Beekeeping for Beginners – Getting Started with Bees
Beekeeping for beginners is an amazing journey into the world of the honey bee. It is not always easy but it is always interesting. People approach the idea of keeping honey bees for many different reasons. Perhaps that is the joy of beekeeping, we all start at the beginning and trudge along the road trying to improve our understanding of this remarkable bee.
You don’t know-what you don’t know. That sure does apply to beekeeping. This is not a one and done endeavor. It takes time to become a confident beekeeper.
If you are a new beekeeper, I share your excitement. But don’t get in too much of a hurry.
Take your time – learn and grow. Things will not work out perfectly every time. Forgive yourself for mistakes. And don’t worry about asking dumb beekeeping questions. We all began at the beginning.
During the first phases of becoming a new beekeeper, you have a chance to prepare. Those dreams of having bees can become a reality if you take the time to learn what to do.
In fact, beekeeping is a continual learning experience. Don’t expect to learn everything you need to know about raising bees in one season.
The best place to start any adventure is at the beginning. When you decide that you really want a hive, it’s time to think about your reasons for becoming a beekeeper.
Before the bees arrive, or you spend hundreds of dollars on equipment, let’s consider a few things. What exactly does a beekeeper do? Do you have the physical strength to lift boxes of honey?
What do you know about beehives? Perhaps you harbor some misconceptions about what a honey bee home truly is. Keeping a hive of bees is much different than having a bird house.
Many bee enthusiasts only want to have a couple of hives. You can start beekeeping in your backyard with a minimum amount of space. You can enjoy the benefits of bee pollination for your garden and perhaps a few jars of honey.
Are you interested in living off the grid and producing your own food? Many homesteaders and preppers enjoy the benefits of beekeeping and the hive products that are produced.
Will beekeeping be a hobby or a business for you? It can be a pleasant hobby or a you can start a beekeeping business with hopes for profit. If so, you need a good business plan.
It is important to understand that you will experience some failures along the way. Keeping bees is not as easy as it was years ago.
The influx of new pests and diseases has contributed to a decline in honey bee health. Understanding how to help your colonies deal with these issues is vital to success.
Beekeeper Education is Key to Success
One of the most overlooked aspects of beginner beekeeping is education. Yes, you need actual experience in the hive – but you need to know what you are looking for too!
Many new beekeepers start with a good beekeeping book . There are many great books to choose from. Look for books that are written by beekeepers as these will have the most accurate information.
Most local beekeeping associations give beginner beekeeping classes in late Winter. Check those out.
Some are really great and others not so much but they are a great way to meet local beekeepers.
I taught live local classes with beekeeper associations for years. My online beekeeping class is developed from those actual live classes.
One of the most important things you learn in beekeeping classes is when to start getting ready for bees.
One of the first steps in beekeeping is ordering bees and equipment. Both of these things are done months before Spring. If you wait until Spring, it may be too late to begin this year.
Buying Beehives for Beginners
How many hives should a beginner beekeeper start with? 2 or 3 hives is the most popular answer to that question. That does not mean you can’t have more or less.
Of course money is a consideration as well. Consider your budget as you plan to purchase the beekeeping equipment, bees and tools that you need.
Finding a location for 1 or 2 beehives is not very difficult. However, if you want to develop a larger apiary with many hives, bee yard design becomes a bigger issue.
Consider neighborhood restrictions or zoning ordinances as you plan for your first hives. More than 1 beekeeper has invested in bees only to find that they have to get rid of them.
Beehive placement is an often overlooked aspect of beekeeping. Yes, some beehive locations are better than others.
Find a place well away from human foot traffic, play areas etc for your bees. Don’t put your hive in a location that will only bring you problems a few months down the road.
Honey Bees for Beginners
Most new beekeepers will buy honey bees for their first hives. There are several ways to purchase bees.
Picking them up from a local bee supplier in one option. If there is a bee supply within a couple of hours driving distance, picking up your bee order can be a fun experience.
You can even have packages of bees delivered to your home! Regardless of the purchasing option you choose, do your research. Local for customer reviews of the business.
How do you know which type of bee to buy? What is the best honey bee for beginners? While there is some debate on this issue, Italians or Italian Carniolan crosses are the most popular kinds of bees sold in packages.
Installing Bees into Your First Beehive
Most new beekeepers will be working with a package of honey bees. Once you arrive home with your bees, it is time to put them in the hive. Install your package of bees as soon as possible.
Do you buy a honey bee nucleus colony? Nuc installation is a bit different than package bees. My guide on installing a nuc colony will help you get those bees safely in their new home.
In most regions, feeding your new colonies will help them be successful. Beginner beekeepers often underestimate the amount of food required by a new colony.
Beekeeping Problems for Beginners to Watch Out For
Managing beehives involves periodic hive inspections. You can not really know what is happening without looking inside.
If the colony has a problem with the queen or is low of food stores, regular inspections will hopefully reveal the issue in time for correction.
Thankfully, this doesn’t happen often but at times bees will leave their hive. This is especially upsetting for the new beekeeper who has just purchased a package of bees.
What You Need to Know About Beekeeping
Beekeeping is a fascinating hobby that is rewarding in so many ways. But it is important to understand that their will be failures.
Sometimes hives will die or fail to thrive. All beekeepers make mistakes and you will be no exception.
Surround yourself with like-minded positive bee loving people. This may be locals or in an online group. You can learn a lot from other beekeepers.
Final Advice About Beekeeping for Beginners
Beginner beekeeping involves a lot more than just getting a hive and plopping it down in the yard.
From understanding what you will need to do, to buying bees and equipment and managing those hives, there is a lot of learn and do.
Your success as a beekeeper, depends a lot of understanding that the world is constantly changing. You can learn some great tips from beekeepers who have had bees for 30 years.
But, a word of caution, beekeepers sometimes fail to update their knowledge on new issues facing honey bees.
As you grow in experience, seek out more beekeeping tips and never stop learning about the changing world our bees must live in.