Some beekeepers think the hard part is over once they have set up their hives. But that is only the beginning. In truth, a beekeeper must return to their hives regularly to maintain them throughout the year. Every day brings its own set of challenges. From replacing broken pieces to fighting away insects, from installing entrance blocks to providing ventilation, a beekeeper can certainly keep him or herself busy with these tips on how to maintain your backyard beehives.
Repair or Replace Damaged Parts
Your primary objective as a beekeeper is to keep the hive as safe and secure as possible. Much like any object left outside, beehives will wear down over time, making the bees less capable of producing honey.
You should visit your hives regularly and examine them for damaged parts of the structure. Anything damaged needs repair or replacement immediately. A fully secure hive is more prepared to battle against destructive agents, such as animals and weather. Furthermore, a completely repaired hive is more visually attractive.
Install Entrance Blocks
You will need a way to prevent heat from seeping out of the beehives come winter. One of the most important ways to maintain your beehives is to install entrance blocks, which narrow the hives’ openings. Aside from keeping warm air in, they also stop invading insects from flying into the hives.
You can install blocks by putting two pieces of wood at the entrances. Space them narrowly so that it limits the entry space. You can also make holes in a perforated material, allowing the bees to move in and out of their home.
Install Supers and Excluders
Excluders stop the queen from laying eggs on her honeycombs, while supers give more space for bees to store honey. Beekeepers install supers when brood combs or honeycombs fill up, a common summer occurrence.
You want to install excluders as soon as you possibly can before the queen lays her eggs in the honeycombs. Excluders have small holes to allow young worker bees to pass through, while the larger queen bee cannot. When you install the excluders, find the queen bee, and put the excluder in the right spot to keep her away from the combs.
To increase space, you should install supers on the top section of the compartment. You can remove them after you harvest honey or after the winter.
Another tip on how to maintain your backyard beehives is that you must replace beeswax whenever it detaches. Beeswax is important to a beehive because bees need beeswax to make their combs. They also use the substance to line the structure’s interior. But it is delicate. You can lose beeswax when you harvest or maintain the hive.
If any of it accidentally detaches from the surface, you must place it back as soon as possible, lest you compromise the hive’s structure. Beekeepers can find excess wax from another hive, or they can buy it from a shop.
Install Shade and a Rain Cover
Temperamental weather can do a great deal to damage your apiaries. If rainwater drips into your wooden hives, the structures may become warped, and your insects may die. Furthermore, harsh rays from the sun may frustrate the bees, provoking them to abscond.
A rain cover is an ideal way to protect your hives from rainwater. A rain cover can also provide shade to your hive, but you may want to make a shade structure as well. Hive shelters may affect ventilation, so only use them on a sunny day or when you know that it will rain.
With the right ventilation, you can free your hives from the harmful effects of condensation, high temperatures, and cold. Ice or water may form in a poorly ventilated hive, leading to structural damage.
If you observe any indications of weak ventilation, you should add ventilation holes to optimize the air circulation. During the coldest weather, beekeepers cover their hives with black tar paper to prevent heat loss.
Snow is a terrible enemy for bees. Once you see snow crystallize in your hives, you must remove them immediately to stop the damage. You should also get rid of any dead bees in the hive, as they may release corrosive substances.
Get a Windbreak
With a strong enough wind, Mother Nature can overturn, drag, or crush your beehives. To avoid that fate, intelligent beekeepers know to purchase a windbreak in the form of a fence made from strong materials and posts. Other beekeepers use shrubs and trees as windbreaks, though this may require that you move the hive to the shielded plants.
Termites and woodlice love nothing more than to feed on wood, even if it contains bees underneath. If these critters breed around your hives, they may destroy them entirely. They are most frequently a destructive force during dry seasons.
You should employ soil treatment methods to control these annoying organisms. Baits and liquid insecticides can do a lot to keep them at bay. It may also help to remove leaves and other debris from plants.
Protect Against Raccoons, Skunks, Bears, and Mice
Of course, termites and woodlice are not the only creatures that have their eyes on your beehives. Skunks, bears, mice, and raccoons are also a massive threat to apiaries. Bears can easily destroy hives and eat the honeycombs. Raccoons may not be as strong as bears, but they can enter the interior from the top. Skunks and mice, meanwhile, can make holes in wood, making the hives unsuitable for bees.
You can fight against skunks by placing your hive on a higher stand. As for mice, you should add a mouse guard to the hive’s entrance.
Your job as a beekeeper does not end when you install your hives. Beekeepers must pay attention to the constant maintenance needs of their bees. So long as you are not afraid of a little hard work, you can manage your hives. You can purchase bee nucs for sale online from The B Farm if you’re ready to start.