Beekeeping For Beginners

Beekeeping For Beginners

An Introduction to beekeeping

Beekeeping (or apiculture, if you are fancy) is kind of a big thing now.  Some folks do it for the honey, others harvest the wax, while still others are attracted to the insight and connection to nature that comes along with it.  Regardless of your reasons or interest, bees are super important to just about every type of ecosystem.  Boosting the bee population in your area will have huge benefits on local plant-life and as well as a ton of personal benefits for you. Whatever your goal is, it’s super easy to get up and running.

First things first, you need a few items to get started.

Beekeeping Essentials:

1. Protective bee suit.

 

bee-girl,beekeeping hives

No, not this one. (All credit to Blind Melon for this glorious creation of theirs)

 

bee suit,beekeeping hives

…THIS one. Far less fashionable, but also much more sting-resistant.

 

You can usually order from any of the various beekeeping websites for anywhere from $50 to $100 or so, but you could make-do in a pinch with some extra-thick clothing and a protective mask.

2. Get your (hopefully well-protected) hands on some beekeeping hives.

beekeeping hives

You can almost hear the buzzing in this photo

 

A ready-made hive starter kit will usually be an initial investment of a few hundred dollars.  There are some beginner-type kits like this one here.  Once you have your first, you can expand piecemeal from there and have as many (or as few) as you like.

3. Once you have a suit and a hive, you will need to get some of the basic tools of the trade.  Hive tools, bee-brushes, smokers, cleaning tools… like any trade, there are specific tools that you will need to harvest, maintain the hives, feed the bees, and store the product.  Click here to see more about tools.

4. Finally, you are gonna need some bees and that means you need a queen.  Despite what her title may lead you to believe, she does not control the hive.  The queen in the hive is responsible for all the reproduction.  She makes the workers and the drones, and they are the ones that make the honey, wax, and propolis that will be produced by the colony.

Also important to determine: What sort of queen are you looking for?  Some types influence their hive to produce more, but are also more aggressive.  Others are more docile, but don’t produce as much.  Veteran apiculturists are going to be your best resource here.

bee comparison,beekeeping hives

Approximate sizes for comparison.

 

To obtain a queen, you will need to get a Nucleus (Nuc, for short).  Nucs contain enough bees to get you started, 5 frames of honey with the pollen and brood they were already working on, and of course, a queen.  You will need to install your Nuc in your hive, and the colony will start growing from there.

Wax, Propolis, Royal Jelly and Honey

Ok, so you have a ton of bees buzzing around all over the place.  What now?

Bees do all sorts of things.  Their natural role is to pollinate flowers, trees, shrubs… all sorts of things.  Having more bees around will result in a more productive garden which will yield better flowers, bigger veggies, and overall health for just about everything.

They also produce their own bee-things.

Bee-Products:

Beeswax – Great for candles and about a billion different natural beauty products.

Propolis – Again, a ton of personal health benefits like a boosted immune system and higher energy.

Royal Jelly – Yet another substance which has all sorts of medicinal and cosmetic uses.

Honey (of course) – Which is good for just about everything.

 

Need more info about beekeeping?  visit the American Beeping Federation website at http://www.abfnet.org/ for info about government programs, equipment, practices and news.

 

Happy Beekeeping!

~The Greencare Team

 

 

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