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What Is Propolis And What Are It's Uses

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As a new beekeeper you go into your hive to check on things and find this sticky, brownish colored substance all over everything! The inner cover is practically glued shut, the frames are stuck to each other and either the super or brood box, and if you have a super or queen excluder it’s stuck down to the brood box. You have to pry everything apart just to get in to check on your honeybees. This “glue” is called propolis and the bees make it. It would seem they put it everywhere, and to a beekeeper it feels like they’re trying to keep you out.

So, where does propolis come from? Honeybees collect substances from tree buds, sap flows, and other botanical sources to make a resinous mixture. Usually propolis is a dark brown color but can vary depending on the plant source and region your bees are in.

Why do honeybees propolize their hives? Resin is in trees to seal wounds and defend against bacteria, fungi, and insects. When honeybees gather this to use in their hives they get the same benefits as the trees. Propolis also reinforces the stability of the hive and reduces vibrations from outside causes. I’m sure you’ve also noticed that propolis fills every crack and hole in your woodenware. Having all possible alternate entrances sealed, the honeybees are defending their hive using the propolis. One more use for propolis that isn’t too pleasant to think about is honeybees use it to mummify the carcass of an intruder, like a lizard or mouse that may have found it’s way in the hive. Since the bees aren’t able to remove such a heavy object from the hive they attempt to seal the carcass to make it odorless and harmless.

What are the medical uses of propolis? Some health food stores sell propolis for consumption, and it can be found in traditional medicines as well. Various medical conditions can be treated with propolis such as: inflammations, viral diseases, ulcers, superficial burns or scalds, promotion of heart health, strengthen immune systems, and reduce chances for cataracts. It is believed to have antibiotic and antifungal properties as well as anti-tumor growth properties.

Although propolis can be aggravating to a beekeeper trying to get into a beehive it seems there are many advantages to propolis not only for the honeybees but us humans as well. Read more detailed information at wikipedia. It is a good idea to scrape off the excess propolis from surfaces that we attend to frequently. I suggest that you save the propolis and make a ball of it or put it in a container for you to use later. Keep in mind that if your propolis gets cold it will become brittle, so just warm it back up or keep it at room temperature.

If you know of any other good uses for propolis, or have any other questions please leave a comment.

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Best Conditions to Work in Your Hives

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It seems that there are many people that are terrified of honey bees along with other types of stinging insects. As beekeepers we understand the importance of honey bees in the pollination of flowers, vegetables, fruits, and other plants, as well as the production of honey. Surprisingly there are still a lot of uneducated people who don’t understand the significance of honey bees. Fear and apprehension of friends, family, or visitors to your apiary could potentially cause problems for you, the beekeeper.

Once people learn that you are a beekeeper they tend to ask lots of questions about honey bees and beekeeping. Thanks to their questions you get the opportunity to educate them on this very important topic. Hopefully, after conversations with folks they will be less frightened and less likely to kill a swarm, or even random bees.

Some honey bees have aggressive personalities, others seem to be gentle, but no matter what your bees are usually like when a visitor comes around they’re likely to “show-off” for them! If you get visitors to your apiary when you are working in them, there are certain actions you can take to help your bees from being aggressive. I came across this information on today. Here are some of their suggested best conditions to work in your bees:

-When most of the field bees are out in the field collecting nectar (my opinion: most are out around 3:00pm)

-When there is a nectar flow from flowering plants

-When the colony is not under stress from predators, such as wasps

-When colonies are in direct sunlight

-When the temperature is not very hot (95°F or higher)

-When neighbors are not having a lawn party or mowing their yard

Another good tip that I personally found very interesting is to have your hive(s) near bushes or trees, or to even put a flag or other object that will move in a breeze in order to get your bees accustomed to movement around their hive. We walk around our hives practically every day and they hardly take notice to us anymore. A few might buzz by to check us out, especially if we get in one of their high-traffic paths, but they generally leave us alone. One more very important thing to remember is for you or any of your visitors to never walk directly in front of a hive. That is a sure way to make the bees angry and puts you at a much greater risk of being stung. So I’m sure you’re thinking how close can you get to a bee hive without getting stung? I’m interested in your opinions, please use the comments form below and let us know what you think.

Hopefully these tips will help keep you and your visitors out of harms way and help calm some fears and apprehensions about honey bees.

Happy Beekeeping to you all!

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Great tips from Linda on preparing honey for a contest

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Linda has some great tips on preparing your honey for entry in contests. She has really spent some time thinking it through. It’s not clear weather this knowledge has come from experience of if she gained it from other beekeepers. I would guess that she learned this from her own experiences. It’s especially useful because it prepares the honey for a contest at the time of extraction. So there is really no additional work on the beekeeper. Pretty genius.

From the evidence in her side bar, she may know a thing or two about entering and winning honey contests. She has six first place blue ribbons and four second place red ribbons for her honey.

I have not entered any contests to date, but I will revisit her post if I ever considering entering a honey judging contest.

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Basic Beekeeping on dealing with a Queenless Hive

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How to tell when your hive is queenless over at Basic beekeeping by David & Sheri Burns is a very informative post containing various explanations as to why a hive might end up queenless, remedies, and probably the most valuable…time-lines. You can use them to determine what course of action is the most appropriate for your hive when you find yourself queenless.

When you find that your hive is queenless, it is important to know how long it has been without a queen. This will tell you how long you have to obtain a new queen. For example, if you see only…read more

Highly recommended. Take the time to check out the rest of the series as well.

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Welcome to

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Hi, and welcome to’s first blog post. This is very exciting for us. We’ve been working very hard on this for several months now. We could have just used blogger or Wordpress as our blogging engine rather than building a custom one, but where’s the fun in that? Besides, I don’t care for upgrading a WP blog, and once this proves itself, all of our blogs will be rebuilt.

We’re using CakePHP as the framework. I’ve done a few websites now using CakePHP and find it easy to work with and to get the results I’m looking for.

The design of the site was handled by my graphic designer, wife. I think it’s just a beautiful and useful design. I’m especially fond of the tab bar.

I’ve wanted to build this site ever since I got my first hive last year. Initially, I see it as a place to collect interesting stories, articles, how-to’s, links, videos, and research as it pertains to the field of beekeeping. I’m still new to the hobby and find tons of information on the subject. My hope is that new hobbyist beekeepers and seasoned commercial beekeepers will find the site useful and informative. I’m open to feedback and welcome your comments, either on individual posts, or one of the contact methods mentioned on our contact page. If you have things you think should be added here, make a suggestion and we’ll see about adding it. We already have a few ideas of some additional features we’d like to add to the site to make it a little more “social” in nature, but those will be just a little while longer. For now though, the main way for interaction is here and on Twitter.

On a personal note, we currently have 5 hives in our apiary. To my knowledge, they’re all Italians. Hive one’s bees were a gift from an experienced beekeeper to help us get started in late spring of 2008. Hive 2 was purchased as a complete hive at the end of summer 2008. They did not make it over winter. Hive 3 is our first package purchased at the beginning of spring 2009. Hives 4 and 5 are splits we did early spring 2009 from Hive 1. Hive 6 is a small swarm that showed up looking for a home in April of 2009, so we gave them one. In 2008, from our one hive we were able to extract approximately 15 quarts of honey. I don’t think that is too bad for a new hive and new beekeepers. This year, 2009, we have had a lot of rain, and all of our hives are “new” which has resulted in low honey production. But, the hives are looking good in terms of population growth. Maybe not surprising to many, is the fact that the best-looking hive we have is the one that we’ve intervened with the least. We have fed most of the hives using top feeders. But Hive 5 was a split that we just left alone. The ones that were top fed stored a lot of the sugar away since they couldn’t get out and forage. As a result they wound up a little honey bound. But the hive we left alone built up their stores and population naturally. It’s only a small experiment from a second year beekeeper, but it appears that human intervention isn’t always necessary.

We currently use Langstroth style hives exclusively, but I’m interested in other styles of hives. Most of the experienced beekeepers in our area are commercial beekeepers and they all use the Langstroth hive. Many of them depend on the money from beekeeping as their sole source of income. Many of the methods they use are designed to maximize earnings. So a lot of the advice we get is geared towards maximum honey production and ease of work on the beekeeper.

Again, welcome. Thanks for taking the time to visit the site and read our first post. I hope you come back often and tell others about the site. If you have something you’d like to share, please drop us a line to webmaster AT beekeeping DOT cc, or connect with us on Twitter. We’d love to hear from you. Thanks again and God bless.

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