Beekeeping Can Be a Fulfilling Hobby!
HAYWARD, Wisc. Jun. 27, 2023 – Beehive Botanicals, Inc. (beehivebotanicals.com)
As we approach the 4th of July holiday - beekeeping may seem like the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. But for amateur enthusiasts or would-be new hobbyists hoping to kickstart their beekeeping endeavors there’s no better time to start buying your supplies, equipment, building up your hives and strategizing about the ways you can keep your hive thriving through the cold winter months which will be here before we know it. A great place to start your journey is by calling the American Beekeeping Federation at 518-694-9793 where hobbyists can receive all kinds of beekeeping information and recommendations on where to buy your supplies and equipment.
Becoming a beekeeper can require a significant investment of time and money, but the rewards of watching a thriving colony and harvesting your own honey make it a fulfilling hobby. By educating yourself, properly setting up and maintaining your hives, and staying informed on the latest developments in beekeeping, you can become a successful hobbyist beekeeper.
There are several great reasons to dive into this unique hobby. First and foremost - helping to support bee populations is a critical importance. Our winged friends have been dying out from pesticides and disappearing habitats - and without their pollination efforts our planet won’t be able to produce the fruits and vegetables we eat! But beyond those global concerns, being able to produce your own honey and beeswax is a huge boon. Most beekeepers hope to produce fresh honey for themselves, as gifts for friends, or even to sell at farmers markets. Beeswax, formed into honeycombs, can be used in candle-making or in homemade creams and lipsticks. Perfect for an Etsy seller or to sell in a booth at a local craft fair. Plus - if you’re a gardener, keeping bees will create better pollination for your flowering plants helping to produce the best looking yard you’ve ever had.
Before starting your own beekeeping operation, it is important to understand the responsibilities and requirements involved. First, it is important to educate yourself on the basics of beekeeping. This can include learning about the different types of bees, the life cycle of a bee colony, and the equipment and supplies needed to maintain a hive. Many local beekeeping organizations, extension offices, and local colleges offer classes and workshops on beekeeping, so finding a course in your area is a great place to start.
Next, like real estate, “location location location” is important for the setup of your hives. Bees need a protected area that is free from strong winds and direct sunlight. They also require a water source nearby. In addition, be aware that some cities and towns may have specific zoning laws, regulations, and restrictions on beekeeping.
Once you have the proper knowledge and location, you can purchase your bees and equipment. You can purchase a package of bees, which includes worker bees and a queen bee, or you can purchase a starter colony, which includes a queen bee, worker bees and a small amount of comb. You will also need to purchase equipment such as bee suits, veils, protective gloves, hive tools, and a smoker.
After your bees are installed in their new hive, it is important to regularly check on them to ensure they are healthy and producing honey. This includes monitoring for pests and diseases, checking for a healthy queen bee, and ensuring the hive has enough room for the bees to expand. It is also important to feed your bees during times when nectar and pollen are scarce.
Below are the 10 most common things to be aware of as an amateur BeeKeeper:
1. Safety precautions: Always wear protective gear, such as a bee suit and veil, when handling bees.
2. Hive location: Choose a location for your hives that is protected from strong winds and direct sunlight.
3. Hive maintenance: Regularly check your hives for pests, disease, and proper honey production.
4. Swarm prevention: Monitor your hives for signs of swarming and take steps to prevent it.
5. Queen management: Regularly check for and replace a failing queen bee.
6. Feeding: Provide your bees with a source of food, such as sugar water or pollen, especially in the winter months.
7. Varroa mite control: Regularly check for and treat for Varroa mites, which can harm or kill your bees.
8. Weather considerations: Be aware of the weather and how it may affect your bees and their ability to forage.
9. Legal considerations: Familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations regarding beekeeping.
10. Education: Continuously educate yourself on beekeeping best practices and new developments in the field.
Ready to take the plunge? The first and most important item to purchase is, of course, a hive. While there are several different varieties to choose from, the most common in North America is the Langstroth hive. It’s the easiest to find, the easiest to maintain, and the easiest to find advice for when you’re searching the internet. After the hive comes the bees! Spring is really the best time to start your hive. Bees arrive in two different formats: bee packages or a nuc (pronounced “newk). A bee package is about 10,000 bees including a queen and a can of syrup for them to eat in transit. A nuc is a box of five pre-established frames to slide into your hive. These bees have been in the nuc for awhile so the queen will have already been accepted and there will already be comb created - it’s the easier of the two options.
Alright - so you’ve purchased your supplies and equipment and are ready to start your new hobby but you have a nagging question. How on earth are you going to keep your hive alive through the winter months, especially if you live in the midwest. Here’s the bad news. The first year is the hardest. Your hive is still figuring out what in the world is going on - so they are going to need all the help they can get. The good news? We’ve compiled a list of the best tips to follow, to minimize your winter worries after your hive is setup and thriving through the summer:
Your hive will have “queen excluders” that you will use during the warmer months. Remove them in the winter so the queen isn’t left behind.
If you have multiple colonies - combine the weaker ones to create one stronger unit.
Move your hive to a spot in the yard where it will get as much sun as possible.
Build a barrier to block your hive from the wind.
Slightly vent the roof. You want to prevent condensation that will refreeze and kill the bees.
Switch to a smaller door into the hive.
Reduce the size of their habitat so the bees have less space to heat with their bodies.
Get a hive cover and secure it tightly.
Feed your bees (we hope you already knew about this part).
Finally, the last and perhaps most important tip for keeping your bees alive all winter? Leave them alone. Seriously. Bees have been doing their thing for a lot longer than you’ve been worrying about winter hive maintenance. If you give them the right tools for success - they’ll take care of the rest.
So whether you’re looking to embark on your first journey into the world of beekeeping, or you’re hoping to make sure your existing bees can make it through another midwestern winter - now you’ve got the necessary knowledge to manage your colony both through the summer months and the winter months.
For more information on the rewarding hobby of beekeeping, the supplies and equipment needed to start and for additional education and resources please contact the American Beekeeping Federation at 518-694-9793.
For more information about Beehive Botanicals’ bee propolis, bee pollen, and royal jelly retail products please visit www.beehivebotanicals.com or give us a call at 800-223-4483.