Acquired: Rescue / shelter organization
Indiana, United States
Posted Aug 20, 2013
People think they can get a beehive and just stick it out in their yard -- but read *a lot* of books before you start! Italian honeybees are low-maintenance in many ways, but being a responsible beekeeper still means you need to provide for them. Italian bees are gentle and good honey producers, but they need honey sources (i.e. flowers with good nectar flow) and nutritional pollen sources (i.e. not corn). With good floral sources, they have better chances of surviving winter, but compared to other breeds, Italians operate best in large colonies, which means they go through winter stores much more quickly. Consequently, Italian bees can be higher maintenance in the winter than the summer. Wintertime feedings can be necessary, and it may be tempting to feed them corn syrup (it's the cheapest option), but that's not the best long-term option for the bees' health. If you've taken out honey frames for extraction, reserve some frames in case the bees are going through those in the hive more quickly than anticipated. Keep the reserve frames in the freezer to prevent bee moth infestation. Bees that have overwintered successfully will be even stronger and more productive the following year, and most likely lower maintenance. The highest maintenance part for low-maintenance bees is providing the appropriate landscape.