Growing up, my father had a huge honey bee colony out behind our house. Though we weren’t allowed around it without proper gear, I loved to help my father with it when it could. And it was so much fun to collect the honey! Since I had grown up eating raw, unfiltered honey for a majority of my life, I was shocked to taste store-bought honey as an adult. After that, I knew immediately that I, like my Dad, would have my own hive out back someday! I’ve had my hive for around five years now, and I have loved every minute of it. In fact, I’ve recently begun teaching a small beekeeping for beginners class for my neighbors! If you’re interested in taking up the hobby, here’s a little run down of what I tell the students in my class. Keep reading below for more beekeeping for beginners!
What Kind Of Equipment Is Needed For Beekeeping?
To begin beekeeping, you first need to determine that you have the space available to do so. On average, a honey bee colony has around 30,000-50,000 honey bees, and they will continue to lay more eggs throughout the growing season. I recommend starting out with TWO colonies so you can get a sense of what is working and what isn’t. To accommodate these bees you’ll need the following equipment:
Woodenware: This contains the hive, the hive bottom, and a top cover. Learn how to make your own hive here.
Smoker: This is crucial because it calms the bees when in use. That way you can move around the hive as needed.
Hive Tool: Helps you to easily access the hive and move the frames around.
Bees: Obviously! Remember to order enough to fill your two colonies. It can be a bit of an expense, but it is worth it! Find them here.
What Season Is Best To Begin?
As with anything, there is a better time of year to begin beekeeping. I recommend ordering your equipment and bees in December or January, so that they arrive in April. April is the perfect time to start a hive because of all the new growth. When the bees arrive in April, build your hive and then feed them a combination of water and sugar for around four months. This helps them build the wax comb so that more eggs can be laid. Keep the bees productive all summer, and close up the hive in November.
Where Should I Build My Hive?
For the most productive bees, place the opening of your hives so that it faces either the South or East directions. Bees love to soak in the morning sun, so placing them in the East lets them warm up in comfort because there is plenty of afternoon shade. Make sure to place your hives in an area where there isn’t much foot traffic.