How much room do I need for a beehive? The Hive itself is approx. 50cm long x 40cm wide and can stand between 60cm to 1.2m high depending on how many honey boxes it has on. We need about one square metre of area to place and be able to work the hive. We usually stand to the side of the hive to open it, and need enough room around it to be able to lift the lid and top boxes off, and place directly next to where we are standing, so we can inspect the frames of bees. The boxes when full can be up to 40kg each and so we avoid any extra manoeuvring or carrying to minimise back and arm injury. Overhead trees and hedges etc need to be kept trimmed above and in front of the hive so as not to shade the hive, but also so we have room to work without the branches and leaves getting in the way. We carry secateurs, and can trim and prune any plants back, when we do our hive checks.
What happens when bees are first delivered? Bees will gradually leave the hive and fly in small circles around the hive entrance. The circles will get ever increasingly bigger and further away from the hive entrance. This is so the bees can get their bearings and orientate themselves to their new surroundings. After 2-3 days, the bees will be familiar with their new home and fly in straight lines to there closest nectar source, ie your vege garden or fruit trees.
Bees acting unusually? Bees are complex little insects and there are many behaviours they display. It's not unusual to see a small clump of bees around the entrance of the bee hive. On hot days and humid days, bees will cluster at the entrance to fan in cool air to keep the hive cool. However, on cooler days, you will see less of the bees coming and going. On these days, bees will stay inside the hive and cluster within the frames to keep the queen and young bee larvae warm at a constant 35 degrees Celsius.
Can I open the Hive to look in? Only, if you are with a Backyard Bees beekeeper and we have suited you up in beekeeping overalls and gloves. Bees are extremely susceptible to changes in temperature, and opening the hive, can cause undue stress on the colony. Disturbing the frames can be detrimental to the queen, particularly if she is lost or crushed or can interrupt her laying patterns, all of which can cause the hive to fail. Obviously we wear a bee-suit when opening a hive, as their natural instinct is to protect the queen by stinging predators.
Why is honey a different colour and taste? The flavour, colour & texture, of honey depends on which plants and flowers the bees gather nectar from. This can change during the honey season as different plants come in & out of flower. However it is also dependent on the climatic conditions, at the time. For example, Manuka, flowers around December in our area, but if the season is colder and wetter, than normal, the bees may miss collecting nectar during this period. As a result, honey collected from the same hive, can taste and look quite different from previous years.
Does the honey all come from my hive? During the honey flow season, we collect the honey boxes in suburb batches. These, we extract in our registered extraction plant, put into bulk drums to be honey tested. Once honey is confirmed safe for human consumption we then decant into food grade bulk pails. The honey you receive will be from your hive and the hives from your surrounding area. If you like, instead of receiving honey in bulk, we can arrange for it to be delivered in 500gm plastic safety sealed jars, for an extra cost of $1.50+gst/jar.
When do I pay for the hive? The yearly rental runs from 1st August through to the following July. An invoice for $299.00 + gst ($343.85 incl) for the year's lease is sent out at the start of the season and are due 20th of August. For hives ordered part way through the year, the yearly fee is pro-rated accordingly. In approx March or April, we distribute 10kg of honey in bulk pails. If you wish to have plastic jars instead, or extra honey delivered, we organise for a separate payment, depending on the options you order.