Becoming a beekeeper ? YOU. Can you keep bees ?
YES you can.
At the time of year when the flu “bug” is racing across the country and winter storms pound the Northeast, many others are being “bitten” by a different kind of bug. The bee bug. Hundreds of new beekeepers will go forth this Spring into the fascinating world of beekeeping. The study of bee culture dates back to ancient times and volumes of books have been written on the subject.
If this is your first beekeeping adventure or you are returning to beekeeping after years of absence, keep a few things in mind. The internet is a wonderful resource of information. However, not all beekeeping books are well written or correct. Almost anyone can develop a website and that does not make them a beekeeping authority. Even if a certain approach works for someone in Nevada, you may not be as successful with those methods in South Carolina. You really need to find a local club, mentor or beekeeping supply to provide guidance on your journey.
Bees should be ordered in January, February and March for delivery in April and May. The earliest dates are sought after by experienced beekeepers and will sell out so don’t delay in placing an order. Beekeeping is filled with many “do-dads” and inventions that are fun to use but you don’t need all of them in the beginning. At the most basic, you will need a hat, veil, hive tool and smoker.
The smoker is used to mask the alarm pheromone that angry bees may release to rouse the hive into action. We have found that dry pine needles make a great fuel so try to find a place to keep a small box of them. At first, firing up the smoker can be a bit difficult but in time you will learn how to do this effectively. We want a smoker producing cool, white smoke – not grey/black hot smoke. Practice lighting your smoker before going to the bee yard and never go to the bee yard without one. It is much easier to keep the bees calm than to calm down a hive of angry bees. For other
protective gear, at the minimum you need a hat and veil to protect your face and eyes. You may choose to purchase a beekeeping jacket or full suit with or without gloves. Do not be ashamed to wear full gear in the beginning or throughout your beekeeping adventure. The most important thing is to feel calm and comfortable so you can enjoy the bees.
Where can I keep bees ?
In addition to preparing the hive, ordering bees and purchasing tools you need to consider the location for your hives. Bees can be kept in almost any location including rural pastures and city rooftops. You may need to check local regulations before purchasing your hives. Try to find a sunny location that is not too near your home or your neighbors home. Most colonies are peaceful if left alone but may be provoked if placed too near active areas.
One of your first decisions if you decide to keep bees is where should I put them ?
- Sunny location (not shade)
- not too close to human dwelling
- place them up off the ground – on a hive stand – cement blocks etc
- how far apart ? 24″ is a good number but they can be closer
These are the most important first steps in your plan to keep bees. Read, learn, observe.
It’s a bee-utiful adventure.