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Beginner Beekeeping Tips

By Kristen Dee

Beekeeping is becoming a popular hobby thanks to global campaigns like Save the Bees. Bees pollinate one-third of the world’s crops and three-fourths of all flowering plants, making these critical critters important to keep around. However, the idea of beekeeping can often be intimidating, especially for beginners. We’ve rounded up the best advice for beginner beekeeping to help you get buzzing.

Bee startup costs are typically around $1,000. This includes buying protective gear, equipment such as a frame, queen clip, and smoker, and purchasing the bee colonies. 

Bee Prepared

  • Buy the necessary equipment including your hive, tools, and protective gear, and get everything set up before your bees arrive.
  • Budget for beekeeping – costs vary depending on a variety of factors. Startup costs typically range around $1,000.   
  • For protective gear, start with a beekeeping jacket, a bee veil, and gloves. A beekeeping suit is optional but recommended, as it protects the entire body. While infrequent, stings are inevitable for beekeepers. They can be prevented with the proper protective equipment and always handling bees gently.
  • Buying bees is usually the easiest, safest way to start an apiary. Do research to determine the best bee race for you. It is generally recommended that beginners start out with two established colonies from a local beekeeper.
  • Make sure to choose the right environment. Bees like morning sun and afternoon shade, and they need protection from the elements like wind or flooding. They can be kept almost anywhere that is close to flowering plants that produce nectar and pollen.
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Managing the Hive

  • Remember your queen bee is the most important bee in the hive, fertilizing and laying the colony’s eggs, averaging an egg per minute. Many bee farms offer packages of bees with pre-marked queens, which will help you identify her in the hive.
  • Keep your colony as healthy as possible. Make sure they are well-fed and hydrated, prepared for winter weather, safe from pests or predators, and monitored regularly for hive health.
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Other Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Many states require hives to be registered with the state – research to understand your state’s requirements and steps.
  • Understand bee behaviors during various seasons. In winter, bees huddle into a tight ball and the queen will lay eggs. The colony will grow and become crowded during spring, at which time they may split off in a process called “swarming.”
  • The amount of honey that bees produce depends on where they’re located. Each bee typically makes one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey during her life. A productive hive can make and store up to two pounds of honey a day. Do research on when and how to collect honey from the hive, and consider bringing an experienced beekeeper along with you the first few times.
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