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How to Keep Bees: A Guide to Beekeeping for Beginners

By Edited Oct 28, 2015 1 1

Learning how to keep bees has become increasingly popular. The idea of producing your own honey, and perhaps even sell your excess produce to friends and neighbors, has attracted many people to this fascinating hobby. Whether you live rural area or in a city, beekeeping is accessuble to all.

Things You Will Need

Bee hive
Bee suit
Smoker
Honeybees

Step 1

There are many different types of beehive available. In many ways it does not really matter which type you choose - different beekeepers have different preferences. The most common is the Langstroth, the main advantage of which is that it consists of several removable frames onto which the bees form their honeycomb. Whichever beehive you choose, it is better to choose one type and stick to it. The reason for this is that at some stage you may want to extend your beekeeping project to another hive and you may have a need swap frames etc between hives.

Step 2

One of the most recognizable piece of beekeeping equipment is the bee suit, the purpose of which is to prevent you being stung. It is important that you feel safe and secure with your bees so that you can truly enjoy your beekeeping. It is better to get a suit and veil rather than just a veil. The older style veils that have netting all around the back can cause problems when the netting folds inwards letting the occasional bee sting the back of your neck. It is better to purchase one that has a fabric back looking a bit like a fencing helmet.

Another essential piece of beekeeping equipment is the smoker. There are basically three different types to consider. The cheapest is tin plated steel, but you will find that after a couple of seasons it will really be past its best. Copper smokers are more resistant to corrosion but can get dented rather easily. Stainless steel smokers are the best, but a little more expensive.

The larger smokers will run longer without refuelling, but new beekeepers with only one or two hives a small smoker is sufficient.

Step 3

Whilst experienced beekeepers may be happy to make use of a passing swarm of honey bees, this is really not recommended for those new to the hobby. It is important to ensure that you obtain your bees from a reputable source to ensure that you have a healthy colony. There are a number of companies that specialize in beekeeping equipment and can supply a starter colony by mail order. Alternatively, you could see if there a beekeeping association in your local area who may have a member who can supply you with some bees.

Step 4

When keeping your bees you will find that your routine is governed by the seasons. Think of spring as the beginning of the beekeeping year and this is perhaps the best time to start your beekeeping project. During the summer months your bees will be busy collecting honey. Your main task will be keep a regular check on the hive to make sure that they have plenty of space in order to prevent swarming. Towards the end of the summer is the time to harvest your honey. This is a sticky and messy business, but definitely the most satisfying part of keeping bees.

As summer turns to fall, your bees will become less active and your main task will be to ensure that your hive is weather proof and will withstand the winter. Over the winter months you will need to keep checking the hives, filling any holes and ensure that the entry/exit is kept clear. You will need to supply your bees with sugar water to keep them going in the absence of their honey.
Beekeeping is a highly rewarding hobby which can be enjoyed by all and learning how to keep bees is not as difficult as you might think. It does not take a huge amount of time, but you do need to have a routine and stick to it. It helps to have a good guide to refer to help you with beekeeping endeavors.

Tips & Warnings

In some parts of the world beekeeping is illegal on domestic land, so make sure you check your local legislation. Other areas have no restrictions, while some regions require that you apply for license.
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Comments

Dec 12, 2009 8:38am
eileen
Interesting article. My husband is allergic to bees so we wont go near them on purpose.
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