People often ask me a beekeeping question as soon as they find out that I keep bees. ‘How do bees make honey?‘, ‘How can I start keeping bees?’, ‘How to keep bees.’

Every now and then someone comes up with a new one, ‘Do bees actually go to sleep at night?’, ‘What pollinated plants in America before the settlers brought honeybees from Europe?’ It never ceases to amaze me that people are so interested. I suppose honeybees are very familiar to everyone, and yet their knowledge may be fairly superficial.

Here is the place to ask those questions, send in a question using the form below, please give as much detail as possible.

Your question can be anything which you’re interested in, or a subject you think other site visitors will find interesting.

35 Responses to “Ask a Beekeeping Question!”

  • Jim Denault

    I’m thinking I might start Beekeeping but before I do I need to ask a question. I live in a rural area with a large farm across the street from me. The Farmer plants Soybeans, Wheel and Corn on a rotational basis. I have to believe he is using fertilizer and pesticides but not 100% sure. Is this a problem? Am I wasting my time?

    • Geoff

      Hi Jim
      I don’t think you’re wasting your time. Crops should not be sprayed when they’re flowering so it’s unlikely it will be a problem. You might talk to the farmer, he should be pleased to have bees nearby to help pollinate his crops. I recommend joining a local beekeeping group for advice.

  • Sadie

    I am Minnesota beekeeper. My hive did very well over the winter and I split them in spring to prevent them from swarming. However my parent hive is still making many swarm cells. None of them are capped that I can see. There is also a large number of brood. What should I do? Thank you!

  • Lindsay Hamilton

    I live in Alabama and I found out that it is actually illegal to kill a honeybee. I had bees in my room and my apartment so the Beekeeper discovered and removed a large hive and the queen. Now, this happened this past Thursday and he sprayed something that made the colony stay in a group on my patio door. There haven’t been any inside my apartment since then so thank goodness! I wanted to ask how long will the bees remain, could they build another hive without a queen and how long does it generally take for them to scatter? Thank you!

  • Kemper Smalley

    I have a question.
    I installed a hive in April, today is June 3. There are Bees all over the front and half the side of the outside of the box. On the front the bees are 5 deep in places. The activity is good coming and going. It has been rainy and i live in North Georgia,


  • Blaise

    Hello, writing from Maryland.

    I have a top bar hive. The colony which lived in the hive last year did not survive the winter (or perhaps swarmed away?). I had not had the opportunity to clean out this hive this spring. A few weeks ago, another colony swarmed into the hive. I assumed they would take over the comb vacated by last year’s colony.

    However, the bees are building comb on the outside of the hive, covering the opening. I cannot open the hive for fear of destroying the comb which they’ve already built.

    My question is: Do you think the bees are prepping the interior and will eventually move inside? Or do you think this comb they’ve built is meant to be there main source of food?

    Being in Maryland, they will not survive the winter outside. Should I risk breaking the outside comb they’ve built to better see what is going on inside?

    Or, should I just assume the bees know what they are doing and leave them alone?



  • Gina

    I have a question. I was trying to find a fellow bee keeper located up by the Thompson Lake area. I am moving there this year from North Idaho. Our weather in the winter is cold, but wet. So here I have to worry about moisture. Up at out new home it is very cold and dry. I know it gets below 0 like -30. I want to keep my hives safe from the cold. Does anybody have advice for me? Is there a fellow bee keeper in my area that I could contact?

  • Donovan Johns

    Geoff, how do I get two Beekeeping meetings listed here? We are not associations – one is in Bridgeport ,Tx and has been meeting for over 10 years, the other I have just recently started in Springtown,Tx

  • Sam

    If my queen were to die the first couple weeks after I installed my package, could I simply move eggs/brood from another hive into the queenless hive so that I do not have to buy a new queen? Wouldn’t the bees make a new queen with the eggs I put in the hive? Also, I’ve been curious to know why there are 8 frame excluders and 10 frame? Most brood boxes and supers and the same size box (close) so why the 8 and 10 frame excluders?

  • Teri Smith

    I am new to beekeeping, and will be purchasing my first hive soon. I’m paraplegic, but have good arm strength. torso not so much. I’m confident in my ability to beekeep, just not sure which type to start with. My research suggests a Top Bar…the lifting weight of the panels would be up to 10 lbs. and it seems to be accessible from a wheelchair.

    Any thoughts are appreciated!

    • Geoff

      Hi Teri

      I was going to suggest top-bar hive before I got to the part where you mentioned it. Your honey harvest will probably be less than with a Langstroth, but all the other advantages would make it better for you I’m sure.


  • Will Wicklund

    I am considering starting beekeeping. I have not seen any wild bees, nor are there a lot of flowering plants in this corner of Arizona. Your website had no listing of beekeepers in this area I could talk with about beekeeping. With winter approaching I have the time to get it figured out.

    • Geoff

      Hi Will

      Try calling a few of the beekeepers closest to you to see whether they know anyone in your area, or can help you get started.


  • Jessie McLanahan

    Hi there –
    I live in Western Colorado, and last year was my first year keeping bees. I started with a very strong hive that did well all year. When it came time to hunker down for winter, I left them with two deeps and one medium super full of capped honey – TONS of honey! They seemed to be doing well up until two weeks ago, when I noticed that there wasn’t much activity on a warm afternoon. I opened the hive, and sure enough all the bees were dead. I know that they didn’t die from starvation as one deep and one medium super were still full of honey. There were not obvious signs of mites or mice or any other type of pest. I did notice that the tops of the frames were kind of spotted with what I assume is fecal matter – although I felt like the bees were able to get out to cleanse themselves regularly (and had just seem them out and about the week before.) Other than the fecal matter, the frames look normal to me. Just lots of capped honey, no brood. I took the capped frames and placed them in the freezer so that I can give those to the new bees I have coming in a couple of months. Is that OK to do? Any ideas on what went wrong with this hive?

  • MK


    Getting into beekeeping in my backyard. Need to mow the lawn on a regular basis as this is in a residential area. How far do you operate the mower (very loud) in order not to disturb the hive? Any preferred times in the day?

    What water source should I provide to keep the bees from going to other yards for water?

    • Geoff

      Hi MK

      A small pond with water plants is the best thing to provide water for bees. The plants give them a safe place to land without drowning. The vibration of the lawn mower is more significant than the noise. If you’re able to mow the grass in the early evening as the temperature drops they’re less likely to be a problem for you.


  • Emma M

    HI! I am a new beekeeper, and in preparation for spring, I am building my hive. How do I put the foundation into the frames? And, what size nails will i need for my frames and supers? Thanks!

    • Geoff

      Hi Emma

      It’s not something which is easy to explain. I would recommend you join a beekeeping club and I’mm sure there will be someone who will be happy to show you. If there’s no club near you try contacting a local beekeeper.


  • Danny

    I have successfully trapped out a hive from a tree and now the colony is very small but I do have a new queen in their and she has started laying but it is rather small and I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do to boost them before the season is over. Maybe add a frame of brood from my hive?? I need some help I want them to live

    • Geoff

      Hi Danny

      Putting in a frame or two of brood is exactly what I would suggest in your situation. Make sure you brush all the bees off the frame and transfer it to the new hive quickly so that it doesn’t cool down.


  • Leighton Smith

    Do you know of any beekeeper’s associations or clubs in the Las Vegas NV or Bullhead, AZ area? I’m in Searchlight, NV between the two. Also Laughlin, NV is about 38 miles away. I need help with a small colony I had living in a barrel full of pesticides. Moved them to Kenyan top bar hive and they seemed to be doing well. Now they are apparently in desperate shape again. Just wanted to give them a safe home and have try to take care of them. But, I think I’m in over my head.

  • Scott Rohde

    I introduced a new package of bees to a new hive yesterday. I went to check to see if they are feeding on the pail feeder with sugar water.

    When I opened the cover I see that they are clustered to the top of my inner cover and are not feeding on the sugar water. They are not in the frames. Is this normal? What could the reason be ?

    • Geoff

      It’s hard to say what is normal since bees often seem to do unexpected things.

      I’m not clear what you mean by “they are clustered to the top of my inner cover”, normally there wouldn’t be enough room for a whole package to cluster on top of the inner cover.

      I suggest you check to see whether the queen is alive. Then leave it a day or two and then make sure they’ve released her. I assumed you’ve removed the cover for the sugar plug so they should have released her by then. If not I would carefully open the queen cage and let her run down between the frames.

      If you find the queen dead, I would contact the package supplier for a replacement,

      Above all, don’t worry, bees have been taking care of themselves a long time, they’re very good at what they do.

  • Elfrink

    I’m a relatively new beekeeper. Last year I was given two hives. One was a strong hive, and we reaped a great harvest (about eighteen gallons of honey). The other was a new start that he had just put into a hive from the nuc box.

    It seemed to do ok except that it produced virtually no honey (in the supers) all summer. Both hives had ample stores going into the winter. When weather warmed up and I got into the hives for the first time (it was maybe early march, I’m not real sure now), every thing looked ok, lots of honey left in each hive (I have been told that was because of our very cold winter)and I found the queen in each hive.

    All seemed ok. As I checked the next couple of times earlier this spring, I noticed that one queen (the one from the strong hive) was laying and the other wasn’t. I found her each time but never any eggs or brood. On the advice of my brother, who I got the hives from, today (April 26) after another check with out seeing any eggs or brood,

    I took the hive body with the laying queen and several frames of brood and bees, and put it on top of the other hive where the queen is not laying. I took the none laying queen out and put newspaper between the two hive bodies to let them be slowly introduced. Question is, does this sound like the right thing to do, or not? He first told me to check for a frame with a swarm cell that I could put in the other hive, but there wasn’t one.

    Thanks for any thoughts you could give.

    • The Bee Guy

      I think what you did was a very good choice. I was a little worried because you hadn’t mentioned the newspaper initially, without the newspaper you might have had carnage.

      Once they’re fully integrated, you might consider splitting them again into two hives. I always advise people to have at least two hives, it gives you a comparison and the opportunity, as you found, to transfer resources between hives in an emergency.

      You could possibly have short circuited the process by putting a frame of eggs from the hive with the laying queen. They would probably have raised a new queen to supersede the queen which wasn’t laying.

      You could try keeping the old queen in a small amount of alcohol. It’s supposed to discover the pheromone from her. You then put some onto a cotton bud to use as a swarm lure.

  • Andy Picard

    I live in northwest AZ and am just starting beekeeping. I obtained a captured swarm from a beekeeper in Phoenix (160 miles away) and introduced them to the 10 frame hive with plastic foundation 20 days ago.

    I’ve been feeding 1.5/1 syrup. I’ve checked them three times, replacing the syrup (baggies) which they are using. There are 2 frames with lots of bees, bees coming and going, but no comb being drawn out.

    Do I not have a queen? The frames that have bees on them are 2-3 bees thick and I, ‘because I’m new, I can’t spot the queen. There is no evidence like eggs, etc.

    Should I buy a queen? But why are they not drawing out comb? There are quite a lot of flowers with bees on them. Should I stop feeding? Any advice?

    • Geoff

      That does sound very peculiar. They’ll usually draw comb even if there is no queen. The only thing I can think of is that they don’t like the plastic foundation.

      Can you replace some of the plastic frames with wooden frames with wax foundation? You might even try removing a few frames to create a space to see if they build ‘wild’ comb in the space.

      It’s quite difficult to find the queen in circumstances like that. If you can get them to build some comb she’ll start laying eggs as soon as there are some viable cells, then you’ll know you have a queen.

      • Yuriy

        Hi there!!
        I’m new in beekeeping with two years of experience. Every morning on front of beehive about 20-30 dead bees, but they are not really dead, they slowly moving legs when I touching them.
        Any idea what happened and how to cure them, please. Thank you,
        I’m in Portland Oregon.

        • Geoff

          Hi Yuriy

          I’m not sure why your bees are doing this. It’s possible they are getting some insecticide from somewhere, but it could be a long way off. Keep watching and hope they choose another place to forage.


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