FAQs: Honey, Honey Bees, and Beekeeping Equipment – Expert Answers from West River Exchange


Whether you are an aspiring beekeeper, a honey enthusiast, or simply curious about the world of honey bees, there’s always more to learn. With various topics to explore, such as the properties of honey, the fascinating lives of honey bees, and the intricacies of beekeeping equipment, embarking on this journey can spark endless questions. Thankfully, the experts at West River Exchange are here to provide the answers you seek.

In our comprehensive FAQ resource, we tackle the most commonly asked questions related to honey, honey bees, and beekeeping equipment, providing valuable insights and reliable information gleaned from years of experience in the field. Let West River Exchange be your guide as we dive deep into the mesmerizing and rewarding world of honey bees and beekeeping, clarifying any lingering doubts and addressing your most pressing concerns.

1. Understanding Honey: Common Questions and Intriguing Facts

What sets raw honey apart from regular honey?

Raw honey is the pure, unprocessed form of honey straight from the beehive, containing all of the natural pollen, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that are typically present in honey. Regular honey, however, undergoes a pasteurization process, which involves heating the honey to high temperatures, followed by rapid cooling. This process extends the honey’s shelf life, but may adversely affect its beneficial nutrients, enzymes, and flavors. According to a study published in the ‘Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,’ pasteurization can lead to the degradation of certain enzymes and decrease the antioxidant potency of honey (source: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf404573u).

Can honey help soothe a sore throat and cough?

Honey is a popular remedy for soothing sore throats and relieving coughs. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using honey as a natural cough suppressant due to its antimicrobial and soothing properties (source: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240007340).

A study in the journal ‘Pediatrics’ revealed that honey is more effective than over-the-counter cough medications in relieving cough symptoms and promoting a better night’s sleep in children (source: https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/3/465.short).

2. The Fascinating Lives of Honey Bees: Behavior and Colony Dynamics

How do honey bees communicate with each other?

Honey bees exhibit an extraordinary level of communication, with the waggle dance being a prominent example. Worker bees perform this complex dance to transmit information about the location of high-quality nectar or pollen sources to their fellow hive members. The waggle dance aligns with the sun’s position, providing a relative indication of the direction and distance to the target resource (source: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-waggle-dance-of-the-honeybee-1662/).

What is the lifespan of a honey bee?

The lifespan of a honey bee varies greatly depending on its caste within the hive. Queen honey bees, the sole reproductive females in the colony, can live up to three to five years. Worker bees, infertile females who execute various tasks, typically live up to six weeks during peak foraging periods, whereas those born in the fall may live several months to survive the winter. Drones, the male honey bees responsible for mating, live around eight weeks before dying or getting expelled from the hive.

3. Essential Beekeeping Equipment: Tools and Protective Gear

What basic tools are essential for a new beekeeper?

To start beekeeping, you’ll need several essential tools and equipment, including a beekeeping suit or veil for protection, a smoker to calm bees during hive inspections, a hive tool for prying and removing frames, and a bee brush for gently moving bees without harming them. These tools, as well as gloves and other supplementary equipment, can be found at West River Exchange.

How does a bee smoker work, and why is it necessary?

A bee smoker is a crucial tool used to calm honey bees before inspecting or working with their hive. Beekeepers ignite a fuel source (e.g., wood chips, pine needles, or cardboard) in the smoker’s canister, generating smoke that gets distributed around the hive. Smoke masks the alarm pheromones released by guard bees and simulates a potential wildfire, encouraging bees to gorge on honey and preparing to evacuate the hive. Consequently, the bees become more docile and less reactive to the beekeeper’s intrusions (source: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.013833ณ).

4. Setting Up Your Apiary: Location and Hive Management

What factors should be considered when selecting a location for a beehive?

Choosing the ideal location for your apiary involves balancing various factors to provide a safe, thriving environment for your honey bees. Considerations include an ample supply of sunlight, access to diverse nectar and pollen sources, protection from strong winds, and enough distance to avoid disturbing neighbors. Additionally, providing nearby water sources, sufficient hive ventilation, and a stable, flat surface can contribute to honey bee health and productivity.

How often should a beekeeper check on their hives?

Beekeepers should inspect their hives on a regular basis, depending on the specific needs of their colonies. During the active foraging season (spring and summer), weekly inspections are recommended to monitor colony health, brood production, food stores, and potential issues such as pests or diseases. In the colder months (winter), inspections can be reduced to every few weeks, checking for adequate honey stores and ensuring proper hive insulation.


The world of honey, honey bees, and beekeeping yields countless fascinating facts and intriguing insights. As we continue to expand our knowledge of these remarkable creatures, we also recognize the opportunity we have to support honey bee conservation through beekeeping and sustainable consumption choices.

At West River Exchange, we are proud to be your reliable partner on this journey, providing the necessary resources, honey bee farm equipment, and expertise to help you succeed in your beekeeping endeavors. Join our community of passionate beekeepers, honey enthusiasts, and environmentally conscious individuals as we work collectively to positively impact the world of honey bees.

Discover the answers you seek and the resources you need from West River Exchange to begin or advance your beekeeping journey. Browse through our website today to explore our wide range of products, educational materials, and ongoing support – all tailored to guide you through the unforgettable experience that is beekeeping.