Thanks to recent research about the declining bee population worldwide, people have become more knowledgeable about the importance of honey bees.
Bees are an essential part of multiple ecosystems; experts believe their numbers will continue to decrease over the next few decades if nothing is done. This could negatively impact many aspects of everyday life that humans have taken for granted.
This increased awareness has led to a renewed interest in beekeeping. If you are intrigued by commercial beekeeping, Dadant & Sons encourages you to pursue it. Not only can it save the bees, but it can be a rewarding new business venture.
Where is a beekeeper to start?
Many beginning beekeepers don’t know where to start when taking the first step since there are so many unknowns. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. We have created this handy guide to help beginning beekeepers understand the steps they must take when starting their adventure.
Remember these tips as you enter the world of beekeeping. They will help you get off the ground in a cost-effective and timely manner.
You’ll have a recipe for disaster on your hands if you try to start a beekeeping journey without doing intensive research. This can be overwhelming, but as bees are complicated and unique insects, it is necessary.
Beekeeping equipment and space
You’ll want to know what gear and equipment you’ll need before even purchasing your bees (see later section for more info). You’ll also want to measure the space where you will be keeping your bees.
What type of bees to select?
The type of bees you’ll select is important depending on your climate, space, and preferred style of beekeeping. Some honey bees don’t do as well in certain environments as others, so it is critical to understand the difference.
At Dadant & Sons, we personally prefer the Italian bees. They’re the most popular type, they’re awesome for beginners because they’re gentle and don’t swarm, and they have long brood cycles and high honey production.
If you’re in a western state, we can ship you your new bees. (Don’t worry; we also send bees to the eastern states.)
Local beekeeping laws
Your last important piece of research is to learn about the apiary laws based on your location. Informing local businesses or neighbors about your plan will help keep them on your side and will protect your hive from destruction.
How many bees to start with?
First, you’ll need to decide how many bees you want. Some beginning beekeepers think they need to have hundreds of bees maintaining their colony in order to be a beekeeper.
This is not true! Your apiary, which is another name for a bee farm, can be as big or small as you choose. We’ve found that starting with a simple hive and building your way up leads to success.
Appropriate apiary space
After considering the size of your bee population, you’ll need to create a well-thought-out plan for your apiary space.
As a general rule, you need sufficient space for the actual beehive (minimum 16 by 22 inches) plus 5 feet at least of open space in all directions around it.
When you expand to a multiple beehive operation, each beehive should be separated by an additional three feet.
After you set the space aside, you can start planning your apiary. Whether you purchase Italian bees or another species, you’ll need to research the type of environment they best thrive in and their unique respective characteristics.
We suggest reading First Lessons in Beekeeping, based on our own Charles P. Dadant’s original edition, which has been the beginning beekeeper’s first choice for over ninety years. It provides crucial information about certain bees, the climates where they can live, and other helpful tips.
If you have plans to expand your operation in the future, you’ll need to plan for more space and hives, so that is something to consider when mapping out your apiary.
If you are beekeeping to help the environment or learn a new skill, you won’t need too much to start. One hive, which has around 10,000 bees and one queen, should do the trick.
Get your first kit
Once you plan the area around the apiary, including what flowers and nectar sources you need to maintain your bees’ health, you’re ready to purchase your first kit.
Most beginners starting a small operation purchase a fully assembled 10-frame starter kit to help them on their journey. People who like to learn as they go might choose to assemble their own 10-frame starter kit.
Purchase the Rest of Your Equipment
Once you plan out your apiary and purchase your starter kit, you’re ready to get the rest of what you need.
- Hive boxes. Though they are more expensive, Dadant & Sons’ wooden hive boxes are preferred over plastic ones. They have better moisture resistance and are more durable.
- Top Covers and Bottom Boards. This is necessary to cover your beehive boxes. The cover and board size depend based on the box you choose, so be sure to know the measurements. Use one with an aluminum top cover because it keeps your bees safe from weather conditions and predators.
- Safety Equipment. Safety equipment is the most important gear you can buy when it comes to beekeeping. Though bees are usually docile, novice beekeepers have been known to agitate them when moving their hives. You’ll want a vented suit, a veil, gloves, and a helmet. This might add to your cost, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Prepare your brand name and connect with the local community
Creating a brand and logo can be enjoyable even if you don’t plan on making any money from your beekeeping. You’ll want to choose something that is unique, easy to remember, and rolls off the tongue. Using a free name generator is a simple way to come up with your apiary name!
If you want a logo, it doesn’t need to be anything fancy; just create something from the heart or outsource it. Having a brand name and logo helps to connect you with the beekeeping community. This keeps you invested in your hobby and helps make friends with similar interests.
Perusing our monthly beekeeping journal is another great way to stay in touch with bee lovers like yourself. It has provided beekeepers with thoughtful articles, market information, industry news, and more for over 100 years!
Contact Dadant & Sons, your local beekeeping experts, for more hot tips
No matter how you decide to start your beekeeping journey, you’ll want to be sure to give your bees the best feed supplies to keep them healthy and happy.
As always, feel free to contact us with questions or concerns about the care of your bees. Our mission is an enjoyable beekeeping experience for you!