Yes, bees get stressed out too. Stress doesn’t exactly contribute to diseases in bees. However, it makes a colony weak, eventually causing diseases to develop. Scientists have often likened a bee colony into a “black box,” where energy (water, nectar, pollen) flows to convert it to various products — brood, beeswax, and honey included. The factors that cause a reduction of energy flow into the box are considered stressors, which beekeepers must minimize or completely get rid of.
The rule of thumb is that stress must be avoided in order to maintain a strong colony of bees. With stronger hives come bees that can deal better with environmental fluctuation. A beekeeper is considered successful if he knows when to leave the bees be without neglecting to help them get rid of stress for them to be productive.
Here are five ways to reduce unnecessary stress on bees.
1. Maintain Hive Hygiene
Bees work harder when obstacles are in their way, so always make sure that the hive is clean by removing debris and large objects from within the hive. Unpleasant smelling things and foreign objects should be taken out of the hive, as well, and by regularly conducting a hive clean up, you’ll have happier bees.
2. Proper Nutrition
Bees get their energy from the honey they make. It has all the essential nutrients and enzymes that bees need to fight diseases. Unfortunately, a lot of beekeepers do not keep enough honey on hives and resort to feeding them with sugar syrup. Instead of using sugar water solutions, they turn to organic dietary supplements like BeesVita Plus from Healthy Bees LLC.
If you notice your bees particularly weak, allow them to keep all of their pollen too. If you decide to incorporate supplements to your bees’ feed, only do it with honey and not artificial sources.
3. Avoid Chemical Use
Scientists have been trying to explain the dangers of chemicals for years. While pesticides are needed to control unwanted insects in fields and farms, these are one of the major causes why bee colonies are dwindling in numbers.
If you’re a beekeeper who happens to live near other people who use chemical sprays for their gardens or yards, approach them and explain your situation. Your bees probably come into contact with your neighbor’s flowers, resulting in weaker bees. When bees are weak, the colony will collapse.
Don’t forget to educate those around you as well. Chemicals bring nothing but harm to bees. Turn to organic solutions, like favoring chemical-free honey. It will go a long way.
4. Keep Bees Stationary
Commercial beekeeping usually involves transporting bees, a practice that’s considered unnatural to bees. Bees should be kept stationary; honeybees, specifically, naturally stay put. If you have transport bees, keep it at a minimum. Remember that bees only move when they have too — if there’s a need to swarm, or if they have to abandon the beehive because of unsanitary conditions.
5. Don’t Get Too Greedy
Excessive harvesting is another reason why bees are stressed. Seeing honey on a hive brings excitement, but make sure to leave some for the colony. Bees feed on honey too, and they need it especially in winter when collecting pollen becomes challenging. At a minimum, you should leave at least 40 pounds of honey to ensure that bees survive throughout the winter.
Be careful about your breeding method as well. Observe if the program you’re using is affecting your bees, and if so then stop it immediately if that’s the reason why the health of your bees is declining. It’s best if you know what the cause of the disease is before continuing to breed them.