I had recently spent some time talking with and going over some of the negatives of beekeeping with a future beekeeper. I’m an honest soul, so I let people truthfully know that it’s not always about honey and sweetness. If you’ve been a beekeeper, you know exactly what I mean when I say that there is nothing more sticky than propolis on your kitchen floor, on your gloves, or in your hair. You know what it means to pray for the rain to stop so a decent nectar flow can finally begin. You also know that ants can find any spilled drips of honey. You know that you should do a split, but before you know it, your best hive swarms and lands too high up in a tree for you to be able to capture them. You know that wearing a full suit while doing any apiary work in the summer heat, can get pretty miserable. You also, unfortunately know how devastating and discouraging it is to lose hives in the wintertime.
There’s a lot to beekeeping that isn’t always taught in beginning beekeeper’s classes. For “new-bees”, aka “new-beeks”, you should always be willing to learn, because you will, whether you want to or not. (Most new-bees we’ve met are usually receptive to learning and are just as inquisitive as we were when we first stepped into this amazing venture).
Pests are a real obstacle, and can include quite a number of species. Hive beetles, varroa mites, ants, and yes mice! Here is a photo of the remainder of a mouse nest that we pulled out from the bottom of a hive this spring. She obviously tried to over winter and rear her young inside the warmth of the hive. We have found dead mice completely mummified with propolis before and other times, just a skeleton.
Above this mouse nest were 2 frames that the bees didn’t draw any wax out or use at all. They hate mice as much as we do. After cleaning it out, we replaced the old frames with fresh new frames and we could tell almost immediately that they were happier.
Honey bees are super smart. They will chase pests into corners, sting them, carry them out and dispose of them and guard their hives with their lives against them. We, as beekeepers, work very hard to help protect the hives and offer as much assistance as we are capable to make certain that our honey bees stay healthy, happy, and strong.