Beekeeping 101

These scraps of knowledge have been obtained and compiled by Binnie, and represent the remains of Beekeeping 101, a book by a mad apiarist know only as 'Sir' Sengir.

Binnie, Editor


Some people ask me why I bother with bees. I've been burned, poisoned and blown up countless times, and once they even devoured my home. But although I am now covered in scars, I have been rewarded with gifts beyond my wildest dreams. The honey they have given me has nourished me through those cold Creeper-filled nights, and the silk has provided me with more than one sturdy backpack. If you are willing to endure these hardships, read on, else turn back now and forever hold your peace…

Sir Sengir, Mad Apiarist

Part 1 : Bees

Bees sting. Bees are yellow and stripy. Bees buzz. You may already know these things, but the first rule of beekeeping is know your enemy (actually the first rule is you must always talk about beekeeping club). Bees are small yellow insects found in hives, scattered around our remarkably polygonal world. There are five different hives I have discovered in this world, and another which I dare not speak about. The easiest way to find the hives is to explore at night, as the glow of working bees guided me to them (as well as mobs, as I found to my cost)

To get them out you need to catch them with one of my most remarkable inventions, the scoop. Sadly my alternative names of “bee capturing implement” and “net-on-a-stick” did not catch on. Somehow, beating in a repetitive manner on these hives reveals the bees, who are rather large and colourful. To create the scoop, you will need to assemble it using sticks and string, although I'll leave the art of tying a net from string to you.

Outside of apiaries and alvearies (more later) bees seem to be both totally docile and immortal. The first thing I noticed about bees were that they were clearly split into three castes. In the hives I found both princess and drones, where the princesses were distinguisable by their more regal appearance. But when the two are brought together somewhere special the princess can transform into the queen. The queen will spend her lifespan creating things such as honey combs until she eventually dies, spawning a new princess and multiple drones. This means that your bee population will grow exponentially, meaning you'll need plenty of storage.

With your newly found insect friends you can move on to the next phase of beekeeping: breeding.

Part 2 : Breeding

The Apiary

To rear your newly found bees into a bee family brimming with honey you'll need the apiary. This small wooden box can contain a family of these little blighters, and collect honeycombs for your troubles. But this is where the complicated part comes in: The children of two different bees will have a mixture of the genes of the two parents, and may even be a new species that you are yet to discover. By allowing these so called 'mutations' to occur, I discovered that these few species of naturally occuring bee opened up a world of possibilities, with many weird and exotic species to be found. I will explain the many species that I discovered later on in the guide, along with tips to how I obtained them. A true apiarist never shares his secrets after all.

But first of all, you'll need an apiary. To obtain the apiary I had to go through a long and arduous journey of trial and error, involving creepers, lapis lazuli and a few sheep, but luckily I recorded these steps for future generations. I first started with the squeezing of my many seeds into seed oil. The arrangement of eight logs (of any tree) in a carpenter along with my seed oil resulted in a impregnated casing which could hold the bee. To secure this casing in the world, I then arranged it on my crafting table with wooden planks and wooden slabs to form an acceptable home for my bees. The resultant apiary can then be placed in the world wherever I want.

Actually, I lied. I traded for an apiary with a friendly beekeeper in a village. Just thought I'd let you go to the effort of making it first. If I could see you now I'd be laughing.

Once you have these interesting objects to place around your world, you'll be wondering how you use them. If you having assembled them correctly you should see the inside is arranged as shown to the right.

The part labelled 1 is where your bees should be placed. I found that when you place a princess bee in the upper slot and a drone bee in a lower slot, they recreate the miracle of life and form a queen bee. Whilst the queen bee is in the upper slot, the apiary will collect honey combs in part 3. The queens lifespan can be observed in the bar besides the queen, and when it is emptied the queen will die. But the beauty of beekeeping is that a new princess and drone miraculously appear in part 3, ready to be bred again.

After spending long dark nights in the village with the local beekeeper, he taught me the secret of frames. The secret of these wooden constructions will be elaborated on later in this guide, but for now all you need to know is that they are beneficial to the working bees, and can be placed in part 2 of the apiary's interface.

The Alveary

After a while you will begin to notice that the primitive Apiary is not reaping the full potential of your bees. When you reach this point it is time to upgrade. The alveary is three times the size of the apiary, and I have seen the bees produce up to ten times more honey in an alveary than an apiary.

To create this massive contraption you'll need to construct around twenty seven of these alveary blocks. Once you have these blocks you can form them into a cube, thus forming the body of the alveary. You'll also need to block off the roof, for which I recommend using wooden planks across the nine upper blocks. If you construct it correctly, you should see how it all comes together and the small holes where bees can dwell. The usage of this alveary is identical to that of the apiary, although I am yet to have any success with inserting wooden frames into it.

Each one is very costly, consisting of scented paneling, which requires honey from bees working away in your many apiaries, and seed oil to construct sturdy casings. This means making an alveary is something that takes many days of hard graft, but it is well worth the effort. By arranging the paneling securely around the sturdy casing you'll end up with firm solid home for your bees, and the scent of the panels will spur them on to work far harder than anything you could achieve in the apiary.

Part 3 : Species and Mutations

There are six naturally occurring species that I discovered on my exploits: Forest, Meadows, Modest, Tropical, Wintry and Marshy. I refer to these as mundane bees, partly because they are not very interesting and partly because it’s a cool word that rhymes with terrain and brain.1)

Meadow bees infest large open grasslands, such as plains, and prefer a temperate climate. It is closely related to the forest bee, which I’ve noticed is one of the most common pests in forests. Both of these bees are mostly docile, not even causing me the smallest of stings.

From these bees and the other mundane species I discovered the Common and Cultivated bees. These bees are staples of any apiarist’s collection, and the common bee is considered the beginner apiarist’s badge of participation. Although the common bee is not particularly interesting, its descendant the cultivated bee is fast working, producing more honey in a shorter amount of time. It also thinks anything but opera is underneath it, meaning it was *this* far away from being called the snobby bee.

From these bees Mother Nature took me onto two separate paths. One branch took me onto the Noble, Majestic and Imperial bees, which lead to the production of some very rich royal jelly which I later found use for in my Alvearies. The other branch was an industrious one, where the Diligent and Unweary bees were stepping stones to the pinnacle of speed, the Industrious bee. This entire branch is characterized by their unweariness until they die, but the industrious bee also collects valuable pollen from nearby flowers, which I could use to flavour this lovely short mead. Both Imperial and Industrious bees are highly sought after in the world of beekeeping.

Modest bees are another naturally occurring species, found in bleak hives amongst the cacti and sand of the desert. The hot and arid climate has forced this species to adapt to the heat, meaning it can no longer tolerate the milder temperatures where its cousins thrive. Further breeding resulted in species that I needed to wear a full beekeeping suit to approach them, as generations of bees being baked in the sun had caused them to become dangerous and volatile.

In the humid jungles I found bees that even here could thrive and build a hive. I lost count of the number of times I have fallen from vines in order to climb up to their treetop homes. I named these tropical bees, for they are a common inhabitant of jungles and other tropical climates. The only downside of them is that they are poisonous. Yes, poisonous. I have never died as such, but it sure does hurt2). The evolution of these bees leads to some long lived bees, which prefer even warmer and damper climates. I also noticed that these bees began to venture out from the apiaries far more than any other, travelling far and wide and bringing back an air of experience that I could literally feel in the air.

An often overlooked natural bee is the Marshy bee, which is often found in damp and cold climates. I have gathered little information on this bee, although I noticed it does enjoy mushrooms.

The last mudane bee is the Wintry bee, which belongs to a winter-hardened bee tribe. I struggled to make this bee live anywhere but its home amongst the snow capped pine trees, although I expect you to have more luck. The descendants from this bee made my apiaries literally freeze up, until ice shards began forming on the inside!

I was not the first person to breed these bees, and one of the most amazing discoveries I ever made was of an ancient tome of beekeeping which is known by many names, including the Apiarist’ Grimoire and the Apinomicon. It contained reference to a rare subspecies of bee known as a Valiant, which could be found living alongside other bees in their natural hives. But it also alluded to another species, which could be found deep within the dungeons under the earth. Any further information on these species has been lost due to missing pages.

After an unfortunate run in of some previous friends of mine, I had to find solace away from this world and entered the hellish place known as the Nether. When I attempted to bred some bees in this environment, the surviving ones were severely affected by their surroundings. I and other ‘Nether Apiarist’s have experienced severe attacks by some of these bees, leaving us scarred for life. But the ones which survive for generations and generations are so evil that I could only describe as being descendant from Satan himself.

Although long since extinct, I have heard rumours of other species from other worlds, even more bleak than the nether. These rumours reached me through a weathered old beekeeper by the name of Pahimar, who said he had reached another world, and brought back bees from another world ruled by tall dark men. He also mentioned a bee he had bred on a farm, which I have yet to reproduce. Frankly even I thought he was a bit nuts, as he had written a ‘Beekeeper’s Lexicon’ as he called it, a book about bees and beekeeping. What a weirdo.

He also mentioned another group of bees, ones that literally destroyed his house, wife and pet wolf. I attempt-3)

And to finish of this section, I’ll just mention an observation that I’ve had of bees that only seem to appear at certain times of year. I swear I even saw a tiny bee with wings and rabbit ears once. And no, I am not drunk, at least not at the moment (That fermenter is almost finished brewing)

Part 4 : Frames and Storage

Editor Note This section of Beekeeping 101 is still in a state of disrepair, and I will endeavour to compile it as soon as possible.

Part 5 : The Beealyzer

The Beealyzer is a revolutionary device that gives you special insight into the genetic makeup of your bees. I picked it up from a travelling merchant for a mere three diamond blocks, and one sheep. The merchant assured it was worth well more than that, however, I was able to make him come down on the price a bit. Turns out he was allergic to my Tropical bees after all…

Through some trial and error, I discovered that if you put a bee into the device along with some honey as a distraction, the device will read out everything I wanted to know about my bees! Their passive traits, up to this point, had remained a mystery, but no more! Now I will be able to make better decisions when deciding which drones to mate with my precious Princesses.

The device itself seems a bit flimsy, made with only a bit of tin and some cheap glass. Somehow, I think that merchant may have gotten the better of me after all…

Further Reading about Bees and Beekeeping

Although Beekeeping 101 is a good guide to Beekeeping, its obviously insane author means it may not be the best source of information. These other sources of information may serve you better:

1) Editor's Note – Sengir may have been under the influence of short mead when writing this section.
2) Editor's Note – Milk is much nicer when you’re poisoned.
3) Editor's Note – The rest of this section is missing from Sengir’s notes here, and it looks like it has been literally eaten away by a bee. I apologise for these technical issues.