to confirm queenright status
17. Check for queen cells regularly in swarming season
18. Queen cells on face of frame are more likely to be supercedure cells
19. ‘Swarm’ queen cells are more likely to be at edges of frames and numerous
20. Have spare equipment at the ready
 
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Moggs 

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21. Never cut out a queen cell without being (reasonably) certain why and what the consequences might be – the bees won’t mind if you have a cup of tea
22. Practice queen marking/ manipulations on drones
23. Queens do not remain productive forever
24. Hit varroa at every opportunity (may be contentious) but be aware of resistance to treatment
25. Be absolutely certain your hive is queenless before any remedial work
26. Never feed your bees honey that may be of suspect origin
27. Smoke a sting site/ squashed bee
28. Change some older frames of comb each year
29. Do not leave syrup or honey/ comb lying about
30. Extract honey that has minimum uncapped cells (or buy a refractometer)
 

Moggs 

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31. Respect honey bottling regulations (keep it clean and legal)
32. Protect a weak colony in summer
33. Unite a weak colony in autumn
34. Make timely preparations for winter
35. Keep records
36. Close the rear door of the estate car before working the apiary (especially if combs are inside)
37. Thankfully, bees seem to prefer to travel against the back window of a car in motion
38. Keep it clean (a big up for washing soda)
39. Remove veil from suit before washing
40. Have fun!
 

wilderness 

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Excellent list - many thanks.

Can I suggest the following for no 26


26. Never feed your bees honey that may be of suspect origin
26. Never feed your bees honey unless it is your own and you are certain it is disease free.
 

freethorpe bees 

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Two - one fiesty, one lovely. ;0)
36 and 37 conjure up some amusing images!!!
 

oliver90owner 

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Moggs,

A productive first year. You may or may not have got a honey crop, but you have learned a lot. Lots more next year!

#21 does not need to be only for queen cells. Any and all significant changes/manpulations need carefull consideration before going ahead.

Regards, RAB
 

Cazza 

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Hi Moggs
All good stuff.
You forgot " Do not panic, think before you act."

Cazza
 

Monsieur Abeille 

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great list - couple more appendages:

  • Don't forget to replace that frame you took out of the brood box before reassembling the hive
  • Bees do what they want. They make cats seem like team players. However nicely you ask, bees are not good listeners to reason.
 

Saradan 

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37. Thankfully, bees seem to prefer to travel against the back window of a car in motion
I'd add a caveat to this one -

'Unless it's dark, in which case they may explore further afield, i.e. down an open-necked shirt whilst driving home from the out apiary':cuss:
 

Liam C Ryan 

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Hi Moggs, Wow!! you got a lot of work and experience into your first year . If all us new beeks could tick all your boxes we would be well on our way to successful bee-keeping. I did a beginners course over last winter and for my first colony last May took a swarm of a chimney two storeys up.. With the help of a local beek who looked after them for 14 days I now have them living with me here in Holycross ,Co Tipp. My second hive was one I had ordered last year from a well known beek and my third colony is a swarm I captured on a neighbours beech tree and which I hived in a nuc and keep in a grove about 4 miles away. All the colonys are fed and wrapped up for the winter. The two full hives seemed to have done very well but the nuc might be a little week to make it trough the winter. Am I unusual in the since I have never seen a Queen in any of my colony's or is this the norm for new beeks.
Well done again
Liam Ryan.
 

Skyhook 

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. Am I unusual in the since I have never seen a Queen in any of my colony's or is this the norm for new beeks.
Well done again
Liam Ryan.
Not unusual I think. I usually see mine but a) she is marked, and b) she isn't bothered about being seen. I understand some of them work really hard at hiding, and will drop off the frame, run round the hive etc. Maybe worth getting an experienced beek to help you find them and mark them next season if you want to see more of them.
 

Moggs 

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Thanks one and all. The postings are of course not all of my own work! I would have indeed been floundering on many an occasion, without the wise snippets on these pages.
 

Black Comb 

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Good list Moggs.
Have to agree with 36, 37 & 40
 

Beekeeping 

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May I add another
Make sure the zip on the front of the bee suit is closed beyond were the veil fastens across it !!!

Beekeeping
 

TBRNoTB 

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May I add another
Make sure the zip on the front of the bee suit is closed beyond were the veil fastens across it !!!

Beekeeping
One more! Check veil before you put it on. Had two ladies crawling on the inside of mine once,:redface: stitching had come adrift. Now hold world record in veil removal!!!
Regards
TBRNoTB
 

Geoff 

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Wear elastic bands on cuffs if dealing with colonies that are even slightly feisty.
- I had one colony that could get inside a bee suit in 5 seconds. How come they know exactly where to go? and dont tell me they follow the scent cause sometimes the suit had just been washed. Female intuition I suppose!
After finishing at the out apiary take off bee suit before driving off in car.
- I always ended up with a few hitch hikers who must have been sitting on my back. I then had to stop the car and shoo them out.
 
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