Beekeeping is a surprisingly popular hobby and pastime that can be satisfying and relaxing to partake in. If you’re looking into beekeeping and what it takes to maintain bee colonies, it’s important that you do your research and take the right precautions before you begin. This article provides a detailed guide on bee keeping 101.
When you want to become a beekeeper, it’s essential that you fully understand what beekeeping involves and the types of bees that you might handle during this process. Beekeeping can be used for pollinating crops or for the collection of beeswax and honey.
While beekeeping is a relatively straightforward task, there are many moving parts, which you need to be aware of before you start managing colonies of bees. To perform this task correctly, you must obtain the right equipment and the right bees. All of the relevant information needed for beekeeping is discussed further in the following.
How to Effectively Start Beekeeping
Before you start buying bee hives, it’s important that you take a look at the state rules and regulations regarding beekeeping, which differ with each state. For instance, California requires all beekeepers to register the hives that they purchase. If you don’t comply with these guidelines, regulatory penalties will likely be administered. Once you understand the guidelines that apply to your area, you can purchase or create a bee hive, which is necessary before you buy any bees.
If you want to safely maintain a bee colony, you must avoid being negligent in any way. Negligence occurs when a beekeeper fails to perform expected or routine care, which could involve placing your hive in an area that poses some risk to neighbors. Negligence also occurs when you don’t handle the beehive properly. Negligence is possible if you buy very aggressive bees that are dangerous to others, which mainly include Africanized honey bees.
You should also take the right precautions if you want to become a beekeeper. You will be responsible for keeping your neighbors safe along with any family members who live in your home. Consider placing signs around your property that notify others of nearby beehives. The bee colonies you maintain must have access to all of the necessary resources, which include space, food, and water. The humidity and temperature levels within the beehive must be properly maintained as well. With these precautions in mind, you should be able to minimize mistakes as you get your beehives up and running.
Types of Bees Available to You
There are many different types of bees available to you as a beekeeper, all of which you should be aware of before you get involved with beekeeping. By looking through case studies, videos, and books pertaining to the various types of bees, you will be better prepared to handle the bees that you purchase once they arrive. The two primary categories of bees include solitary bees and social bees.
Solitary bees are known for working individually, which is why colonies of solitary bees only consist of a small number of bees. When these bees fly off in search of food, they will only collect the amount of food that’s needed to feed their larvae. A positive aspect of maintaining a colony of solitary bees is that these bees are practically harmless to humans. The various types of solitary bees that you can buy for your beehive include carpenter bees, mason bees, and digger bees.
Social bees are far more prevalent than solitary bees and are able to form vast colonies. The hives of social bees are comprised of bee swarms that create honey. When maintaining colonies of social bees, you’ll notice that these bees crawl over one another while they feed. There are three kinds of social bees, which include honey bees, Africanized honey bees, and bumble bees. While it’s possible to use various types of bees for beekeeping, honey bees are used by the vast majority of beekeepers.
Honey bees are pollinating insects that are known to be pollinators for more than 100 different agricultural crops. These bees are relatively small in size and are separated into a caste system when operating in a hive. Each type of honey bee is integral to the survival and long-term maintenance of a hive. The queen honey bee is a female bee that’s the mother of most bees throughout the hive. The queen bee will largely stay in place within the hive.
Worker bees are female honey bees that take food to the queen bee and care for any larvae. As for drone bees, these bees are males that fly out of the hive and pollinate nearby flowers. They will then bring nectar over to the hive. The most popular honey bees at your disposal include Italian honey bees, Russian honey bees, and Carniolan honey bees.
Keep in mind that each bee has different requirements for handling. For instance, Italian honey bees are known to be hard-working and easy-to-handle. However, they are also demanding with resources. As for Carniolan honey bees, they work best when used in colder climates. Russian honey bees are simple to work with but can be difficult to purchase.
Beekeeping Equipment You Might Need
This bee keeping 101 guide isn’t complete without a comprehensive look at the equipment that you’ll need before you begin to maintain bee colonies. The most important piece of equipment is the beehive, which can be purchased as a fully assembled hive or made on your own. Whether you make your own beehive or purchase one that has already been assembled, the two primary types of beehives include Langstroth hives and top-bar hives.
Top-bar hives are one-box hives that consist of everything a colony needs to survive. The hive is made with a simple roof, under which are wooden bars that the bees will use to create their honeycombs. Langstroth hives come with three parts, which include a bottom board, a top cap, and an inner cover. The top cap keeps the bees safe from any of the outside elements. These hives also include a variety of framed boxes that can be used to store honey and brood.
Once you’ve purchased or assembled a beehive, it’s time to buy the rest of the equipment that you’ll need as a beekeeper. When purchasing a bee suit, make sure that it is able to keep bees away from at least some of your skin. These suits can be purchased as veils, upper-body suits, or full-body suits. If you want complete protection from stings, you should consider full-body suits.
The gloves that you use can be made from many different materials. If you use a material like leather, you can be confident that the gloves will be durable and long-lasting. To protect your feet and legs from the bees you manage, you’ll want a strong pair of boots. Bees tend to crawl upwards, which means that you should tuck your pants or trousers into your boots. Lastly, you should look into purchasing a smoker, which is used to get bees to leave the hive.
How to Obtain Bees
When you’re getting ready to buy bees for your beehive, you can obtain bees from a beekeeper association or from a beekeeper you’re friendly with. If there isn’t a beekeeping association in your area, try to find other beekeepers nearby who you can purchase bees from. As for beekeeper associations, most states consist of numerous beekeeping associations, which means that you should be able to find a local chapter.
These associations can help you learn more about the many benefits of beekeeping while also providing you with the bees you require for your hive. They will also provide you with suggestions on how and what to feed the bees you purchase, which can be very useful when you’re getting started.
Questions Pertaining to Bee Keeping
Q: Where should I place my hive?
A: Bees will fly in and out of the hive that you make, which is why the placement of your hive should be strategic. For instance, don’t place a hive near an outdoor pool or close to your neighbor’s backyard. Try to elevate your hives as well.
Q: How far apart should hives be?
A: While separate hives can be kept close together, it’s important that there’s enough room for you to walk and move around when maintaining each hive. However, bees from one hive can smell the honey from another hive, which is why you should place each hive at least 50 feet apart if you have enough space.
Q: Are bee swarms common?
A: Bees will invariably swarm when a hive becomes too crowded, which means that a group of the bees will search for a new place to live. When a swarm occurs, they are easy to capture if you have the right equipment, which should include a temporary container to place them in. Eventually, you may want to move the bees to a new hive.
Before you get started with bee keeping, make sure that you purchase a beehive, a suit, some gloves and boots, and a smoker. Research the bees that you purchase so that you can be confident on how to take care of them. If you join a local beekeeping association, you will have easy access to other beekeepers who can answer any question you have.