If you’re thinking of keeping honey bees as a hobby or even as a business venture, there are some factors to consider before you make a decision. Knowing how to start with beekeeping will help you avoid wasting time, energy and resources down the line.
Your first consideration would be to ascertain if there are any laws or ordinances prohibiting the keeping of bees in your area. Will your location be conducive to the maintaining of bees? Will your bees have a place to fly to in order to retrieve nectar and pollen? How many months of the year will pollen and nectar be available to them?
Bees need water every day. They will collect water from the nearest water source. Is there a shallow water supply available to them year-round? Will you need to feed them in order for them to survive and, if so, for how many months of the year will you need to do that?
You will want the hives to be accessible year-round. Locating them in low-lying spots would not be a good idea because they would be exposed to cold, damp air too long. You’ll also want to avoid placing them too high because that would make it too windy. These are just a few points to consider before you make your final decision on keeping honey bees.
Setting up your honey bee establishment is going to involve some initial expense; however, imagine how exciting it would be to harvest your first backyard honey! As any nutritionist will tell you, honey is an amazing raw food.
Bee Protection Clothing
Beekeeping Tools and Equipment
We can’t talk about how to start with beekeeping without mentioning the all-important equipment. You might even be able to find a bee hive sale on Amazon! For a complete hive setup, these items should be enough to start with:
- A bottom board
- An inner cover
- A metal-covered top
- 2 standard 10-frame hive bodies
- 1 queen excluder
- 2 shallow 10-frame supers with frames
- A brush and scratcher
- A bee smoker
- A hive tool
- Protective clothing (mentioned above)
Now that we’ve sorted out the equipment and protective clothing for our new beekeeping venture, it’s time to learn the nitty-gritty of beekeeping!
How to Learn Beekeeping
Online Beekeeping Classes
If you are unable to attend a course physically, then online beekeeping courses are a viable option. Ideally, someone offering such a course would have had comprehensive experience in all aspects of beekeeping, especially organic beekeeping. On completion of such a program, the student should be able to confidently start his or her own treatment-free honey bee hive.
The Beekeeping 101 organic beekeeping course was created by second-generation beekeeper, Jacob Wustner, who operates a successful apiary in Montana. Teaching from a permaculture perspective, he takes a holistic approach to beekeeping that considers the natural ecology of bees. It’s easy to understand why his techniques are bee-friendly and bee-centered.
His course covers all aspects of beekeeping, from basic honey bee physiology to extracting honey and preparation of your hive for winter. You’ll learn about different kinds of honey bee, bloom and brood cycles, hive site placement, raising a Queen and lots more. You’ll see why he feeds only honey and pollen, why you should use locally-adapted stock and how to mimic Nature’s patterns.
Here’s a sneak peek at some of the lessons covered:
- Bee Terminology and Physiology
- Equipment (lesson 4),
- Site selection, organic beekeeping (lesson 6)
- Hands-on in the hive!
- Raising a queen (lesson 14)
- Hive diseases and treatments (lesson 19)
- Bear fencing
- Extracting honey, bottling honey (lessons 24, 28, 29)
- Feeding, insulating for winter (lesson 31)
- Small-cell beekeeping (lesson 37)
- Surprise bonus! (lesson 40)
In all, Beekeeping 101 comprises 40 video lessons.
What students are saying about this course:
NOTE: If you don’t want to stream the videos online, you can have all the videos and other lesson materials on a thumb drive shipped to your door >> Click here.