Sustainable Beekeeping, Skills and Knowledge List

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Beekeepers ought to have the following skills and knowledge about beekeeping so as to
• Maintain healthy and productive honeybee colonies
• Increase their chances of a profitable bee related enterprise or
• Gain employment on a successful bee operation.
Use the PDF version for compelte table*
Bee Biology
Understand general bee anatomy
Know the difference between a queen, a worker and a drone
Know the difference between an egg and larvae
Know the strengths and weaknesses between different honeybee species (Italian, Russian, Carniolan, etc.)
Know how to safely handle a swarm
Know how many days from egg to bee for a queen, worker and drone
Equipment and Products
Know how to wear protective equipment to safely handle your bees
Know the advantages and disadvantages of 8-frame and 10-frame hives
Know the benefits and weaknesses of wax foundation, plastic foundation and foundationless frames
Know when & how to replace old comb
Know how and when to use a smoker
Starting a hive
Know where to place a hive in the landscape
Know the needs of the hive for protection from the elements
Know how to protect the hive from predators (bears, raccoons, mice, etc.)
Know the advantages and disadvantages of a nucleus colony versus a package
Seasonal Hive Management
Be familiar with the beekeepers calendar
Know how to conduct a typical hive inspection
Know how to identify: eggs, larvae, capped brood, pollen, nectar and honey
Recognize a healthy brood/food pattern across frames
Know how to manage your bees to prevent swarming
Know what a colony requires to survive winter
Honeybee Pests and Disease
Know the signs of a healthy colony versus one that is in trouble or under stress
Know how to monitor varroa mite levels and the various options we have to control mites
Know the various honey bee diseases and the signs that indicate their presence
Honeybee Nutrition
Know what local floral resources are within 2 miles of your apiary
Be familiar with seasonal calendar of flowering plants, trees and shrubs
Be familiar with winter feeding options, and when it’s appropriate to feed what, and when
Understand the impact of drought, when to supplement feed in times of low nectar flow
Know how to harvest honey
Know how to properly store your honey for short and long-term storage
Know the state regulations on the sale of local honey
Know how to render clean wax
Know potential options for wax use, such as candles, salves, finishing oils, etc.
Other products from the hive
Know the various uses and harvest methods for propolis
Know the various uses and harvest methods for pollen
Know the various allergic and non-allergic reations to bee stings
Know how to treat and care for a bee sting
Know the local laws and ordinances including hive registration and pesticide application permits
Concept and layout for the “skills and knowledge list” originally adapted from Richard Brzozowski, University of Maine Extension.