Beekeeping can be a fun — and useful — hobby. Bees pollinate the plants around us, so everything from your flower bed to your garden and crops will benefit. The honey you will harvest is just a sweet reward! Get started with these beekeeping for beginners tips.
Choose Your Spot
Bees can thrive on less than a quarter of an acre of land, so you don’t need a lot of space to keep bees happy and healthy. What you do need is a safe spot, away from pets and people. Professionals recommend that hives are kept 15 to 20 yards away from houses or spaces where people enjoy outdoor activities. Often, it’s beneficial to put your beehive near a hedge to encourage bees to fly up and away from people.
Make sure that you have a water source close by so that the bees can enjoy a resting spot. A small pond or birdbath will work well.
A few simple tools are all you need to begin your beekeeping adventure. You can get started with:
- A veil and gloves
- A smoker
- A hive tool
- A hive
- Bees themselves
Check local resources: Your local beekeeping association will be able to help you determine the best hive arrangement for you. You can choose packages from bees, nucs, a swarm or an already started hive. Beginning beekeepers generally order their hives around the first of the year, and bees are delivered in April or May.
Consider Your Hive System
Today, beekeepers generally choose one of two hive formations for their bees. Langstroth hives are vertically hung frames with a bottom board entrance for the bees. They contain empty boxes for brood and honey. They are weather protected from the elements. The other option is a top-bar hive, where the bees’ frames are arranged horizontally, and the bees make comb without the foundation in this system.
Introduce Your Bees to the Hive
Once your hive is in place, you are ready to introduce your bees to the hive. When you receive your bees, lay a bedsheet in front of the entrance of a new hive, creating a visual path from the ground to the hive entrance. While wearing your veil and gloves, shake or pour the bees onto the bedsheet, as close to the entrance as possible. The bees will immediately begin fanning an orientation scent at the entrance and the rest of the bees will follow suit into the new hive where they will make their new home.
Some recommend feeding syrup to bees through the hive-top feeder to stimulate wax production, but this step may not be necessary if nectar flows are already heavy.
Happy and Healthy Bees
Beekeeping doesn’t require ongoing care. In fact, in the beginning especially, the less you do, the better. After you have transplanted the bees to their new hive, resist the urge to check on them as they are making their combs and acclimating to the new hive. If the hive is busy, they are doing fine. Make sure that they have a water source close and maintain fresh water, maybe in a bird bath or pond, to help them remain happy and healthy. Sit back and enjoy your new hive!