So you think you’d like to become a beekeeper. Many people have ventured into this exciting and fascinating hobby. It doesn’t take much outside of a small amount of hardware and a love for bees. If you’ve decided to start your own hive one of the best first steps to learning how to start beekeeping is to understand some of the basic terminology of beekeeping.
What follows are some definitions of the most basic of beekeeping terminology:
Hive or Beehive – In this instance, when we refer to a beehive, we’re talking about a manmade structure. A beehive is generally a box or some other receptacle with moveable frames, that your colony of bees will live in, reproduce, and produce honey.
Bee space – This is a space large enough to allow bees free passage, but yet still too small to encourage the bees to build a comb within that space.
Bee suit – A bee suit usually consists of a pair of coveralls (you’ve probably seen them before), which will protect bee keepers from stings. A bee suit also usually includes a hat with a cloth or wire netted veil.
Bee Colony – A colony means a society of all the different types of bees that make up a healthy colony – worker bees, drones, queen, and developing bees, or larvae.
Honey Extractor – A hand-cranked machine that removes honey from the cells of a comb.
Smoker – A device used to control aggressive behavior in bees. It is a metal container that looks a little like a watering pale that burns organic fuels to create smoke.
Again, this list of terms only scratches the surface. You should familiarize yourself with more terminology through reading and research.
There are two ways to get your first colony up and running. The easiest is to purchase an already working colony from a supplier. There are many agriculture sites that sell working colonies. With a little research you can also find a bee exchange where other beekeepers are willing to sell off some of their colonies.
The second is to purchase the hardware to construct your own beehive and then order the bees from a reputable bee supplier. Should you decide to build your own hive, there are some fantastic references that will guide you step by step. And building your own hive can be quite cost efficient. The hardware is relatively cheap and consists of basically some boards, nails, and glue. Probably the most expensive piece of equipment is the beekeeper suit. A beekeeper suit brand new will cost around 0, which will include the coveralls, the gloves, and the hat with a cloth netted veil.
Other than the initial set-up, beekeeping isn’t very labor intensive. Once your beehive is constructed and populated with bees, the colony will run itself. You’ll need to check your bees at least once a week to make sure they’re healthy and that there is no damage to the hive.
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