What do we do until spring?

Spring is right around the corner. The weather is going to continue to show us a little bit of everything over the next few weeks. We just had ice and cold. We have had sunshine and warm days. Today we have the cold and the rain. It may seem like an impossible climate to schedule beekeeping in, but it is all in how you look at it.

As I stated in my previous post, this is the perfect time of the year to start working on your equipment. If you haven't already, start researching suppliers and putting your list together. You have plenty of options. I have my personal preferences, all based on past experience with several suppliers. I am not going to list those details out here, but if you have any questions, please feel free to get with me through the message center on your profile link in the website, or email me, or grab me at the next meeting. I do recommend you make sure you are comparing apples to apples when it comes to your wooden ware. Price point is usually a representation of quality. The quality may be due to the grade of lumber used, or it may be due to the precision of cuts. These things will make a huge difference when it comes to assembly.

Believe me.

Some things I have learned the hard way.

If you have a shop or a garage, building equipment in inclement weather is not a problem. I have been known to build equipment in my dining room. Those were the good old days when I was only building a box or two, but it can be done. If not, you may find yourself wondering how to start your operation or new hobby on the rainy or cold days. Have no fear! There are a few things you can do on the bad weather days, and they will go a long way towards making you a better beekeeper. For one thing, this is the perfect weather to curl up with a good book, a hot cup of tea, and educate yourself. In my beginner beekeeping classes, there are three books I highly recommend to all of my students. These are going to be your must-have, go to books for reference for years to come.

  • The Beekeepers Handbook by Diana Sammataro & Alphonse Avitablile
    • This book is a must have for reference. I have to admit, I have never read it cover to cover. It is a textbook, and is written as such. If you have insomnia, this should be your go to read...riveting. All joking aside, it is an invaluable tool, and I use this for reference every year. There are things you are going to come across during your career that you will not know anything about, or you will have forgotten.
      • This is your go-to-tool for those occasions.
  • Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping by Caron & Connor
    • This book is a beautiful book. Very suitable for the coffee table. The photography is beautiful. This alone is a great reason to add this book to your library. Also a valuable resource for new beekeepers simply because there are things in beekeeping better learned visually. The book is also very well written and very informative.
  • Swarm Essentials by Stephen Repasky with Lawrence John Connor
    • This is a MUST have book for any beekeeper. If you want to understand swarming, the early signs, and how to manage hives during this season, you need to read this book! It is a very easy read! You are working hard to get your apiary set up and going, why would you want to lose your bees to swarming? Learn how to spot the signs, and then manage your hives!

Public Service Announcement: All of the above books are on the shelf and available at D & L Farm and Home in Denton. D & L is a long-term supporter of the DCBA and they are local. Swing by and check out their beekeeping inventory.

If you would prefer to grab a bowl of popcorn and curl up on the couch, there are plenty of documentaries to watch as well. I love More than Honey. I think it is available on Amazon and possibly Google Play. It is also available on DVD from most beekeeping suppliers. I have a few copies, and will donate them to the library before our next meeting. If you really want to curl up and watch a drama, go check out the new series on Netflix called Rotten. The first episode is all about the honey industry, but I'm gonna bet you don't stop there. There are six episodes in this series, and I so hope they make more!

There are a ton of books on beekeeping. Hopefully you will add many to your library. Just pay attention to the region the books originate from. A beekeeping book written in the north east may have a ton of valuable information, it may be very well written, but it may not be very applicable to Texas beekeeping. The same goes for the Internet. There are hundreds of websites, and don't even get me started on the YouTube videos available. Just because someone is doing something, with great success online, does not mean you will be able to apply the same methods here in North Texas. It is up to you to be able to discern what you can apply in your area, and also what your bees need from you. Most of you have, or will, hear the phrase, "Ask ten beekeepers the same question, and you will get fifteen different answers." This is very true. It will happen and can be a little confusing if you are new to managing this type of livestock. Typically there is only one right answer. You may have some options on how you accomplish the task at hand, but in the end, you will learn your bees will tell you what they need.

You just have to learn how to ask.




Come on Springtime!



This is the time of year that drives me the most insane! I always look forward to winter. I like sweaters, scarves, and warm boots. I am also usually excited for the cool down because I've survived another Texas summer. Then January and February hit. It is still winter. We can get some of our worst winter weather in these months, but...Texas likes to throw in the occasional 75 or 80 degree day. Just enough to make you throw on some shorts and go outside! Spring Fever is a real thing and I suffer unbearably every year. I try to remind myself, there are those who aren't as fortunate. There are those who don't see the glimpses of spring we do.

Count your blessings, I say to myself.

Be patient.

Spring will be here before you know it.

The more warm days I see, the more restless I become.

Come on, already!

My only choice. Stay busy! This is the time of year for preparation. January and February are perfect months to think about your beekeeping equipment. If you are new to beekeeping, this is the time to get those orders placed. If you already have bees, this is the time to evaluate old equipment and think about the plans you have for your apiary. Are you purchasing nucs or package bees this year? Do you plan on increasing your apiary via splits? Do you have a nice size hive and anticipate a larger honey crop in 2018? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will need some equipment. Evaluate your needs, make your lists, and get your orders placed now. Hopefully you attended my presentation in the February general meeting on Equipment. If not, have no fear, I will cover my basic recommendations in this post.

You may be an experienced beekeeper. You may not even have bees yet. I think we can all agree, a lot of beekeeping preparation is based on an educated guess. Will my hive be large enough to split? Will I catch any swarms this year? Will the nectar flow provide an abundant honey crop? I wish I had the answers to these questions. The facts are...we are engaged in agriculture in Texas! There are too many factors to vary in. Our best option is to learn as much as we can regarding the livestock we manage, and do our best to prepare for everything!

Keep in mind, price is not everything. In my experience, the cheaper the cost, the lower the quality. This is not always true, but best to investigate and ask questions. When it comes to wooden ware, the biggest question is the grade of the lumber used. Most suppliers will offer a Select grade - this is the best lumber available. It has fewer knots and flaws, and the cuts are typically more precise. This is huge when it comes to assembly. A box is only going to be as square as the cuts allow. I have purchased commercial grade equipment in the past. After wrestling with it during assembly, I had to settle for a box that was not square, or if I forced it square, the wood would split. Building equipment is fun. It is even more fun when you have a quality hive that can last for years to come.

I will leave you with a recap of the equipment I recommend for one hive. In an ideal world, you will order and build prior to receiving your bees. This list is only an educated guess on what an average size hive will need. I have seen hives exceed these requirements with proper management.


  • Screened Bottom Board
  • Two - deep or brood boxes, with frames and foundation
  • Two - Supers, with frames and foundation
  • One lid
  • Feeder