F.A.Q's

Here is a list of some Frequently Asked Questions about Bees and Beekeeping


What do I do if I get Stung?
Bees will not generally sting if unprovoked - usually the bee has been trapped in hair or crushed. When close to a beehive avoid flapping your arms and moving rapidly. If the bees are antagonised, walk away through undergrowth or trees if possible. If stung remove the sting quickly as the sting still pumps venom for some time after the bee has left.

What do I do if I see a swarm of Bees?
Don’t Panic, bees in a swarm are generally in a good mood. They cannot easily sting even if antagonised as they have gorged themselves with honey and cannot get their bodies into the best position to sting. If the swarm is not causing a nuisance then leave it. Gradually the bees will cluster in a bush or tree and remain there for up to 3 days. During that time scouts will be sent out to look for a new home and the only problem may be they will choose your chimney so put your fire/ heating on low and enjoy their visit. If the swarm is a nuisance then contact your local beekeepers, who can help.
The Fingal Beekeepers will collect a Swarm  free of charge.

How does a Beekeeper catch a swarm of Bees?
A swarm is actively looking for a home, so if the beekeeper puts a nice hive with perhaps some old honey comb in it close to where the swarm has settled, then it is easy to persuade them to take up residence. Normally a few bees are dropped into the hive and they then ‘fan’ their scent to the other bees once it has been ‘approved’. It is a dramatic sight to see a swarm ‘marching’ into a new hive. Bees already in residence perhaps in a chimney or old tree must be removed with their honeycomb containing the young grubs and the queen. If the bees cannot be reached then the beekeeper is helpless and the council or local pest control will destroy the colony.

Apart from honey, are Bees useful?
Yes very. The pollination benefit of honeybees is calculated to help the economy by millions of pounds per annum. Certain crops yield up to 35%-60% more, if efficiently pollinated by honeybees. Farmers in some areas of the world pay beekeepers to put hives into their fields and orchards. In the USA alone honeybees pollinate about ten billion dollars worth of crops per year (2010). In addition to pollination, honeybees produce wax for candles, pollen and Royal Jelly. During the middle Ages one of the most important jobs in an Abbey was the Beekeeper, as a huge quantity of wax was constantly required for the ceremonial candles.

Is Beekeeping hard work?
In terms of time… about ˝ an hour per hive per week from mid April to July. In addition honey is extracted up to twice a year.

A Beekeeper uses smoke to 'calm' the bees, how does this work?
Bees are woodland insects and evolution has taught them to fear fire more than anything else. When smoke enters a hive the bees are immediately diverted to eat as much honey as possible as there may be a need to abandon the hive at a moment’s notice. This diverts them whilst the beekeeper works the hive.

How does a beekeeper find the Queen bee?
Some times with difficulty, she is normally close to the newly laid eggs and her long body and large legs makes her stand out. Once found many beekeepers put a small dot of paint on the back of the queen bee that makes her much easier to find the next time. The paint comes in five colours each colour representing the year. As Queens seldom live longer than five years, five colours are sufficient.

How much does Beekeeping cost as a hobby?
Like anything you invest in, it depends on the quality, the better the quality the higher the price. For the clothing and tools about €200 - €300, and a hive with frames and foundation about €350, depending on the type of wood the hive is made from.

How do Bees make Honey?
Bees take nectar, which is a sweet sticky substance exuded by most flowers and some insects (Honey dew), and mix it with enzymes from glands in their mouths. This nectar/enzyme mix is stored in hexagonal wax honeycomb until the water content has been reduced to around 17%. When this level is reached the cell is capped over with a thin layer of wax to seal it until the bees need it. This capping indicates to the beekeeper that the honey can be harvested. Capped honey can keep almost indefinitely.

What is Royal Jelly?
Royal jelly is the food fed to queen bee larvae. It is a creamy white colour and is very rich in proteins and fatty acids. It is produced by the mouth glands in young bees. Each queen needs only a teaspoon of royal jelly, so as health product it is very expensive. Many magical properties are claimed of royal jelly however a skeptical view is probably the healthiest, especially as products sold in health shops can contain as little as 2% of the real thing. Pure royal jelly is almost tasteless.




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