Hive Inspections & Maintenance

For people looking to have a hands-free approach to beekeeping, bee lovers with allergies, or people who are wanting to slowly learn without the risk of losing a hive, we offer hive maintenance options.

We partner with our hive hosts to keep the hives alive and maintained. We harvest the honey, inspect the hive for diseases, and all the work in between.

This option is only offered within the Bryan/ College Station area (within 10-15 minutes of town center) and is best for people with 5-20 hives.

 

Mentorships

Finding a mentor and networking with other beekeepers is the absolute best way to get into beekeeping. It’s also a great way to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes the rest of us did! Selecting a mentor can be difficult if you don’t know where to start.

Here are some places you can look to get the advice and resources that will most help you:
  • Find your local beekeeper’s club. Most states have this, but Texas is especially well equipped with Beekeeper Associations throughout most areas of Texas. If you’re looking for bee clubs near you, the Texas Beekeepers Association can be a great resource for finding those clubs.
  • Join Beekeeper related Facebook groups. These groups are often not “public” but are generally pretty accessible if you just ask to join. Once you find some groups you can post asking if there are any beekeepers near you.
  • Ask your local contacts – pest control services, farmers, farm supply stores, and even your county extension offices may have leads on local beekeepers that you can reach out to.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. I’ve learned that this industry is incredibly welcoming and that most people enjoy sharing everything they know with anybody who wants to listen. If you put it out there, you’re very likely to get what you need… well, at least more likely than if you didn’t say anything at all.
  • Youtube is a pretty good mentor if all the above fail, however, make sure you seek out people who are in a similar climate to you. Texas has many different climates so nothing beats a local beekeeping friend.
  • Attend bee schools near you – these are an awesome resource and a great way to support beekeepers near you while networking with people who can help you expand your knowledge.

Questions you may want to ask yourself before you seek a mentor, but also remember that it’s a good idea to keep an open mind. Often times people have great advice that may seem to contradict your ideals as a beekeeper. Although I encourage you to figure out what type of beekeeper you want to be (example: treatment vs. treatment free), I would also strongly encourage you to always listen to both sides of the coin. I’ve learned a lot about management tactics from both sides. Great beekeepers are often times people with a good level of common sense – just keep an open mind and let your mind decide what the “right thing” to do is because you will absolutely hear contradicting opinions and advice.

Finding someone with a similar approach can help you get the practical knowledge that’s hard to get in books. Here are some questions that may help you to decide who the right mentor is for you.
  • Do you plan to treat your bees for diseases, mites, etc.?
  • What type of hive will you be using?
  • What is your climate?
  • Are you in a rural or urban area? (Hint: These can have vastly different challenges)
  • How big do you plan to get? Find someone who can handle at least the number of hives you plan to manage.
  • What is your goal as a beekeeper?

We’re members of Texas Beekeepers Association, American Beekeeping Federation, Brazos Valley Beekeepers Association, and the Central Texas Beekeepers Association.

Although we typically charge for our beekeeping classes, each year we take a small number of mentees on in order to meet our personal outreach goals. Since we’re also involved in the Texas Master Beekeeper program, we also use these mentee / mentor relationships to help meet our service credit requirements.

Beekeeping Classes

** Classes take place during the Spring and are sold in the online store when available **

We offer a variety of different class levels from new bee classes to intermediate classes.

If you’re thinking about starting a backyard beehive or are just curious about what’s involved with keeping bees, then this is a great introductory class for you. The class is designed for absolute beginners so, no prerequisite knowledge is required. You can walk in knowing absolutely nothing about bees and walk out ready to get started with your own backyard beehive! We will teach you how the honey bee lives, discuss different hive designs, and share practical information about how to set up your first beehive.

Our class will focus on natural beekeeping practices which are often different than most beekeeping books. So, even if you have read a few books, taken some other classes or already started keeping bees, this class will still have a lot to offer you.

For more advanced classes, the best thing to do, at this point, is contact us.

Beginner Beekeeping Topics:

  • Intro to bee biology
  • Bee nutrition basics – plants and supplemental feed
  • Honey and other hive products
  • Hive types – what’s right for you?
  • Safety precautions – equipment, gear and other methods to avoid stings
  • Where and how to buy bees
  • Hive inspection basics and identifying the hive structure

Intermediate Beekeeping Class Topics:

  • Bee Biology
  • Advanced bee nutrition
  • Advanced hive inspection techniques
  • Identifying pests, viruses, and diseases
  • Beekeeping calendar
  • Installing bees into your hive
  • Swarm prevention
  • Taking corrective action in the hive – diseases, queenlessness, laying workers, etc.

All of our classes vary based on questions asked as well as information we’ve learned along the way. We are constantly learning from our own experiences as well as the experiences from others – we’ll never stop learning and we suggest you do the same.

Live Bee Removal

We partner with professionals with construction experience to perform live bee removals in the Bryan/College Station area.

Why is the construction experience important? Bees build their hives anywhere – in walls, attics, in gaps between bricks. Construction knowledge helps when you start deconstructing a home to get to the hive. Doing this skillfully and carefully makes it a less expensive repair and project overall.

Before you kill or spray the bees, consider a few key facts.

  1. This is your opportunity to save the bees. It’s often just as expensive to perform a live bee removal as it is to spray them using a pest control company. In fact, we’ll match pricing from a reputable pest control company to help ensure that the bees will survive. Bees are an important part of our ecosystem – they provide pollination that produces fruits, vegetables, coffee, cocoa, etc. We’ll rehome them to our yard or to a local beekeeper that will continue to manage and care for them.
  2. It’s very important to remove the entire hive, including comb, brood, honey, and all the bees from the home rather than sealing them in. Here in Aggieland, Texas, it gets hot and all that organic material will melt and spoil.

Using a professional when having bees removed from your home is important. A professional will explain the steps that are taken to remove the bees – it may be a full day or multi-day project and will often times be timed to make sure the maximum number of bees are collected and removed.

Because this is Texas, we have swarms throughout most of the year – if you see a cluster of bees hanging from a tree in your yard, it’s important to call immediately. If left alone, the bees will find a much more hidden place to live – even if that’s inside yours or your neighbor’s home. Swarms are quick and easy – way less invasive than removing them once they’ve established themselves. Calling as soon as you notice bee activity is the best way to cost yourself less money and stress in the long run.

What to expect when you get bees removed from your home:

  • The use of a bee vacuum may be necessary. A bee vacuum is not a regular vacuum – it’s a specialized vacuum attached to a bee box. This allows the bee removal specialist to collect the bees safely and quickly.
  • Natural bee repellants are often used to help keep the bees away after the removal is complete. Although there are usually a few stragglers, (bees that hadn’t made it back to the hive yet or who fled during the removal) they should only last a few days and are less aggressive since they do not have a hive and queen to defend.
  •  Although it’s more common that the bees are calm, we cannot depend on that. It is possible that the bees will be defensive when their home is broken into. Beekeeping suits are worn to protect the professional and the area is cleared until the level of aggression of the hive is determined. The professional will have tricks to help calm the bees and is trained to properly cut and remove the hive carefully to limit the bees stress and anger.
  • Repairs will likely be needed. This is, again, why it it’s important to use a professional. Repairs are often needed once the hive is removed. This could include masonry repairs, sheetrock or carpentry. A professional will limit the need of repairs by keeping the damage to a minimum and putting the structure back together as well as possible.

There is a lot of agriculture in the Brazos Valley and bees are a key component of agricultural success. When we remove bees from homes around the Bryan and College Station area, we put them to work doing what they love to do – pollinate.

Pests – Small Hive Beetles

If you’ve got bees, and especially in Texas, you probably have hive beetles. It’s important to keep strong colonies so that you can ensure that your bees can handle the hive beetles.

Integrated Pest Management is a practice that’s highly recommended by the Texas Apiary Inspection Service. The previous link leads to a guide on their website that is extremely helpful in managing your bee colonies. Learning how to identify pests and take the appropriate action is part of the learning curve for a new beekeeper.

Identifying Small Hive Beetles – According to the OSU Extension Service – Adult SHB (pictured above) appearance can vary even within a single population. In general, the adults are brown to black in color, oval shaped, and about 5.7 mm (approximately 1/4 inch) long or about one-third the size of a honey bee. Often beekeepers are confused regarding SHB identification as there are several other beetles of similar shape, color, and size that are often found in or around the honey bee colonies, such as sap beetles (family: Nitidulidae) and rove beetles (family: Staphylinidae).

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-5-05-24-pmHere are some “pro tips” for you that we’ve used:

  • You can put unscented swiffer pads at the top of the hive to help give the bees a place to chase the beetles. The beetles will get trapped in the fibers of the swiffer pads.
  • Specialized hive beetle traps are sold as well. It’s interesting to watch the bees trap the beetles using propolis and corralling them into small, manageable spaces. However, if a hive is unhealthy or gets stressed, they will not have the bees to commit to this job and hive beetles can take over.
  • Keep a strong colony.
  • Downsize your colony to the appropriate space. If your bees are not filling the box they’re in, consider downsizing to smaller box (nucleus colonies are great for this purpose) or removing supers/extra space.
  • Only feed the bees protein patties when they really need them and in appropriate amounts. Protein patties are a great food source for hive beetles as well and you want to make sure the bees eat it relatively quickly.
  • Squish them when you see them. This sounds awful, but these guys can reproduce like crazy so getting rid of them when you can is a good idea.
  • Remove frames with hive beetle larvae and freeze them. If a hive has gotten to the point of having hive beetle larvae, it needs your help. Consider combining the hive with a stronger colony, reducing the space, or any combination of the above advice.

Good luck and let us know if you have other ideas for ways to reduce/eliminate hive beetles.

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