Beekeeping Class 101 - Class #3: What Goes On Inside the Hive?

Posted by William Lewis on

Beekeeping Class 101You’ve got your bees! You’ve got your box! Now What?
Hopefully, you were successful in installing your bee packages. Now we’re going to take a look inside the hive. You’ll find the queen and her eggs and identify the progressive stages of growth. You’ll be able to compare the progress of your new bees to see how they’re doing. Join us on April 19th (9am-noon) at Bill’s Bees Bee Yard for Class #3 of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association Beekeeping Class 101.

"I liked the ABeeC's Beginning Beekeeping article by Phill Remick "Blind Leading the Blind," says Bill. It's reprinted below.

Blind Leading the Blind

by Phill Remick

"Recently I met an individual who is quite new to the world of beekeeping but blessed with rather good fortune in the financial realm. His more than adequate monetary resources have opened many doors for his new business, which revolves around keeping bees.

This particular person and I were having a bee-related discussion at my office when I brought up something he didn’t agree with. Suddenly his demeanor sharply changed as he told me, “I’ve read all the books and I’ve never heard that before. Are you sure?” I stared him straight in the eyes as we closed our conversation stating that having read ‘All the books’ doesn’t mean a thing when you arrive in the bee yard, because the honey bees have their own library.

Anybody can start a business or beekeeping in their backyard or in their town while reading ‘all the books’. Is that enough? The trick is to associate with reliable, trustworthy, knowledgeable sources; those capable of relating the subtle nuances honey bees display regardless of what is written about them. Learn from these individuals! Whether you’ve visited an apiary one time or several thousand times, there is always information to glean from our honey bearing friends and experienced beekeepers with their hive tools in hand. Their boots on the ground and years and years of seasonal experience out-knowledge any beekeeping book on the shelf.

For example: one of my students said he had been reading and reading - but now, after opening hives and listening to my explanations - he finally got it! It is one thing to read about bees, it is another to experience them and hear about them from a qualified beekeeper, capable of pointing out the differences of a particular beehive as the bees are flying around your veil… and comparing one beehive to another: a totally different venture than any book describes.

This is the verbiage of a beekeeping club whose comments I monitor: We are desperate for mentors! Anyone with at least a year or more of beekeeping experience is welcome to sign up to help new beekeepers.

To me, this is the blind leading the blind and is something to be acutely aware of IF you want to be more than a backyard ‘bee-haver.’

Beekeeping is detailed. It can throw you a curve ball or two, or three. In a yard of five hives each colony may present totally different problems. Your book related one or two of those issues. Guess what? Bees are not predictable, nor are the weather, water, forage, pests, pesticides or predators. Your book may not tell you all the subtleties that differentiate each hive - or how to address it. Books are books. Knowledgeable beekeepers have the experience to lead, teach and guide you through most of the variances that any hive can offer up.

Read a book? I highly suggest reading all you can! Is that all you need to do to be a good beekeeper? NO! Is a mentor who has only had one more season of experience than you what you need as a guide? I’m sure you can answer that by now.

A Stinging Rebuke

IF, and notice that I use the word ‘IF’ you want to be more than a bee-haver, you must not only read as much as you can, but align yourself with a proven, long-term, experienced beekeeper as a mentor and teacher. There is NO substitute for experience…and one season/new beekeepers just don’t have it.

Check out your ‘mentor.’ What is their experience? How many colonies have they kept? Is it one season of beekeeping or is 15-30 years of beekeeping? Have they taught before? How many people have they taught? Do they teach beginning, intermediate and advanced? Can they supply on-site hive management and analysis of any problems you may have? Or…are they just guessing?

If you ‘wing it’…your bees may die. If you decide to become a long-term, serious beekeeper, then you need to invest in a series of classes taught by an expert—not beekeepers that have only one or two seasons more experience than you do. A new beekeeper may want the notoriety of teaching a class, but their lack of long-term experience will not pay for your loss of hives.

Investigate who you align yourselves with. There is the time-worn but accurate expression, "You get what you pay for." You can get second-hand or even new books and try to teach yourself. You can buddy up with another newbie and together guess at what you are doing. Or, you can get years of beekeeping experience over the phone and even personal visits to your own apiary by an expert. You get what you pay for. Classes and years of experience are worth every penny if it gives you the first-hand, on-site experience that will help you to become the long-term beekeeper that can make a difference to the honey bees existence."

Phill Remick is a former commercial beekeeper who teaches beekeeping classes, offers year round apiary troubleshooting, hive management and sells beekeeping supplies near Albuquerque, NM. Contact him at

The above installment of “ABeeCs” by Phill Remick, appeared in the April 2015 Newsletter ~ Kelley Beekeeping.

Bill Lewis and Clyde Steese have been keeping bees and teaching beekeeping for many years. To learn more about Bill and Clyde, check out our About Us page. Or, you can simply ask them at our next Beekeeping Class 101.

Enjoy your bees!
Bill & Clyde
Bill's Bees

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