Honeybees are amazing animals. They are hard workers, and do the miraculous job of pollinating flowers and other plants, helping them to grow, not to mention producing delicious honey. If you want to try your hand at raising bees and enjoying your own local honey, which has incredible health benefits, beekeeping is a great hobby to take up. Small-scale beekeeping is actually dwindling in the United States and the bee population is shrinking. This is something that has to be turned around. Bees are vitally important to the food chain and to the plant population. If you want to give beekeeping a try, here are some things to keep in mind as you get started.
First, do some research! Learn all you can before getting started. Check out books at the library, read online beekeeping blogs, or talk to friends to find out where they buy their raw honey so you can get some advice from current beekeepers in your community. You will also need to find out your area’s local laws regarding beekeeping. Depending on your city’s agriculture ordinances, you may or may not be able to keep bees at your location. Talk with others who raise bees and find out how they got started and ask them for tips. You could do this through online forums, or talking in person with other beekeepers and actually visiting their hives to see how things are set up. By learning from other beekeepers, you are gleaning from their trial and error and learning from their experiences. They can be a wealth of knowledge for you. Depending on where you live, you might even be able to find a beekeeping course at a local nursery, farm, or university.
If this is your first experience with bees, you’ll want to start small with just two hives. You don’t want to get overwhelmed the first time around. By starting with two hives, you have enough bees to give you a good honey harvest, but you don’t have so many that you can’t keep up with the required maintenance. Pay attention to what kinds of flowers and plants bloom in your neighborhood, and see where the best place to set up your hive might be. Do all of your prep work before you actually purchase your bees so you are ready to care for them without any major interruptions to buy extra equipment.
When you select the spot for your hive, you’ll want one that drains well and gets plenty of sunlight each day. A secluded spot is a bonus as it can keep the bees away from your house, and won’t cause a risk to small children and pets. The hive location needs to be near a water source, too, since water is needed by the bees to help maintain the hive. You don’t need a huge amount of land to start your own beekeeping operation. As long as there are flowering plants nearby, you should be able to raise bees successfully.
Order your supplies during the winter months and get them all ready so you can have your bees delivered in the spring. You can expect to spend several hundred dollars on a hive, smoker, beekeeping suit, and other small necessities. You will also spend another $50-70 or so on your bees when you order them. Bee experts recommend starting out with new bees rather than getting them from another hive.
Once your bees are in the hive, let them do their work. Throughout the season, you’ll need to check the hive, and monitor the bees for any sign of disease or vulnerability to predators. There will also be the maintenance of the hive, adding more nectar trays, and watching to see if the queen is laying eggs. You will also be busiest in the spring and fall. It takes some time to get the bees going in the spring and protecting them in the fall so they are fully prepared for winter.
It is rewarding to see the bees pollinate your plants, giving you more production from your fruits and vegetables plus you can enjoy the pounds of honey they will produce each year from the hive. It may even turn into a profitable business for you by selling excess honey from your hives. Even the beeswax can be used to make candles or skincare products.
You may be surprised to find a love for bees after just one season. It might just be the hobby that you never knew you wanted! Plus it is a great way to prepare for the future. Beekeeping can provide extra income and the honey you harvest is a great asset for bartering!
Have you ever considered beekeeping? Spend this summer learning all about bees and gathering the supplies you need to start raising your own bees next season!