Follow Local Beekeeping Laws
Article by Howard Peterson
If you want to start beekeeping, you might be interested in where you should start – and how big your hobby could potentially get!
Hobbyists typically keep one to half a dozen hives, use standard techniques and routine feeding for their bees, and usually do not try to raise their own queens. Many people with limited operations and time to devote to it tend to lose a large percentage of their hives each year. There is a debate amongst beekeepers, especially hobbyists and small professional outfits, about using ‘treatments’ – basically chemicals designed to cure diseases and ward off parasites. However, some claim that the chemicals actually harm the insects more than help them. Beekeepers who forego treatments claim that the chemicals kill good bacteria that the bees need to survive, and that this is ultimately detrimental.
Most amatuers raise bees because they love doing it, and honey is their major reward. However, a certain number of hobbyists have large enough operations that they make some money. Sometimes a nice chunk of it. Honey sales, beeswax candles, etc. contribute to the amounts they earn.
As hobbyists increase their number of hives, the potential for making money also increases. Some people with a sideline income have dozens of hives.
Commercial beekeepers make the vast majority (if not the total amount) of their income from their bees. However, in order to be a commercial beekeeper, we are talking about someone with hundreds of hives. In fact, the commercial side of the industry is responsible for the pollination of the majority of crops raised in the United States. What is surprising to many people new to beekeeping is that this industry tends to be migratory – in other words, these beekeepers move their hives from place to place around the country to pollinate different crops as the crops begin to mature. Only grains like wheat and barley are not dependent on bees. Wheat and barley are wind-pollinated and don’t require insects. However, fruits and vegetables largely rely on bees in order to reproduce.
Anyone interested in beekeeping should always check out their local ordinances first. A fair number of localities do not have any laws about it at all, but the more heavily populated your neighborhood is, the more likely it is that there are rules governing the presence of beehives. This is not to discourage you, just to make you aware that you may need to apply for permits or to follow certain rules about the placement of hives on your property. One of the best things to do before you contact any state or local officials, however, is to contact local beekeeping clubs to find out about how the laws impact them, and the best way to go about complying with the laws.
About the Author
Howard Peterson loves bees. For more information on beekeeping, click on the link!