Indoor beekeeping is not only fascinating but it is also one of the most rewarding hobbies. If you have been considering venturing into apiculture (beekeeping) then this is one of the avenues you may consider. However, you need to understand the specific laws and regulations that apply to your specific state before you even start. Fortunately, in most US states a hive or two is allowed and this will provide honeybee products sufficient for your needs.
Why Indoor Beekeeping?
Beekeeping has been around since human existence began. The honeybee is just but one among the many bee species that exist out there. Other species include solitary bees, bumblebees, and many others. They are all known for the critical role they play in pollinating plants. Most of them are wild and lack of forage and habitat loss has led to the demise of most of these species.
Most professional beekeepers began as hobbyists or part-time beekeepers and eventually became professionals. You do not need plenty of space to be a beekeeper. Indoor beekeeping in particular can be done within your house (as the name implies). Current technologies have led to the invention of some sophisticated in-house hives that not only complement your interior decor but they also create a home for bees to thrive and produce the sweet honey and other honeybee products.
The indoor bee hive has been designed with safety in mind and therefore those that fear getting stung should not fret. With bees being some of the easiest insects to manage, all you need to do is learn, commit, and practice. That is all that is required for successful indoor beekeeping. The most important thing to do is ensure the bees get a healthy and comfortable environment. It should be free from noise, pollutants and chemicals, and should be well-sheltered.
Important Points to Note for Indoor Beekeeping
Understand Legal Requirements
Honeybees are just like any other domesticated stock. You are required by law to maintain the bees after you decide to keep them. The law and regulations may vary from state to state and that is why it is important that you get acquainted with the laws within your area before your become a beekeeper. The general rule is to ensure the bees are kept in a healthy environment and that they do not become a nuisance to those living within the area.
It is also important to understand that it is not morally or legally right to abandon your hive when you lose interest in beekeeping. Hives that have been neglected usually become a source of infection to neighbouring colonies. They may also swarm and cause harm to people and livestock within the neighbourhood. It is always wise to dispose of the hive to someone who is interested in keeping the bees.
Before you begin keeping bees it is prudent to tell your neighbours that you will be a beekeeper. Expect the good news to scare some of your neighbours. This is not required by law and you are not obliged to disclose. One of the main advantages with honeybees is that they only forage on nectar and pollen in flowers unlike wasps that tend to be carnivores. The bees will never bother your neighbours unless provoked.
The honeybees will be aggressive when you open the hive for inspection. Therefore, do weekly inspection when neighbours are not nearby. Pets and children should not be nearby when doing this. You should also have the right protective gear when undertaking this.
Choose a Quiet Strain of Bees
All bees are not the same. To ease your indoor beekeeping, replace aggressive colonies by re-queening with a gentle strain. Nonetheless, various factors have to be considered before a colony is replaced. For instance, the manner of handling the combs, type of clothing, hive handling, and time of handling. A professional apiarist will analyse all these before recommending a replacement.
Where do you get the bees?
There are basically two ways of getting the bees for your indoor hive:
- Nucleus Colony – this is the most popular method where you purchase a small bee colony. You can get this from a reputed bee equipment supplier or those who rear bees for sale. The best time to get a nucleus is during September and October. The nucleus colony comes with a queen, honey, 3-4 combs, a brood, and the worker bees. This small colony will drastically grow into a strong and self-sustaining bee colony.
- Bee Swarms – this is your second bet. Honeybee swarms are collected from tree branches or any convenient place where they have settled. The bees are collected and transferred to your new hive. This requires some skill and experience to be successful.
Your Ultimate Bet for Indoor Beekeeping – The BEEcosystem
You have probably heard the revolutionary BEEcosystem. This is a new technology for keeping bees indoors within an urban city. The entire system is a hexagonal hive made of cedar. It is small enough for easy management and is also big enough to produce sufficient honey for household use.
The urban part-time or hobbyist beekeeper will find the BEEcosytem fascinating. It can be compared to a fish aquarium, only that this one has no water and it harbours the territorial honeybee. The environment within the system is friendly for the bees and has been designed in such a way that it can be placed either indoors or outdoors. It also has a light filtering cover that ensures the bees natural cycles are never interrupted by indoor lighting.
When it comes to bee movement, the BEEcosystem comes with a transfer tube that directs the bees to the outside world. These are fitted with sliding windows so as to facilitate free movement. The modular design of the unit also allows for future expansion.
In terms of safety, this unit is friendly and it comes with the honeybees already stocked. All you are required to do is mount the system on the wall. It has other additional as well including; a cleaning drawer for debris collection, a top feeder for feeding when resources are scarce, and a wall bracket for attachment.
A Final Word
Indoor beekeeping has gained popularity with the hobbyists and small-scale beekeepers. The advent of the BEEcosystem in particular is a complete game-changer. You can now keep bees even within an urban setting. However, beware of the state regulations before you begin keeping the bees.