About apiculture

Despina Vasiliadou's picture

Whoever wants to be a beekeeper should work hard, with a lot of patience and love for the bees. Also, at the beginning he/she should have the help and guidance by a professional, experienced beekeeper.

If you decide to become a professional beekeeper, you should know that a beehive of 60.000 bees can approximately give 4-5 kilos of honey so professional beekeeper is considered the one who keeps around 150-200 beehives.

What a future beekeeper should know

  • Beehives should be placed to face South-East for maximun sunshine during winter whereas in summer they should be under the shade in a cool place.

  • We can move beehives to different places according to flower blossoming.

  • During winter we should make sure that there is enough honey left in the beehive for the bees to feed on, alternatively we can feed them with sugar.

  • Bees come out to feed any sunny day, independently of the season, but on rainy days they stay in the beehive, when it is cold they gather all together to form a sphere so as to keep warm. In such a case we shouldn't disturb them!!

  • In every beehive there is only one queen, if by accident a second one exists, the first will kill her!

  • The queen bee lives on average for 4-5 years, the workers live 40-50 days.

  • Bees aged 3-10 days air the beehive by waving their wings, those aged 10-17 days produce wax, those aged 20-40 days are the workers, they produce honey. In every beehive there is also a guard group.

  • There is a fine balance that should be kept in order that the beehive is healthy and harmless.

  • The beekeeper should be a vigilant watcher for diseases and keep the beehives clean.

  • The behaviour of bee swarms varies and a beekeeper's handling should also vary accordingly, regarding feeding, taking care e.t.c

The steps to become a beekeeper

  1. We buy the hive boxes or make them ourselves.

  2. We make the wooden frames on which bees will make their wax cells and store the honey.

  3. We buy the bee swarm preferably from a beekeeper we trust so as to get a healthy swarm (a swarm of 10-15.000 bees will approximately cost 150 euros)

  4. We make sure there is a water container near the beehives with thin sticks of wood floating on the water surface on which the bees will stand when they drink water, thus avoiding falling in the water and drowning.

  5. We collect the honey at the beginning of August making sure that there is some left in the beehive, on the lower floor (the queen's apartment) on which the bees will feed during winter. We take the frames out of the hive carefully with gentle and soft moves so as not to scare the bees, sometimes we can repel them with smoke. With the help of a knife we remove the protective wax layer the bees have made on top of the honey, we put the frames in a centrifuge machine from which the honey is collected in a container.

  6. We let the honey sediment for about 10 days. Then, we remove any tiny particles and foam that will come to the surface.


Rosie's picture

What do you use beeswax for….?

This list was compiled from visitors to the annual Conwy Honey Fair

§  To strengthen button thread.

§  To stop shoe laces fraying.

§  To make furniture drawers open and close more easily.

§  To make wood saws cut freely.

§  To make screws drive into wood more easily.

§  In woodturning, to polish bowls.

§  To make furniture polish, mixing the beeswax with pure turpentine.

§  For tying fishing flies.

§  To lubricate wet suit zips.

§  To seal didgeridoo mouthpieces.

§  To strengthen archery bow strings.

§  To lubricate muzzle-loading rifle bullets, mixing the beeswax with tallow.

§  To make candles.

§  To strengthen sail maker’s twine.

§  To make hand cream.

§  To strengthen sash window cords.

§  To finish pine picture frames.

§  ½ and ½ with paraffin wax for batik.

§  Encaustic art.

§  To wax dreadlocks.

§  To polish and preserve gunstocks.

§  To strengthen puppet strings and prevent tangling.

I use beeswax to lubricate and waterproof linen thread when sewing leather.

I mix beeswax and neatsfoot oil (plus a drop or two of a nicer smelling essential oil like Patchouli) to make a leather waterproofer and conditioning treatment.

Compiled by Peter McFadden with additions from members of Conwy Beekeepers Association - Cymdeithas Gwenynwyr Conwy http://www.conwybeekeepers.org.uk/