Beginner Beekeeping – Start Out Right
Beekeeping can be a wonderful and rewarding hobby and it can also become a very profitable business. In fact commercial beekeeping today is a multi-billion dollar industry. However, in order to get started properly, you need to learn as much as you can about honeybees and learn how to take care of the colony of bees you will manage. This is paramount to the success of your colony and you as a beekeeper. With that being said, you also must understand what equipment and tools you will need, where to get them and how to use them.
A great way to start your adventure would be to read a beginner’s guidebook as well as other books and magazines focused on the beginner beekeeper. You should join your local beekeeping association where you will be able to meet experienced local beekeepers obtaining plenty of information to supplement your knowledge as you progress. In addition, your local beekeepers association will usually offer beginner beekeeping courses as well as more advanced classes that you can attend for free as a member and periodically they may offer free seminars where the speakers will be experienced amateur beekeepers (or sideliners), commercial beekeepers or state agricultural inspectors. Often times a local university may even offer free classes or hold free seminars in conjunction with your state’s Dept. of Agriculture or the US Dept of Agriculture extension services usually open to the public.
Keeping bees is a very unique hobby, not like any other. It’s not like stamp or coin collecting because as a beekeeper you’ll be working with living creatures. Even though people call them domesticated, honeybees are actually wild insects. You simply manage their hive.. When you give them a clean dry home and supply them with the proper care and feeding then your colony of honeybees will thrive and will give you great satisfaction as a beekeeper. They will even reward you with a good harvest of honey.
Honeybees are very ‘social’ insects meaning they do not self-value themselves but rather work as part of a whole. Much like brain cells or a group of jellyfish. An average hive can have as many as 60,000 bees or more.Â All of the bees work together to build honeycomb, collect and store pollen, make honey, rear the young (brood) and defend the hive and queen.
Beekeepers utilize the honeybee’s natural instinct to collect pollen and nectar, which they then digest into honey that can be used or sold for profit.Â Removing the honeycomb from the hive can be challenging but it is important process that needs to be done at a certain time-frame. The honey left in the hive too long will turn the color of the honey darker and the bees will not have enough room to store more honey.Â The darker color does not affect the taste but most people prefer light colored honey. Not to harvest the honey too soon is equally as important.Â Harvested too soon the honey will contain too much water and could possibly spoil or ferment.
Bees are the best indicators of when the honey is ready to be harvested. You can tell when honey is ready to be harvested; the bees will seal or cap the cells with beeswax. The best time to harvest the honey is during a sunny day or in the morning when your bees are busy.
Experienced beekeepers obtain bees by buying an already established bee colony or collecting wild swarms or by buying packaged bees. It is recommended however, that beginners buy packaged bees from a reputable breeder or beekeeper.
Before you begin your beekeeping adventure make sure that your local government allows beekeeping in your area. The benefits of adding bees to an area are large but some local politicians still consider them a public safety issue.Â But in fact, without mellow honeybees dominating an area, larger and more aggressive insects like wasps and hornets will move in.Â Plus, as everyone knows, bees are the best things for the local plant life.Â So, as long as you, the beekeeper places your hives in areasÂ that are far away from houses and recreational areas, your experience with beekeeping will be very fulfilling to you.