Prep Work

Prep Work

 “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” –Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States 


Spring is here, finally! The snow is mostly gone, and the lakes are thawing. This means it’s time to get down to business as my bees will be here in less than a week. (YAY!) I’ve got a lot of prep work to do to make sure my bees will be brought home to a comfy and healthy environment with plenty of food.

The ‘To Do List’

First on my ‘To Do List’ was to switch out one of the brood boxes that had natural color waxed Rite-Cell foundation for black waxed Rite-Cell foundation. I chose to do this for only one brood box in one of my two hives, mostly to compare between the two and to better observe egg and larvae development. The cream colored eggs and larvae will stand out a lot more on a black background for an easier view. 

I made quick work of popping out the natural colored Rite-Cell and replacing it with the black Rite-Cell. One task down…



Food for the Masses

I actually got two 5 gallons of Pro-Sweet, a 10 lb box of Ultra Bee Patties and the pint of Pro Health (same size as pictured.) I just wanted to better show what the Pro-Sweet Product and Ultra Bee Patties looked like with the clear containers.

Making sure my bees have all they need to stay nourished while I wait for nature to provide ‘the goods’ is now my next priority.  For a healthy diet, bees need both carbohydrates and protein.  These ordinarily would be provided by nectar and pollen, however these items must be substituted when there are few natural sources present. (I never thought I’d be trying to patiently wait on dandelions.) 

I will be using Pro-Sweet Liquid Feed in a top feeder as a supply of carbohydrates. These carbs will be used by the bees as a source of energy and will aid them in the production of wax. I will also be adding some Pro Health to aid in the bees’ overall well-being and support faster comb production.

As for my bees’ source of protein, they’ll be munching on Ultra Bee Patties. This is a pollen substitute that will provide the much needed protein for brood production in the colony. More bees = more work being done = getting a brand new colony nicely established and maybe, just maybe, producing some extra honey to extract. For now though, I’ll settle for the nicely established colony.


To top off my ‘To Do List,’ I have the whopping task of creating a place to put my hives. Well before I even ordered my bees, we came to the agreement that my parents’ farm property would be the ideal location for the hives. I’m super thankful that my parents are allowing me (and my bees) the use of the old farmstead, but it’s certainly not without some work to get an area ready (and safe) for my new friends. I won’t get into too many details on my bee yard yet as I’m saving that for my next post, however do be prepared for my paranoia of skunks, raccoons, and of course… bears!

Here I am making sure we’ve got a nice clean area for a future bee yard. Bear fencing soon to come.

Curious about my prep work supplies? Here’s the list below:

Krista’s Prep Work Supplies List:



35 thoughts on “Prep Work

Leave a Reply to Marjorie Lenzsch Cancel reply

  1. Aaron

    I recommend setting the hives on something elevated and secure(heavy) and since you won’t be around, secure them with ratchet straps to keep the lids on and keep the hives from tipping over from wind or bears lol

  2. Elizabeth Nelms

    Ah yes, bears! I have a ruined brood box with bear tooth holes in it that I show customers. I didn’t expect bears in a suburb of Denver, but we had one in the apiary three years ago and three others in the vicinity within one mile on several other occasions. Colorado Division of Wildlife was very helpful in educating us about a truly bear-proof electric fencing for the apiary. I like your idea of black foundation for the brood box. My mentor uses that, too.

    1. Kevin

      Question? Why black foundation? I thought bees don’t like black?

      1. Krista

        Hi Kevin!
        The black foundation is so I will be able to better see eggs and larvae in the cells (the cream colored eggs and larvae will stand out against a black background more so than they would in the natural colored foundation.) Since I’m a newbee I thought it would be a good idea to try this in one of my brood boxes so I can learn about brood development more easily. The bees will draw out black foundation just like they would the natural colored foundation.

      2. Jack Hart

        I lost several colonies to carpenter ants; I tried marine grease, diatomaceous earth, ant baits, and so on but nothing worked. Then I hit on the idea of using outdoor carpeting (the green false grass stuff), and it really seems to work at keeping ALL creepy crawlies out. It seems they hate to walk on or through the artificial turf. Have had no problems in 3 years with hives resting on a 5×5 ft piece of the artificial stuff. Would like to know if anybody else has tried this.

      3. Skip Ferguson

        Black foundation makes it a lot easier to see eggs in the cells.

  3. Brad

    I switched to black and they drew it out very nice. I figure it’s always black inside the hive anyway unless I’ve got it open to inspect, which is easier with the dark background.


    One of the biggest pests I’ve encountered are ants. Any new ideas on keeping the little varmints out of our hives?

    1. Krista

      Hi Dennis!
      The best ideas I’ve heard of is placing your hive stand in a tub of water or cooking oil. It creates a little moat for your bee hives. No dangerous chemicals involved. Also, Spreading Diatomaceous Earth in front of your hives may help, too. It feels soft and fine to a human touch but to ants and small hive beetles it is sharp and shreds them up pretty good.

    2. Debra

      I’ve had luck sprinkling ground cinnamon around and on the top of the inner cover in a hive where there’s an ant problem. Hasn’t seemed to hurt my bees at all. Once the colony is strong enough, ants seem to go away.

      1. Jennifer Perry

        Please don’t use cinnamon in your hives! It can cause your bees to abscond… leave the hive! They really don’t like cinnamon! I’ve seen it happen too many times.

    3. Donnie

      As Debra suggested, to control ants, sprinkle ground cinnamon around and on the top of the inner cover. I pick it up from Dollar Tree for a buck, and spread it around the stand and on the bottom board. Works wonders!

    4. Mike White

      The legs of your hive stand should sit in cooking oil or soapy water. If you are not in a rainy area you can surround your hives with a thick line of ashes either from your fireplace or bonfire. The ants will not cross the ashes as it ruins the receptors on their legs.

    5. Gordon

      Marine grease. Make A barrier between ants and bees.Works great! Doesn’t bother bees,doesn’t,
      move,water proof.

    6. F Williams

      A very useful item against ants is a water heater try. Made out of 18 gauge steel with 3 inch sides. To catch and water leaking from your water heater. Level out the ground then install the base and set in some concrete cinder blocks 2 high should be comfortable unless you have a high hive then 1 block will do. Once the blocks are in place mix up a 5 gallon bucket of soapy water and fill the tray with this water. This acts like a moat under your hive keeping out any ants and slugs you might encounter. Also works nicely for mice. You may loose a few bees from the water moat have clean water near by for the bees to use first then fill the moat up with your mixture.

  5. Dan

    i believe , just as after the first few months or season of egg laying in brood comb and with the major activity and population being in the brood boxes, the wax becomes dark from use as a matter of course. Also, it has been said many times that bees swarming have a preference for old comb in swarm traps. I would hope the manufactures of the black and yellow plastic foundation would have done a scientific study before marketing to have some evidence as to possible benefits or not of yellow versus black plastic . I currently feel it was most likely developed as a marketing after thought when someone said, ” Hey, there is dark comb after it is used, so let’s make black as well as yellow plastic and see what feed back we get.” Point: Think it through before you do. Thanks.

  6. Micah Bowman

    I’m wanting to get started into beekeeping. Just needing help on how to get started.

  7. Ken Rose

    Just starting out with new bee’s and needing to learn the ropes of bee keeping!

    1. Jennifer Farias

      I would like to start. Any good books or websites suggestions?

      1. Ken Troutt

        You tube has lots of good videos. And a few not so good.. UOG is one I like.
        It is a college… Kamon Reynolds has great videos . Barnyard Bees another great one. Google beginner beekeeper you can get lots of good things.

        1. Lance Cameron

          Jeff Horschoff on YouTube known as Mr. Ed is an excellent source of information

  8. Richard Squires

    My bees don’t seem to like the black foundation I put some in there and they only draw out the yellow

    1. Skip Ferguson

      You might try a light coating of melted bee was brushed over the foundation on top of what is there. I’ve tried that and it works great.

  9. Michael Buck

    Inspect your bee veil for holes from dry rot or rodent making easy passage for the bees to enter when doing your first inspection. I learned the hard way….

  10. Gery

    Bees have moved into a big jug outside our house where they are protected from the RF from a massive palm tree festooned with antennae. I would like to move them into a hive where we can keep the brood separate from honey. Any ideas how to accomplish that?

  11. Mark Ver Hey

    I was told by my mentor that the queen likes (the darker the better) comb to lay her eggs. More eggs means more bees and more production.

  12. Lorena Gonzalez-Hoffman

    When and how often/long do you feed the bees and also the pro health?

  13. Jean

    Hi have a starter kit. I need to purchase a couple more brood boxes. Can I mix the black foundations with the natural?

    1. Lis K

      Yes you can mix but I recommend grouping the colors so if you happen to get bees that do not like the black, you can replace those frames more easily. Ive have hives that would not use the blacks and others that were fine with it.

  14. Marjorie Lenzsch

    I would like to receive as much information as possible. Thank you

  15. Dee Monical

    My daughter and I are interested in beginning a small beehive area but have no experience. Advice on how to begin?

  16. dave

    i put my new hive in a shed with bars keep the bears out

  17. Steve Moore

    Should hives be shaded in summer?

    1. Krista

      Hi Steve,

      Great question! How much shade your bees need in the summer is region specific. I suggest contacting a local beekeeper or beekeeping organization to find what’s best for bees in your area. Thank you and best of luck in all your beekeeping adventures!

  18. Doris

    But, how does one put the natural wax foundation into the frames?