• Honey Bee Research

    My first experience working with honey bees was in 2006 when I took a beekeeping class and lab taught by Dr. Dewey Caron. We learned the parts of the hive, bee development, bee anatomy, seasonal beekeeping, products of the hive, pests and diseases, bee diversity, and much more in the lecture portion of the class and got hands-on experience managing our own hives in the apiary during the lab portion of the class.  Since that course, I've been fascinated with honey bees and bees of all kind.

     

    I worked with honey bees throughout my graduate studies in Dr. Jamie Ellis' Honey Bee Research & Extension Laboratory at University of Florida. I was an advisor for the Master Beekeeper Program, and a speaker for each of the Bee College events throughout graduate school. I helped to manage the Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory bee hives, in our apiary, on the experimental farm in Citra, at the UF President's mansion, on blueberry farms, and at Austin Cary Forest. I taught several college level courses at a Teaching Assistant or as a Guest Lecturer providing open hive demos and beekeeping related workshops. I also provided beekeeping presentations around the state at elementary schools, beekeeping clubs, master gardener meetings, retirement communities, botanical gardens, zoos, museums, and more. I got to meet and work with some of the brightest minds in beekeeping as they would visit to meet, attend or speak at classes in Bee College events or conduct research at University of Florida. The support network for beekeeping in Florida was the gold standard. I regularly interacted with growers, apiary inspectors, bee club members (with beekeeping clubs in nearly every county in the state), county extension agents, and researchers from private industries, universities, and government agencies.

     

    Unfortunately, here in Hawaii, the beekeeping community have many fewer resources than what beekeepers enjoyed in Florida. Though my hope is to offer as much support as I can, and I am actively working to strengthen the beekeeping community and provide resources for Hawaiian beekeepers. I'm currently an advisor for the Iolani School Apiary Club, this is a group of >100 student and faculty members who are eager to get started with bees of their own. They are also helping with my yellow-faced bee work. I started the Oahu Buzz Beekeeping Club in Hawaii, an online beekeeping community which also now meets on the North Shore. I am working with beekeepers and growers and am offering workshops, presentations, and open hive demos to help this community.

  • Into to Beekeeping

    Here are some quick tips for those wanting to get started beekeeping.

    Beekeeping Equipment

    The tools of the trade

    There are many beekeeping equipment suppliers, and some equipment can be purchased on amazon, ebay, or similar sites. Used equipment can sometimes be purchased from beekeepers, traded through a bee club, or on a site like craigslist. Some equipment can even be made, if you enjoy DIY projects. Below is a list of some beekeeping equipment with links to where it can be purchased. Purchases made through clicks from this site will help by providing associate fees for the purchase referral.

    • Bee Suit- The bee suit is probably the first piece of beekeeping equipment you should invest in. The beekeeping suit could be just a hat and veil that protects your face, a full suit with gloves, or something in between. People that have been beekeeping for a long time, may not even use any protection- although I recommend having at least a veil (stings to the eyes, nose and mouth are incredibly painful and bees tend to target these patterns on our faces). A full suit may seem like over-kill, although if you are doing heavy bee work- equalizing hives, transporting bees, working with defensive or Americanized colonies, installing packages, extracting honey, or doing a bee colony removal, you might be thankful for the extra protection. 
    • Smoker- The smoker is fueled by dried leaves, grass, pine-needles, or smoker fuel you can purchase. The smoker helps the beekeeper by masking the scent of alarm pheromones produced by a defensive bee. Bees communicate via airborne volatiles produced by their bodies, aka pheromones. Alarm pheromone is released by a bee that feels she needs to defend herself or her colony. When another bee smells alarm pheromone she hones in on the scent and also adds her own pheromone, often causing a cascade effect. To us, alarm pheromone smells like artificial 'banana candy' smell. There are many types of smokers, but most consist of a lid that flips open to expose a fuel chamber. Inside the fuel chamber there is often a small raised area that keeps the fuel off the floor of the fuel chamber. A port on the lid of the smoker is where the smoke comes out. Fresh air is delivered through a port near the bottom of the smoker. A bellows is used to pump fresh air into the fuel chamber through this bottom port. Do not use the smoker too liberally- the smoker when it gets to hot can act as a flame-thrower burning bees; also the smoke when used to often can change the flavor of the honey. 
    • Hive Tool- The hive tool is used to pry open the hive and remove frames. Bees use propolis (plant resins) to seal cracks in their hives. Propolis has antibacterial qualities, and is sometimes used by bees to quarantine an area, or reduce the entrances to the hive. This propolis will often stick the lid to the hive, and stick the frames together and to the boxes. There are several types of hive tools, but in general, they tend to have a rounded prying end, and a straight knife-like end. They often have a hole for hanging built in. Hive tools are often easily misplaced in an apiary, so it doesn't hurt to have more than one- or paint the one you have with a bright noticeable color.
    • Miscellaneous tools- There are many more miscellaneous beekeeping tools that can be purchased for various aspects of beekeeping. Frame grips are sometimes used to hold or carry around frames. Bee brushes are used to brush bees off of frames, bee suits or other unwanted areas. Uncapping tools can be used to uncap cells for honey extraction. There are tools to mark, cage and rear queens. Tools for feeding the bees, extracting honey, collecting pollen, melting wax, branding your hives, reducing entrances, and much more.

    Parts of the Hive

    From the stand to the outer cover

    The hive is made up of several parts- and there are many types of hives. Here I will be referring to the most commonly used hive- the Langstroth Hive. The Langstroth Hive was invented by Reverend Langstroth and has become the standard hive used around the world. It is a removable frame hive, that has boxes of frames that can be added or removed as the colony grows or shrinks. From bottom to top- here are the main components.

    • Hive Stand- the hive stand keeps the hive up off the ground. It can be as simple as a couple of cinder blocks or custom fit to suit the hive. Some beekeepers use pallets, and may put up to four colonies per pallet. In some areas, where ants are invading bee hives, beekeepers may put the hive stand into a tub of soapy water to create a moat to discourage ants.  
    • Bottom Board- the bottom of the actual hive. This is where the bees enter and guard the hive. Bottom boards can be screened (to provide ventilation) or solid. Some beekeepers substitute pollen traps for bottom boards if they want to collect pollen. Entrance reducers can be used on bottom boards to make the entrance smaller to discourage robbing by bees, or invasion by wasps, beetles or other pests. Sticky boards or monitoring sheets can be inserted into bottom boards as a tool to check for mites, small hive beetles or other pests. Entrance feeders can be attached to the bottom board as a way to feed the hive. 
    • Brood Box- this is the bottom box. Sometimes hives only consist of this one box, but usually when the colony grows beekeepers add supers (additional boxes for honey) on top of the brood box. The brood box typically holds ten frames, although there are also 8-frame brood boxes. A queen excluder can be used on top of the brood box, to keep the queen in the brood box so she doesn't lay eggs in the honey supers. These are also called Deeps, and take Deep frames. 
  • Standard methods for wax moth research

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