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Beekeepers often ensure security for their honeybees by adding a beehive mesh to keep out predators. This is usually in addition to other preventive and active measures they take. Proper beehive security depends on the proper setup, management and maintenance of all the security measures you use in your beekeeping operation. Honeybees have a number of predators of different types. When you leave honeybee colonies in your apiary vulnerable, they are attacked by birds, small animals, and large animals. This article explores the safety of beehives with a detailed investigation of the use of meshes around beehives to keep out predators.
Types of Meshes Added Around Beehives
There are different types of meshes you can use around beehives to keep out predators. When selecting beehive mesh, consider various factors and functions such as the predator you aim to keep out and the ability of the mesh to work with other apiary defenses you have. The mesh you choose should be easy to install and maintain. It should also be easy to acquire within reasonable timeframes.
Different manufacturers make their meshes using different types of materials. They also have gaps of varying sizes in their meshes. In each location, there is a unique mix of beehive predators. This mix of beehive predators is what will ultimately inform your choice of mesh to add around the beehive. Your choice should be a mesh of a material that can stop all the predators that are active in the area of the specific apiary, with gaps in the mesh that cannot let the identified predators through the mesh.
Meshes that are made using metal are the most effective in beehive protection. Plastic meshes have varying strengths and, therefore, have varying tolerances to attacks by various predators. Most predators cannot break through metallic meshes easily. Metallic meshes can also be electrified if you need to.
Electrifying the metallic mesh adds a layer of protection to the beehive or apiary. Animals cannot stay in contact with the electrified mesh for enough periods of time to allow them to defeat the mesh. This is because they are shocked by the electric current in the electrified metallic mesh and break contact with the mesh. Shocking animals using electric current also makes some of the predators such as bears avoid the location where they were shocked.
Best Size of Mesh to add around the Beehive
While there are standards in the production of most beekeeping materials, meshes for apiary defense may come in different sizes. Depending on the predator you are targeting to protect your beehive against, the size of the mesh you use varies. Major types of predators and the mesh sizes you should use are;
Insects Such as Robber Bees, Wasps, and Hornets
For hornets, robber bees, and wasps, use a small size of mesh that keeps out the predators but allows honeybees through it. With insects, it is not easy to protect the entire apiary as a whole, so you have to do it on a beehive-to-beehive basis. The common, and arguably best, method of doing this is using a beehive robbing and moving screen.
Size 8 mesh is the best to use on the robbing/moving screen. It allows honeybees easy passage through it in the designated area while keeping out the other intruder insects. The robbing screen changes the exact area that a honeybee has to get to in order to gain access to the beehive. Honeybees away from the beehive know the way to leave and enter, but the intruder insects cannot easily figure out the way to enter the beehive.
Small Animals Such as Raccoons and Skunks
These small animals are easily controlled using metallic fencing mesh. They have a difficult time forcing their way through popular fencing meshes. Apiaries do not take up too much space and it is, therefore, easy to have metallic fencing mesh around the individual apiary’s perimeter. It is effective in keeping the small animals out of the apiary in all seasons of the year.
Large Animals Such as Bears
Bears and other large animals are a major threat to beehives. They easily damage beehives and any other apiary equipment they come across. Large predators ruin honeycomb and eat or destroy beehive resources such as honeycomb. In the aftermath of a large animal attack on your beehive, it is very likely that the honeybee colony will abscond. Keeping such large animals and their destruction from your beehive is easy with a metallic mesh. Use the metallic mesh for fencing the outer perimeter of your apiary. You may electrify the metallic fencing mesh for the best protection of the apiary.
Other Important Beehive Protection Methods
Adding a mesh around the beehive to keep out predators is an effective method to ensure beehive and apiary security. Despite the effectiveness of the mesh, it is good to have other defensive measures to complement the mesh around the beehive. Such other methods and measures you can use alongside the mesh are:
- Use an electrified fence around the apiary. This keeps out large animal predators as well as humans. People may be out to steal your beekeeping equipment, especially beehives.
- Situating the apiary in a place where it is not easy to spot, but is accessible and not easy to attack. Choosing the location of an apiary is an important process; get it right so that the location you settle for is easily defensible.
- Timely harvesting of beehive products. This prevents strong scents given off by large stocks of beehive products such as honey from attracting predators. Harvesting beehive products also ensures that predators attacking a beehive do not destroy large amounts of the beehive’s products.
- Using rodent guards and elevating beehives from the ground. Raised beehives are not easy to access by rodents and small animal predators of honeybees such as raccoons and skunks. Installing rodent guards on the legs of beehives and beehive stands also prevents destructive rodents from gaining access to the beehive.
Beehive safety ensures continuous production in your beekeeping operation. The best way to ensure beehive security is by using overlapping security measures in your apiary so that they complement each other. Predators of honeybees come in varying sizes and use different approaches when attacking the beehive.
Overlapping security measures ensure that any predator is stopped before it can gain access to the beehive and cause damage. Using a beehive mesh or fencing the apiary is an effective method of predator control.
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