Beginner Beekeeper Page

Starting your hive can be a mystery if you have never done it before.  We are starting this page and will take time to get it populated.  One of our Starter Columnist is Buddy May from Greenville.  


                                                                                                                 September 2, 2015  

Hello Everyone,

Here is hoping you were successful in your “bee yard” with plenty of experience incurred and knowledge obtained, going forward with your Apiary.  At this point, you should have all of your honey supers removed, queen excluders removed and cleaned, and honey extracted. What was your refractometer reading for moisture content? 16.8 is a good reading and 17 would be acceptable. If you do not have a refractometer, locate one and check your honey! Why? Because, if you have excess moisture in your honey, it will surely ferment. Not Good.

We are entering a very nice part of the season with our bees, however, there are several things we need to pay attention to:

First, Check  your hives for honey stores. There needs to about 50 pounds of honey stored for the winter. If you do not have that in your hive, then feed, feed, feed sugar water. 1:1 is Ok, 2:1 (sugar to water is better).


, Check your hives for strength. IF they are not strong, do not procrastinate. Order another queen today and get her in the hive to increase the population. It is not too late for the queens to lay a very good brood pattern. If you have a weak hive, you can add it to a strong hive, but remove the queen first.

Third, perform a sugar roll test on each hive, and if you have 2 or more varroa mites, then you will want to treat, and soon. I am treating this year with Mite Away strips. I am using only one strip and placing it on the top frames of the brood location. It remains on the hive for 7 days and you can leave it on if you wish. It is the one treatment that claims it will enter the sealed cap of the brood and kill the male varroa. I will let you know if this is the case with my hives. A second treatment can be made in 6 weeks.

Forth, consider getting some Mega Bee and feed your bees a pattie. It is around 45% protein and will give your bees some well deserved nutrients.

Well, enjoy your hives, keep the bees healthy and they will be ready next Spring to bring in the honey. Until later, where we will begin talking about Oxalic acid treatment in the late fall, before they are put to bed for the winter.

Buddy May


Certified Master Beekeeper

author Ralph 'Buddy' May

Beekeepers: Please be sure you look at your hives, even the new packages, and determine if your queen has moved to the upper brood box. If she has, as evidenced by open and capped brood present, then reverse your hives so that the queen is in the bottom brood box. This is one of the major reasons bees will swarm! The queen has no place to lay her eggs, 1000 per day, and a decision is made to swarm due to being over crowded. Reversing the hives gives the queen ample space to move up and lay her eggs.


Also, if you encounter a frame with swarm cells, consider moving that frame over to a hive that is not doing well. Look for the queen and remove her before moving the frame with the swarm cell(s). Do not worry if there are more than one or two swarm cells on the frame.


Continue feeding your bees should you be trying to get foundation drawn out or honey (sugar water) in the top brood hive, or if you are trying to get foundation drawn out in your honey super. Remove the sugar water after the foundation is drawn out or if the bees begin to store sugar water in the honey super.

View a recent article from the Greenville Civitans – Flash April Edition


Ralph C. (Buddy) May Jr.

100 Birnam Court

Greenville, SC 29615

Email Address:

Cell Phone: 864-430-0318

SC Master Beekeeper

EAS Certified Master Beekeeper

So you have just gotten your first honey bee package with a caged queen.  

Read the following article by Buddy May

By now your queen bee should be removed from her cage. If not, then release her by removing the cork from the non-sugar side. When she is out of the cage, remove the cage and queen ring, if one was used.
You should keep sugar water available to the bees at all times. They will take this solution and use it as a carbohydrate along with pollen as a protein for their food source. You may have a boardman feeder, plastic bag, or a hive top feeder to accomplish this. I prefer the hive top feeder because it gives you access to fill without disturbing the bees.
You, at this point should have the following arrangement: Hive should be off the ground and facing East or South East, you should have a screen bottom board, hive body for brood, and inner cover, and a telescoping top. I suggest that you use a grease patty (2 parts sugar to 1 part Crisco) and place it on the top of the brood frames. It is going to be cold for a few days, so do not open the hive unless the temperature is above 55 deg. F. The queen will begin to lay her eggs soon and the hive needs to be warm for incubation. DO NOT PUT ANY OTHER BROOD BOXES OR HONEY SUPERS ON YOUR HIVE UNTIL THEY HAVE DRAWN THE COMB OUT IN THE LOWER BROOD CHAMBER. This will take them a couple of weeks to draw out. After which you may place on ONE SHALLOW brood box for them to draw out. This will take an additional week or two for them to draw this out. When the nectar becomes available, they will stop taking the sugar solution you are providing.
When the weather warms up, you may open your hive, use a little smoke, and check to see what is happening. You will notice the queen has begun laying her eggs. She will be laying drone eggs first and then worker bee eggs next. Do not open you hive unless it is 55 degrees or higher and do not be more than a few minutes in the hive. Remember, the bees are keeping the hive to a temperature of around 90 degrees F so the eggs and larvae can be incubated. After 7 or 8 days, you will see the cells begin to be capped. The drones will emerge in a total of 24 days (from egg) and the worker bees will emerge in 21 days. I suggest you do not go in the hives more than once per week or two weeks. Give them time to make their hive, there is a lot they have to do.

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