First Steps In Starting Beekeeping
Perhaps, it is something you planned to do “someday”. Well, someday is finally here and now you have decided – “I want bees.” Now its time to take your first steps toward starting beekeeping and make that dream a reality. Beekeeping for beginners can be a bit scary – but don’t worry you are not alone.
Our honey bees need all the help they can get. We just can not have too many good beekeepers.
Being a beekeeper is certainly an attainable goal for most people. However, it does require some attention to detail. There is some work involved and some bumps along the way.
Why do You Want to Be A Beekeeper?
Perhaps, you have been reading all the media stories about the collapse of the honey bee. An interest in beekeeping is a natural fit or people concerned about nature .
Your curiosity grows over the next weeks and months. You envision yourself in a crisp white beekeeping suit. (Of course in your dreams that suit remains snow white – let me tell you it does not ! LOL) .
Maybe this beekeeping thing is something you can do ? But you are not sure how to get started?
Knowledge is power and that is never more true than when applied to beginning beekeeping. You need knowledge – but the right mix of knowledge.
Consider Your Time and Budget
Perhaps you are mostly curious and want to see if you can do it? Maybe you want to have bees and make enough honey for the family?
These are both great ideas. Be realistic regarding your time and money investment.
If you desire is to produce a few jars of honey per year, you probably don’t need to invest $5000 in hives and equipment.
Also, if starting beekeeping is something you are determined to try, you need to learn about the bees themselves. There is a lot to learn beyond the parts of a hive.
I can give you a list of what to buy. And, it is rather easy to get the bees and equipment.
However, what should you do once the bees arrive? Think beyond that first day. Let’s discuss some key points to consider before your first bees arrive.
Set Beekeeping Goals
Goal setting may seem silly in regards to having a beehive. But, you need to know what your goals are. What do you hope to gain ?
Honey production is the goal of many beekeepers. When you produce honey, it is a great feeling of sustainability.
Want to sell honey? You will need more hives to do that because not every hive will produce every year.
For others, pollination is the draw to beekeeping. A vegetable garden or orchard of fruit trees will yield a much larger crop when honey bees colonies are near.
Just a couple of hives can provide ample pollination for a home garden or small orchard.
Maybe you are fascinated by the plight of the honey bee and want to help save the bees. Managing a hive of honey bees will give you an inside look into their world.
Its Okay – Beekeeping May Not Be Your Thing !
Even though I love to help new beekeepers and want to encourage everyone to learn more about bees, beekeeping is not for everyone.
Becoming a beekeeper involves hard work and sweat! Beekeeping is rewarding but not easy-be prepared for some hard work.
Here in South Carolina, I have to manage hives during the heat of summer. Trust me, it gets really hot in that bee suit in July !
I actually own a cooling vest to help me work hives in July. It is a little heavy and not inexpensive but it works.
Sometimes, I need to do work in my bee yard when it is very hot. Are you sensitive to heat?
Do you have a work schedule that would allow you to work your bees during the cooler times of day?
Beehives Require Management
Honey bee colonies are much different than bird houses. You can not simply place the hive out in the yard and expect the bees to take care of themselves.
Thirty years ago, this type of hands off beekeeping was possible. Today, most new beekeepers will become “bee-less” within a year unless they pay attention to colony conditions.
It’s okay to say no – this is much more involved than I expected. If you decide keeping bees is not for you right now, that’s okay ! Maybe you can try again later – or help another beekeeper in your area.
But if you have really been “bitten by the bee bug” – you are ready to proceed.
Get Support When Starting Beekeeping
Finding the support of a local beekeeping club is an immeasurable resource.
It is very important to get the basic facts down before the bees arrive. Most new beekeepers receive their bees in early Spring. But you can begin learning at any time of year.
The internet is a great source of information. You will find numerous beginning beekeeping videos and articles online. Don’t believe all of it.
Also, anyone can make a YouTube video (even me – LOL). You have no guarantee that they know what they are talking about. Use the internet resources but proceed with caution **
Join our Facebook Group – Carolina Honeybees Help for Beginning Beekeepers
Order Your Bees & Equipment Early
Beekeepers new and old alike have several options for purchasing honey bees. Honey bees can even be mailed through the US Postal Service.
This option is best for beekeepers who do not live close enough to a bee farm or supply to enable a physical pickup.
For those of you lucky enough to have a beekeeping supply store within driving distance, I recommend picking up your bees in person. Pick up saves the honey bees from the stress involved in shipping.
Should You Buy a Beginning Beekeeping Kit
Beginning Beekeeping Kits are a popular way of purchasing the essential tools & equipment needed.
A new beekeeper needs everything from bee smoker to hive tool. These kits are a good value if they consists of items you really need.
Purchasing items you will never use is a waste of money. This is another time when having an experienced beekeeper for advise comes in handy.
Compare several kits before you buy to make sure you are getting good value on things that you truly will use.
Buying Your Honey Bees
Do not wait until Spring to look for honey bees to buy. Just like tickets to the best concerts, honey bees are subject to selling out ! There are several options for purchasing your first families of honey bees.
Most new beekeepers will buy bee packages. This is the easiest and surest way to get bees for your new hive.
What Does It Cost To Start With Bees?
Beekeeping is not an inexpensive undertaking in the beginning. A new beekeeper can expect to pay several hundred dollars per hive at start up. You will need to purchase a few beekeeper tools.
New beekeepers often want to buy used equipment to save money at start up. Purchasing used beekeeping equipment is risky.
Beyond bees and equipment, you will need some tools and safety equipment for yourself. Many of the items you buy will last for years.
In addition to connecting with local beekeeping associations, I highly suggest checking out my Online Beekeeping Class.
Created from years of teaching local live classes, it covers the basics and beyond for new beekeepers.
And, you can go back and re-watch parts of the course again to refresh your memory if needed. – Online Beekeeping Class
Beekeeping is A Journey
After starting beekeeping, many new beekeepers become enthralled with the world of the honey bee.
They fall in love with all things “bee”. Enjoy your beekeeping journey, it will have ups and downs.
Many new beekeepers get discouraged and quit. But for those of us who stick with it, the magic of the beehive is never ending.
I love just sitting beside my beehives and watching the bees. If beekeeping gets in your blood, I don’t think it ever leaves.
And, you will never taste honey that is better than the honey from your hives. Taste just does not get any better.
Starting beekeeping may become one of the greatest adventures in your life.