It’s summer! The perfect time to build a hive for honey bees. Beekeeping is an interesting and rewarding hobby, and summer is the best time to start it. If you are beekeeping novice you may be wondering how to build a hive for honey bees.
Luckily since there has been a recent rise in interest in raising bees, there is a lot of information out there. I’ve also decided to compile a list of tips for anyone interested in honey bees. Hopefully these tips will help you get started with your very own honey bee hive.
- Use quality materials and give yourself lots of time. When building a hive for honey bees, assemble and paint your hive several weeks before you expect your bees to arrive. Most beekeepers buy unassembled hives and assemble and paint them themselves. Use untreated wood, as treated wood can contain chemicals that are harmful to bees. Paint your beehive with latex paint to preserve the wood. Paint only the outside of your hive and be sure that the paint has fully dried, as wet paint smell is a deterrent to bees. In addition, you should use both wood glue and box nails to hold your hive together. Wood glue will keep water out of the joints and will ensure that the hive will last longer.
- Measure, Measure, Measure! That old saying- measure twice, cut once, is especially true for building a hive for honey bees. That’s because bees need their hive built a certain way, and with a certain amount of space in order to thrive. So save yourself a lot of headache by measuring and being precise when cutting wood.
- Use beeswax foundation. Beeswax foundation fits inside the frames of the beehive. It gives the bees a guide for their comb construction. Without this foundation, the bees could build comb outside of the frame, which would make hive inspections very difficult. So basically, the foundation helps bees build comb exactly where you want it. Beeswax foundation is also stronger and can produce larger cells. Larger cells means more honey storage. Beeswax foundation lasts for quite some time. They usually need to be replaced every 5 years.
- Feed your bees. Some beekeepers believe that you should not feed your bees – that they should be left to feed themselves and the strongest will survive. However, there are many situations in which it is beneficial to feed your bees. One of which is if you are starting a new honey bee hive. Since the bees do not have any comb yet they are not able to store their own food. But that’s okay because it is easy to feed honey bees sugar syrup to supplement them for the time being. Some beginning beehive kits will come with a bee feeder, or one can be purchased separately. Sugar syrup is made by combining equal parts sugar and filtered water in a pot. Heat until all sugar has dissolved. Let cool before feeding bees.
- Use a bee smoker. Bee smokers work by creating smoke to calm the bees when you are inspecting their hive. The smoke masks alarm pheromones in bees, making them easier to manage. Bees use pheromones to communicate with each other. They emit an alarm pheromone when they are startled or injured. This causes other bees to become more aggressive. That being said, a bee smoker is an important piece of equipment when building and maintaining a honey bee hive! Use smoke sparingly – just 2 – 3 puffs per box. And don’t forget that the smoke can be hot. Keep the smoker at least 6 inches away from the bees so you don’t hurt them.
I’m sure you will find great joy in building your hive for honey bees. Not only is it a fun hobby that rewards you with delicious honey, you also are helping the ecosystem by helping bees survive and thrive.