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Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions about ABC Bees

All courses are accessible through our training platform. Once you have registered for a course or membership, you can log-in, see your courses, review content, track your progress, review your grades, and download your certificates of completion there. You can also access your Online Beekeeping Community Discussion Board on this site. 

You can log in by going directly to and click Sign In or you can click the Log In button at the top of every page of this site. 

There are 3 considerations to think of when choosing a beekeeping course with ABC Bees:
1. What are my goals with beekeeping?
2. How much time do I have to commit to learning about beekeeping?
3. How deep do I want to go with learning about beekeeping?

If your answer is cautious because you are new to bees, or are unsure of the time or the online learning experience, then we recommend Beekeeping Basics. This will ensure that you are guided through your first year, feel supported, but are not overwhelmed with information.

Level One Beekeeping Certificate is key if you are ready to start beekeeping and want to KNOW your seasonal management expectations.  The course digs deep in to WHY and HOW the bees are cared for month-to-month, season-to-season. You can do the course in 5-weeks through our post-secondary institutional partners, committing to 10 hours a week, or you can take the course self-guided on our platform and take 12 months to complete the course content.

The Better Beekeeping Business course is for you if you are serious about starting a business or side-hustle selling bees, honey, equipment, or other products. This 7-Month course includes about 5 hours a month commitment to course content, and at least 10-hours a month to business development. It also includes a mentorship call with Eliese, so committing to your dream of starting your own company is key. 

Every course that you enroll in and complete, you will receive a Certificate of Completion. This certificate is downloadable and printable and can be used in your application process with your bylaw/municipality regulations. 

Both courses have the same content and the same learning outcomes. There are only a few differences.

Post-Secondary Level One Beekeeping Certificate

  1. The course must be completed in the 5-Week course schedule mandated by the registrar. If you do not complete the course, you will not receive your Certificate from the institution.
  2. There are Live, 1-hour  “Office Hours” with your teacher once a week. These sessions are not mandatory, but do offer an opportunity to have your questions answered quickly and easily.
  3. You will have 12-months access to the course, but only on the institutions platform, and not on the ABC Bees platform.

Self-Guided Level One Beekeeping Certificate

  1. The course can be completed at any-time within 12 months of enrolling in the course (this means you can take the course as you move through the beekeeping season).
  2. There are no live office hour sessions, but a teacher is readily available to answer your questions in the L1BK Community Space
  3. You will have 12-months access to the course from our Learning Platform and will be able to download your Certificate of Completion at any time once you have done so.

Our online learning platform is seamlessly integrated, with the user experience curated for your success. Once you enroll in a course or membership, and create a Log In username and password, you will find the courses and programs you are registered in organized in easy to access blocks.

All courses and memberships with ABC Bees, you can enroll at anytime. The programs are self-guided and the course content is at your disposal 24-hours a day. 

The Master Academy Membership renews its programming every January, and the course content, lectures and Quarterly Coaching Sessions are offered according to an annual schedule. If you enroll mid-season, you will have access to all previous lectures, and Quarterly Coaching Session recordings, as well as any previously released course content. 

You sure can! Each course builds on the previous course, and each courses content is unique to the program. If you have the drive to learn how to be a better beekeeper, learn from other beekeepers, and create a small-business plan in beekeeping, you can enroll in the Level One Beekeeping Certificate, Better Beekeeping Business Course, and the Master Academy Membership

If you have any questions at all, or need any support, please reach out to us through our Contact Page. We will do everything we can to ensure that your needs are met and that your questions are answered.

We have been selling nucleus colonies in partnership with Bill Stagg of Sweetacre Apiaries since 2009. Bill Stagg has been beekeeping and producing queens and colonies of bees since 2005.  An innovative and responsible beekeeper, Bill provides quality nucleus colonies with Canadian reared and selected genetic stocks.

Each February we open up bee sales for purchase for residents of Alberta and BC, with distribution in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton. We do not ship or sell bees outside of these 2 provinces. 

When bees go up for sale, we first notify our community through our Monthly Newsletter and Student Community on our learning platform. Make sure you don’t miss and sign-up for our Monthly Newsletter or register for one of our Beekeeping Courses.

Beekeepers can purchase their bees through us on our website when the sales go live. You can find the link in the top menu of the site. If you do not see it there, it is because bee sales are closed. 

Each Spring, ABC Bees publishes our Beekeeping Field Day schedules and Workshops.

When these programs become available, we first notify our community through our Monthly Newsletter and Student Community on our learning platform. 

To make sure you don’t miss out on the coming seasons Field Programming, be sure to sign-up for our Monthly Newsletter or register for one of our Beekeeping Courses.

Frequently Asked Beekeeping Questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions about beekeeping

While the allure of cost savings with used equipment can be tempting, it is generally recommended to buy new beekeeping gear. Used equipment may carry the risk of disease transmission and may lack a documented history. Investing in new equipment ensures its quality, durability, and compliance with regulations, providing a safer and more reliable option for beekeepers, especially beginners.

A smoker is a crucial tool for beekeepers as it helps keep bees calm during hive inspections. When smoke is emitted into the beehive, it interferes with the bees’ communication pheromone. As a result, the bees become less agitated, making them less likely to sting or become defensive. This calming effect allows beekeepers to work with the hive safely, reducing the risk of disturbances that might otherwise upset the colony. Using a smoker correctly enhances the beekeeper’s ability to conduct thorough hive inspections and perform necessary tasks without causing stress to the bees.

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When selecting a smoker for your beekeeping activities, several features are essential to consider:

  • Safety: Ensure the smoker’s bottom chamber is raised off the ground to prevent the risk of accidental fires. This design feature helps maintain a safe distance between the hot coals and any flammable materials that may be on the ground.
  • Hanging Hook: Look for a smoker that includes a hook or some mechanism to hang the smoker on the hive. This feature allows you to direct the smoke precisely where it’s needed, making the process of calming the bees more efficient during inspections.
  • Size and Material: Consider the size of the smoker; it should be large enough to hold an adequate amount of fuel to last through your hive inspections. Also, the material of the smoker should be durable and heat-resistant, ensuring it can withstand regular use in the beekeeping environment.

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Comb rotation is crucial in beekeeping for several reasons. Over time, old brood combs become dark and accumulate debris, cocoons, and residues of pesticides and disease organisms. These factors can negatively impact the health of the honey bee colony, potentially leading to diseases and decreased productivity. By regularly rotating out old combs and replacing them with fresh frames or foundation, beekeepers can create a healthier environment for their bees. This practice reduces the risk of disease transmission, promotes better brood development, and ensures cleaner wax for the bees to work with. Comb rotation is an essential component of responsible beekeeping, contributing to the overall well-being of the hive.

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Beekeepers should aim to rotate the combs in their bee colonies on an annual basis. A common practice is to replace the worst 20% to 25% of combs each year. This rotation schedule allows for the entire stock of combs in the hive to be refreshed every three to five years. By adhering to this schedule, you can prevent the buildup of disease organisms and chemical residues in the comb, maintaining a healthier and more productive bee colony. Remember to carry out the comb rotation during early spring when the brood nests are small, ensuring the bees have ample time to draw new, clean comb before the peak of the season. Regular comb rotation is a proactive approach to promote the longevity and vitality of your honey bee colony.

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Sunlight exposure is crucial for beehive placement. Honeybees thrive in sunny environments as it allows them to forage for longer periods and provides the necessary warmth for raising baby bees or brood. If all-day sunlight is not possible, aiming for a location with morning sun is beneficial, as it encourages early bee activity and ensures access to richer nectar loads during the morning hours.

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Protecting your beehive from predators is vital for the colony’s well-being. You can implement several measures to safeguard your bees. First, consider raising the hives on a platform to help the bees better defend against ants, mice, and wasps, as they can spot the predators approaching. Second, use bee-friendly deterrents such as wasp traps and diatomaceous earth to limit the number of pests within the colony. Finally, if you reside in an area frequented by bears, installing electrical fencing around the hives is essential to deter bears and protect your bees from potential harm.

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Choose a non-toxic, water-based paint that is safe for bees. Avoid using oil-based paints or those with strong chemical odors, as they could harm the bees. Opt for light colors that reflect sunlight and help regulate hive temperature.

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Yes, you can decorate your beehive boxes with simple designs or symbols. Just ensure that the decorations are bee-friendly and don’t use toxic materials. Bees can recognize colors and symbols, so these decorations can serve as helpful landmarks for their orientation.

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Swarming is crucial for the health of a bee colony as it provides a significant brood break. When bees swarm, it allows the colony to propagate and find a new home, creating a fresh start with a new queen. This break from brood rearing helps the colony stay healthy and vigorous.

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Bees thrive on a diverse diet of nectar and pollen from a variety of flowers. To ensure they have access to natural nutrition, maintain a habitat that supports a wide range of flowering plants. By allowing the bees to seek out nature’s nutrition, you minimize the need for artificial supplements, letting the bees be bees and supporting their well-being.

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When purchasing bees, there are several essential factors to consider:

  • Type of Product: Determine whether you want to buy packages, nucleus colonies, or full deep hives. Each option comes with different quantities of bees and resources, impacting your beekeeping setup and preparation.
  • Inclusions in Purchase: Inquire about what comes with the bees. For example, a nucleus colony should include eggs, larvae, capped brood, hatching brood, and a frame of honey. Understanding this will help you assess the health and requirements of the bees upon their arrival.
  • Pricing: Be cautious of suspiciously cheap bees, as they may have quality or health issues. Understand the factors influencing the price, such as genetic traits or bee shortages.
  • Delivery Schedule: Know when you will receive the bees to plan for weather conditions and prepare the necessary installation methods and location for the new bees

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  • Here are some key preparations to consider:

    • Apiary Setup: Ensure you have a suitable location for the hive with proper sunlight and protection from strong winds.
    • Beekeeping Equipment: Have all the necessary beekeeping equipment ready, including hive bodies, frames, smoker, bee suits, and hive tools.
    • Feeding: Be prepared to provide supplementary feeding if needed, especially during times of nectar scarcity.
    • Educate Yourself: Continue learning about beekeeping practices, bee behavior, and hive management to be well-prepared for your new bees.
    on for the new bees

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  • Proximity to other hives is a crucial factor in queen-rearing and sustainable apiary management. If controlled mating is a goal, having enough genetic diversity within the apiary is essential. Even if mating is not controlled, the distance between hives (up to 5km) influences the risk of disease transmission due to bee contact during foraging, mating, and robbing.

  • Additionally, managing swarming becomes more critical in more populous areas with a higher risk of colony contact.

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Ensuring a surplus of food is available to the hives is crucial for successful queen rearing. Beekeepers should maintain a deep frame full of pollen and another with fresh nectar directly adjacent to the grafting area. It is essential to time the grafting process during a time of continuous nectar and pollen flow. Supplemental feeding of pollen patties can also be beneficial, especially if queens appear smaller in size, indicating potential nutritional deficiencies. By providing the bees with sufficient nutrition, beekeepers increase the chances of rearing high-quality queens and overall colony success.

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Flow refers to a specific period when an abundant supply of nectar and pollen-producing flowers is available for honeybees to forage. During this time, honeybee colonies experience increased foraging activity and productivity, as they gather nectar to produce honey and pollen to feed their brood.

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There are several ways to identify flow periods. Keep an eye out for increased foraging activity in the hive and incoming pollen carried by bees returning to the hive. You may also notice a rise in brood, wax, and honey production, indicating that the colony is benefiting from the abundance of resources during the flow.

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Frequently Asked Queen Rearing Questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions about rearing queens

Queen rearing typically begins when you have a purple-eyed drone pupa, indicating that drones are sexually mature and ready for mating with new queens.

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Pre-feeding, which includes providing light syrup and pollen patties, plays a crucial role in stimulating the development of nurse bees and accelerating the process of queen cell production during queen rearing.

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Queen right finishers are essential in the queen-rearing process as they provide a continuous supply of young nurse bees to feed the queen cells with royal jelly, ensuring successful queen cell development.

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Place mating nucs strategically, with pairs of nucs having entrances facing different directions to prevent the drifting of bees and queens. Using distinct colors for nuc boxes and maintaining clear entrance designs also helps.

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The Chinese Grafting Tool is a specialized tool used in queen rearing. Its flexible head allows beekeepers to delicately scoop out larvae and royal jelly from cells, making grafting into queen cups a smooth process. This tool is crucial as it ensures precise handling of larvae, increasing the chances of successful queen rearing

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Diversifying the genetics of your bee colonies is crucial for successful queen rearing. To achieve this, consider the following:

  • Purchase Queens: Buy queens with desirable genetics from reputable breeders and introduce them into your colonies. These new queens bring fresh genetic traits to your apiary.
  • Maintain Multiple Breeding Families: Keep at least three different breeding families (Line A, B, and C) within your apiary. This prevents inbreeding and enhances adaptability in your bee colonies.
  • Practice Controlled Crossbreeding: When grafting queens, plan mating to ensure queens from Line A mate with drones from Line B or C, and vice versa. This controlled crossbreeding further diversifies genetics.

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Several signs indicate that it’s the right time to start queen-rearing:

  • Drone Brood Hatching: When you observe drone brood hatching in your colonies, it’s a green light for queen rearing. This indicates that drones are available for mating.
  • Warmer Weather: Queen rearing is more successful when temperatures consistently reach above 20°C (68°F), as mating flights are less likely to occur in colder conditions.
  • Abundant Resources: Ensure your colonies have access to ample resources like nectar and pollen. Strong colonies with sufficient resources are more suitable for queen rearing.

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The mating yard plays a vital role in the success of queen rearing as it ensures healthy mating flights and genetic diversity, resulting in strong and productive hives.

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Plastic queen cups are designed to fit easily into grafting frames and come in various colors. Choosing darker shades provides better contrast for viewing grafted larvae, reducing the risk of mistakes and ensuring that beekeepers don’t accidentally double up on grafts in the same cup. Using quality queen cups is vital for optimizing queen-rearing outcomes.

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Contact Us

Have a question or want to reach out to us? No problem, use the information below to get in touch.

If you are an institution interested in offering our post-secondary accredited courses, please let us know. 

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