Tips for Customers

  1. Good management, pest and disease control, good nutrition, and genetics are the keys to successful beekeeping. Here is a monthly beekeeping calendar to get a better idea of what is involved.
  2. Join a local beekeeping club if possible. Here are some in Pennsylvania. For Maryland customers, here are some clubs available.
  3. Consider a beekeeping course, such as: or in-person classes: If you need to go the free route, there are some good books and YouTube resources, such as these videos. We will also have classes here in 2023, registration starting in January.
  4. Read books, articles, or watch some educational beekeeping videos on YouTube, such as: Michael Palmer, University of Guelph, Bob Binnie, Kamon Reynolds, Randy Oliver, Ian Steppler, Bee Informed Partnership, Dr. Larry Connor, and others I probably missed…
  5. If you’re in Pennsylvania and new to beekeeping, you can register your apiary here: If you’re in Maryland, here is the registration information:
  6. Have more than one colony (hive) if possible (useful for comparison and for transferring resources back and forth). Good colony management can help you create more hives after the first year.
  7. For over-wintered colonies, start with an early spring mite treatment, then test for mites throughout season, particularly starting in July before fall. Waiting too long to treat will probably result in a lost colony over the winter. Consider a secondary early winter treatment (usually December depending on the weather) for an additional treatment–when nearby colonies that are full of mites collapse in the fall, they can spread those mites to your “clean” colonies. High mite levels can result in a variety of problems/diseases in the fall and winter. The concern is the viruses and bacteria carried by mites to the bees more than the mites themselves, so it is important to keep the mite levels low prior to fall. Here is a handy tool for deciding what your treatment options are, based on time of year and other factors.
  8. Providing a water source prior to starting a colony (hive) is usually the best (so they won’t find your neighbor’s pool). They do seem to like water with minerals or some salinity/chlorine.
  9. Wax moth traps can be hung in spring to catch some of the moths and yellow jacket queens (jug with ac vinegar, banana, sugar, and water), but a strong hive won’t have issues with wax moths.
  10. Ant resistant barriers under the hive boxes will address most ants, but again, a healthy, strong hive won’t have real issues with ants. I have also found that switching from the combination of an inner cover/telescoping lid to no inner cover with migratory lids significantly reduces ant problems.
  11. For hive beetles, Swiffer pads or a beetle trap helps, but keeping a strong hive without lots of extra space and full sun is very important to reduce small hive beetle problems.
  12. If you have a chance of bears or other predators, start out with fencing (preferably some electric) rather than waiting for a problem to occur.
  13. During times of dearth and early fall, consider adding partial pollen patties to the top of your hive (pieces versus full patties usually help avoid hive beetles). Global patties brand is good.
  14. Leave plenty of resources for winter or feed with 2:1 (or thicker) syrup in early fall. Here is a table of syrup recipe amounts. Can consider adding candy board or winter patties late in winter if they are running out of stores. Pro-Sweet is a good fall feed to add weight quickly to low weight hives. We sell fall syrup in September and October at a greatly discounted price, at our Carlisle, PA, location.
  15. If you need to feed during spring, early fall, or an unusual period of dearth (like we had locally in July/August 2021), a hive top bucket with tint plugs (drill a 49mm hole in the bucket lid, and punch small holes in the plug) is very effective or a simple “baggie feeder” inside of a top hive 1 ½” shim works well (as do frame feeders with cap and ladder). I also use clear plastic quart jar feeders during times of year where feeding is only for stimulation and not to add significant weight to a colony.
  16. Before going into fall, control the mites. I can’t emphasize that enough.
  17. Before late fall, make sure the hive is packed with food and pollen—at least one full deep of resources, depending on your location.
  18. Too much moisture in the hive can amplify existing problems over the winter. Foam insulation boards on top of the hive (under the lid) or some reflectix is helpful for reducing moisture drips. Some people also use “quilt” boxes or similar tools to absorb moisture.
  19. After a successful first winter, make plans for re-queening. Queens can last for several years, but year old queens are usually the best for many reasons.

Favorite Products:

  1. For a jacket or suit, the 3-layer ventilated suits are more comfortable and fairly bee proof. Ultrabreeze or MannLake vented jackets or suits are good. I also like the jacket from Lyson because of its light weight and design that protects the back of your neck from sunburn. Add zippy cool or similar lubricant to your zippers for better functionality.
  2. Goatskin gloves are the best among traditional beekeeping gloves. Nitrile gloves also work and are better at preventing and spreading diseases. I prefer the biodegradable ones because they will be discarded.
  3. For woodenware (boxes and frames), finding a local supplier is usually the least expensive (for example, Martin’s Bee Supply—outside of Carlisle, PA is a good source). Wax dipping is a good way to protect boxes, but many other options are available.
  4. If you choose to treat Oxalic Acid Vapor (OAV) for mites and plan to have 10 or more hives, a Provap or similar product is a good long-term investment. Johno’s Easy Vap is a good alternative to the Provap at a lower cost. Whatever you do, if you’re using OAV, wear a respirator!
  5. For extracting, you can find inexpensive extractors for $150-300, or you can often rent one from your local beekeeping club. A heated knife or planer from Maxant is a good investment for prepping frames.
  6. Easycheck” is a good mite check container. I usually try for 1% or less (no more than 3 per 300 bees), but 2% or less is also accepted by some beekeepers. Half cup of nurse bees (usually found on a “bee bread” or brood frame), covered in 90% rubbing alcohol (Dawn Ultra detergent solution is also an option), shake gently for 60 seconds. Another mite check jar is the Ceracell test jar.

Sample Mite Treatment Plan (**this is only to give you an idea of the effort that is involved—it all depends on your mite counts and your location**). Note that Oxalic Acid and Formic are organic, and Apiguard is considered to be organic outside of the U.S. Apivar is not organic, and if it is used, you need time before adding any honey supers. You should also note that Apivar is not a quick treatment and takes time to lower the levels, so if you have a colony with a very high mite load, it may not be the best choice at that time (it has also seemed that Apviar has shown a lack of sufficient mite control in recent years–so if you use it, verify that it has worked). We prefer the organic treatments when possible, and we don’t treat while producing honey, pollen, propolis. If you are using Formic, what the temperatures carefully, introduce the treatment towards evening, and there is some evidence that laying the mylar (foil) wrapper on top of the formic pads can reduce queen loss (less of an immediate blast of formic). If you have a mite issue at that time, it’s better to pull that hive out of production and deal with the mites.

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