The most commonly kept species of bees is the European honeybee (Apismellifera). This is just one out of the 20,000 bee species known to humankind. In North America alone, there are 4,400 species of bees.
They include solitary tunnel nesting bees, social bumblebees, and ground-nesting bee colonies. Honeybees, unlike other insects, store food in excess. They are preferred worldwide for their honey and wax. Bees also pollinate plants, making them an essential part of the agricultural system.
Humans have kept bees for centuries. The Europeans introduced beekeeping in America in the late 1600s. Since then, the value of honeybees has increased because many industries use bee products to manufacture various commodities. To understand how to start beekeeping, you need to learn about beehives, honeybees, and beekeeping tasks. You also need to know the right clothing, equipment, and supplies to use when managing your bees.
What is Beekeeping?
Beekeeping, also known as apiculture, is the practice of maintaining honeybee colonies for honey, wax, or any other desirable objective. Reasons for keeping bees include:
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To Bee, a Beekeeper or Not to Bee?
Every apiarist has a special reason for practicing apiculture. It's up to you to find a source of inspiration for your beekeeping endeavor. Some of the reasons why you should get into beekeeping are:
We can't go without mentioning the aspect of making some cash on the side. A beekeeper can enjoy selling their honey for money. Also, beeswax can bring in some reasonable income for commercial beekeepers.
The financial benefits of this practice are attractive. However, the dough shouldn't be your main source of inspiration or motivation. If you're looking to get into long-term beekeeping, you can start it as a hobby and grow it gradually into a full business that can pay most of your bills.
Learning and practicing apiculture has the potential to reward you in multiple ways. That said, let's get into how you can start keeping bees today.
How to Start Beekeeping
There's no location or age limit when thinking about how to start Beekeeping. Both the old and young can experiment with keeping honeybees.
You can indulge in beekeeping regardless of whether you're in the suburbs or a remote rural area. Since the practice isn't very demanding, busy people can also do it. Bees can survive in a wide variety of climates. Therefore, there's a high probability that they can live wherever you are.
In short, beekeeping is available to all people all over the world. But firstly, you need to educate yourself to understand your new venture.
There are some misconceptions about apiculture. Some people think that all they need to make honey is put a few bees into a box. But the truth is that beekeeping requires some effort and knowledge. You have to be dedicated if you want to get high-quality honey. It is interesting to learn about the way honeybees live.
Here's a simple guide on how to start beekeeping.
Study About Bees
Inside a bee colony, you'll find a queen, drones, and worker bees. The queen lays all the eggs for the colony. She also decides whether the eggs hatch into workers or drones. Drones come from unfertilized eggs while workers hatch from fertilized eggs.
Worker bees are female and sterile. Their work is to feed the young ones, produce honey and wax, clean the hive, and protect the colony from intruders. Drones are male. Their sole purpose is to mate with virgin queens from other colonies.
There are loads of resources that discuss beekeeping. Read several books to learn about these amazing insects. The information will help you start your beehive in the right way. Be sure to learn about the most preferred honeybee species for apiculture.
There's no harm in absorbing plenty of relevant information, but you should be able to implement it. Note down important points that will serve as a quick point of reference when you start keeping bees.
Understand How Bees Make Honey
Before you begin shopping for supplies, make sure you understand what bees do and how a hive works.
Bees make their nests in nature. They scout for locations to build their colonies. To make honey, they fly to flowers and suck nectar, bring the nectar back to the comb inside the hive, and mix it with the enzymes in their gut.
Network With the Members of Your Local Beekeeping Organization
Beekeeping comes with details that are specific to some areas. To be a successful beekeeper, you need to get local resources. For instance, you need to find someone to help you locate your queen or check your hive.
Find your local beekeeper's association and reach out to them for information and anything else you deem necessary to your beekeeping journey. Also, find time to attend meetings. Some organizations provide mentors that can help you during your first season.
Learn How to Build Your Hive
You need a beehive to keep your honeybees. Wild bees prefer to live in sheltered places or hollow tree trunks. As a beekeeper, you need to set up an artificial hive. Your bees will lay pupae, maintain their colony, and make honey.
When it comes to hives, there are numerous choices for both large-scale and backyard beekeepers. The most common types of beehives include the Top Bar and Langstroth hives.
If you don't have the time to build a hive, you can always buy one. Look for a reputable vendor and provide them with the details of your desired hive. Pick a design that provides comfort to bees and allows you to harvest honey with relative ease.
Understand Beekeeping Tasks
Every apiarist should learn how to take care of bees. Beekeeping tasks vary from season to season. The best time to install a hive is in the spring. Honeybees find it easy to build colonies during this season. They lay brood, increase their population, and store lots of honey before winter.
Your job as a beekeeper is to observe and assess your hive. Don't disturb your bees because you could risk stressing the queen. When worker bees sense that their queen is stressed or unhappy, they can leave your hive in search of a better home.
Choose a Location
Be cautious when selecting a suitable place for your bees. Your apiary should be partially shaded. It should also be sheltered from winds. Avoid damp areas.
Gather Your Beekeeping Supplies
Learn about the necessary supplies for apiculture. Start small and make adjustments as you begin to familiarize yourself with the practice. You can order some of the supplies online. For some items, you may want to walk into a store and purchase them in person.
Get Your Honey Bees
After getting enough beekeeping knowledge and gathering your supplies, order your bees. The honeybee options available include a “nuc colony” and “package bees.” A nuc colony will give your hive a head start as it is a more established set than package bees.
Beekeeping is not only a source of revenue but also a learning opportunity. You need to keep gathering information to achieve desirable results. Keep in mind that you're joining an ever-growing subculture that is still misunderstood by many people in the beekeeping industry.
Stay motivated even when you’re ridiculed for picking certain hive designs. Focus on treating your bees in the right manner and learn from the challenges that come with the practice. Joining a beekeeping organization will help you grow as a beekeeper as well as network with other apiarists in your location.
Learn about effective methods of artificial hive. There are several resources containing quite useful beekeeping tips. Try out different things to find ones that work in your favor. For instance, you can change your hive to see whether you can increase the productivity of your bees.
In beekeeping, there's a lot learn. You're more than likely going to enjoy the practice if you adopt it with the aim of learning. For more tips on how to start beekeeping, be sure to watch online videos and read a variety of bee-related content on reliable platforms like Pinterest.