Newbee"Newbee", Hobbyist, Sideliner, Commercial...these terms are used in beekeeping to describe beekeepers and how they operate, but what is the difference between them?

  • A Newbee is a new beekeeper who has not yet gone through their second winter with their bees. Generally, beekeepers are considered "new" for the first 18 months of keeping bees.
  • A Hobbyist is a beekeeper who has survived their second winter and typically has between 1 and 25 hives, but some may have up to 50.
  • A Sideliner is a beekeeper who actively seeks income from their bees, as a side job. Sideliners usually keep their main "9-5" job while selling honey and bee products on the side.
  • A Commercial beekeeper's "9-5" job IS their bees. Their entire source of income is dependent on their bees, and they can have hundreds of hives to care for.

Being a new beekeeper comes with a lot of questions. Check out our helpful FAQs below. If you still have questions, we have bee experts ready to help! Give us a call at 1-800-233-2899 or email beehelp@kelleybees.com.

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! Kelley Beekeeping 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 roughly about after your first bee install. The (item #365-NE) contains all the before mentioned equipment plus a 2nd deep hive body, 2 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!

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. Placing your hive in area that tends to stay dry or dries quickly after rain fall helps prevent SHB. Keep in mind any pathways that people frequently walk, areas where children play and any caged pets or livestock encourages is SHB activities. 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. We also recommend facing the front toward the east. Having the morning sun hit the front of your hives helps with earlier foraging flights.

Q: Should I put a mark on my queen?
A: We recommend a mark be put on your queen. The marking is especially helpful to aid new beekeepers to locate the queen when thousands of other bees are 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. It also helps contain the bees to a small exit to help minimize absconding.

Q: How long do I need to feed my bees?
A: We recommend feeding your bees at least until the second brood box is being installed and there is a good strong nectar flow occurring. This should give you a full brood cycle and the beginnings of a robust colony. If it is later during the season before you receive your bees we recommend feeding your bees until the second brood box is nearly full. Never feed your bees when you have added honey supers as you want only pure nectar stored in these.

Q: How long do you feed a nuc colony after you’ve moved them to the permanent hive?
A: We recommend feeding your bees at least until the second brood box is being installed and there is a good strong nectar flow occurring. This should give you a full brood cycle and the beginnings of a robust colony. If it is later during the season before you receive your bees we recommend feeding your bees until the second brood box is nearly full. Never feed your bees when you have added honey supers as you want only pure nectar stored in these.

Q: What’s a nectar flow and how do I know if there’s one going on?
A: Nectar flow is when one or more major nectar sources are blooming and the weather is cooperating, allowing bees to collect the nectar. There’s a great resource that lists when native plants are blooming for a particular region, based on historical data. Bee Forage Regions

Q: Do I need to medicate my bees?
A: The package bees sold by Kelley Beekeeping 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 bees in the 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: We recommend 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 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. 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: How do I find the queen?
A: The queen is longer, especially compared to a worker bee, and she usually hangs around the brood nest, on the frames with open cells where she can lay eggs. Areas of increased bee movement may also indicate where she is.

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 eggs or larvae, contact us immediately. We guarantee 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: What if my purchased queen arrives dead? Why would she have died?
A: Excessive heat or cold, or getting soaked by syrup would be likely causes for the dead queen. If you receive a dead queen, obtain a replacement as soon as possible. If you do not get a queen ASAP, you run the risk of a laying worker, a situation extremely difficult to correct. We guarantee our queens; instructions on what to do should your queen arrive dead are provided when you order a package of bees from us.

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. We recommend taking frame with some nectar on it and moving it up to the middle of the new box. This will draw the bees up there. Be sure not to move brood up there because it will make it difficult for the bees to keep it warm.

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. We recommend putting 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. A couple other reasons bees won’t move up is if the nectar flow stopped, and there just isn’t anything to put in that box. Another possibility is that the super was stored by chemicals or gas that was absorbed into the wax. In that case, airing out the wax, or getting rid of it, may be the best option. You could also try spritzing it with sugar syrup to encourage them to move up.

Q: I now have my brood boxes mostly full. Can I put on a honey super?
A: Yes, you should put a super on this hive. When you see about seven full frames, this includes brood and the bridging area that is capped honey or open nectar cells. You want to make sure that your bees are not running out of room.

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. We recommend allowing the bees to draw out the comb prior to putting the queen excluder on. Once the comb is drawn, the bees will be more apt 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 (item number 56-JA) or Beetle Blasters (item number 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: 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-style 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-style frame and the SG-style 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.

It is very important that you match your frame style with the correct foundation.

Q: What types of foundation are available for each frame style?
A: We have a number of different types of foundation for each frame style.
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 Acorn Plastic (deep only)
  • Black Perma Dent (deep only)
  • White Perma Dent
  • White Acorn 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 many different designs that display up to four lines of information advertising your honey. Please allow 2-3 weeks for printing and delivery.

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, 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.

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.

Q: There appears to be sawdust at the bottom of the boxes. Termites?
A: Chances are no; that’s probably capping wax. The bees chewed off the cap of each cell of honeycomb in order to consume their stored honey.