Newbee and Hobbyist
Q: What is a NewBee versus a Hobbyist?
A: A NewBee is a new beekeeper (0-18 months) or until you have survived your 2nd winter. A Hobbyist has survived his or her 2nd winter and typically has between 1 and 25 hives although some hobbyists have up to 50.
Q: I’m a new beekeeper, what equipment do I need to get started?
A: That’s a great question! Walter T. Kelley makes that easy for you! We have two beginner kits: Kelley’s Beginner’s Kit (item #365-N) and the Deluxe Beginner’s Kit with shallow supers (item #365-NE). The (item #365-N) contains one deep hive body, (10) “N” style frames, wired foundation, (20) support pins, a wooden inner cover, plastic telescoping outer cover, screened bottom board, entrance reducer, entrance feeder, hive tool, smoker, goatskin gloves, round veil and helmet, plus the HOW TO KEEP BEES AND SELL HONEY book written by Walter T. Kelley as well as assembly instructions. It has everything you need to become a “Newbee”. However, the deluxe version includes additional equipment that will be needed just a few short weeks after your first bee install. The (item #365-NE) contains all the before mentioned equipment plus a 2nd deep hive body, (2) additional shallow honey supers, giving you a complete (4) box hive, (30) more frames & wired foundation to fill your three extra boxes, a bee brush, smoker fuel, a pullover jacket and a second beginning beekeeper book. By purchasing this kit, you won’t have to place a 2nd order for the additional equipment that you’ll need in a surprisingly short amount of time.
We also suggest that new beekeepers start with two complete hives because it helps with comparison (think of this as self-education!), can provide resources from the stronger hive to the weaker hive, and act as an insurance in case something happens to one of the hives or you get double the honey if not!
Our suggestion, purchase the Deluxe Beginners Outfit (item #365-NE) and a Kentucky Special (item #KS), which is a complete hive containing (2) deep hive bodies, (2) shallow supers, (40) frames, wired foundation, plastic telescoping cover, screened bottom board, entrance reducer and boardman entrance feeder. Sounds complicated - It’s not. By purchasing both the (item #365-NE) and the (item #KS) you have two complete hives and all the equipment for a new beekeeper to get started.
Q. When can I place an order for package bees?
A. Our answer, the earlier, the better! You can start ordering package bees as early as December. You can place orders from December through May, with pick-up or USPS shipment occurring each Saturday in April and May; however, we are only able to purchase a certain quantity for each bee Saturday and please remember, they are first come, first serve. Order early!
Q: What type of queens do you sell and are they guaranteed?
A: Walter T. Kelley sells Italian, Russian, Carniolans and Cordovan queens and yes, we do guarantee our queens to arrive healthy and egg producing. Should you find that your queen is not producing eggs within 10 calendar days of installation, simply notify us and we will send you a replacement queen; however, Walter T. Kelley does not cover the shipping cost for the replacement queen.
Q: Are all these bees from the same hives originally?
A: No, these bees were probably shook from different hives and they have never encountered the queen that was included with the package. There are approximately 10,000 bees in a package.
Q: What is the best location for placing my hives?
A: Because of the problems associated with the Small Hive Beetle (SHB) today, it is thought that a bright sunny location is best. The SHB does not tolerate light very well. Keep in mind any pathways that people frequent, areas where children play and any caged pets or livestock. A natural barrier against prevailing winter winds can be helpful too. Place your hives where there is easy access year round and you will naturally take better care of them. Kelley’s also likes to have the morning sun hitting the front of our hives so face the front door to the East; they will wake up and fly earlier.
Q: Should I put a mark on my queen?
A: We recommend a mark be put on your queen. This especially important to aid new beekeepers to help locate the queen from the thousands of other bees in the hive. When doing inspections it is important to be aware of the queen’s location so you don’t accidentally injure her.
Q: Is it necessary to feed my new colony?
A: Yes, a mixture of 1 to 1 sugar water is recommended. The addition of Honey-B-Healthy added to the syrup can also have many beneficial effects.
Q: How do I mix 1:1 syrup?
A: Remember this is 1-1 by weight, not volume. An easy way to get close is to put 5 lbs. of granulated cane sugar into a 1 gallon milk jug and top off with hot tap water and shake vigorously.
Q: Is it necessary to reduce my entrance for a new colony?
A: Yes, you should regard this colony as weak and reducing the entrance will allow them to defend their colony better against robbing bees.
Q: How long do I need to feed my bees?
A: Kelley’s recommends feeding your bees at least until you have added a second brood box and there is a good strong nectar flow occurring. This should give you a full brood cycle and the beginnings of a robust colony. Never feed your bees when you have added honey supers as you want only pure nectar stored in these.
Q: Do I need to medicate my bees?
A: The package bees sold at Kelley’s have been treated for Nosema disease with Fumagilin-B and carry health certificates from their home states. While we are not advocates of treating bees with chemicals unless you have a known problem, this may be part of your management plan. Fumagilin – B is an antibiotic and treating bee’s spring and fall is recommended for the prevention of Nosema. We encourage you to do your own research and make informed decisions. Remember, you should always read and follow label directions.
Q: When is my first inspection?
A: Kelley’s recommends you leave your colony undisturbed for at least three days from the date of the install. The fewer disturbances during the get acquainted period the better. You will need to keep your feeder full and you may observe your bees at the entrance as they begin to set up housekeeping. At the end of three days, you should smoke your hive lightly, remove the outer and inner covers and check to see if your queen has been released. If the candy has been chewed through and your queen is out remove the queen cage, slide your frames back together gently and add the frame back to the box that you took out at install.
Q: When is my next inspection?
A: Seven days after the release of your queen or ten days from the install will be your next inspection. Again smoke your hive lightly, begin with one of your frames on the wall of the box and remove it gently. Next separate the next frame and remove gently inspecting while you go. The center of your box is where you will find the majority of the bees and the queen, in most cases. When you locate the queen on a frame, hold it up with the sun at your back and peer into the cells and try to find the small white eggs. Even if you can’t locate the queen, if you see the eggs you’re good. Carefully reassemble the frames and close up your hive and continue to feed. Inspections continue about every ten days.
Q: If my queen has not laid any eggs and I am not seeing any larvae after two weeks, what should I do?
A: If after two weeks time you are not seeing any eggs or larvae, you need to contact us immediately! We guarantee you a live fertile queen but it is your responsibility to inform us of any problems within two weeks. If you wait longer than two weeks we are no longer responsible for any problems associated with the health of your bees.
Q: When do I add another box?
A: When the bees have covered 8-9 frames in a ten frame box, it is time to add another box.
Q: Is there anything I can do to encourage my bees to move up to the second box?
A: You may take a frame from the box below that has bees and brood on it and move it to the top box. I would put this frame in the center of the new box. Be sure to replace the frame down below in the empty spot and don’t move your queen up.
Q: I now have my brood boxes mostly full. Can I put on a honey super?
A: Yes and you should super this hive when about two thirds of the frames in the second box are fully involved with bees, drawn comb and stores.
Q: Should I use a queen excluder?
A: Many people use queen excluders to keep the queen from traveling up to the super and laying eggs. What I recommend you do is to allow the bees to draw out the comb prior to putting the queen excluder on. Once the comb is drawn the bees will be more inclined to travel through the excluder.
Q: My hive is infested with Small Hive Beetle. What should I do?
A. We recommend that you install either Beetle Jails (56-JA) or Beetle Blasters (56-B) in the hive, two jails or blasters per brood box. Then spread granulated salt on the ground underneath and around the hive.
Q: Your catalog has six types of frames, what type of frame do you recommend?
A: That depends on several factors: foundation being used, how “handy” you are, and the amount of time you have. We generally recommend our “N” style frames due to ease of use. You’ll simply slide the foundation into the slotted top bar until it seats in the grooved bottom bar. The “D” style frames have a long tradition with beekeepers; however the “wedge” that stabilizes the foundation must be nailed in place. The “D” style frame has a slotted bottom bar that allows the foundation to lay between the two piece bottom bar. If you’re using plastic foundation then you will need the “SGX” frames, which have a grooved top and grooved bottom bar. Some natural beekeepers prefer the “F” frames, which are foundationless frames which require the bees to develop the comb, without the help of foundation. We even have two final frames, the “S” frame and the “SG” frame, both of these frames have wedge top bars that must be nailed on. The difference between these two frames is their bottom bar. “S” frames have a solid bottom bar and the “SG” frames have a grooved bottom bar.
By the way – it is very important that you match your frame style with the correct foundation.
Q: What is foundation and what does “with hooks” mean?
A: Foundation is what we call “the bees’ comb starter kit” – it gives the bees a jump start on drawing out comb, which means you get a jump start to extracting honey. We sell foundation that is made of 100% beeswax, which the bees love or foundation that is made of plastic and covered with beeswax. Typically you’ll see beeswax foundation used by most hobbyist and sideliner beekeepers, with plastic foundation heavily used by the commercial beekeepers – although they too use beeswax foundation. Foundation “with Hooks” is foundation that is attached to any frame with a “wedge” top bar. Frames that use foundation “with hooks” include the following styles: D, S, & SG. Wired foundation that contain “no hooks” include frame styles: N & SGX. Remember “F” style frames have no foundation.
Q: What types of foundation are available for each frame style?
A: Foundation for the D Style Frames; wedge top bar, divided bottom bar
- Wired with Hooks
- Small Cell – Wired with Hooks
- Plain Foundation
- Small Cell – Plain Foundation
- 7/11 Milled (shallow or medium only)
- Thin Wax – No Wire(shallow or medium only)
Foundation for the N Style Frames; slotted top bar, grooved bottom bar
- Wired with No Hooks
- Small Cell – Wired with No Hooks
- Plain Foundation
- Small Cell – Plain Foundation
Foundation for the S Style Frames; wedge top bar, solid bottom bar
- Wired with Hooks
- Plain Foundation (shallow only)
- 7/11 Milled (shallow only)
- Thin Wax – No Wire (shallow or medium only)
Foundation for the SG Style Frames; wedge top bar, grooved bottom bar
- Wired with Hooks
- Plain Foundation – No Wire
Foundation for the SGX Style Frames; grooved top bar, grooved bottom bar
- Wired with No Hooks
- Black Pierco Plastic (deep only)
- Black Perma Dent (deep only)
- White Perma Dent
- White Pierco Plastic (deep or medium only)
- Small Cell – Wired with No Hooks (medium only)
Q: I want to sell my honey. Do you provide custom printed labels for honey containers?
A: Yes, we provide 24 different designs that can hold (4) lines of information advertising your honey. Please allow 2-3 weeks for printing and delivery. We suggest that if this is your first label order that you send us your information by email or fax. Orders taken over the phone have a higher probability for mistakes and are at the customer’s risk. When ordering labels please be sure to your four lines of information (normally your company name and address), label number, size and quantity.
Q: What is the recommended hive tool?
A: Actually the most desired hive tool we carry is the Kent Williams Hive Tool (Item #152-KWA). Yes, it is our most expensive hive tool at $17.00, but it combines two tools in one. Designed by one of Kentucky’s two Master Beekeepers, this tool has a strong scraper end for prying between hive bodies and removing burr comb plus a hook that makes prying up frames during your hive inspections easier. You’ll quickly see that this hook comes in very handy when you’re trying to work efficiently in your hive – and like we stated earlier – it was developed by a master beekeeper, so it must be a useful and needed piece of equipment!
Q: I would like to order a pair of protective coveralls, how do I know what size to order?
A: You’ll first need to measure your chest size and view our sizing chart. Once you have the chest measurement we suggest that you increase that chest size by four inches. You’ll want plenty of room to allow for easy and comfortable movement around your hives. Remember the coverall will be “covering” your regular clothing.
Deluxe Beginners Outfit (item #365-NE) AND a Kentucky Special (item #KS), which is a complete hive containing (2) deep hive bodies, (2) shallow supers, (40) frames, wired foundation, plastic telescoping cover, screened bottom board, entrance reducer and boardman entrance feeder. Sounds complicated - It’s not. By purchasing both the (item #365-NE) and the (item #KS) you have two complete hives and all the equipment for a new beekeeper to get started.