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12 Tips from experienced mentors


These are some of the quotes/tips given to me when I started out about 27 yrs ago. Tip #12 A virgin queen outruns the drones from her own colony. Tip #11 A shakened queen is a dead queen. Tip #10 Use a frame of brood when catching swarms. Tip #9 Dark honey from an old frame is higher in nutrition. Tip #8 If you can’t see light through an old frame, it’s time to cut it out. Tip #7 A good honey flow can burn a hives population out. Tip #6 How to make a bee escape. Tip #5 Use a vinyl mat on top of honey frames. Tip #4 How to process beeswax. Tip #3 A beekeepers work is never finished. Tip #2 A new swarm will always outperform an existing hive of the same size. & #1 A sting on the face can ruin your day.


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I have been beekeeping for six/seven years and would certainly agree that my bees survive despite my mistakes. I do learn from these mistakes and don’t repeat them , it’s just that I seem to find new ones.


There is the odd time when we need to intervene, for example, if a hive goes queenless & destined to die out. We can do what I call “divine intervention”, add a frame of brood or two so they can make a new queen.


10 out of 12 is not too bad, I guess. The bloke who said about shaking queens was referring to shaking queens off frames. Whenever I shake bees off a frame that includes the queen, I’m always just that little bit more gentle. I always think of that blokes saying. Those sayings came from two blokes who were full time beekeepers since the second world war, they were both beyond retiring age at the time when I was a young bloke. One was a well known queen breeder & the other kept bees & sold his honey & beekeeping equipment. They’re both dead now.


Hi Jeff, could you please explain #5 and #6 a bit more.What is a bee escape and is it for you or the bees? :grimacing: and what purpose is the vinyl on top of the honey supers? thanks Kevin


Hi Kev, thanks mate, the bloke explained to me how to extract a colony of bees out of a wall or tree without killing the bees by means of a funnel bee escape. You have a piece of rubber hose with a funnel made of aluminium fly wire so the bees can come out but find it difficult to go back in. At the start of the operation you place a hive as close to the funnel as possible with a queen in a queen cage at the entrance & a frame of brood inside the hive with other frames. Once you get a buildup of bees at the queen cage, place it inside the hive near the frame of brood. From then on, provided all goes to plan, the bees exiting the funnel will come back & quickly go into the hive. Building the population of the hive & depleting the population of the house wall or tree. This take several weeks. Here in Aus. we use large bee spaces in our lids. The vinyl mat stops the bees building comb from the top of the frames to the underside of the lid. Plus it helps keep the hive warm or cool depending on the time of year. Now we have shb, I like the mat because it gives the beetle somewhere to hide so the bees can propolize them in.


In regards to 12, I have read that a virgin queen may in fact breed with one of her own drones but will disregard that genetic material when laying eggs. That is why she mates with so many drones so that she has a wide selection to work with, and that she can basically select which drone she wants to reproduce with after the fact.


Thanks Adagna, it’s all amazing, for a long time I thought she only mated with one drone, but as you say they mate with many drones, after finding that out I started to wonder if she uses one sperm sack at a time, so if that happens, that means the temperament of the hive will change as she moves on to the next sperm sack & so on. That may explain why one of my hives that was almost unmanageable, started to become easier to manage. Over the last few days I started writing down the tips as I thought of them. After not doing up my veil properly yesterday & getting a good sting on the neck, that’s when I remembered what one of those blokes said “a sting on the face can ruin your day”


that would be interesting research to look into, I hadn’t ever thought about a hive going through mood swings based on which sperm sack was being used but it would certainly make sense.


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Bee breeders make use of that; II a DLQ with her own sons to preserve a genetic strain.
It’s done with AMMs in the UK


I’ve been researching the ways of bee mating, particularly these places called Drone Congregation Areas. It all seemed a bit random and I suspect for some bee keepers, bee mating is a bit random. I’ve found a couple of useful links.

this first link is quite readable and relates toDrone Congregation Areas

This second link relates to sperm storage by queen bees

The second link identifies some of what we do and don’t know about how queen bees manipulate their stored sperm.

Firstly it appears the sperm from all mated drones are stored in the one place inside the queen’s abdomen, the spermathetica. There does not seem to be partitioning of the different paternal sets of sperm but there may not be perfect mixing either it may be that sperm from one drone tends to be used over one time interval but we don’t know. What is more likely is that the sperm from some drones survives for longer in the nourishing fluid secreted into her spermathetica by the queen.

Hope this helps. Please remember I have zero beekeeping experience but a lifetime of extracting useful information from scientific literature.


It is thought that new queens are far too valuable to be left to their own devices, that scout bees know where the drone congregation areas are and will escort their new queen there.
In long periods of bad weather when virgin queens are nearing the end of their mating window apiary vicinity matings are common and whereas they do not encourage genetic diversity may well save the colony by producing a fertile queen of sorts that may be superseded if the need arises.


"I have read that a virgin queen may in fact breed with one of her own drones" - I’m not sure that this can be correct. At the time of mating, the Queen is a virgin so cannot have produced ANY drones. What is possible is for a VQ to mate with her brother or half brother from the same colony. The drones, have no genetic material other than the queen’s, whereas the VQ has genetic material from the Queen and one of the drones she originally mated with. Lack of diversity in genetic material in any species can lead to problems but whether the nurse bees have any mechanism for dealing with birth defects I don’t know for sure but I suspect they’d be pretty ruthless!



Hi S’master, thanks for posting those, they are both very interesting reads. The U of MN got a mentioned in another subject on this forum.


Hadn’t thought about it that way but that’s true.


My wife reminded me of another one of those blokes sayings yesterday. “you can’t win a boxing match with a bee”


Another tip comes to mind. The bees wont let foreign bees into their hives unless they’re bringing in honey.


Another tip comes to mind. I was told if you upset a bee colony, it takes 3 days for the bees to settle down.