I'm so happy to be able to write this post. Cause that means my bees have survived with me for over a year now. And we had a lot to learn. Well, not the bees, just me. So here we go, the top ten mistakes I made during my first year of beekeeping.1. Take off your rings if you get stung on a finger
You may remember that we had our terrace redone last Summer. A bit of bad timing as I had to move the bees. Thus, I had to remember quite a few things to bring with me for my hive inspections and sure enough, I forgot my gloves one day. And of course it was this day that my bees were not happy to see me when I opened the hive. They came out in full force. I closed them back up right away but in the midst of it all, two ladies decided to punish me by stinging my fingers. My first thought: that's not so bad after all. So I made the critical mistake of not removing my rings. Almost 12 hours later, the swelling started. And it happened so fast I had no chance to get my rings off. Ouch!2. Move the car
Come March/April as soon as the temperatures begin to rise, those bees are going to want to get out of the hive and have a potty break, otherwise known in bee language as a cleansing flight. Bees are very tidy and don't like to poop in their house. Their flight route goes right over the driveway where the car is parked. I came out one morning and found my car covered in yellow bee poop. Yuck!3. Separate the first box from the second box
Propolis is some pretty amazing bee glue. I rarely checked the bottom brood box during my first year of beekeeping. I didn't want to disturb the bees more than necessary during inspections. But after a year, those ladies sure did glue the two boxes together. It took quite some force and tools on my part to get them apart in the spring time.4. Get a feel for the weight of the hive
I was so worried my bees didn't have enough food this winter. But I also didn't want to open them up and expose them to the cold (although cold bees are better than starved bees). For this reason, it's a good idea to tilt your hive and get a feeling for the weight every once in a while. That way, come winter a quick tilt of the hive gives you a feeling of their food stocks.5. Prepare the sugar water in BIG containers
I thought I was being smart by purchasing two 5 liter containers for my sugar water as that is the exact amount I needed to feed my bees. Well, sugar water is a very sticky matter. I know, I know. Obvious. I mixed my sugar water, barely having enough room to stir the solution without splashing it all over the counter. But the worst was yet to come. Like I say, my bees were not on my terrace last August so I had to drive everything to them. I packed my 5 liter containers into a cardboard box and put them in the trunk of my car. Off I went with 10 liters of sugar water down a very bumpy road. Let's just say this was NOT a good idea. I now own 10 liter buckets for my sugar water.6. Put dead bees in an outside trash can
I thought they were dead, they really looked dead, laying on their backs in the front of my hive. So being a tidy beekeeper, I swept them up into the dust pan and put them into my kitchen trash can. Well, all of that trash can warmth must have caused a miracle cause next thing I knew, I went to throw something away and out came a bunch of rejuvenated bees looking for their hive.7. Sugar needs to be wet to harden
Mid-Winter I was really worried that my bees didn't have enough food. I wanted to offer them a so-called sugar cake just in case. I thought the idea of a sugar cake sounded much easier than the messiness of mixing boiling water and sugar to make sugar candy. But instead I wasted 2 kg of sugar that never hardened with the 1/4 liter of water added to it.
8. It's much easier to work behind the hives
For space reasons, I placed my hives directly against the wall of the house. This allowed me to only work from the side of the hive. Not ideal as I found myself standing right next to the hive entrance and disturbing the bees. Also, those little ladies pooped all over the side of the house. I've since moved them forward a bit so I have room to work behind them. They also no longer need to fly so close to the wall of the house, hopefully keeping it poop free.
I have a beautiful bed of flowers directly in front of my two beehives. Good for the bees. Good for the flowers. But sometimes, the flowers need a bit of loving care. And sometimes, I'm too lazy to put on a bee suit just to do some weeding. But, I won't make that mistake again. I have long curly hair, not easy to escape from if you get trapped. Poor bee. Poor me.10. Only store clean frames for the winter
Or the wax moth will come. I thought I was clever and wrapped my frames in layers of plastic wrap. Nope. Wax moth infestation! So this year, I will have to freeze any frames that had contained brood. The honey frames over-wintered fine. No protein in honey so the moth isn't interested in that.
So if you also have bees, it's your turn. What mistakes have you made?