TedsWoodworking Plans and Projects

Backyard Beekeeping FAQ

This month I compiled a list of frequently asked questions for those just having gotten into beekeeping or are contemplating a backyard beekeeping venture. Hope it will be informational for many of you.

When do I order package bees?
It is best to order package bees for spring delivery. The bees should be delivered after the date of the last hard freeze for your region. The honey bee suppliers will be able to help you determine the best delivery date.

When should I hive my new package of honey bees?
The best time to hive new bees is late afternoon or early evening. Spray the honey bees with sugar water while still in the shipping container. This will make it easier to put the bees in the hive.

What kind of frames should I use when starting with package bees?
Best not to mix solid plastic frames with wood frames when hiving package bees. It is confusing to the bees when mixed. I recommend using wood frames when hiving package bees.

What do I feed my bees in the spring?
It is best to feed a mixture of sugar and water in a 1:1 ratio. The bees will use the sugar syrup till natural sources are available. In the fall, use a two part sugar to one part water ratio if the bees do not have adequate winter stores of honey. In spring you can stimulate the bees to raise brood by feeding them sugar syrup before natural food sources become available.

Where do I place my hive?
If you are in the city, you should put the entrance of the hive facing a high fence. This will force the bees to fly in a high flight pattern, avoiding neighbors. It is good to give the hives a wind break to protect them, especially for those of you in the northern climates…provide a wind-break from prevailing northwest winds. It is also a great idea to place the entrance facing the morning sun to allow the bees an early start in the morning. The hive can be placed on concrtet blocks or a wooden pallet to keep it off the ground. It should have a gentle slope forward so as to allow rain and snow to drain out.

Do I paint the inside of the hive?
No, paint the outside of the beehive only. Allow it to dry thoroughly before installing the bees.

How often should I check my new hive?
You can open the hive after a few days to see if the queen has been released. If the queen has been released, you should check for eggs and larvae to be sure she is active. If the queen has not been released, enlarge the hole in the candy in the queen cage. Three weeks after you have hived the package, you can examine the colony again. Be sure to keep feeding the colony sugar syrup during this time to stimulate comb building. You should see sealed brood in the colony at this time.

When should I add a second hive body or super?
You should add the second hive body or super when the majority of the frames in the first hive body are fully drawn out,( 8-9 frames). A second super should be added after the first super is about one-half full.

How much honey should I leave on the hive for the winter?
As a rule you should have a full super or second hive body and at least 30 pounds of honey in the brood nest. This will amount to a total 70 pounds of honey for winter and early spring consumption. Many bees have died of starvation in winter months rather than the cold temperatures as a novice beekeeper suspects. HEALTHY bees with adequate food stores, can tolerate severe winter temperatures.

What should I look for in spring in the colony?
You should check for evidence that the queen is laying eggs. You should also check the honey stores and pollen supply. Make sure they have plenty! If the honey stores are low, you should start feeding sugar syrup in a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water. The bees may consume about 10 pounds of sugar syrup in a one-week period. Keep feeding till dandelions bloom.

How can I get information or help about beekeeping in my area?
All 50 states have state and local associations and are a very good source of information and help. They will be able to direct you to a bee club or an association in your area. Dadant & Sons from Illinois has contact information on state associations and they would be happy to assist you with getting that information. Their phone number is 1-888-922-1293.

How can I get information about starting a beekeeping operation?
Go to www.discoverbeekeeping.com and there you will find information that will help you get started, in fact, you will find a comprehensive ebook that is written specifically for beginning beekepers!

Happy and successful beekeeping to all of you!


  1. bonnie cornelius says

    Thank you that was a great clip! What a help to brand new beekeepers. Wish I could have had it when I started. Bonnie

  2. Thanks Bonnie, it’s one of the best I’ve seen too. glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Where can I buy just one complete frame for my hives? Thanks,

  4. Sorry Bill, Don’t know of anyone selling individual frames. You might try craigslist to see if someone in your area may have an extra.

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