Bees make an awesome addition to the farm or backyard. From pollinating flowers and crops, to providing raw golden honey for your family, you really can't go wrong!
Oh yeah, and did I mention wax? Wax can be used for making all sorts of things, including homemade candles!
So if you've decided to keep bees, this post will help you get started.
Do Your Research
Before you go out and drop a chunk of change on bees and beekeeping equipment, make sure you can keep bees in your area. If you live within the city limits, check with your municipal office for any special laws or regulations regarding beekeeping.
You may also want to pick up a couple books from the library on beekeeping, join a local beekeeping organization or watch one of the countless beekeeping videos on YouTube. Don the Fat Bee Man is a favorite of mine - he has loads of good information for both veteran and novice beekeepers.
Buy or Build Your Own Equipment
When I started beekeeping, I built most of my own equipment using free plans from Beesource.com. This saved me a boatload of money and I was able to start out with four hives instead of two. With a table saw, chop saw and basic woodworking knowledge, almost all components of a hive can be built at home.
For those of you who would rather buy parts, you can get them from reputable dealers such as Dadant. I've had the pleasure of working with this company, and they offer great customer service.
Find a Mentor
Before you jump into beekeeping, its a good idea to get some firsthand experience with a seasoned beekeeper. Most beekeepers are very kind people and would be willing to take you under their wing for a day or two in exchange for help in their bee yards. Local beekeeper association are a great resource for finding someone who can show you the ropes.
Purchase Local Nucleus Colonies
A nucleus colony, or "nuc", is a started colony which contains about 10,000 bees and a laying queen. I cannot stress how important it is to seek out a local bee breeder who sells nucs. The started colony will increase your chances of keeping the hive alive through year one.
Most bees are sold as packages and trucked across the country from places like California and Florida. Package bees are basically just a box full of bees, which must be introduced to the hive with a caged queen. Sometimes the bees do not accept the introduced queen and may swarm or raise a new queen, a process that can delay honey harvest and decrease chances of overwintering.
If you have any questions about beekeeping, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org