Beekeepers Pest and Disease Course

Bee Health Check  Workshop  April 23rd 2017
As our colonies get ready for spring it is time for us to put our plans together on how we will keep them healthy and disease free.  Our P&D workshop will  give you all the information needed to identify, diagnose, monitor and treat  the common and not so common P&Ds.
To book one of our remaining places visit us at

Bee Keeper Pest and Disease Course

This Course is designed for the small scale beekeeper  who would like to gain a greater understanding of the pests and diseases that could affect their Honey Bee colonies.pic_SHB
We will look at all aspects of  monitoring, diagnoses and treatment for the common and not so common pest and diseases to help develop your own Integrated Pest Management plan (IPM)  which will allow you to become proactive in the husbandry of your bees.
For full course details please visit our web page

Chester Nova Scotia
Saturday 27th August 2016 Verroa
9.30am – 4.00pm
Advanced booking only

6508-mouseDAVID ADAMS
902 273 2426

History of the Decline of our Honey Bee’s

Bridgwater Garden club

A talk presented by David Adams from BeeYond The Veil Beekeeper Training
15th June Holy Trinity Parish Hall, 78 Alexandrea Av Bridgewater 7.30pm

344ec7b0139f9080454dd85074013c77We are all aware of the many tabloid headlines about the impending disasters waiting for us as our Honey Bee colonies disappear and our food stores are left empty. As always there is a story behind the headlines and we will discover the historical events that have taken our bees in to danger. As with all good stories there is always a light at the end of the tunnel

David Adams Tel 902 2732426

Email beeyondtheveil@gmail.comdead_bee2


The Decline of the Honey Bee

37sM-Mc5gWASCCbXjei8A1jlIczb9mIZUsOPxs7D5G0Chester Garden Club

A talk presented by David Adams from BeeYond The Veil Beekeeper Trainin
18th April, St Stephens Parish Community Centre, Chester 6.30 for 7pm

344ec7b0139f9080454dd85074013c77We are all aware of the many tabloid headlines about the impending disasters waiting for us as our Honey Bee colonies disappear and our food stores are left empty.As always there is a story behind the headlines and we will discover the historical events that have taken our bees in to danger. As with all good stories there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Tel: 9022732426    Email:

Beekeepers Beginners Time Table

Beekeepers beginners time table

I believe that a good foundation in the basics of handling bees and the theory behind that is the difference between success and failure as a beekeeper.Examining brood I know that guidance from an experienced beekeeper and hands on practical experience produces top class beekeepers, who will be able to make their own decisions on how they wish to keep their bees based on firm foundations.

I have seen our students  look cautious on day one when we open the hive and concerned byBeekeeper instruction the depth of knowledge they will need, even before they get their first bees. As the weeks go by and the terminology of beekeeping becomes second nature, and there confidence with handling bees grows, I notice that our final lectures are lead more by the student  asking poignant questions than my ramblings at the front of the class.


There are many ways and routes to becoming a beekeeper but the basics are the basics and so I have put this timetable together to illustrate the minimum necessary before you start to keep bees.

First Colony Inspection this is where you get to handle bees on your own once you have received some instruction. Don’t worry about what is on the frames just get used to being with the bees and calmly handling the frames. At this stage nervous is good, terrified means that keeping bees may not be for you.

Second Colony Inspection is when we start to identify the different castes of bee Queen, Workers, Drones, lave and eggs. You should be more confident handling the frames knowing how and when to use the smoker. This is the time to form good  habits like not rolling bees and not coursing vibrations by thumping down frames. Keep your hand movement slow and steady and avoid waving them around over the center of the frames.

Third Colony Inspection. This is when you should be able to light your own smoker  and keep it going. You should also now be able to name all the parts of the hive crown board, mesh floor, brood box, queen excluder etc. An item which is often taken for granted is the identification of  the different types of food stores nectar, honey , and pollen and to understand their importance to the colony.

Forth colony inspection and beyond. Now is when you will need to get an understanding of how a colony works and for that you will need the following.

  • Identify worker, drone and queen cells.
  • Recognise brood at all stages
  • Understand the difference between healthy brood and diseased brood. You don’t need to know what the problem is just that it’s not right so that you can seek  help.
  • Know off by hart the life cycle of each caste of bee. This is the most important  lesson if you are ever going to b enable to open  a colony and understand what is going on. this will also be critical when dealing with swarms and swarm control. This will also make clear why 7 & 14 day inspections are needed.
  • Be aware of verroa and be able to see the mites and the effects of heavy infection.

I believe that there is no use in inspecting  your hive if you don’t know what you or the bees are trying to do. So take some lessons read some books and find an experienced beekeeper to get you started. Attending a full beekeeping course will teach you everything in the time table and more. It is also the best way to meet fellow beekeepers with good foundations who will be a help to you in the years to come, AND WE WILL ALL NEED HELP.

Five Considerations for setting up an Apiary or Bee Yard

Five Considerations for setting up an Apiary / Bee Yard

As a new beekeeper you will need to give careful consideration on where you will site your apiary or bee yard  before your bees arrive. I believe that many an anxious  moment can be avoided if we take more time to properly consider  where it would be best for our bees to reside.  We must remember that once the bees have set up home we can only move them 3 feet  a day  within the new home range. It is not unusual to find foraging bees in a cluster dead on the ground where the hive used to be even if it is only moved a few yards away.

Apiary or Bee Yards can be split in to two basic types:-

  • Home Apiary or Bee Yard this type is mostly used by beekeepers with small numbers of hives, say under 10 and are conveniently located on your property so that you can enjoy watching your bees work. It also makes regular inspections easier and more convenient if you suddenly need a piece of equipment that is stored in your shed.

    The Perfect Home Apiary

    The Perfect Home Apiary

  • Out Apiary or Bee Yard is more often used by a larger scale beekeeper but not exclusively. Many small scale beekeepers my chose to keep bees away from home possibly because a member of the family is allergic to stings or because a neighbour  is uncomfortable with having bees so close to their property. Some beekeepers will have out apiary / bee yards to take advantage of better or specific forage for the bees.

We can look first at the 5 main considerations for setting up a home apiary / bee yard and we will look at the out apiary or bee yard later.


  1. Easy access for the beekeeper  is a top priority. I have visited many apiary/ bee yards that involve climbing steps, sliding down slopes or climbing fences. Tricky enough even if you are not carrying bulky hive parts or full honey suppers.
    A Well Set Up Out Apiary

    A Well Set Up Out Apiary

    A good stable path would help a lot especially  if you intend to use a wheel barrow to move things around. You should also think about how much space you will have around your hive, can you stand on a level surface and have room to set down the hive parts during inspections. I have opened many a hive where you have to twist, turn and lean over the hive just to open it.

  2. Protective cover from prevailing winds especially those biting winter blows. Winter losses are usually higher  in exposed sites than where good cover is present. A  good hedge or large shrub would help with this as it slows the wind but allow it to pass through. Anything to solid will cause the wind to roll over the top and crash down on the hive. Slowing the winds also helps the bee when coming in for a landing with a full load. In strong winds bees can be blown off course and end up in the next hive, this is called drifting and in extreme cases you could find most of your bees in the hive furthest down wind.
  3. Good air flow  through the apiary / bee yard will remove moisture and keep clean air around the hives. To help with this avoid sites that are in hollows or damp ground as these will often be frost pockets and will always be a few degrees cooler and slow to warm up.


  1. Keep away from heavy tree canopy as this could make your apiary/ bee yard too cool and damp. Many beekeepers like me  will have their hives in wooded areas which is excellent as long as the density is not too crowded. And there is a clear area in the canopy through which the sun can shine and the bees can easily fly when foraging.
  2. Don’t have your hives overlooking paths and roads as the bees will become a nuisance to anyone using them. Bees are quite single minded when foraging and will fly into someone without seeing them. The bee would usually not be harmed but may  fly around your head to see what she hit. Not a problem for the bee keeper but the unaware public will flap their hands at the bee and bring on the stinging impulse. From there things go downhill and you could have a angry neighbour at your door. Guard bees will also be drawn to investigate human activity if they can see them from the front of the hive, and so to help with both these issues having the hive facing a fence or hedge set about five feet back will obscure their view and send the bees up over head height when setting off to forage

For an out apiary or bee yard you should also consider

  • How visible will your hives be to the public. Boys will be boys and kicking over hives as a dare is not unheard of.
  • Is there live stock in the area now or at a later date. you may need to erect some temporary fencing to stop cows rubbing up against the hives and turning them over.
  • Is it likely that pesticides will be used by local land owners and if so do they know how to contact you ahead of time. Put up a sign by your hives with your contact details so that if any issues occur  someone will be able to let you know.

It is unlikely that we  will always find the perfect site for our apiary or bee yard but taking into consideration some of the ides above will make your beekeeping easier and more enjoyable.

Fondant could save your Bees

Feeding Fondant

There are many articles floating around regarding the use of sugar fondant  as a food substitute for our bees. There are as many opinions on the use of fondant as there are regions and provinces which can become very confusing.   In the interests of clarity this article is aimed at the hobby beekeeper with say 1 – 10 hives and keeping their bees in a similar climate to that experienced here on the South Shore Nova Scotia.

What is it

Fondant is a soft inverted sugar paste made by heating refined sugar with a catalyst like lemon juice to break down its long chain carbohydrates into simpler sugars (Fructose and glucose) that can be easily used by the bees. This  is in effect the same process used by the bees to convert nectar to honey.

Why Feed Fondant

Because the fondant has been broken down into simple sugars it can be eaten by the bees straight off the block. It’s easy to handle,  store and will not over ripen if not used immediately

When to Feed

I would recommend  feeding fondant at periods when the temperatures are too cold for feeding syrup, certainly  in early spring when the colonies winter stores are running low, especially if it is a late spring. Many a beekeeper has lost a Colony that has come through the winter only to stave in the first

Fondant placed in bag with a cut in the base and placed over feeding hole

Fondant placed in bag with a cut in the base and placed over feeding hole

few weeks of spring for the want of a block of fondant. I tend to not feed syrup in early spring as this can over stimulate the colony in to full brood production at a time when the natural forage may not be able to support the increase.

Where to get it

Many beekeepers will use commercially produced bakers fondant which is quite acceptable as long as it has had no additives added like vanilla , starch or cream of tartar.  I telephoned my supplier of Bakers’ Fondant to establish the technical specifications and method of production. They tell me that the fondant consists of: sugar 74.5% ± 0.5%, glucose solids 14.5% ± 0.5%, water 11.0% ± 0.5%. The ingredients are heated just to boiling point (approx 221ºF) and are then stirred in a creamer until cool. This produces a soft, fine-grain sugar paste.

If you only have a few hives try making your own fondant its quite simple. Try my fondant recipe, but be careful when handling hot sugar it burns.

How to feed it to your bees

There are many ways to make the fondant available to the bees and so these are the ones that have worked for me.

Firstly if feeding to protect against winter or Spring starvation I would wait until we get the first daytime air temperatures above 10° and then with the help of a friend I would very quickly open the hive, place the fondant and close up as soon as possible to minimise heat lose from the colony.

The fondant can be placed as follows.

Fondant placed under container and over feeding hole

Fondant placed under container and over feeding hole

  • Directly on top of the frames so that the bees can get to it easily and with minimum effort. This method could well save your bees if they are already weakened from a lack of food. You will need to use a deep crown board (eke) to accommodate the fondant on the frames.
  • This method is similar to the above but using a queen excluder to help prevent the fondant sliding between the frames as it softens due to the warmth and moisture given off by the bees.
  • The fondant can be placed in a upturned plastic container to prevent it drying out or a plastic bag  with a slit cut in to it which is then placed over the feeding hole of the crown/ cover board. As long as the bees are in good condition they will enter through the hole and eat away the fondant from inside. this is a good method because there is less disturbance to the bees and you can easily add more fondant if needed.

Note of warning

Do not use unrefined sugar its great for us but not for bees.

 Studies show that feeding bees  fondant for long periods can cause a form of bee dysentery which will weaken the colony.

Fondant Recipe

Fondant Recipe

Hot sugar burns a lot if you get it on your skin

Water              500 ml

Sugar               2.75kg

Acid                 6ml (lemon juice)

Place the sugar water and Acid in a large pan and heat to 120°C with the help of a preserving thermometer or similar. This will take around 10 minutes to reach temp and then continue to cook at 120°C for a further 10 minutes. I find that you need a good amount of heat to reach temperature then you will need to reduce it to help maintain 120°C. Stir constantly but slowly and don’t get distracted or you will burn the syrup which is bad for the bees.

After 20 minutes a good amount of the long sugar molecules would have split into sucrose and fructose that the bees can digest. Stand the pan in cold water to reduce the temp to around 80°C or warm enough to handle just. Tip out the now creamy colored fondant onto a well-oiled board and begin to need/turn the fondant. If you find it still too hot to handle try using a bread dough scraper or similar to help turn in the fondant. This turning/needing process helps break down the crystals forming in the fondant so that after 10 minutes or so you are left with a pliable fondant that can be moulded over and between the frames of the hive. Allow the fondant to cool fully on the board or on a baking sheet and then cover in food wrap or store in a sealed container. Don’t worry if the final result is hard instead of soft it can still be feed to the bees, it will just be a little harder to place in the hive.



Choosing Bees The Good the Bad and the Ugly !

Choosing Bees The Good the Bad and the Ugly!

I am often asked where to go for choosing bees and I always answer that the question isn’t where but which type of bee should I choose ?

When choosing bees you should first decide  what you want from your bees. Do you want bees for honey,  splitting and selling or just a good hardy all-rounder .

The next consideration for choosing bees is the climate, not all bee types may be suitable. That is certainly true here on the South Shore of Nova Scotia with long cold winters and short springs.


So let’s take a look at three of the seven spices available. I have chosen these three as I have worked with them all and they best demonstrate the characteristics you should be looking for. That said bees vary just like dogs, they may all be retrievers but with very different personalities.

  • Italian (Apis milifera ligustica)

These are probably the most widely used bee in the world. They are very prolific and produce good crops of honey. Because of their prolific growth they can quickly become crowded and it

Italian Yellow bee

Italian Yellow bee

may be this that has given the reputation for being swarmy. Their tendency to raise brood over increasing food stores can make them hard to over winter in climates that are long and  cold.

  • Carniolan  (Apis milifera carnica)

This type of bee will over winter as a small colony with good food stores ideal for long winters.

Carniolan Bee

Carniolan Bee

They build up quickly in the spring to take advantage of the emerging forage. They can be swarmy if space becomes tight


  • North European (Apis milifera milifara)

Known as the British Black Bee they do have a reputation for being bad tempered.

Black Bee

European or British Black Bee

They over winter as small colonies which favours stores over broad production. As they have evolved in harsh climates they are by far the most adaptable bees.


So let go choosing bees or should we?

Lets first consider how our queens mate, off on their own mixing with drones from any colony in a 10+mile radius. The reality is that your pure bread bees will eventually become a colony of mongrels demonstrating all the characteristics that would bring. Is this bad ? well know, in fact it’s a good thing for the hobby beekeeper who is not relying on honey production for a living. For my colonies I will be choosing bees with characteristics from all of the above. I need bees that over winter without too much brood, produce a reasonable crop of honey and are calm to handle especially for my student beekeepers.

So when I am choosing bees  I look for a local producer  who  has queens  bread from his own stock and that have become acclimatised to the local area. Once the bees are in my apiary I keep records of their behavior and breed my replacement queens from the colonies that have the greater number of my chosen characteristics.

Before you dash off to  buy your bees take a moment to read my blog on the best way of buying bees it may help.