Beekeeping can be environmentally friendly. Beekeeping can also be a rewarding and profitable hobby if you plan to sell the honey or wax you collect.
There are several things to keep in mind when starting this hobby. This guide explores the basics of beekeeping for beginners, but finding a local beekeeper to shadow may also prove helpful.
Although they are tiny, honeybees need lots of space. You want to have natural space between your hive, neighbors, and house. To keep the bees safe, dry, and cool in the summer, place the hive near a large tree or another large structure to provide it with shade and weather protection.
What to wear
Protective clothing is a must. This is your first line of defense when tending to your hive. A veil, long sleeves, long pants, rubber boots, and gloves should do the trick; however, you can also purchase a proper beekeeping suit. Whichever option you choose, be sure that it is a few sizes larger than what you normally wear, as this will also help mitigate stings.
Tools and equipment
When it comes time to extract the honey that your hive has produced, you will need several tools. You can also do certain things from the beginning to increase honey production in your first hive. These tools are the most essential for beekeeping:
- Smoker: A small device to calm and guide honeybees
- Clear tub: When removing the frames for transport, clear tubs will allow you to see if you have any bees hitching a ride on your frames.
- Hive tool: This helps you get into the hive and pry the frames out, which are sticky and full of wax
- Brush: A brush will gently move the bees off the frames before the honey extraction process begins
- Extractor: This gadget will do the work of extracting the honey
- Strainer: This vital step will remove the wax and debris from the honey and make it edible
- Food-grade pails: These store the honey after the straining process but before bottling
- Wet cloths: As this process is sure to get messy, keep these on hand for quick cleanup
Where to find your first bees
You can catch your hive by locating a swarm and gently brushing them into your container. Swarm season usually occurs between spring and early summer, so this would be the best time to utilize this option. Gathering wild bees can bring issues such as diseases or an injured queen. To avoid unforeseen problems with your bees, consider ordering them online instead. If you can pick up your order in person, this would be best, as you can see what you are getting. You can evenhave them shipped directly to your front door by the United States Postal Service!
Before you begin, find out if you are allergic to bees! You do not want to wait until your first sting to find out that you are anaphylactic. Perhaps that is the most important thing you need for success as a beginner beekeeper—an understanding of what to do in case of an allergic reaction.