Getting Started in Beekeeping

Hey there, prospective beekeepers! You’re probably reading this article because you’re interested in getting started in beekeeping, and you should know the prospect of a person being able to keep his/her own bees and harvesting their own honey is a very interesting and rewarding activity. However, whether it’s just a hobby or you plan to go commercial, there are a number of things that you will have to consider before going ahead with the adventure. Below you will find a selection of questions that beginner beekeepers usually ask.

Does beekeeping take a lot of time?

The practice of beekeeping is usually dependent on seasons and so will vary greatly according to the time of the year. If you take winter for instance, a beekeeper usually does nothing except for checking on the bees and maybe clearing bee hive entrances blocked by snow. When the seasons change and its summer time, that’s when the beekeeper will be very busy. This is the time when every hive must be checked almost weekly to ensure that no swarming has taken place. It is the time when more honey supers are added to hives. Interestingly, experienced beekeepers will only take just a few minutes to do all this and then go about their business.

Is beekeeping really that hard to do?

Beekeeping does not involve strenuous work at all, even though there are instances when you will be required to move the hives from one point to the next. By joining your local beekeeping association you will learn more about how you can limit the physical labor input that beekeeping may require from you.

What are the costs of beekeeping for beginners?

Costs will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Read this article to get a breakdown of approximate costs.

What are the equipment that I need to start beekeeping?

The very first thing you need to have is of course the bee hive, because that’s where the bees will live. You can build your own hive at home (if you’re so technically inclined) or purchase an already built hive. The other things you will need are the bee smoker, bee feeders, beekeeper suit, beekeeper hat and veil. Some manufacturers are smart enough to package the essential supplies into a beekeeping starter kit which you can order online and have it shipped right to your door.

What are the types of bees from which a beginner beekeeper can choose?

There are usually a number of bee races that are kept for the purposes of honey production, cross pollination, and other bee related products. Even though there are several types of bee races their differences are usually not that big. As long as these types of bees are well reared and taken care of, a beekeeper’s objective to get maximum honey will be achieved.

Below are some bee species that a beginner beekeeper can choose from:

The Italian bee

Getting Started in Beekeeping - The Italian bee
The Italian bee

Italian bees is a type of bee race that is usually more commonly found in North America. Italian bees use less propolis than the darker types of bees. To identify the Italian bee check out for bands on their abdomen in a brown or yellow color. The major weakness of the Italian bees is that they are usually more susceptible to robbing and drifting.

The Cordovan bee

Getting Started in Beekeeping - The Cordovan Italian Bee
The Cordovan Italian bee

Cordovan Italian bees are a subset of the Italian bees, but are distinguished based on their color. They are usually a little gentler than the Italian bee but in contrast to the Italian they tend to rob more. They are distinguished by their distinctive yellow color but they don’t have the color black. Unlike the Italian bees that have legs and heads that are black, the cordovan bees have legs that are purplish and heads that are purplish too.

The Starline Bee

Getting Started in Beekeeping - The Starline Bee
The Starline Bee

Starline bees are bred from various Italian bee strains. The Starlines are usually very productive and also very active, creating tremendous amounts of honey, however the second generation queen is ineffective and you’ll need to re-queen every year.

The Caucasian Bee

Getting Started in Beekeeping - The Caucasian Bbee
The Caucasian bee

Caucasian bees are usually distinguished by a distinctive silver gray to dark brown color. Compared to the Italian bees, they tend to be a little slower during the spring. They are generally even gentler than the Italian bees and are usually not as productive as the Italian bees but are less prone to robbing. They are known to do propolis a lot more than the Italian bees.

The Russian Bee

Getting Started in Beekeeping - The Russian Bee
Russian bees surrounding their queen

Russian bees originally came from Primorsky area of Russia and are known to be very good at resisting mites. They are a lot more defensive compared to other bee races. They are also more productive but working with them can be a little cumbersome due to their defensive nature.

When to harvest honey?

Usually most beekeepers wait for the end of nectar flow to go and find out if they can harvest the honey. Conditions will usually vary depending on your location but the best time start harvesting honey is at the start of summer towards the start of fall. During winter bees usually don’t go out of the hive because of the extreme weather outside. This means that there is no way for them to get food from outside the hive and they will keep themselves from starving to death by eating the honey they have in the reserves.

The bee colony needs at least one full season for a sizable population to be grown that will be large enough to produce a surplus honey for you to harvest. When the frames contain at least 80% of capped and sealed honey you can go ahead and do the harvesting. A little patience however can even be more rewarding for you in the long run.

Honey is harvested using a honey extractor.

 

Getting Started in Beekeeping Guide

There’s a lot you should know before getting started in beekeeping. But fret not, we here at BeeKeepClub have put together the ultimate guide that will see go from an amateur to setting up your hive in no time, and reaping its sweet results. Let’s get started.

Step 1: Starting Out

1. What is beekeeping?

Beekeeping is the human activity of maintaining honey bees. A beekeeper is someone who keeps bees for the purpose of collecting their honey. Learn more.

2. Backyard beekeeping

Backyard beekeeping doesn’t require a lot of space, and if you have plants around, then that’s a suitable environment for the bees to thrive in. Learn more.

3. Urban beekeeping

Urban beekeeping is the practice of keeping bees in an urban area, as opposed to the traditional backyard setting. Learn more.

4. Bee hive kits

The bee hive is a specially constructed structure where bees live. There are several types of bee hives that beekeepers that utilize. Learn more.

5. Where to buy bees

Get started with your beekeeping activities by obtaining your own bees for your hive. Learn where to buy bees and what to look out for. Learn more.

7. The cost of beekeeping

Get a rundown of the tools and supplies needed for beekeeping and their associated costs. Learn more.

6. Beekeeping in winter

Beekeeping in winter gets even more difficult if you’re just starting out. It doesn’t help that you become anxious that your bees won’t survive. Learn more.

7. Bee friendly plants

A bee friendly garden is not only important for the beekeeper but it is also essential for farmers and homeowners who have crops. Learn more.

8. Bee pests and parasites

Every living animal in nature has an enemy. The honey bee is no exception. It has its share of pests and parasites that attempt to invade their territory. Learn more.

9. Bee diseases

Bees are well-known for their effective defense against disease. However, despite this self-defense mechanism, bees are still prone to diseases. Learn more.

10. Indoor beekeeping

Indoor beekeeping has gained popularity with the hobbyists and small-scale beekeepers. The advent of the BEEcosystem in particular is a complete game-changer. Learn more.

11. 50 Beekeeping tips

To be successful in beekeeping, follow these beekeeping tips and nuggets and you will not only get a healthy and productive bee colony but will also get a sense of fulfillment for doing the right thing. Learn more.

12. Beekeeping glossary

Learn the definition of common beekeeping terms.

 

Step 2: Getting to Know Your Beekeeping Equipment

1. Choosing your beekeeping supplies

To be a beekeeper you do not need a lot of skills or experience, however it’s very important to choose the right beekeeping supplies. Learn more.

2. The beekeeping starter kit

For beginners to beekeeping, a beekeeping starter kit provides all the tools and supplies needed to get you up and running. Learn more.

3. The beekeeper suit

A beekeeper suit is comprised of protective garments which are usually worn by people involved in the business/hobby of beekeeping. Learn more.

4. Honey harvesting equipment

The honey extraction process is multi-step, and as such, there are various honey harvesting equipment to be used at each step. Learn more.

5. The honey extractor

A honey extractor is a mechanized device which is used for the extraction of honey from bee combs without damaging them. Learn more.

6. The bee smoker

A bee smoker is a tool used to calm bees during honey harvesting. It is made to produce smoke from the smoldering of various fuels. Learn more.

7. Bee hive feeders

Bee hive feeders are necessary when conditions are not favorable for bees to gather their own food, such as during the winter season. Learn more.

8. How to add feeders to your bee hive

Feeders are used for supplying the bees with sugar syrup when sources of nectar are minimal of non-existent. Learn how to add feeders to your bee hive.

 

Step 3: Buying the Right Beekeeping Equipment

1. Beekeeping equipment reviews

BeeKeepClub will help you with your purchasing decisions. Read our reviews to determine which beekeeping equipment will be right for you.

2. Beekeeping equipment rankings

View rankings and comparisons of the best beekeeping supplies available:

 

Step 4: Honey Bee Products

This is the whole point of beekeeping – the products that are derived from the activity, which can then be sold at a profit. These include: honey (of course), bee wax, propolis, royal jelly and bee pollen.

1. Health benefits of honey

There are many health benefits of honey. Let’s learn about them.

2. Honey bee products besides the honey

Honey is one of those products that is widely used in many areas, including homes, hospitals, industries, and even restaurants. Learn more.

3. Health benefits and side effects of royal jelly

Royal jelly as a natural product offers a plethora of benefits. It has an acidic feel and leaves a mild tingling sensation when ingested. Learn more.

4. Health benefits and side effects of propolis

Overall, the health benefits of propolis far outweigh its negative effects. It is available in various forms for consumption. Learn more. Learn more.

5. Health Benefits and Side Effects of Bee Pollen

Bee pollen is considered a medicine in most states due to its many benefits. However, it is not without its side effects. Learn more.

 

The Start of your Journey

Beekeeping is an age old tradition that has been practiced for thousand of years. People usually decide to keep bees for honey, wax, propolis and for cross pollination, whether to pursue a hobby or for business purposes. Beekeeping is usually not very hard as long you have some space that you can place your hive in. As you are just getting started in beekeeping, you need to protect yourself from possible bee stings by purchasing the bee suit and all its accessories such as the hat, veil, gloves and boots. A beekeeping starter kit would really come in handy too, as it would come with everything needed to get up and running.

BeeKeepClub has a wealth of information for everything beekeeping related, so take your time, dive in, and have fun.