So, what's to know...
Q. Do you get stung?
A. Yes..sometimes not at all but almost at every apiary visit one of more of the hives has a bee that rather I was not there.
Q. Does the string hurt?
A. The answer is in two parts:
1.The actual string hurts every time.
2.I am lucky that I do not react to the bee venom. The trick is to get the stringer out quickly.
Q. How long does the Queen live?
A. Up to five years but more typically three to four years before she starts to loose her powers.
Q. Does a bee die when it stings?
A. Yes. They do not think like us. If the colony is threatened they will defend the colony without regard for themselves.
Q. What is a swarm?
A. Click HERE for a full explanation
Q. How much honey does one hive produce?
A. Bees produce honey and eat it as well throughout the year. Swarms take honey with them so all we can measure is the harvest we take. In a normal season the harvest is about 14/23Kg (30/50lbs). It can be much more and it can be much less. A lot depends on the weather and the strength of the colony.
Q. How many hives have you got?
A. Hives are the house bees live in. I have lots of those. As at July 2014 I have 66 colonies. Colonies are the bees themselves. Colonies live in hives or anywhere else that takes their fancy.
Q. How long does a bee live.
A. A queen -about four years. A drone – One season. A worker bees – several months if “born” in the autumn to four to six weeks in mid summer.
Q. What is the difference between a Honey bees and Bumblebee?
A. This is big question but in short. Honey bees and Bumblebees belong to the order “Hymenoptera” so they have many things in common. The main difference are there life cycle. Honey bee Queens live for several years. Bumblebees queens die each year leaving new queens to hibernate until the next spring. Honey bees are higher order social insects and live in large colonies. Bumblebee are lower order social insects and live in small colonies. They forage on different plants. Bumblebees have a biology that allows them to fly and forage in colder conditions. There are many more differences and similarities. Time for you to do a little internet research.
Q. How often do you look in the hives?
A. From April to July at least once a week but often more frequently if they are struggling. August to when it turns cold once a week but just to check they are gathering enough food for the winter. In the winter once a week just to check the hives have not been knocked or blown over. When the weather starts to warm up in the spring check the hives for stores and feed if necessary.
Q. Is it hard to keep bees?
A. You need training and some experience with other peoples bees before embarking on keeping your own bees.
Q. Is it expensive to keep bees.
A. The set up costs are high and you need continual investment. Bees also need to be fed.
Q. Can I keep them in the garden?
A. Yes BUT!!! You need a very calm set of bees. They need to be in a secluded area. You need very understanding neighbours. I have never really seen it done well in suburban gardens. Even the nicest bees have their off days and even on their best behaviour existence in a garden creates tensions in the neighbourhood. All bees and swarms become your responsibility once folks know you are a beekeeper.