Introduction to Beekeeping
Does the idea of having a beehive and beekeeping sound captivating? Is it your ultimate goal to help save the bees? Would it matter if the beehive and beekeeping project was a hobby, a backyard beehive, or a start-up apiary business?
Actually, the reason/s to start a beehive and beekeeping project does not matter. What matters is whether beekeeping and having a beehive is the right game plan for you.
It’s a huge job to help save the bees. However, small steps lead to big ones. Starting a backyard apiary (a collection of beehives) may seem like a small step, but the impact can be tremendous.
With this said, are you ready to become a beekeeper? This article will help you see if you are so read on.
The chicken or the egg question is the scenario most beginner beekeepers face. What comes first, the bees or the beehive? This introduction to beekeeping will show you the best way to start, from choosing the beehive to ordering the bees.
Ordering the bees
Ordering the bees before everything is set up may sound weird. However, ordering the bees before anything else is crucial. Why?
Most places won’t be able to sell you bees at the start, middle, and near the end of spring. The best time to place your order for bees is January with either April or May as your shipment or pickup dates.
What’s the best place to start scouting around for bees? The local beekeeping associations in your location are the obvious places to look for bees. Looking at their beehive and beekeeping setups can make you decide the type of project and bees you want and need.
You might decide to purchase an already-started beehive or purchase nucs, a swarm or package bees. All of them have their upsides and downsides.
Knowing more about them can help you decide on the best beehive or beekeeping method set up.
Here are two different types of beehives for you to consider:
The Langstroth Beehive system
The Langstroth Beehive system is the most popularly used method for beekeeping. The beehive is made of stacked boxes with frames on each to allow the bees to start their comb and store honey.
Accessing, harvesting, and maintaining the beehive simply means to pull out the boxes as you do with drawers. Adding more space to your beehive means vertically stacking another box on top.
- The Langstroth beehive is considered as the standard beehive and beekeeping system around the world
- Results in high honey production
- Considered as the standard “old-school” method with techniques perfected over the years
- Information and supplies are readily available
- Results in extra parts storage
- The heavy frames make it a bulky system
- Bees sometimes become sick because of the artificial size of the cells
- Smoking out the bees has to be done for beekeepers to work with them
- Hive disruptions frequently happen when work is being done to the beehive
The Top-bar Beehive system
Stacking the frames of the beehive horizontally spells the difference of the top-bar beehive system from the Langstroth. This method means that there is the absence of foundation when the bees start to make their comb. Each bar of the beehive is pulled from the top when it’s time to harvest, maintain or access the honey and comb.
- A natural comb shape and size is encouraged by the design
- Cheaper beehive system for beekeeping
- The lightweight bars make the task of harvesting and inspection easier
- Eliminates the need to smoke out the bees during work
- Great design for people with mobility problems or disabilities
- The beehive design can encourage improper comb forms that can break easily
- Local support for this kind of beekeeping may be hard to come by
- Improper beehive design can result in poor ventilation
Knowing these two beehive systems gives you the option to choose the perfect beekeeping method to go for. You can choose to purchase assembled beehives or build your own. Obviously, the best beehives for beginners are the assembled ones.
Assembled beehives have precise dimensions, spacers, hardware, and hive plans. This leaves out the guesswork as well as encourages the bees to assemble a straighter comb.
Beekeeping becomes a better experience when it’s started with an excellently crafted beehive.
Beekeeping supplies to have on hand
Investing in the proper supplies means better protection for you and your bees. The first and most crucial supply to start a beekeeping project is to choose the right beehive system. Other supplies such as protective clothing, feeding supplies, and beekeeping tools follow as soon as the beehive is in place.
Acquainting the bees to the chosen beehive system
Getting things rolling is the fun and exciting part of beekeeping. The arrival of your bees means it’s time to introduce them to the chosen beehive system. The queen is usually housed in a separate package.
The queen needs to be placed on the top box of the beehive before installing the rest of the swarm.
Expect bees to be flying all around you. The important thing is to make sure of the queen. If she is in the hive, the swarm will eventually find their way to the beehive.
All you need to do is to observe their comings and goings as they start to settle in. Mentally pat yourself in the back for you are now an official member of the beekeeping world.
Happy Bees are Healthy Bees
Optimum maintenance of the beehive along with good beekeeping methods results in happier and healthier bees. This does not mean that you need to invest a good chunk of your time to do this. It just means frequent checks and good observation.
Did you know that one great stress-buster is to watch the activities happening in the beehive?
Beekeeping tasks should be organized by the season. Spring is for harvesting and setting of the bees. Winter is for preparing the beehive to make it stalwart and comfortable for the bees.
Summer is a great time for bees and for beekeeping. This is the perfect season to leave the bees alone except to check on the beehive every now and then.
Is beekeeping for You?
Rewarding, fun, puzzling, and exciting are some of the words beekeeper experts and beginners use to describe their beekeeping experiences.
Beekeeping can also be a heartbreaking experience when something goes wrong. However, expert beekeepers believe that heartbreaks are part and parcel of the beekeeping industry. Mistakes happen even to the most experienced beekeepers.
Choosing the best beehive system is one way of starting things right. Reading up on the best beekeeping methods is another way of setting the bee project properly.
Whatever your choice of beekeeping methods and beehive system, the best thing earned and gained is the helping hand extended to the bees.
So what are you waiting for? Keeping bees is a great way to help out the bee population and great for the environment. You will have amazing and healthy honey at your fingertips and a sense of pride and accomplishment knowing you are doing your bit to save the bees.