Honey bees are strangely addictive. As soon as you start learning about them, you want to know more. You read blogs and visit apiaries—and before you know it, you’re on the Internet researching what it would take to become a beekeeper yourself. You’re not alone. Many people get caught up in the buzz about beekeeping and decide to try it themselves. However, there are a few things you need to know before you begin this new hobby. From equipping yourself with all the right resources to connecting with your fellow bee enthusiasts, here are seven tips for getting started with beekeeping.
Learn Everything You Can
The first step to any new project is research. There’s always something new to learn about honey bees. Educate yourself on the basics of the life of a honey bee. How do they make honey? What role does each bee play in the colony? The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be to take on any complications or circumstances that arise. For example, if you know how honey bees survive the winter, you’ll be able to take the proper precautions to protect the hive when the weather gets cold. Fortunately, plenty of resources are available to teach you more about honey bees and how to care for them. You can take classes, learn from an experienced beekeeper in your community, or read more from online sources. Mann Lake is full of information and resources that will help you start your beekeeping journey on the right foot.
Get to Know the Community
The beekeeping community is one of the best resources for a new beekeeper. Find other beekeepers in your community and connect with them to learn more about their own experiences and gain some insider knowledge. This can be a great help when you’re just starting out—every new situation will cause you to have a dozen more questions. However, this kind of connection and comradery will remain beneficial throughout your beekeeping career. This is why there are plenty of beekeeping organizations and clubs throughout the country on local, state, and national scales. The more you get to know your fellow beekeepers, the more you’ll be able to share stories, advice, and experiences. Who knows—you might even make a few lifelong friends.
Talk to Your Neighbors
Many people are surprised at all the different places you can keep bees. Some beekeepers even work in their urban cities, keeping their beehives in rooftop or community gardens. However, just because your honey bees can adapt to many different environments doesn’t mean your neighbors will be happy to see them around. Lots of people view bees, wasps, and other stinging creatures as the same, which means they’ll be pretty apprehensive about their new buzzing neighbors. You can’t force anyone to like your honey bees, so a heads-up can go a long way. Before you purchase your bees, talk to your neighbors about them. Calmly explain that honey bees usually only sting when they feel threatened and that your hive will actually be good for the surrounding environment. You might even sweeten the deal by providing them with jars of honey at the end of the season.
Choose Your Location Carefully
Before your bees arrive, you must figure out where you want your hive. There are many factors to consider when you’re choosing your beehive location. You need to make sure your bees will have a safe water source nearby. Honey bees can travel a couple of miles from their hive to find pollen- and nectar-rich flowers, but it always helps to make sure there are bee-friendly gardens or sanctuaries close by. You should also take your region’s weather and seasons into account. If you get harsh winds, make sure you install your hives near a wind barrier. You should keep your own safety in mind when choosing a location, too. Place the hive somewhere you can easily access, preferably without having to haul your equipment for miles every time you want to collect honey or perform an inspection.
Get the Right Equipment
Make sure you have all the equipment you need before you purchase your bees. A soft-bristled bee brush, a smoker, and a hive tool are three of the most essential tools in a beekeepers’ toolbox. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to stock up on honey bee books and other educational resources, either. This is also the time to purchase any protective gear you need. A protective hat and veil are essential, even if you don’t wear other pieces of protective clothing—a sting to the eyes, nose, or mouth can hurt a lot! Many beekeepers eventually leave the full-body beekeeping suit, but it doesn’t hurt to have one when you’re starting out. You can also opt for a lighter beekeeper jacket and jeans. The most important thing is that you’re comfortable moving around your bees. If you’re nervous, they’ll notice and start getting agitated. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to have an extra set of protective clothing around for any visitors who might come to see your hives.
Try New Things and Make Mistakes
The beekeeping community is buzzing with different opinions about types of hives, pieces of equipment, the best beekeeping practices, and more. No matter what questions you ask, you’re likely to get multiple answers. A lot of the time, there is no right or wrong answer. The best answer depends on where you live, how your honey bees act, and other factors that only apply to you. This means that the best way to figure out what works best for you and your bees is to simply try it. You’ll inevitably make a few mistakes, but that’s just part of the journey.
There’s a reason you want to start beekeeping. Maybe you find honey bees fascinating. Maybe you want to help your local environment. Maybe you’re simply looking for a hobby that gets you outside and helps you connect with the natural world. No matter what your reasons are, keep them in mind as you learn and grow as a beekeeper. It’s not always going to be easy—there will be bad years, colony losses, or just hot summer days when you don’t want to make the trek out to your hives. If you remember the passion that brought you to beekeeping in the first place, getting through those bad days will be much easier.
Now that you’re equipped with all the best tips for getting started with beekeeping, it’s time to take the next step in your beekeeping career. Mann Lake is a valuable resource for beekeepers of all levels. We have honey bees, equipment, and beehive boxes for sale along with any other information and resources you’re looking for. Happy beekeeping!