Facts About Beekeeping

Highlights of the beekeeping year

Forklift moving hivesMoving Bee Hives

Readying Hives In Spring







Early Spring

  • Feeding – after a long hard winter bees will often have consumed most of the feed in their hives.  To help them make it through until the first buds appear on trees and to raise brood and bees, liquid sugar and pollen substitutes are given to hives in need to help keep the bees going until they can begin to forage for themselves.
  • Remove winter covers
  • Clean up dead hives “dead outs”
  • Add brood chamber (box) to give the bees more room to expand their numbers
  • Ensure queens are healthy and productive
  • Split hives and re-queen
  • Move bees for pollination or to summer bee yards


pulling honey - smoking bee hivespulling honey from hivesextracting honey from combs








  • Add honey supers – boxes where bees store honey
  • Constantly monitor hives for productivity and adjust management as necessary
  • Yard maintenance at bee yards
  • Set up and service equipment and clean Honey House to begin extracting
  • First crop of honey pulled off in late July/Early August
  • Extract honey and process wax


pulling honey from the hivesextracting honey from combsextracting honey from combs








  • Pull of second crop of honey
  • Extract honey and process wax
  • Once honey is off treat bees for mites
  • Combine weak hives together to make one strong hive
  • Feed liquid sugar to get the bees through winter (liquid sugar won’t crystallize in the hive the same way honey will)
  • Wrap bees for the winter


winterised bee hiveswinterised bee hiveschecking the bees in winter








  • Inside work – build new frames, boxes, repair and maintenance of equipment
  • Check bees periodically
  • Plan for next honey season


Getting To Know Bees:

Did you know that there are three types of bees in a hive?

Bees Leaving The HiveQueen Bees

  • Only one queen per hive
  • will lay ~ 1,500 eggs per day
  • The queen bee communicates with her hive via pheromones

Worker Bees

  • All workers are female bees
  • House bees do the cleaning, feed the baby bees, take care of the queen, store pollen and nectar, build and repair the honeycomb, cool the hive and guard the hive
  • Field bees will gather nectar and pollen from flowers, collect water and a sticky substance called propolis

Drone Bees

  • All drones are male bees
  • Their sole purpose is to find a queen to mate with
  • Do not have a stinger

Neat Facts About Bees

  • Honey has natural preservatives so bacteria can't grow in it
  • Bees have straw-like tongues so they can suck up liquids
  • A beehive in summer can have as many as 50,000 to 80,000 bees
  • Bees must collect nectar from ~2 million flowers and fly more than once around the world to make 1 lb of honey
  • Honey bees visit between 50 – 100 flowers during one collection trip
  • Bees communicate the location of nectar by doing a “wiggle/waggle dance”
  • The average worker bee makes about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
  • Every 3rd mouthful of food has been pollinated by bees.
  • Without bees there would not be very many fruits or vegetables to eat.
  • The average life of a honey bee during the working season is about three to six weeks.

Some of the Plants that Attract Bees:

Bee Swarm On An Apple TreeAnnuals:

Asters, Calliopsis, Marigolds, Poppies, Sunflowers, and Zinnias


Buttercups, Clematis, Cosmos, Crocuses, Dahlias, Echinacea, English Ivy, Foxglove, Geraniums, Germander, Globe Thistle, Hollyhocks, Hyacinth, Rock Cress, Roses, Sedum, Snowdrops, Squills, Tansy, and Yellow Hyssop

Fruits and Vegetables:

Blackberry, Blueberry, Cantaloupe, Cranberry, Cucumbers, Currants, Gooseberry, Gourds, Peppers, Pumpkins, Radishes, Raspberries, Squash, Strawberries, Watermelons, and Wild Garlic


Bee Balm, Borage, Catnip, Coriander/Cilantro, Fennel, Lavender, Mints, Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme


Butterfly Bush, Button Bush, Honeysuckle, Indigo, Privet, and Sumac


Alder, Basswood, Black Gum, Black Locust, Buckeyes, Eastern Redbud, Fruit Trees, Golden Rain Tree, Hawthorns, Hazels, Linden, Magnolia, Maples, Mountain Ash, Sycamore, Tulip, Poplar, and Willows

Wildflowers / Weeds / Crops:

Alfalfa, Buckwheat, Canola, Clover, Dandelion, Goldenrod, Milkweed, Mustard, Wild Cucumber, Japanese Knot Weed, and Purple Loosestrife

Substituting Honey for Sugar

Did you know that you can replace sugar with honey in your favourite recipes?  Simply replace the sugar with ¾ the amount of honey.

If you do replace honey in your recipes be sure to cut the liquid in the recipe by ¼ as well.

NOTE: Honey will slide out of measuring cups or spoons if oil is measured first or if the utensils are pre-rinsed with hot water.

Canning and Freezing with Honey

Ontario honey can be substituted for sugar when canning fruit:

Light Syrup = 1 cup Ontario Honey + 3 cups boiling water
Medium Syrup = 1 cup Ontario Honey + 2 cup boiling water

To freeze fruit use either a light or medium syrup to cover fruit in a freezer container.  Ensure you leave room for expansion.  Tip: To keep fruit submerged in syrup, crumple waxed paper and place in the top of the container.

Jams and Jellies with Honey

Substitute Ontario honey for sugar in your favourite jam or jelly recipes. Simply cut the sugar in 1/2. For example, if a recipe calls for 4 cups sugar, use 2 cups honey. You will need to cook the jam or jelly slightly longer and you will need to use liquid or powdered pectin to help the jam set. The consistency of the jam or jelly will be somewhat thinner than when made with sugar.