Category Archives: How to Keep Bees

How to keep bees: tips and techniques to get started or to keep bees better

“Chemical Warfare” Not Working for Many Canadian Beekeepers


Edmonton Journal story on bees - September 2009 For the third straight year, beekeepers in Alberta, Canada’s largest honey-producing province, are struggling to bounce back from unexpectedly high winterkill. And the story is much the same all over Canada.

Traditional chemical controls for Varroa are failing to keep the pest below economic thresholds, as the mites build up resistance, and the weakened colonies are more vulnerable to Nosema and other disease. Beekeepers are desperate to find new weapons to keep their colonies alive.

As the Edmonton Journal reports (Bugs, fungus attacking Alberta’s bees: Keepers say chemical warfare not working):

[Alberta] Provincial apiculturist Medhat Nasr said while beekeepers expected losses due to the failure of pest control, they were still taken by surprise by the extent of the problem.

“It was fast, and losses were far above their expectations.”

Continue reading “Chemical Warfare” Not Working for Many Canadian Beekeepers

Conditions and Instructions for Apivar Use in Bee Hives

apivar As announced in “PMRA Approves Emergency Use of Apivar in Canada,” the Pest Management Regulatory Agency has granted the emergency registration of Apivar® for the control of the parasitic mite, Varroa destructor, in honey bee hives in Canada.

Apivar® (active ingredient: 3.33% amitraz) is a sustained-release plastic strip designed for use in honey bee hives.

This emergency registration applies in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island for the period beginning July 1, 2009, and ending June 30, 2010 — subject to the following Conditions:

  • Honey supers must be removed from hives before undergoing treatment wtih amitraz, and cannot be replaced until 14 days after the strips are removed.
  • Residues of amitraz equivalents in/on honey and honey-derived products must not exceed 0.1 parts per million (ppm) (as per subsection B.15.002(1) of the Food and Drug Regulations.
  • End-users must be informed that various countries, including the United States, do not have a maximum residue limit (MRL) for amitraz in honey, honeycomb, and beeswax, and that they assume the risk that use of Apivar® may affect export of their product.

Continue reading Conditions and Instructions for Apivar Use in Bee Hives

Field Day Beekeeping Photographs: Spring Inspection


The Central Beekeepers Alliance of New Brunswick, Canada, held a beekeeping field day for new beekeepers on Sunday, 3 May 2009, at Keswick Ridge. We unwrapped the hives and opened them up for inspection, for the first time since they were put away last fall.

Fortunately (?) there were a couple of deadouts too — a useful learning opportunity as we carried out a “post mortem” to figure out if disease was present, or if the bees had died for some other likely reason. As soon as the rain stops again, the next step will be applying formic acid pads (for Varroa mite control) to those hives that were successfully over-wintered.

Here’s a selection of photographs for those who missed this afternoon of spring hive inspection, socializing, and cinnamon buns. Continue reading Field Day Beekeeping Photographs: Spring Inspection

Different Types of Bee Hives

This article was contributed by a beginning beekeeper as she was looking into the most common kinds of beehives that are used in climates similar to our own here in eastern Canada. We thought this might be of interest to other new beekeepers as well. Thank you, Jessica!

The hive that is most common in our area seems to be the 10 frame Langstroth hive or commercial hive that uses brood boxes and honey supers.

Langstroth Hive, brood box

Which is the type of hive I will use to raise bees. As a beginner, I will use the standard equipment and practices available in my area, which allow me to expand my beekeeping education beyond books and the internet to include local beekeepers and supply stores. In the event that something breaks or is lost, I can easily replace it locally too. But I am sure I will start to experiment as many beekeepers do, with equipment and styles as my experience level grows.

photo: www.caddon-hives.co.uk Different types of hives include traditional skeps, top–bar hives, William Braughton Carr (WBC) hives and the National hive used in the UK.

The WBC shown in the thumbnail at left (from Caddon Hives in Scotland) is similar to a pagoda style of architecture. Although, the exterior of this hive structure is different, the inside resembles the standard frame and foundations found in National hives.

An interesting style of bee hive can be found at the following link: http://warrebeehive.com

The Warre Hive resembles a WBC hive but uses a top–bar frame internal structure to encourage a natural formation of wax cells from the top–bar down. As the bees construct the comb, it grows in a downward direction. Boxes are added to the bottom with new top–bars in each. The bees will stop the comb just above the next set of bars. This style of natural beekeeping is further explained by following the link. It also includes plans for building your own hive.

Adventures in Beekeeping – from the Beginning

New beekeeper Jessica tells us about her first steps in starting beekeeping.

This year I will become a beekeeper and I am so excited. It is a completely new experience as I’ve only ever read or talked about bees. Since joining the local beekeeping group (CBA) last May, I have discovered a charming hobby and a wonderful group of beekeepers. Most people that keep honeybees seem to do it for the pure joy of it and maybe for a little honey and pollination.

Prior to joining the group, I’d heard stories of honeybee colonies collapsing (CCD) around the world and became quite concerned that a tiny little creature, who pollinates and makes honey, could quite possibly be encountering its greatest challenge — survival! Sadly, I knew so little about them and have no idea how I could help. I’ve learned — I’m not the only person wondering where to start.
Continue reading Adventures in Beekeeping – from the Beginning