How to start a honey bee farm – 7 Easy Steps
Beehive set up
Hurray, you have decided to keep bees! Now you’re wondering how to start a honey bee farm, aren’t you? “What do I need to do first”, I hear you ask. Well, now that you’re ready to walk from initial curiosity through to the purchase and start-up of your beehive, all the way down the path to be a successful beekeeper, it’is important to have a plan for your beehive set-up. There are three vital stages to becoming a successful beekeeper
Preparation to become a beekeeper
Getting set up as a beekeeper
Keeping your beehive healthy
Starting your beehive
Here are the basic steps for beginner beekeepers to help you on your journey to starting your beehive successfully.
Step 1– Build or buy a beehive
Step 2– Ensure you’ve chosen the best location for your bee hive
Step 3– Decide where to buy your bees from
Step 4– Purchase protective clothing
Step 5– Order or purchase your bees
Step 6– Install your nuc or package bees into your hive
Step 7– Continue to learn as much as you can about beekeeping!
Apiary location – Where should beehives be placed?
Placing your beehive in the best location possible, is a whole article in itself – creating a honey bee habitat. These are the basic considerations to help you achieve prime apiary location when you start out:
- Ensure the entrance of your hive is facing to the east or south;
- Place your hive on a stand such as a table, small dresser, wooden or cement blocks. Bees are arboreal creatures, so the higher the better.
- Make sure you put your hive in a space where you will not need to pass by the front of it constantly. You want to avoid wandering through the bees’ flight path.
- Cover or shade your hive from the hottest sun of the day, either naturally by positioning near a tree or shade, or provide a cover such as the Patio Paradise Sun Shade Sail.
Where to buy bees?
So, now that you have successfully set up your beehive and chosen the prime location, it’s time to source your bees. This is considered the most important question for a new beekeeper, where do you buy your bees?
Hot tip – source local bees where possible!!
One way to get bees is to buy bees and a hive together. If you happen to know a beekeeper in your area, you might be able to persuade them to sell you some bees or you could be lucky enough to purchase an entire hive.
Another way to get bees is totally free! Get your name down on a local swarm list with your local fire and police departments. This is a list of beekeepers who volunteer to retrieve a swarm when one is reported at a home or business premises. Some pest control companies may also maintain a swam list.
But the best answer to the question of where to buy bees is to buy from an established and reputable supplier. As a beginning beekeeper, buying your bees from a reliable bee breeder means that you can be assured of disease-free bees that will also be shipped directly to your home. This method will mean you are able to buy bees with characteristics that are ideal for your local area as well.
How to buy bees
Now you know where to buy your bees but what about the ‘how’ of buying bees? With so many options, it can seem overwhelming. This is where a bit of ‘bee vocab’ comes in handy.
An important understanding to have is the difference between a nucleus (nuc) and a package hive. When ordering your bees, you can choose between a nucleus or nuc hive or a package hive. A nuc colony is a small colony of bees created from a larger colony. The term refers to both the smaller size box as well as the size of the colony inside. A package hive is a wooden frame box used to transport bees to a new hive. Package hives are sold by weight and will contain more bees than a nuc hive.
Buying a package hive means that in an instant, you will go from being bee free with no beekeeping experience to a thriving, full strength working hive…diving right in at the deep end!
The advantages of a nuc hive are that your hive will start small and continue to grow in strength and numbers as you also grow in your skills as a beekeeper. You will have the pleasure of watching your colony establish itself. A great tool to procure is the small but invaluable pocket guide that you can carry with you when you go and sit with your bees. Find a copy of At the Hive Entrance by H. Storch and you will always know the happenings inside your hive through observation on the outside.
Now that we’ve provided some helpful steps on how to start a honey bee farm, what are waiting for? Get started on your own bee farm.