B-E-E-ING A Beekeeper – Celebrating the triumphs and understanding the trials

By Jessica Crabtree

Raising honeybees, like anything else, will present you with trials and triumphs, things that will fail while other parts will flourish. Now that we have established your needs as a new beekeeper and goals in the first year, we now discuss the things that can go wrong, why and how to fix it, as well as why things are going so well. For this we consult fellow beekeeper and Red River Beekeepers Association president, Kerry Roach.

Roach described honeybees as being “delicate creatures.” If the colony is strong, as a colony of many bees, they are a unit. However, the individual bee is very susceptible to an array of frailties. That, in and of itself, is the challenge and what causes bees to die. Roach explained the challenge for the beekeeper is to minimize the adverse effects in nature. Contrary to popular belief, honeybees can freeze, drowned and fall victim to the natural effects of weather. When the elements strike, Roach said, “They [honeybees] have to fly and come back, and figure out where their hive is, where their place of safety is.”

Additional dangers to the tiny creatures are wind, rain and flooding. Of course, like anything else, these insects are not without predators. “Honeybees are very tasty and palatable to birds, animals such as bears and skunks, which are all natural predators,” Roach described. Other predators include spiders, “Honeybees must watch for spider webs. Webs simply offer another natural danger.” One of a beekeeper’s largest challenges is minimizing those natural dangers as much as possible. Naturally, honeybees live between six and eight weeks. However, the worker bees literally work themselves to death.

Beekeepers in our state possess their own beekeeping challenges. That comes in the form of Texas’ unpredictable weather. “In Texas, our main issue is heat in the summer. A beekeeper here must give proper ventilation to a hive. They can’t just keep the box closed up. The hive needs air to circulate through it,” Roach shared. This can be done by offsetting the hive boxes to create a space for air to circulate.

To read more pick up a copy of the October 2017 NTFR issue. To subscribe call 940-872-5922.