Bee Cool: Learn How to Be a Beekeeper

Beekeeping experts share their insider tips.

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Being able to produce your own honey from backyard beehives is a wonderful idea but there are many things you need to know before you plunge into this new hobby. Bee experts Kurt Vollmer and Bill Owens offer some helpful suggestions for beginners.

Do Your Own Research

There are numerous books, websites and videos on the subject. You should also consider taking classes or seminars on beekeeping. Check with your local cooperative extension servicestate and national organizations on educational programs and resources in your area.

Visit a Local Beekeeper

Discover whether this hobby is what you expect before you make an investment of time and money. There are websites that list beekeepers in your area such as Bee Culture.

Restrictions and Licenses

This changes from state to state so some areas may not require any registration or licenses for beekeeping while others may actually prohibit it in your area. Check with your local city government. 

Fall is the Perfect Time to Begin

The first year your goal should be to establish the hive so you can start harvesting honey the second year. If you set up your hives before the winter, everything will be in place when the spring season arrives.

Chose Your Equipment

There are countless beekeeping supply companies listed on the Internet and most people purchase their equipment. But you can build your own bee hives.  If you do, make sure your follow instructions for creating the standard Langstroth design so that you can easily access the honeycomb. This is one of the reasons this prototype is so effective and used worldwide. 

Chose Your Location

An ideal location for your beehive is in an easily accessible area that is partially shaded, protected from the wind, close to a water source and well drained.

What are the advantages of having your own hives? Locally grown honey is good for you. It's an immunity booster and having bees will help pollinate all the blooming plants and flowers in the spring that produce vegetation and food for us. You can expect to harvest 50 to 200 pounds of honey from each hive a year!

Another advantage of having your own hives with local bees is that the bees will be less susceptible to the type of problems that threaten commercial bee operations. Chemicals and pesticides are responsible for causing a reduction in bee populations but local bees, raised without chemicals, are more stable because they are not traveling more than three miles from your location. 

The work involved in maintaining a beehive is fairly minimal once the hives are established. During the spring and summer seasons, you should check the hives weekly if you are harvesting the honey, which usually takes about ten minutes per hive to remove. During the fall season, you only need to check the hives once a month. In wintertime, you don't need to do anything at all. The bees will take care of themselves. 

If you are interested in knowing more about beekeeping, visit the Birds and Blooms website

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