Beekeepers can be divided into two distinct groups. For some it is just a hobby, while for others it is a full time business. Both parties still really need to practice proper caution when performing this activity. Both will typically need to know the exact same amount of knowledge when it comes to regular maintenance of their bees. While some are dedicated to it as a business, this does not mean that they won’t or can’t enjoy what they are doing.
What do those who are new need to know?
Know the laws.
A license may be required in some states to legally proceed, and a minority of states have outlawed the practice as a hobby. This is becoming less common, with major areas such as New York City recently overturning this ban, but check your local by laws just in case.
Tell your neighbors.
Not everyone is educated with all of the habits of bees, and some may not have an appreciation for the important role they play in our ecosystem. Bees in general just want to do their work. They can continue to work in the presence of humans, but sometimes the humans feel overwhelmed. When a person makes a strike toward the bee, the bee may sting back.
It’s a good idea to have a chat with your neighbors on the benefits they will ultimately provide and give them some tips on how to keep visits from the bees reserved to areas they are comfortable with. It doesn’t hurt to offer an occasional honey jar gift to keep them happy.
When you don’t really know what you are doing, bees can be dangerous to handle. Wear the full bee suit and protective gear. Don’t chance things by showing up in a rush to your hive armed only with a veil and gloves. And get the right kind of gear. There are gloves on the market that are for the specific purpose of handling bees. There are bee suits that are thicker and more protective than others.
Get the best quality you can afford as ultimately this is your first defense against the insects should unforeseen trouble arise. Even with all your gear you can still get stung – but the best gear will keep this to an absolute minimum.
There is more than just one type of honey bee. Get the wrong one and you could wind up going out of business before you even get started. Some will provide more honey than others and some will thrive better in certain climates. If you are not sure where to get them, you can check out some commercial bee farms. These farms will send you some bees in a nuc box (nuc short for nucleus). A simple starter nuc box may contain a queen with 10,000 working bees.
Choosing the right hive is important as well. Top bar beehives and standard Langstroth beehives both perform differently and can offer different results on what is harvested from the hive.
For example, a top bar hive will produce some honey, but will also produce a great amount of wax. While some may not really want the extra wax, their budget may only allow them enough for this type of hive. It can be a mess trying to change your arrangement later, so take the time to decide which type you will want for the long haul.
As they say, garbage in – garbage out. Gather the best information, supplies, and bees. Put some love and care into the mix and you are sure to have a wealth of honey come harvest time.
Val Wilson is passionate about all things beekeeping! It is an incredibly rewarding hobby in so many ways, so if you would like more information about how to start beekeeping, and produce your own honey, go to www.bestbeekeeping.com and sign up for the FREE 7 day beekeeping ecourse.
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