Beekeeping Videos!

Check out our new channel on YouTube – we have been recording & uploading videos (most weeks) that teach bite size beekeeping lessons!

Most of what we are teaching, we teach in our one-day class that we offer throughout the spring. These videos will help our students brush up on tasks as they go through their own beekeeping journey! So check out our videos and let us know what you think!!

On Youtube we are : Milk and Honey Meadows

Here are a few of our videos…

How to plan your Apiary {Bee Yard}

This is the time of the year to start forming a plan if you are going to get into Beekeeping! So many questions though, like what supplies you need? How do you set up your Apiary? Where should you buy your bees from?

Not a great set up, you can see we only used 1 pallet (not tall enough) and the pallets are on the ground.

Good news, we are planning to help answer each of these questions with our weekly videos! We are launching a YouTube channel and we will be answering everything from how to set up your bee yard, things to take into consideration, why different beekeepers do certain things in their yards! From there we will talk about what supplies you will need to get started. We will even teach you how to light your smoker and many more things! So stay tuned!!

Another NOT GOOD example, the pallet is on the ground, we suggest something between the ground and pallet and to go higher if you can.

Meanwhile today I thought we could take a little about things to consider when setting up your bee yard BEFORE your bees arrive!

This information is specific to East Texas, much of it is the same for similar areas, but up North where winter is a bigger issue, they may choose a different things.

We think you should attempt to get your bees in full sun. While this may sound hot for them, it is, but more importantly it is hot for the pests. Hive Beetles are a pest of the honeybees and they do not like full sun, in. fact they prefer some shade. So just know that if you do not have a full sun option you will be battling hive beetles more that some others.

The conveyor belt keeps the grass from being close to the hive, easier to weed eat, and keeps the ants away.

Which direction should they face? Honestly? It does not matter as much as we might think it does. How do we know this? Commercial beekeepers face their bees every different direction (because they have so many in such a small area) and they do not see any difference based on the direction they face. We keep our bees on pallets – we might have 4 hives on 1 pallet. We generally have them facing in two directions, so two hives are side by side and face one way, then on the other side are two more side by side facing that way. Most of our hives face east and west, but it could be north and south.

One caveat, northern winds tend to be a bit chillier, so having them face east and west might be easier on the bees than north and south.

You see here extra heigh helps with management, plus the conveyor belt keeps the area clearer.

We DO NOT recommend what you see in so many pictures of a long line of 6-12 hives. Why not? Well, there is a tendency called bee drift. This is where a bee is coming back from harvesting, full of nectar or pollen and instead of hitting her hive (4th from the left or right) she hits the 5th. If you line all your hives up, same color, side by side, you will invariable find that the hives on both ends will be your fuller hives. It is easier for the bees to know their homes if there is a difference between them. So maybe a design on the front of the hive, different from the others. Or different colors in your row, so they know the yellow one and not the blue one. But if you space them out, and have them varying colors and facing different directions you will have less bee drift.

Lastly, figure out how to get them off the ground. We are fortunate that we can get rubber conveyor belt. So we put this under our hives for weed barrier and it also keeps ants away from the hives. Another thing this kind of barrier will do is break the cycle of the hive beetle. It pupates in the ground, and if when its pupa comes out of the hive and cannot reach the soil, they cycle will be broken. Other options are horse stall mats, old carpet or other solid things you can find. We do not recommend metal, as it will be very hot to stand on. We also use pallets to elevate our hives off the ground. It makes managing them easier on backs and helps again with ants. Getting the pallets off the ground is key, or the ants/termites will mound around the pallet and have easier access to the hive (warm with food) and the wood. So we always have something between the ground and the pallet.

Hope these tips help you figure out where you want to put your hives when we start to set up your Apiary!

If you have comments of questions, please let us know below!!

Happy Beekeeping!!

What to do with your bees now?

It seems fall has finally arrived in East Texas! And based on our current temps and the future weather, we might want to get serious about getting our bees ready for winter!

There are a number of approaches to how to best to prepare the bees for colder weather and more days of staying in their hives. The first, most important thing is to make sure they have plenty of food.

You may have left honey for them, or you may have expected them to bring in a healthy fall harvest, either way, it is time to access this and make sure they have plenty.

We tend to take our honey in August, leaving the September and October harvest for them. However we make sure that if they did not get a big harvest, we start feeding so they can collect it and store it in the cells on the frames. Having sugar water in a feeder does not help the bees on a very cold day, they need to actually move it into cells on the frames so they can access it.

We do not feed protein to our bees in the fall and winter, but we are generally prepared to offer it in January about the time the trees start offering their pollen.

We also make sure to remove any extra boxes from the hive, we do not want to give the bees too much space to protect, nor do we want them to have empty boxes, lowering their temperature inside the hive.

In East Texas we do not need to worry about wrapping, covering or anything else to our hives that many beekeepers do in the North. We just need to make sure they have plenty of food.

As we go through our later fall and winter weeks, if you notice a week that is predicting warm days (60’s or up) you might think about going in to your hives on those days to check their stores (food). If they are going through their honey or sugar water faster than you expected you can feed them. You do not want to feed when it is freezing, you really should not be in the hives in those temps either.

However, it is better to chill the bees than to let them starve to death. So if you MUST go in, do it quickly and then get out. The more you prepare ahead of time, the better off you and your bees will be.

{I did not mention treating for mites, because by now, you should have already treated, if you have not you need to do a mite count and then treat if necessary. Most Texas beekeepers are treating after taking their last honey pull. }

If you are interested in taking a Beginner Beekeeping Class, sign-ups are now open. Class will be $125 for the one day, that includes instruction time, a beginner workbook, in hive inspection time, and coffee and donuts.

Sign up here :

Prepping for New Bees (5 Things)

Are you expecting bees?  Want to make sure you have everything ready to go?

Here are the top 5 things to make sure you have ready before you pick up your bees!

ONE : Location.  We suggest a full sun location.  Why?  Because, most of all, this will help with hive beetle numbers.  Those pesky little bugs do not like when the hive is in full sun and that sun will keep your numbers lower.  The hive beetle can make a mess of a hive, so we try to keep their numbers as low as possible.

TWO : Height.  We suggest you get them up a little, off the ground.  This will help with keeping ant infestations lower as well.  Plus it is easier on your back when you are not always bending over to check your boxes.  We like railroad ties – but those can be hard to source.  Getting them up about 24inches off the ground is a good goal though, and you can use concrete blocks to do this.  You can also build a frame for each hive to sit on, check out Pinterest for ideas.

THREE : Equipement.  We think a suit, smoker and hive tool are imperative.  We never suggest anyone go into a hive (even if you think they are super calm) without a suit.  At this point in our beekeeping journey we love the ventilated suits from Mann Lake the most.  These are the most comfortable to wear when working your bees in the hot summer heat. 

A hive tool is your fingers when going into the hive, since you should have gloves on.  The hive tool can get in and loosen the things the bees have glued down with their propolis.  And finally, we also feel smoke is a must.  Smoke helps mask the pheromones and helps to keep the bees calmer as well.

FOUR : Bees.  If you have not ordered your bees, you might have a hard time finding them.  We always tell new beekeepers to get their bees from someone locally.  You can order packages of bees on line, that you open a box and dump into your hives, but we know far too many people that watched that same package of bees fly off after being dumped into the hive.  We recommend getting a hive from someone local, that the bees are established in, and have a vested interest in staying in.  You can find colonies on line too, but we feel that customer service will always be. Better when you buy local.  You can talk to the person who sold you the hives if there is a problem.  Chances are if you order online from a bigger company, they will not have the best customer service once your order is delivered.

FIVE : Lastly, have fun.  It can be a little nerve-racking getting new hives and putting them out and being on your own.  But know that there are people around you willing to help.  Contact a local beekeeper and see if you can go out and help them whole working their bees.  You can see how they do things and recall what you learned when you took a class (we hope).  Also get involved with a club locally.  If you are in the Henderson County area there are several clubs to choose from : Henderson County Beekeepers Association, Canton Area Beekeepers. East Texas Beekeepers (Whitehouse) and even a club in Longview.  Getting involved with a club will offer you lots of emotional support and you will keep learning about new management practices. 

I hope you are excited about getting your bees, we are super excited to deliver ours to their new owners!  Beekeeping is a lot of fun, but it does take commitment and time!