Working with a Honey Bee Colony

Dress in light colored, cotton or rip stop nylon clothing. Wear your helmet and veil with the netting of the veil snug around your shoulders. Light your smoker and fill the chamber with fuel. Use pine needles, grass, leaves, burlap fabric or cotton cloth as fuel in the smoker. Do not use materials of animal origin such as wool fabric, fur or feathers. Wrap the bottoms of your pants’ legs around the top of your boots and secure them in place with a rubber band. Bees drop from handled frames to the ground. The dropped bees will crawl up your legs as you work around the hive. Put on your gloves and approach the colony from the rear or the side.

Work with slow, steady movements, handling the parts of the hive carefully to avoid bumping, shaking motions that shake them off the frame. Smoke the bees out of the way to avoid crushing them. Open a colony when the temperature is 55º F or warmer, the sun is shining, the bees are flying and the wind is calm.

Open and inspect colonies once a week during spring build-up and honey production. Colonies should be opened and inspected one or more times each month from February through November.