This is a copy of the very hard-to-find and out-of-print Beekeeping Merit Badge book. Although the Beekeeping Merit Badge was discontinued by the Boy Scouts in 1995, there is an initiative by beekeepers for BSA to bring back the Merit Badge, to aid in awareness of the importance of bees to America's food supply.
- - -. - - .. : -...--~ BEEKEEPING--..1-------J. ---How to use this pamphlet.,, BEEKEEPING~ L!!Sa"" - -,.BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICAIRVING, TEXAS1988 Printing of the1983 RevisionRequirementsI. Study a hive of bees_ Remove the combs. Find the queen. Figurethe amount of the brood and the ownber of queen cells. Figurethe amount of honey in the hive.2. Show the differences among the drones, workers. eggs, larvae. andpupae at different stages. Tell the differences among honey. wax,pollen, and propolis. Tell how bees make honey. Tell where waxcomes from. Explain the part played in the life 01 the hive by thequeen, the drones. and the workers.3. Hive a swarm or divide al least one colony. Explain how a hiveis made.4. Put foundations in sections or frames. Fdl supers with frames orsections. Take off fiUed supers from the hive. Fix the honey formarket.5. Write in not more than 200 words how and why the honeybee isused in pollinating farm crops. Name live crops in your area pol-linated by honeybees.contentsTheBees'Jobs_ __ ......_................. 3TheBeeColony .................. 9Equipment __ . __ _ __ ....... 17Beekeeping Basics __ .. _............... _ 21Spring Management _ 29Summer Management _..... , _.. , 39Fall and Winter Management ............ _..... , . , , 45Bee Diseases _.. , . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49Books About Beekeeping. _.. __ . __ . __ ..................... 55Copyright 1957, 1983Boy SCours of AmerlceIrving, TexasISBN 0-8395-3362-4No 3362 Prlnted In USA 2M12882The Bees' JobsDid you ever step on a bee and kill it? Maybe you were stung by a beewhen you were younger. How much do you think that honeybee wasworth? No one could tell you, at least not in dollars and cents. Buthoneybees are worth plenty-more than most folks realize. For example,some 4 to 5 million colonies produce up to 250 million pounds of honeyand about 4.750,000 pounds of beeswax every year in this country.Every year this honey and beeswax sell lor more than SIOO million.The value of bees as pollinators, however. is more than 100 timesgreater than their value as producers 01 honey and wax.PollinationSome plants can produce seeds only if pollen is brought to them byinsects. The flower of an apple tree. for example. may not set fruitunless pollen from another apple flower is transferred to it. The beedoes the transferring job very well. Suppose farmers had to transferpollen to all the apple flowers inevery orchard. What a jobl01 course. pollen from theflower of an apple tree won't helpa peach tree.. Fortunately. a beevisits only one kind of flower duroing a trip from its hive. Here's howthe bee lransfers the pollen.At the base of a Dower there isa nectar gland that secretes asweet sugar solution (nectar),which atlracls bees. As the beeforces its way through the flowerto get at the nectar, it gets dustedwith pollen. Pollen grains stick tothe hairy back of the bee. As thebee forces its way into the nextflower. some of the pollen aeddentally gets brushed off onto thesticky stigma of the flower. Thus3Top-By .ddlng wax to this sheet of found.tlon, bees hIIve made lite cellideeper. Middle-Bees collect pl.nt waxes, from whIch they make propolls orbII. glue. 8ollom-TheM tiny pollen pellets were taken from some bee celli InwhIch 1hey hIId been packed.4pollen is transferred from one flower to another. This enables the polli-nated plant to produce seed, from which a new plant may grow.Bumblebees also carry pollen; so do butterflies and other insects.Current agricultural production practices, however, have tended to makepollination by wild bees and other native insects less reliable. Intensivecultivation such as ",onaculture, where large areas of land are used togrow only one type of crop, have eliminated the natural nesting sites ofmany wild insects. Pesticides used to control harmlul insects also havekilled many wild insect pollinalors. For this reason, honeybees are theonly reaUy important pollinators as far as farmers are concerned. Theyare the only insects that can be domesticated. multiplied in numbers,and moved as needed.About 50 different farm crops depend in part on the honeybee forproper pollination. First. there are the fruits, both large (apples. peaches.oranges, etc.) and small (blueberries, cranberries, etc.). Farmers rentthousands of hives from beekeepers every spring for orchard pollination.One or more colonies is commonly used on an acre of small fruits.Secondly, sweet clover, alsike clover, 'red clover, white dover, andalfalfa must be visited by an insect to produce seed. In some areas,farmers grow these crops just for the seed. Bees were not always usedto pollinate such crops. When bees were first used, seed yields increasedmany times. For example, in one area five colonies of honeybees 10 anacre of alfalfa resulted in yields 01 1,000 pounds or more of seed anacre. Seed yields before were only 265 to 300 pounds an acre. Cloverand allalfa also are used as forage and pasture crops lor livestock andpoultry.Bees also pollinate some grain crops-buckwheat, for example.Melongrowers have increased yields by bringing in colonies 01 bees topollinate their crop. Insects must transfer the pollen of cucumbers,muskmelons. and other vine crops. Bees also are used to pollinalesome vegetable crops grown for seed,How Honey Is ModePollination-the bee's most importanl job-is done automatically asthe bee gathers food. As far as the bee is concerned, gathering andstoring nectar and pollen for food is its main job. The bee needs thefood to live.When a bee enters a flower. she sucks in the neclar and carries it inher honey stomach. When she returns to the hive, she gives the nectar5to a worker who puts it into a cell. The nectar becomes honey lhroughan evaporating and ripening process.Nectar is a dilute sugar syrup. Nectar from white clover. for example.ranges from 27 to 50 percent water. Other nectars have less water.more sugar. It takes some 20.000 bees to bring in one pound of nectar.This makes only aoout one-quarler pound of honey Honey contains only12. to IS-percent moisture. The bees evaporate or ripen nectar by fanning their wings so fast they actually set up a current 01 air in the hive.While the nectar is in the bee's honey stomach. and when it is Iransferred to the hive, enzymes go to work. They mix wilh the nectar sothai during the ripening process the sugars are converted into simplesugars called levulose and dextrose. When the honey is ripened. thebees cover or cap each cell with a thin layer of wax. called beeswax.Differences in HOneyThe honey from one apIary (group of beehives or bee colonies) willnot always be the same as honey from another apiary. The taste andcolor may be different. 11 will even smell different. The plants fromwhich the nectar is gathered determine these differences.In the North. white clover is one of the chief sources of honey. Thishoney is light in color. It is. in a sense. the standard for comb honey.Basswood or linden trees in some localities are sources of a honey thatis slighUy yellower than clover honey. Basswood honey has a distinctiveflavor. very popular with some people. Buckwheat yields crops 01 dark.purplish honey with a strong flavor.In the Western states, especially at high altitudes, aUaUa grows inabundance. Honey made from alfalfa nectar is light in color and has amild cinnamon flavor. In southern California. wild sages give a lightwater-white honey.The honeys of Texas olten come from mixed sources, such as whitebrush. horsemint. guahilla. and mesquite. Most of these honeys are lightor light amber. In the humid regions of the South. the honeys areusually amber and are from mixed sources. The navors are usuallyrather strong.The swamp Spanish needle in such regions as the Kankakee swampIn northern Indiana and Illinois and along the Mississippi and Dela-ware Rivers is the source of an amber honey. Sweet clover. plentiful innonhero Kentucky and other areas. is the source of honey with 8 slightgreen tint. with just a suggestion of vanllla flavor.6Food for the BeeHoney, of course, is food not only for you. but also for the bees. If thehoney supply in the hive is low you can give )'Our bees a sugar syrup.which is simply a mixture of granulated sugar and water. To make thesyrup add sugar slowly to hot water. stirring all the lime.The proportions of sugar to water vary according to the season of theyear and your reasons lor feeding. For instance. in early spring you maygive your bees a thin sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water) tostimulate brood rearing. In the fall. when the bees are storing foud forthe winter. you may feed them a thicker syrup. Anytime the hive's honeysupply gel'! very low, you should feed the bees a thick syrup to preventstar