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Beekeeping For Dummies




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The single best and most comprehensive guide for prospective, new and experienced hobbyist beekeepers

Beekeeping For Dummies, 5th Edition, is one of the most popular titles in the For Dummies series available today. Including the latest information regarding every aspect of backyard beekeeping and honey production, this book describes how to get started, how to care for and safely handle bees, and how to maintain healthy and productive colonies.

This book is loaded with up-to-date, practical examples and helpful illustrations of proven techniques and strategies for both new and seasoned hobbyist beekeepers. Some of the updates for this brand-new edition include:

  • New information regarding the critical role that nutrition plays in the health and productivity of your bees
  • News about the latest beekeeping products, medications, and all-natural remedies
  • Information regarding dozens of helpful beekeeping resources
  • Redeemable coupons from beekeeping suppliers that save the reader money

Beekeeping For Dummies embodies the straightforward and simple approach made famous by the For Dummies series. Each and every reader will benefit from its accessible and approachable take on beekeeping.

From the Publisher

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I am on the receiving end of virtually every question you can possibly imagine about bees and beekeeping. Beginning beekeepers face all kinds of puzzling new situations and concerns every day. I know how gratifying it is for them to have someone they can ask when they just can’t seem to figure out what to do next. I had a wonderful mentor when I started beekeeping, and it made all the difference when I encountered something baffling. Here are a few of the most common questions I receive from new beekeepers.

Help! A million bees are clustered on the front of my hive. They’ve been there all day and night. Are they getting ready to swarm?

They’re not swarming. Chances are it’s really hot and humid, and the bees are just doing what you’d do—going out on the front porch to cool off. It’s called bearding. They may spend days and nights outside the hive until the weather becomes more bearable inside. Make sure you’ve given them a nearby source for water and provided adequate hive ventilation. Bearding can be an indication that the hive’s ventilation is not what it should be.

Is something wrong with my bees? They’re standing at the entrance of the hive, and it looks like they’re just rocking back and forth. Are they sick?

Your bees are fine. They’re scrubbing the surface of the hive to clean and polish it. They do this inside and outside the hive. Tidy little creatures, aren’t they?

I hived a new package of bees last week. I just looked in the hive. The queen isn’t in her cage, and I don’t see her or any eggs. Should I order a new queen?

It’s probably too early to conclude that you have a problem. Overlooking the queen is easy (she’s always trying to run away from the light when you open a hive). Seeing eggs is a far easier method of determining whether you have a queen. But it may be too soon for you to see eggs. Give it another few days and then look again for eggs. Until they get a better idea of what eggs look like, most new beekeepers have a hard time recognizing them.

A few days after the queen lays the eggs, they hatch into larvae, which are easier to see than eggs. If you see absolutely nothing after ten days (no queen, no eggs, and no larvae), order a new queen from your beekeeping supplier.

Hundreds of bees are around my neighbor’s swimming pool and birdbath. The bees are creating a problem, and the neighbor is blaming me. What can I do?

Bees need lots of water in summer to cool the colony, and your neighbor’s pool and birdbath are probably the bees’ closest sources. You must provide your bees with a closer source of water. If they’re already imprinted on your neighbor’s oasis, you may have to “bait” your new water source with a light mixture of sugar water. After the bees find your sweet new watering hole, you can switch to 100 percent water.

I see white spots on the undersides of my bees. I’m worried these might be mites or some kind of disease. What are these white flecks?

This isn’t a problem. The white flakes that you see are bits of wax produced by glands on the underside of the bee’s abdomen. They use this wax to build comb. All is well.

I see some bees with shriveled wings and very short, stubby abdomens. Are these just baby bees?

These are not baby bees. This is usually a warning sign that the colony has a virus epidemic due to a significant infestation of varroa mites. This results in malformations, like shortened abdomens, misshapen wings, and deformed legs. It’s time to take action!

Researchers have made it clear how important good nutrition is to the overall well-being of bees. We can help our bees stay strong and healthy by planting an array of bee-friendly flowers like these:

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Danish flag, corn poppy, and Iceland poppies are easily grown from seed. Although they can be transplanted, they prefer to be directly seeded. Their colors range from deep scarlet or crimson to various pastel shades. All bloom freely from early summer to fall, need full sun, and grow 2 to 4 feet tall.

California poppies are golden orange and easily grown. They are a good pollen source for honey bees and self-seed in warmer climates.


Chocolate, spearmint, apple mint, peppermint, and orange mint are only a few of the types of mints available. Mint flowers are high in nectar. They come in a variety of colors, sizes, fragrances, and appearances, but when they produce a flower, bees are there.

Most mints bloom late in the year. Several can easily be grown from seed, while other varieties are obtained from root cuttings. Mint is a rapid spreader and extremely hardy. If you don’t want it all over your yard, you can contain its growth by planting it in a pot.


The aster family has more than 100 different species. The aster is one of the most common wildflowers, ranging in color from white and pink to light and dark purple. Asters differ in height from 6 inches to 4 feet and can be fairly bushy.

Asters are mostly perennials, and blooming times vary from early spring to late fall; however, like all perennials, their blooming period lasts only a few weeks. Several varieties can be purchased as seeds, but you can also find some aster plants offered for sale at nurseries.


Sunflowers are made up of two families and provide bees with both pollen and nectar. Each family is readily grown from seed, but you may find some nurseries that carry them as potted plants. When you start sunflowers by seed, get them started early in the season, a couple of weeks before you plan to put them in the garden. Sunflowers are rapid growers and transplant better when you leave roots undisturbed by planting the entire pot.

Helianthus annuus include the well-known giant sunflower as well as many varieties of dwarf and multi-branched types. Sunflowers come in a wide assortment of sizes (from 2 to 12 feet) as well as range of colors, from the popular yellow to white, rust, and more.

Because of its high fructose content, honey has a higher sweetening power than sugar. This means you can substitute honey for sugar in recipes to achieve the same sweetness. Try these tips:

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Measuring Honey

To substitute honey for sugar in recipes, start by substituting up to half of the sugar called for. With a little experimentation, honey can replace all the sugar in some recipes.

If you are measuring honey by weight, 1 cup of honey will weigh 12 ounces.

Honey Cleanup

For easy cleanup when measuring honey, coat the measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil before adding the honey. The honey will slide right out.

Baking with Honey

In baking, honey helps baked goods stay fresh and moist longer. It also gives any baked creation a warm, golden color. When substituting honey for sugar in baked goods, follow these guidelines:

Reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used
Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for each cup of honey used
Reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent overbrowning

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Honey Curry Vegetable Dip


1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Assorted fresh raw vegetables (celery, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, pea pods)


Combine mayonnaise, honey, curry, and vinegar; mix well
Refrigerate about 1 hour to allow flavors to blend
Serve as a cold dip with your favorite vegetables

Per Serving:

Calories 37 (From Fat 44%); Fat 2g; Cholesterol 8mg; Sodium 18mg; Carbohydrate 5.3g (Dietary Fiber 0.1g); Protein 0.3g

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: Approximately 1 cup

Serving Size: 1 tablespoon


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