Welcome to beekeeping!
Keeping bees can be a fascinating hobby with many benefits to you, your community, the planet and the bees.
Starting up can be summarized in a few steps:
- Get educated; join a bee group, get a mentor or take some classes. Do some reading, there is no shortage of this! There is a library listing of NCBA books on this site.
- Find a location for your bees
- Decide on the type of equipment you want to use (topbar, langstroth, other…)
- Find a source for bees
- Manage your hive
Education is the most important step to successful beekeeping and will greatly increase your chances of enjoying a long and happy relationship with your bees. A beginner class is invaluable for getting good basics and hands on experience. Even longtime beekeepers are sometimes challenged by new issues and are learning throughout their time with the bees. Our association has a great mixture of beginners, hobbyists, and experienced beekeepers. There are so many different areas of knowledge that at first it can be daunting. Don’t despair, and remember that there is no one right way to do things. Beware of people who claim to have it all figured out and tell you they have all the answers! There is a fair amount of mis-information out there so consult multiple sources if possible.
The location for your apiary has a few considerations. Is your area frequented by bears (most of our county)- you may need an electric fence. Do you have sufficient sunshine- a bit of shade is good in the summer, but sun is best in winter. Is water available? Are you subject to city ordinances? Will your bees be flying past a neighbors front door? Drainage issues? Wind protection is helpful.
Equipment for the Traditional Langstroth style of beehive normally includes:
Bottom board: ( screened, or not)
Top Cover: The Top Covers come in two styles. Migratory tops and Telescoping tops.
Hive Bodies: Also come in a few sizes, Deep, Medium or Shallow. These refer to the height of the box. Some use a combination of one medium and one deep. Another variable for hive bodies is box width- see below (10 frame vs 8 frame)
Frames: hold the honeycomb and fit 10 per Hive box, or 8 frame equipment gaining in popularity.
Foundation: is placed in the frame (if it is used) and acts as a starting template for the bees to “draw” their honeycomb from the beeswax they produce. Foundation can be a full sheet or a small strip of wax or plastic. A Veil or full bee suit, Smoker, Hive tool, and a few other accessories will complete your inventory.
Ok now it's time for the bees. There are multiple ways you can obtain bees. You can buy an established bee hive, you can buy a small portion known as a “nucleus hive” or “nuc”. Normally the nucleus colony is then placed into your own equipment. You could buy a package of bees, which consists of 2, 3, or even 4 pounds of bees along with a queen. You could also catch a swarm and if you're really lucky your beekeeper friend will give you some bees. All options would be discussed in a beginners class.
To manage your bees effectively you should understand the life cycle of the hive and the bees and be aware of the obstacles they face.
This will allow you to give them whatt they require when they require it, including:
- providing more hive space or reducing space
- removing honey
- pest control
- dividing colonies to make increase
So what are you waiting for? For more information please attend our next meeting!