Honey Farms: A Comprehensive Guide to Beekeeping

Honey farms are the places where beekeepers perform apiculture to produce honey by utilizing honey bees. Beekeeping is the art of maximizing the adult bee population in periods when the nectar flow is most abundant according to the regions where honey bee colonies are located and using this population for honey production and pollination of plants. Beekeeping is an art or skill business as stated in its definition. Beekeepers should learn the art of using and managing their colonies which have a very dynamic structure according to the flora situation of the region and for their own purpose. All beekeepers, no matter where in the world, have something in common: honey farms.

Beekeepers should determine the main nectar flow time in their area. They should be able to maximize the colony population in this period to benefit from the main nectar flow. Here beekeepers should be able to account for 42 days well, this calculation is done as follows. In the region 42 days before the flowering of the dominant honey flower, incentives are fed to the colonies for the bee to lay more eggs. The eggs laid on these days will form worker bees that have reached the age to carry nectar after 42 days.

The colonies should be maintained after the main nectar flow. The time of the main nectar flow varies by region. The main nectar flow usually lasts for 3-4 weeks in regions with a continental climate. In temperate climate regions, after the main nectar flow, especially after rainy years, after each rain flowering continues for a few weeks. Beekeepers must prepare their colonies 6-8 weeks before the main nectar flow in order to enter the main nectar flow of the region with a strong population. In many countries of the world, colonies enter the main nectar flow with a weak population, but colonies are developed in this period, the number of colonies is increased by dividing in this period and the colonies become weaker and efficient production is not performed because the main nectar flow cannot be utilized properly. To be able to make an efficient production, beekeepers have to do the following: To determine the main nectar flow time of the region:

1- Nectar and pollen plants that are frequently visited by bees should be identified within the flight area of ​​bees (in an area of ​​approximately 5 km in diameter) in the region.

2- Flowering times of these plants should be determined and the flowering schedule of that region should be prepared.

3- Agricultural activities carried out within the flight area of ​​bees should be examined. If irrigated agriculture and monoculture are applied in the region, pesticides are used. You should learn when to use pesticides and which pesticides to use, if necessary, they should be removed from that area.

4- Climate reports of the region, soil structure and temperature differences between day and night should be learned. If the area is extremely windy, the bees will not be able to fly in windy weather, but no matter how many flowers, the bees will not be able to benefit from them. In the same way, honey consumption of bees will increase in regions that have cold nights. Therefore, when choosing the apiary, places that do not keep wind, not too cold and where the sunlight can take place should be preferred.

To prepare the colonies for the main nectar flow, the following are important points:

There must be a young and hardworking queen in every colony. Colonies without queen bees do not develop and soon go out. If false queen bees have been formed in unborn colonies, it is very difficult to get them to accept queen bees. The development of these colonies is very slow and yield is reduced. For this reason, beekeepers should replace the queen bees every year or every two years if possible.

For the colonies to develop rapidly in the spring, autumn care should be done well. The queen bee control must be carried out for the colonies to spend the winter. The colonies without queen bees should be combined with weak colonies with queen bees. Again, weak colonies should be strengthened by combining them. Strong colonies protect themselves by forming a winter cluster in cold weather. However, the weak colonies cannot produce enough heat and are damaged by the cold and die. There is already a basic rule of beekeeping. 50 strong colonies are better than 100 weak colonies. There must be enough honey in the hive for the bees to spend the winter. A standard 10-frame beehive must contain at least 18-20 kg of honey. If there is not enough honey in the hive, the colonies should be fed with syrup. Before the colonies enter the winter, the broken parts, holes, and cracks should be repaired and the entrance holes should be narrowed.

Colonies can be wintered outdoors in a place exposed to sunshine in temperate zones, in a closed and moisture-free place where the winter is very hard and cold, or insulated and protected from wind and cold. In the spring, colonies should be fed with syrup in order to be awakened and accelerate the production of fry. In colonies, diseases and parasites should be battled consciously. Colonies must be disease-free and healthy in order to spend the winter.

Varroa struggle must be done in autumn and spring. After harvesting honey in autumn, varroa struggle can be done on days when the air temperature is above +10 degrees during the periods of production of the offspring. Again, in the spring when the offspring production has just begun and there is no honey in the colony, the struggle should be made. The fight should be continued 4-5 times with an interval of 3-4 days. If varroa struggle is performed outside of these seasons, the efficacy of the drugs decreases. Most of the varroa are on adult bees and can be killed by disinfestation since the number of young in the colony is very small in this season.

Later, as the production of offspring will increase, it becomes difficult to kill varroa in closed eyes. As the number of varroa increases with the number of bees and fry, it will cause more drug use and thus drug residues to pass to the honey and pollute the honey. In addition, varroa will become immune to the drug after a long period of application and it will no longer work. Therefore, varroa struggle should be done consciously in early spring and late autumn. To prevent the colonies from weakening and entering the main nectar stream with a strong population, swarming prevention works should be performed. In order for the bees to store the nectar and pollen they collect, the necessary honey chambers and honeycombs should be given on time. Colonies should be prevented from jamming or combing, and their work should be directed to storage and making honey.

Care and Nutrition in Honey Farms

Spring Care in Honey Farms

In order to get the desired level of efficiency in beekeeping, the processes that must be done in every season should be considered. Spring is the most intensive period of studies. The aim of the spring controls is to check how the bees spend the winter, the amount of food available in the hive, the presence of the queen, the spawning status, the number of worker bees, and whether there is a disease in the hive. If the first control colonies are wintered indoors, the time of removal varies by region.

In many parts of the world and coastal areas, beehives are wintered in open areas. The first controls of the bee family, which are wintered and taken out in indoor areas or wintered in open areas, can be made between 11–14 hours if the temperature is above 14–17 degrees on sunny open days since the plum trees blossom. Colonies should not be chilled, especially during the first controls. If the colony is chilled, it should be kept in mind that in order to raise the temperature of the brood growing area, which is 35 degrees, to the same degree, the bees must eat a large amount of honey. Chilling creates a suitable environment for diseases. In six-frame beehives, 40–80 gr daily honey is consumed for 10-degree heat increase according to the type of beehive.

When the bees go to flight, the hive bottom board can be cleaned. Crumbs and residues seen on the bottom board can be examined to provide information about the colony. The covers (boards) on which moisture and water accumulate need to be replaced immediately. If the bottom board is fixed to the hive body, cleaning or replacement is complete with the hive body. In frame control, moldy, over-browned and broken honeycomb frames are removed from the hive and replaced with fresh combs from the previous year if necessary. If there is no processed honeycomb, it is replaced with the basic honeycomb. If the amount of bees in the beehive does not fill the frames, the bee-free frames are taken and the area is narrowed and half of the hatching frames are changed every year.

The presence of the queen in the colony directly affects the continuity of the colony. If the queen cannot be seen in the controls, it is checked whether there is a daily egg. If there is a daily egg in the beehive, there is a queen. If it is found out that there is no queen, either a new queen should be given or combined with another colony. The purpose of food control is to determine the amount of honey pollen in the hive. If it is seen that the nutrient stock is insufficient during the early spring controls, it can be fed with cake or sugar syrup made from honey and powdered sugar. Feeding during this period contributes both to the risk of hunger and to the development of the bee family. Production of cakes is subject to authorization.

For disease and parasite control, one should be aware of nosema, juvenile rot and parasitic diseases that may occur throughout the year. Early spring fighting against Varroa parasites should be carried out at the appropriate time, in doses, complete with licensed medicines. In case of any illness or suspicion, a specialist should be consulted. Spring feeding is the feeding to promote the development of offspring in case of insufficient quality and quantity of food sources in the hive. Spring feeding should be done with a syrup prepared with one part sugar and one part water. The feed sugar used should be refined sugar and no other nutrients should be given. Measures should be taken as spring plundering may occur in syrup feeds. It must be done late in the evening.

Pollen is another nutrient needed for bee growth in early spring. If it is not enough, feeding with honey and pollen can be done. It should be noted that in the absence of pollen, offspring production stops. Feeding should be avoided when no pollen is present. Swarming is that a part of the bee family members leaves the hive together with the queen to form a new family in order to continue the generation of honey bees. In technical beekeeping, swarming of the colony is not desired and countermeasures are taken because it weakens the power of the colony. Conditions supporting colony swarming can be listed as the excessive proliferation of bees, lack of honey storage, increased colony temperature, aging of the queen and genetic structure.

Elimination of the conditions supporting swarming is an important rule of technical and economic beekeeping. When the number of colonies is desired to be increased, artificial colony production is made by dividing a colony that has reached sufficient power. Honeycombs with bees, honey and juveniles are equally distributed to both hives. The important point here is to ensure that the field bees enter both colonies equally. For this purpose, the rootstock colony is shifted half a meter to the right or left and the new colony is placed so that the old flight line is in the middle of the rootstock and the new colony.

Another method for the production of artificial swarms is to construct a 5-frame 1 compartment from a hive, in particular, to increase the number of colonies. In this case, 3 bee-hatchlings and 2 bee-honey frames are placed in the new hive. These hives with flight holes closed are moved at least 5 km away to prevent field bees from returning to the old hive. The newly divided technical sons either make the queen or the mated queen is given. Record keeping is important in beekeeping as well as in every production area. Each hive card or register should be kept. At each colony check, the information is processed and the work that is to be done later is planned. Records should include information such as the date of queen bee hatching and start of laying, origin, amount of honey and pollen, and status of offspring.

Summer Care in Honey Farms

After the spring care of the bee families, maintenance and controls continue in the summer. As the bees develop, frame and flora tracking and honey harvesting are the main tasks of summer. Honeycomb knitting also starts with the development activities of bees. In this period, the family is given a new basic honeycomb. When hatching it is necessary to put on the hive. When the coat is given, at least 2 frames are taken from the honeycombs in the hatchery. New honeycombs are replaced. Honeycombs are placed on the floor hatching which is given a few more new honeycomb.

In technical beekeeping, the transfer of bees from one place to another according to the condition of the honey source is essential for obtaining a good yield. This is also called stroller beekeeping. Honey harvest in the world is usually done in summer. Excess water is blown and more than half of them are glazed to harvest ripe honeycombs. Honey harvesting should be done from frameless frames and materials suitable to the food codex should be used.

Autumn Care and Winterization in Honey Farms

Autumn care of the bee family is important for bees to spend the winter lossless. In the autumn, honeycombs stored with honey and pollen as winter food should be given to the bees. Sour honey should not be given to honey bees as winter food. Young queen bees should be applied to the hives whose bee size is weak, queen-free, aged and inefficient. If there is no queen bee, hives should be combined in the fall.

For successful wintering, young brood production should be provided with the young worker bee in autumn. Before winter, bees should be examined for diseases and pests, especially in the autumn period after the last honey harvest Varroa struggle with adequate doses of licensed drugs should be done.

  • Autumn Feeding

Although honey and pollen are left in the beehives, they should be fed with sugar syrup prepared with 2 parts of sugar and 1 part of water. The cake is obtained by mixing one part of honey and 3 parts of powdered sugar. Cake package with holes drilled on the bottom of 0,5-1 kg is put on bee frames. For cake preparation and application, the cake must have consistency and stiffness that does not flow over the bees by melting at the inside temperature of the beehive and soft enough to be consumed by the bees.

  • Winterization

The north of the apiary to be spent by bees should be closed and the south should be open if possible. There should be places that do not take water and do not accumulate moisture. In winter, beehives should be raised with a coffee table and protected from water and moisture.

In addition, the wintering cluster should be free of noise to avoid deterioration of the winter cluster. It should not be forgotten that the cause of winter deaths is not cold, it is the lack of honey in the beehive, that is, hunger. When entering the winter, there should be a stock of nutrients consisting of sufficient honey and pollen as well as a good number of young bees.

Honey Collecting in Honey Farms

When the spring is over and summer is entered, the season of the big honey collection begins. It is evident from the entrance of the bees to the hive that the honey collection season starts. In addition to the bees carrying pollen on the fly table, the bees that have darkened color as if their body lines are larger and wetted from something, are the bees carrying honey extract. Also on the fly table in the afternoon, a large number of worker bees flap their wings with their backs to the hive. The purpose of these ventilating bees is to circulate the air in the hive, to blow the water of the fresh honey brought and to remove the excess moisture formed in the hive.

When the hive cover is opened, it is noticed that the bees are not as vicious as before and the smell of fresh honey can be sniffed through the hive. It is seen that the upper parts of the slats are embossed with white honeycomb. If a frame is pulled from the honey bee, it is determined that the honey is now glazing. If a test hive is selected from the apiary and a weighing scale is placed underneath it, it can be practically understood that the large honey collection season begins by comparing the daily weights. In summer, the beekeeper should monitor the honey situation in the hives and make the necessary interventions on time. If the season is very convenient and the incoming honey is high, collecting starts immediately. At least two-thirds of the honeycomb cells are closed and the uncompressed honeycombs are sucked out without any waiting and put back into the hive. Thus, bees can re-fill it with honey in a very short time. During periods of the intensive honey flow, bees can fill a frame every 3-5 days.

When the bee population does not fit into the first honey chamber and the frames in the honey chamber begin to be hidden, it is time to give the second addition. The second addition is generally placed between the incubation and the first addition. The first addition is placed at the top for the glazing of the honey-filled frames, the second addition is immediately above the hatching and the honey bees are more easily raised and the honey is stored. In this season, bees should be protected from the sun and heat. Bees that are exposed to the excess sun have drowsiness. When the temperature inside the hive rises above 37 degrees, the bees stop working. They use all their power to ventilate the hive for cooling. In addition, the combs in the hive are bent from high heat.

To protect the hives from the heat an arbor can be made or grass and branches can be placed on top of the hive. In this month, if the surrounding water resources are not sufficient, the irrigation system should be included in the apiary. When the bees arrive very tired and exhausted, they usually fall to the ground when they cannot be placed on the hive fly table. If possible, this fly table should be extended during the honey collection season. Again during this season, weeds that grow to cover the hives should be cleaned and bees should be provided with a comfortable flight.

Necessary precautions should be taken especially against yellow bees at the end of summer. During this period, the yellow bees attack the bees and try to steal to the honey they store. In addition, the illegal sons who somehow nested in the land, if they could not collect the necessary honey for the winter, attack the apiaries and try to plunder them. These are called wild bees. Precautions should also be taken in this manner. Towards the end of summer, the honey sources in the field are cut off. When the honey bees start to decrease, it is time to harvest honey. Harvesting of honey is carried out properly without delay. After completing the above procedures, you can start the autumn work and preparations for the winter will begin.

Harvesting in Honey Farms

When the honey period starts, you will have to do honey harvest studies towards the end of this season. When we harvest honey we know that bees become aggressive and vicious because there are no flowers and thus no nectar left in nature. When you start to collect honey, bees will hurt you very hard.

All precautions must be taken before harvesting honey against bee stings and against hazards such as looting. As a priority, after collecting the honey from the bees, it is necessary to prepare a place where you will store the honey. You need to adjust well where you can harvest the honey comfortably. At the same time, this place should not have an entrance to the bees, otherwise, there will be an invitation to looting.

It is beneficial to overhaul all beekeeping equipment. Materials such as gloves, brushes, bellows, and honey crates must be kept with you. Despite the danger of looting, it is best to carry out honey harvesting in the early morning and in cool weather. If the weather is very hot and the bees will heat up, you should stop the harvesting of honey. As the weather gets cooler, the bees will descend to the hatching area, so it will be easier and more comfortable for you to collect the honey.

Bee Deaths in Honey Farms and Its Causes

Drugs Used in Agriculture Sector: The harmful effects of the drugs used in agriculture to honey bees may vary depending on many factors such as the type of drug used, place and time of application, dose applied, duration of action, the spraying method, and the meteorological conditions on spraying days. Water sources and pollen dust contaminated with some pesticides used incorrectly and inappropriately, cause a large number of adult bee and fry deaths. Pesticides used in powder form are more harmful to bees than liquid-disposed pesticides. Because pesticides in powder form are more easily spread and can be carried to the hive together with pollen. For this reason, the state should impose heavy penalties on pesticides by enacting new laws and regulations in mind of bees/beekeepers.

Quality of Raw and Basic Honeycombs Used: It is necessary to pay attention to the raw honeycombs you have attached to the frames. The brand and quality of the honeycomb you receive is very important. If possible, try to make a basic honeycomb by using your own waxes or try to get a honeycomb from the place you trust and know.

Bee Cakes and Bee Syrups or Supplementary Foods: Nutritional foods such as bee cake and bee syrup are used for feeding bees, especially in autumn and spring. Their quality and hygiene are very important. If possible, make your own cake and syrup yourself or buy the quality products from the person or company you trust.

Brand of Bee Drugs: Recently, a lot of bee drugs have been released in the name of beekeeping. Do not be fooled into the promises of these drugs coming out on the market and you see in the ads. Maybe they really are helpful, but you still need to be cautious. You need to see the long-term results of those drugs and act accordingly.

Autumn and Spring Feeding: Bees have feeding rates according to the seasons. If you do not make 2 to 1 in the spring when preparing the syrup of the bees, and 1 to 2 when entering the winter, it can cause indigestion in the bees.

Queen Bee Change: It may be necessary to change the queen bees in autumn, ie after quitting honey. Entering the winter with older queen bees poses a great risk. Working with young queen bees in beekeeping will always ensure that the bees are strong and able to work better. You can obtain queen bees from the main sellers by choosing suitable queen breeds and also you can make queen bee production yourself.

Bee Spraying in Honey Farms

As a priority, if there are bees in a corner of your house or garden, you can get help from the beekeeping people or specialist companies around you before you spray them. It is not right for nature and for the bees to apply the medication without knowing which breed or what kind of bee it is. Because these bees are useful and make honey, they will be ensured to be used efficiently if they are handled by someone who is a beekeeper. In this way, bees will be brought back to nature and humanity.

You should start the process of spraying and expelling bees after you decide the type of bee. So how do you decide which species these bees are? If you are new to this job, take photos of bees and send them to a specialist, which will tell you what kind of bee is and what to do. When it finally turns out that the bees are bumblebees and can be harmful to you, you can get help from municipal employees or get support from private spraying companies. Because someone who really understands the bees does not examine those bees, and if they are honey bees, you can think of them as poisonous bees and kill them all. But if you contact a beekeeper, you can ensure that the bees can be taken from there in a healthy way and transferred to a normal beehive.

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Savaş Ateş

I like eating honey a lot. We have a huge interest in bees and how they make honey. I have visited honey farms. I have talked to a lot of honey sellers. I read a lot of books about them. I want to share my knowledge with you.

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