Your honey bees’ health is important. Bees have evolved to be able to successfully manage and protect their hives, but it doesn’t hurt to help them out. Honey bees face many threats throughout their lives, including pests, diseases, and man-made pesticides and other toxins. Fortunately, you can adopt a few habits and precautions to ensure the well-being of your colonies. For a more productive honey crop and happier bees in your apiary, here’s how to keep your honey bees healthy.
Keep Out Pests
Two of the biggest health concerns honey bees deal with are pests and diseases. Since many pests carry dangerous diseases into the hive, it’s important to pest-proof your beehives. Use a hive stand to keep your hives away from the ground and any passing predators or pests that might try to burrow in. Similarly, keep the grass and other vegetation around your hive trimmed so that ants, mites, or other small pests can’t use it to reach the bottom of or the entrance to your hive. When performing hive inspections, look out for varroa mites and other pests. This way, you can catch the problem early and fix it before your bees sustain serious damage.
Practice Good Hive Hygiene
Good hygiene is key to controlling any kind of sickness or disease. When working in your hives, make sure your equipment is always clean. Get rid of wax, propolis, or honey buildup on your tools, extracting equipment, and honey containers. If you purchase hives or equipment secondhand, make sure the beekeeper you’re buying from regularly cleans and checks their equipment for pests and diseases. You should also keep the hives themselves clear of old combs, honey spills, or scraps of beeswax.
Many pesticides and other garden chemicals can do serious damage to local bee populations. When honey bees gather pollen or nectar from a flower covered in pesticide, they then carry that chemical back to their hives and to the colony’s food supply. This is how toxins and the resulting health issues can spread throughout an entire honey bee colony. One of the most important parts of how to keep your honey bees healthy is to make sure their natural food sources are chemical-free. Use only natural pesticides or herbicides on any vegetation you keep, and ask your neighbors and local farmers to do the same.
Kelley Beekeeping is here to help you keep your colonies healthy and thriving. Purchase hive stands, varroa mite test kits, and reliable bee frames and other hive equipment for your apiary. When you practice good beekeeping habits and keep a careful eye out for potential issues, you can help your hives stay healthy and productive for years to come.