It’s true that beekeeping comes with its fair share of challenges, as you may have already guessed. In fact, as we’ve gained more experience, we’ve uncovered a significant number of them. We conducted a survey with other beekeepers, and it turns out that almost every beginner beekeeper encounters some common issues or obstacles in their beekeeping journey. This article will delve into these problems and provide potential solutions.

Uncertainty about where to obtain information

As with any endeavour, beekeeping has a learning curve. However, based on our experience, it’s essential to have a certain level of expertise before beginning. Having a foundational understanding can save you time and money, as well as help your bees thrive.

Beekeeping is a continuous learning process, as no matter how much experience you have, there will always be obstacles to overcome. Whether it’s a disease, nectar shortage, bad weather, or market challenges, there’s always something that can humble us.

If you’re new to beekeeping, we have a few suggestions for you. First, invest in a good beekeeping book (even consider mine **out soon on Amazon**– forgive the shameless promotion), take an online or in-person course, and join your local beekeepers’ association. Then, you’ll need to learn as you go. Keep expanding your knowledge by reading about bees, observing them, and staying curious.

Getting started with your first bee colony

Novice or aspiring beekeepers often face difficulties when it comes to obtaining bees. Where and how should they get them? There are several methods available:

  • Trapping wild swarms
  • Purchasing nucs from local beekeepers
  • Buying packaged and shipped bees

If you’re new to beekeeping, we suggest avoiding trapping a swarm on your own. It can be an intimidating experience for a beginner beekeeper, unless you have an experienced beekeeper to guide you or you’re confident with bees.

We believe that buying a nuc from a fellow beekeeper is the best way for a beginner to acquire bees. Not only will you get bees, but you’ll also have the opportunity to connect with a local experienced beekeeper who can assist you in times of need. (mentoring)

The endless debate regarding beehive positioning

Beekeepers often encounter the challenge of choosing the right location for their hive. Many beginners opt to start in their own backyard, balcony, even garage, which is a straightforward approach if you live outside of the city. However, if you reside near neighbours or a busy road, there can be drawbacks.

Some sources may suggest that beehives can be placed almost anywhere since bees can travel long distances to gather nectar. However, it’s important to choose a location with a reliable source of flowers, as well as protection from predators and vandals. The site should also have easy access to a water source with proper drainage and receive ample sunlight. That is one train of thought anyway, I have removed colonies from some very strange places which can only be described as none of the above.

Handling queen bees – what to look out for

Without a queen, a hive cannot survive. Initially, a queenless colony may exhibit typical behavior, with plenty of honey and regular activity at the hive entrance as the workers focus on foraging in the absence of larvae to care for. However, as time passes, the population will decline, and if left without a queen for an extended period, the colony will ultimately perish.

One way to detect a queenless hive is by observing the presence of brood during the warm season. If there is no brood, it may indicate the absence of a queen. Additionally, a declining population, lack of productivity, or abnormal behaviour in the colony could be indicators that the queen needs to be replaced. A healthy queen can lay up to 2000 eggs per day, and if an aging queen is no longer able to produce as many eggs, it’s essential to replace her to ensure the colony’s success.

There is a positive development that there are multiple methods available for replacing a queen. Furthermore, bees perform essential tasks for you and determine when a replacement queen is necessary. If you plan to declare the arrival of a new queen, ensure that the former queen is no longer present the day prior.

Bees require an all year round floral supply

One might assume that a field filled with flowers would attract bees, but consider this: do you enjoy every item of food available at a supermarket? It’s unlikely. Similarly, bees do not gather nectar from every flower in your yard. To ensure success in your beekeeping endeavours, it’s crucial to have knowledge about the plant species and variations native to your area.

A scarcity of nectar

A nectar dearth is characterized by a scarcity of nectar-producing flowers. And that usually happens in the winter. Recognizing and managing a nectar shortage can be difficult for a beginning beekeeper. If you notice a nectar shortage, you can take the following precautions to protect your bees:

  • Give them syrup. To avoid attracting other colonies, do not place a feeder in the hive’s door. To maintain the food inside the beehive, use an internal feeder.
  • If you are going to feed them, stay away from essential oils and other things made specifically for nectar deficiency. They will attract bees from a long distance away. Put the nectar inside and do not worry, the bees will find it.
  • Keep communal feeders and wet frames away from your apiary. It is an invitation to stronger colonies located near your weaker colony.
  • Reduce the number of people who can enter the colony. Upper openings should be kept closed. Whether or whether you intend to feed them, this should be one of the first things you do to protect the colony from other predators.

Your bee colony’s health

Beekeeping can present challenges, and as previously mentioned, there is a learning curve involved. Despite best efforts, beekeepers may experience occasional losses of colonies that cannot always be prevented. However, it is crucial to prioritize the maintenance of healthy beehives.

The Varroa Mite is considered the most significant threat to beekeepers and bees worldwide. This parasite infests bees, feeds on their blood, and weakens them, leading to the eventual death of the colony. Varroa Mites reproduce rapidly, posing a constant menace to beekeepers and spreading swiftly across colonies and apiaries.

Other hazards to bee health include small hive beetles, wax moths, foulbrood, nosema, chalkbrood, the sacbrood virus, and other diseases, such as the malformed wing virus. All of these parasites and diseases present persistent problems for beekeepers, emphasizing the importance of learning how to maintain the health of your apiary.

Varroa Mite

To mitigate these issues, beekeepers can implement a few practices, including refraining from mixing a collapsing colony with a healthy one, sterilizing equipment from ill or collapsing colonies before reusing it in another, reducing pesticide exposure in your colonies, and researching management strategies utilized by other beekeepers. By following these guidelines, beekeepers can help maintain the health of their apiaries.

Market demand and honey prices

Beekeeping has become increasingly challenging in modern times, as we previously discussed. However, the most common reason for beekeepers to abandon their activity is due to market pressures, cost of living increases and climate change. For instance, in Uruguay, which is one of the world’s most traditional honey exporters, 30 percent of beekeepers ceased their operations last year.

While this may not be an issue if you are pursuing beekeeping as a hobby, producing more honey than you can consume may lead you to consider selling some of it. Governments around the world promote beekeeping as an excellent sustainable method to uplift people from poverty.(always check local laws prior to entering into Beekeeping) The cost of honey is highly variable, dependent on the principles of supply and demand like any other market (not forgetting cheap fake honey imports!!!!!!). Those living in significant honey-consuming markets may experience the impact of events such as droughts or floods on the other side of the world.

We understand that beekeeping can appear to be difficult, especially for beginner beekeepers. But the truth is that once you begin reading, learning, and gaining hands-on experience in beekeeping, all of these issues and concerns will appear insignificant. One of the reasons beekeeping is a terrific activity is that it is so diversified and you are constantly learning new things. (you will always learn something new every day)

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