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CONTROLING BEES IN YOUR HONEY HOUSE
By Gil Pedersen

If you answered yes to one of these questions, keep reading.

Controlling the bees in your honey house is important.  It improves your public image, your staff recruitment and your bottom line.  Large number of bees flying around your honey house gives a negative impression of the industry to the general public.  All the promotion we do will never overcome the sight of dozens of bees swimming in the honey, a few spots on hands, faces or clothing, or a sting or two while they visit your honey house.  Recruiting staff is easier if they believe the extracting room is for them and not for storing all of your bees.  Each bee you bring into your honey house reduces honey production.  Reduced honey production reduces your net income.  Therefore, it makes sense to leave your bees out in the yards or take them back out to the yards.

Here's some quick tips you can use to control bees in your honey house:

  1. Leave brood in the hive.  If you are bringing in brood along with your honey the battle is lost.  I strongly recommend excluders, but if you have another method that works, that's fine. If you do bring some brood in take those combs outside to the hive described in point # 4.
  2. Leave the bees in the yard.  Remember bees and brood are more productive in the hive than in the honey house.  Whether  you use tip off, repellents, or blowers, make sure that you aren't bringing in large clusters of bees.
  3. Design the hot room.  There should be enough windows so you never have to turn on lights except at night.  The windows should be away from doors or traffic areas.  Bees are light positive, and will leave the supers (providing there isn't brood or enough bees to make a viable cluster) and congregate on the windows.
  4. Start a hive outside.  At the beginning of each extracting season, we start a hive beside our honey house from a five frame nuc.  When it is overflowing with bees we move it to a yard and replace it with another.  Three or four hives over the season are started this way.
  5. Remove bees from the windows.  We mounted two large shelf brackets above the top east corner of each window (our hot room has two large windows at the south end.  The bees cluster at the top east corner with 70% to 80% on the east window.  This is consistent year after year) where we can set a five frame nuc without a bottom board.  We hang a caged queen between the combs inside the nuc.  The bees go up into the nuc and every few days we take the nucs outside and empty them into the hive outside.
  6. Brush bees outside.  Bees that stay clustered in the supers and come into the extracting room are taken outside and brushed into the hive.
  7. Have window in extracting room.  It has to be big enough to attract the few bees that do take wing in the extracting room.  These can be removed on a regular basis to the hive outside.
Controlling the bees in your honey house is easy and you will reap the benefits.  Your bees will be flying in your yards rather than in your honey house.  Your customers will flock to see you extract their honey.  The bees will produce honey.  And finally your crew will be having fun and extracting honey rather than dodging bees.

Published in the S.B.A. newsletter.

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