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I’m a terrible beekeeper

Having started full of enthusiasm and good intentions, I feel like I’ve made every mistake in the book.

I started foundationless without realizing they needed comb guides. I’ve then swapped in medium foundation-filled frames to a deep hive body. I’ve broken foundationless combs while trying to inspect them (turns out the flipping method recommended by one book was valid only for foundation-filled frames…)

Through a combination of over-frequent inspections, clumsiness, misunderstanding, unfortunate happenstance and so forth, I’ve now managed to render ALL my hives queenless. (Yes, emergency queen cells in all three.)

Am now feeling horribly guilty for putting my colonies through all this. Has this ever happened to any of you? (please, please say yes.)


Well, that insight is a very positive sign. It means that you are willing to learn.

I have had that happen, and I have had hives with laying workers, which is even worse. So you are not alone. I haven’t always been able to work out why it happened, but it seems to happen less these days, and I am better equipped to deal with it if it does happen. All part of the learning process.

So please don’t feel too guilty - just guilty enough not to do it the same way next time. :blush: Most of all, please, please, please don’t give up! If you feel that bees have sacrificed their lives, make that sacrifice count by improving the next time. Plus, I am sure that not everything is your fault.

Yesterday evening, I went to help a friend do a cutout. This was a hive which had been living under a shed for 1-3 years (in California). My friend is a general contractor who is interested in doing live removals. He thought that the bees were “mining bees” because they were throwing a pile of dirt up at the base of the shed. They weren’t. They were standard Apis mellifera with very bad housing taste and the gardeners had tried to get rid of the bees by piling dirt in front of the hive entrance. Unfortunately, the bees chose to build a hive at ground level, under a shed with less than 6" sub-floor space and a 2" by 1" entrance hole to the space. There were tons of foragers, but although the comb was dark, the cutout only took about 6 frames of space when rubber banded into deep frames, and they had very little honey stored. There was some good brood, so we did what we could, and he is picking up the brood box at sundown tonight when the foragers are all home. From what I saw, that feral hive wouldn’t have lasted out this season. So bees make bad decisions too. He is going to feed generously (we are in a nectar dearth right now) and we will see what happens. I would give the colony a 30% chance of making it over winter even with our intervention, and zero if we hadn’t cut them out - the homeowners were thinking of poisoning them… :cold_sweat:

So bees do silly things, the general public do silly thoughtless things, and beekeepers generally try to do their best. If you can learn from what you have done, you will do better next time. I am hoping you keep on keeping on! :wink:


Don’t feel bad. So far this year, my first too, I’ve killed two queens, had a hive swarm - twice, dropped frames, had an inner cover fall over bee-side down just like buttered bread does, etc., etc.

Thing is, I’m learning and you are too, the best way, through our mistakes.

Keep at it :slight_smile:


to paraphrase Oscar Wilde: ‘To lose one queen is misfortune- but to lose all three seems like carelessness’.

His quote was actually to an orphan- and so far more witty ‘To lose one parent is misfortune- to lose both seems like carelessness’

only joking- what awful luck. Don’t despair- I am sure your enthusiasm will pay of in the long run.


Post undone post undone

what can I say but me too :sweat:

My bumbling caused a comb-tastrophy that cost my colony their first queen & a chunk of brood rearing time…luckily my bees just got on with it & like yours, made a new queen. Sometimes learning the hard way is the only way & you have plenty of good company here, Olivia!



As I n many others with attend, welcome to the “quilt club”. We’ve all been there n messed up. Actually if your not making mistakes your not a beekeeper. The biggest mistake is Not Learning from our Screwup ! Yours truely up here in Washington State is always trying n messing up but learning ! Ask Dawn … I’m always Asking n Doing wrong or weird stuff … It’s a learning curve young lady. Keep on keeping On !

Loving beekeeping n screwup too, :sunglasses::+1:

. Ohhh… Presently I’m trying a couple of pollen traps. One is successful the other hardly any pollen … Not a clue why the difference as I see them both hauling in huge bundles of different nodules of the grainy stuff. Learning as I GO !


Soon I need to put my traps in by-pass position to keep plenty of protein rich nutrient available to new bee rearing. Uploading… I’m
Also having to learn how to caring for the harvest so it’s not waisted. Gerald


Hi Olivia,

You are not alone. We got a nuc and after 2 weeks the queen was gone. The second queen we got was lame (as in hurt) and did not lay eggs. She was limping. We traded the hive for a new hive. Then that queen went missing and the bees went crazy (Like Lord of the Flies). Enter the third hive and it is finally thriving. My goal this year (we live in California) is for my bees to survive the winter. Not much hope for honey. We got a second swarm and that queen was gone too so we merged the hives.

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Wow Dina,

You sure went thru the wringer as my mom would say ! Out of my fives hives I’ve got going since this Spring 2016 I’ve lost one queen … I finally got that one requeened with a brood frame of eggs n capped brood cells… They’ve seemed to idle/calm down a dab also.

I started with three buff Nuc’s ( they were stuff with bees n brood with a full honey frame mid April. I captured a swarm mid May. I had ordered a replacement queen for the missing in action Magesty but with the hive starting their own queen from that brood fame now I had to change plans. I did … N started a 5 frame single deep colony by stealing frames of supplies n brood from my other hives. My hives seem all to be in excellent condition n storing up winter supplies. Guessing my goal is to not harvest but get the colonies thru next winter like you.
I’m checking my varroa mite population monthly here. I usually do the simple n fast sugar-roll test to get an idea. I do one more test first week of Auqust n see how I need to treat or not … Bee population starts dropping some late summer to early autumn but mites keep increasing. There’s a fine line between okay n not okay. My SBB n other mite control methods seem to be holding the mites to 3 per 100 thus far. That’s well in the safe levels but could change soon as bee pops drop. Have to see from here.

Well, enough. Got to go out n harvest the rest of my pollen now.

Have a great weekend.

Ta ta,


I’ve been told that a key part of beekeeping is accepting your many failures and mistakes. If the bees really hate you, they’ll leave. :slight_smile: Keep going!


Yo Olivia ,
Its the Captain From Down under Here ,
Welcome to the steep learning curve called experience - ( first hand ) . We All make mistakes . I keep a diary and enter a monthly journal . This enables me to compare my bungles alongside seasonal weather patterns that vary greatly in our part of the world . We unfortunately also experience Droughts , bush fires , locust plagues , mice plagues , storms , tempest pesticides , fertilizers etc . You will learn strategies to help mitigate these occurrences . Bees can be bulletproof if you build natural resistance in your stock - ref Michael Bush trilogy !
Bees live despite our interventions . I study nature to copy successful wild colonies .
Bees have been to “school " for 200,000,000 million years . They have had that many winters and summers to adapt , evolve and etch into their DNA behavioral codes that are truly amazing and stunning .
I feel like a kid at high school having grown up from primary school , I am a big kid now . I have just scratched the surface of bee knowledge and love it . Like walking up a steep hill and when reaching the top you are perched on the rim of the” grand canyon of knowledge " with mountains in the background that tower to infinity . - And to think that was all from a humble bee !
Immerse yourself in a bee club or two ,study the internet , build your own library of bee books, get some successful mentors from your adventure into bee keeping and soon you will be achieving brilliant results . Bee keepers as dumb as dog dooies still achieve great results sometimes . There are many many styles , ideas and sometimes conflicting ideas . Far from being confused , take heart from the fact that every one of them is correct for their circumstances and they all produce great honey ! All it takes from you is to sort out what works for you . Then your knowledge will just grow naturally and so will your success .
I will be coming to the states as soon as I can afford to and will visit bee clubs if they will have me . I would love to do some bee courses while there including " Michael Bush ,s farm stay and swap some stories as I travel ( bee tourism ) . I am an amateur story teller and would love some new material from the US of A .
Your losses will soon be replaced by successes . Do a Queen rearing course and supply your own Queens - Just another step you will be fine .
Cheers from Captain Midnight
PS I am listening to an old Beach Boys CD - at the moment ahhhhh great old memories - cheers .

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Many many thanks for the support folks… Have now combined Q-/Q+ hives and am dancing ‘round the combined hive in my birthday suit (per previous advice :wink: )
Am printing out your kind messages to re-read when tempted to give up in despair.
Sending you all good vibes from hippy northern California,
Very truly yours,


What do you do with the pollen?

Morning Card,

This is my first ever attempt to harvest pollen. My thoughts are to mix some of my local pollen with a pollen substitute to winter n spring feed my own bees.

I’m also getting requests from some people to sell them the pollen for allergy resistance. Not sure about that aspect because my present goal is the health of my bee colonies n winter brood.

Since I only have two pollen traps n one is hardly bring any in … That must remain my current direction. In the future n more pollen traps I might pursue other ends with the pollen.

Harvesting the pollens this last few weeks sure gives me insight into what my bees are foraging in the fields. Very interesting. I have to make sure the hive still has plenty of pollen supplies at present so they can raise a strong healthy brood population.

That should give you some of my ideas … As I learn more about my bees I seem to reach out n do more.

Got to go now. Have a great week,

I heard of people ingesting local pollen to help with allergies. They swear by it. I was just curious.

By the way, which pollen trap seems to work? I may get one at some point, I don’t want the one that doesn’t work. Lol

Perhaps you can share some of your personal beekeeping experiences to assist others in learning?

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I was at my beekeeping clubs meeting 2 weeks ago, it is in Collin County Texas. It is a very large group it’s considered one of the largest in the country, each month meeting last about 4 hours with classes and lectures.

There’s always at least 150 to 300 people attending every single time.

I am one of 2 people I know that attend the club that have flow frames. Both of us are trying and learning.

I have a good friend that’s there also that’s been beekeeping for better than 5 years and has 10 hives. This year he has lost 6 of them for one reason or another, he is trying to figure it out.

This site is about supporting each other and about helping each other out in learning and pointing out errors in our thought process.

If one would go back and look at my questions and people’s response you would see a tremendous growth in my questions and I realize how naive I was in some of my earlier post.

I’m a white-collar professional I live in a major suburban area I enjoy the woods, I grew up on a farm and missed that connection with nature. Having one hive now and setting up my 2nd within a week this is my ability to reconnect with something missing in my life.

Let’s support each other not take each other down. We have enough of that in our politics today.


Join a local association.
Take their courses particularly the practical side of things.
Most associations have their own apiary where3 new bee keepers can go and learn from experienced bee keepers.
Get a bee keeper to mentor you.
Then, and only then, you might be ready to look after some bees with close help.
Don’t believe a Flow Hive has anything to do with ‘saving’ bees’ or helps them in any way.

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And your experiences are…? Your reason for the tone of your comments, when as clearly stated the forum is geared to mentoring & sharing, nowhere on here will you find anyone advising that this or the internet be the only source of information/learning…