Getting Started

Congratulations on your interest in the hobby of beekeeping. We are certain you will find beekeeping an enjoyable and rewarding hobby that can be shared by young and older alike. Not only will you receive the obvious reward of a naturally sweet honey crop, but also the little known benefits to the backyard garden.

Common garden plants such as melons, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, blueberries, raspberries and most fruit trees including apple and pear require insect pollination to set fruit. The honeybee is the most efficient insect pollinator. Bees visit these flowers to obtain pollen, the sole source of protein in the honeybee diet. Multiple visits to a flower increase the size of the fruit, the number of seeds, and the consistency in the shape of the fruit. The seeds inside a fruit produce the sugar that makes the fruit sweet; therefore, the greater the number of pollinated seeds, the sweeter the fruit.

For the beginning beekeeper, we suggest taking a class on beekeeping. These can generally be found by contacting the entomology (study of insects) department at your local university, you can also check with your local department of agriculture. These classes will teach you all the basics of beekeeping in your area and help you get familiar with the terms and equipment used in keeping bees. Join a local beekeeping club or organization. Click here for a rather long list of some regional clubs and ways to contact them. If there isn't a club listed there or in your phone book, give us call and we will do our best to locate that information for you. Generally, these clubs will hold meetings once a month to discuss beekeeping and they are usually very eager to have new members. While you are at the meetings find a mentor, a person who has some experience keeping bees who is willing to help you get started.You will find beekeepers eager to share their knowledge of this great hobby! Subscribe to an industry magazine, we recommend the Bee Culture magazine published by AI Root Co. This magazine is informative and easy to read. Subscription information can be obtained clicking here.

It is best to order your equipment in the fall for use in the following spring. This will give you time to paint the woodenware and familiarize yourself with each piece and it's purpose. Order your bees early to ensure availability. Generally bees are mailed to you from the supplier in the early spring, call in the fall to put in your reservation. For the names of package bee suppliers click here or call our customer service department at 800-880-7694 or consult your Bee Culture magazine. Please feel free to call our knowledgeable sales staff at any time with questions regarding bees and equipment. Good luck and have fun with your new adventure in beekeeping!

How to Install your Package Bees

You have bees coming... Now what? Here is a great video by Jim Kloek that will teach you how to install your new bees and queen into your hive.

Checking for Queen Acceptance

Now that you have installed your new queen and bees, you will want to check to see she has been accepted. Jim Kloek shows what evidence to look for even if you do not see the queen.

Beekeeping Glossary

H:

HAY FEVER:

An allergic condition that afflicts many people; caused by various plant particles, airborne fungal spores or pollen.

HIVE:

A manmade home for bees including a bottom board, hive bodies, frames enclosing honey combs, and covers.

HIVE BODY:

A wooden box containing frames.

HIVE STAND:

A structure serving as a base support for a beehive; it helps in extending the life of the bottom board by keeping it off damp ground.

HIVE STAPLES:

Large C-shaped metal nails, hammered into the wooden hive parts to secure bottom to supers, and supers to super before moving a colony.

HIVE TOOL:

A flat metal device with a curved scraping surface at one end and a flat blade at the other; used to open hives, pry apart and scrape frames.

HOFFMAN SELF-SPACING FRAME:

Frames that have the end bars wider at the top than the bottom to provide the proper spacing when frames are placed in the hive.

HONEY COLOR:

Measured by a Pfund grader, honey colors are classified between water white to white, to amber to dark amber (7 gradations).

HONEY FLOW:

A time when enough nectar-bearing plants are blooming such that bees can store a surplus of honey.

HONEY GATE:

A faucet used for removing honey from tanks and other storage receptacles.

HONEY HOUSE:

A building used for activities such as honey extraction, packaging and storage.

HONEY PLANTS:

Plants whose flower (or other parts) yields enough nectar to produce a surplus of honey; examples are asters, basswood, citrus, eucalyptus, goldenrod and tupelo.

HONEY SAC:

Also called honey stomach, an enlargement at the posterior (back) end of a bees' esophagus but lying in the front part of the abdomen, capable of expanding when full of liquid such as nectar or water.

HONEY SUPERS:

Refers to hive bodies used for honey production.

HONEYBEE:

The common name for Apis mellifera (Honey bearer), a highly social insect, Order Hymenoptera (membranous wings); correctly printed as two words.

HONEYDEW:

An excreted material from insects in the order Homoptera (aphids) which feed on plant sap; since it contains almost 90% sugar, it is collected by bees and stored as honeydew honey.

HORNETS and YELLOW JACKETS:

Social insects belonging to the family Vespidae. Nest in paper or foliage material, with only an overwintering queen. Fairly aggressive, and carnivorous, but generally beneficial, they can be a nuisance to man. Hornets and Yellow Jackets are often confused with Wasps and Honey Bees. Wasps are related to Hornets and Yellow Jackets, the most common of which are the paper wasps which nest in small exposed paper combs, suspended by a single support. Hornets, Yellow Jackets and Wasps are easy to distinguish by their larger size, shiny hairless body, and aggressiveness. Honey Bees are generally smaller, fuzzy brown or tan, and basically docile in nature.

HYPERSENSITIVE:

A condition in which reactions to any environmental stimulus are life-threatening; such as honey bee venom.