A fact that we must acknowledge is that the willingness of a beekeeper to start, maintain and nurse weak colonies will only exacerbate the problem of honeybee pests within an apiary. Strong colonies are a must have, as strong colonies are likely to fight off most pests with no help from humans. Starting and maintaining strong colonies is by far the best way to fight honeybee pests, especially the wax moth and the small hive beetle.
It is imperative that you start off your hives with an adequate amount of bees. Colonies that start off weak often remain weak because they cannot care for or cover very much brood. They'll build up slowly or maybe not at all. They also have to be fed constantly and are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to protecting the hive. They are often robbed, which leads to the introduction of diseases and pests, the loss of their queen, further weakness, etc. New beekeepers need to understand that starting a hive from only a 3 lb. package is setting the stage for failure, or at best, a difficult first season for them and for the bees. You can start your colony out strong by purchasing a 3 lb. package with a queen and then also purchasing a 2 lb. package without a queen. Install all 5 lbs. of bees into one of our square or octagonal hives, starting with just two hive bodies. If you want to start two colonies, purchase three 3 lb. packages, two with queens and one without. Install 4.5 lbs. of bees into each hive by splitting the queenless package. You can see this being done by watching our bee installation videos. By starting your colonies in this way, all of the following scenarios are likely:
- Your bees will be numerous enough from day one, to protect themselves from invaders, including pests such as wax moths and small hive beetles.
- Unless your area is suffering abnormally cold weather or severe drought, you will not need to feed your bees for more than about two weeks. Once the bees have filled one box with comb, the feeders can come off, since there will be plenty of bees available for foraging.
- The bees' population will build up very quickly (add boxes!), allowing continued protection from many pests all season long.
- Your bees will produce a honey crop the first year and you will be able to harvest at least one box (about 30 lb.) of honey.
- Your bees will survive the winter and their second year will be awesome! Just remember to add boxes early to help discourage swarms due to overcrowding.