It’s Sara writing again! Recently, on Facebook, I saw a post about lifehacks, and it got me wondering: Why I haven’t seen more beekeeping hacks? I know they exist, but don’t they deserve their own spotlight—and genre!—in the world of lifehacking? If you agree and want to see some cool beekeeping tips, read on!
Lifehacks are ingenious tricks that make everyday life easier. They often repurpose common objects to solve problems in simple ways, and their usefulness can range from inane to brilliant. I guess they speak to the MacGyver in all of us because, with a little internet searching, you can find a lifehack for almost anything. Check out all the ways to use binder clips and bread bag tags and the best of the smartphone hacks, like how to turn your sunglasses into an iPhone stand.
Yet, for some reason, no one has written about beekeeping lifehacks! A community rife with tinkerers and inventors, beekeepers are coming up with tips and tricks every day, and it’s high time we get them out there. Below is Part I of a two-part series of Girl Next Door Honey beekeeping hacks. You’re invited to share your own hacks in the comments section, and we might include them in Part 2!
1. Speed Up Bee Removals with Two Natural Products
During swarm catches and removals, you can lure bees into a new box with natural products like Swarm Commander. Conversely, you can expedite getting bees out by using Bee Quick or Honey-B-Gone. Bees run from the marzipan smell these natural products produce, which means you can herd bees out of places, stop them from immediately returning, and preventatively spray hard-to-reach spots they might run to during a removal.
2. Create a DIY Push Cage for Queen Bee Installation
All you need is #8 hardware cloth and a couple of sturdy rubber bands for extra stability.
Keep your gloves honey-free during bee removals or messy honey harvests by wearing nitrile gloves over your bee gloves.
- 5. Create An Ideal Drinking Fountain for Bees (Pool Owners, Take Note!)
Bees need water to keep the hive healthy and to regulate temperatures inside the hive. It’s easy to create safe, nourishing water sources for them, and there are tons of designs on google. Many involve nothing more than a wine barrel, mosquito fish, water, and duck weed! If you own a pool, providing an alternative—and better—water source can keep bees from drinking where you swim.
Honey drizzled over hot pizza is an idea straight from Hilary’s kitchen. It’s amazing!
- 7. Spend Less with a DIY Honey Extractor
Check out how inventive beekeepers are saving money by making honey extractors with bicycle rims, bearings, galvanized tubs, and a drill.
8. Get Great Macro Shots of Bees with an iPhone and a Jeweler’s Loupe
Buy an inexpensive set of jeweler’s loupes. (10x and 30x work great.) Simply set the loupe against your smartphone lens and experiment with distances between the object and the camera. The camera will focus through the loupe and take a great close up.
- 9. Make a Queen Excluder for a Top Bar Hive
If your top bar bees place brood on every bar, try making a queen excluder, like one of Hilary’s clients did. Create a wooden frame that fits in your TBH, and cut a regular queen excluder to fit inside that frame.
10. Thirsty in a bee suit? Drink through your veil!
Yes, it’s that easy!
- 11. Use Your Smartphone to Take Hive Notes
It’s hard to take notes right after a hive inspection when you’re sweaty in your bee suit and wearing gloves. So, dictate notes to your smartphone before leaving your apiary using the voice memos or video app. Listen later and transcribe your observations into your bee journal.
12. Use Ratcheting Straps to Move Beehives
Whether you are moving a hive a few feet or a few miles, make it easy by lashing all the pieces of a hive together with a single ratcheting strap.
13. Requeen on a Budget with Swarm Cells
Is one of your hives queenless? Is it swarm season? With the right timing, you can remove capped swarm cells and requeen your hive with them.
14. Save Money on Bee Plants through Propagation
Provide more forage for your bees cost free by propagating certain plants, like basils. Here’s a tutorial for how to take cuttings of African Blue Basil.
- 15. Forgot Your Hive Tool? Here are Some Handy Alternatives
In a pinch, Hilary has used a screwdriver, and once, when I forgot my tool, I tried pruners, a house key, and a fork.