And better yet, I haven’t killed my bees (yet) … last I saw them, they were still going strong. I’ll be swinging by the farm that they’re on right now soonish to check in on them. Probably will have to give them some sugar because they didn’t get enough stores in before winter started.
Anyhow, I’ve had a ton of questions about getting started, and I thought I’d briefly discuss my thoughts on how to start beekeeping.
First, Find Local Help
The first thing to do is figure out who keeps bees in your area already. You’re not necessarily after any old beekeeper, but you want to find a supplier, or someone who teaches classes. Bloggers are a good option here, and perhaps the best thing to do is contact your local Extension.
If you can find a class locally, take it. The one I took ran about $50 and was well worth the investment.
Now, Figure Out What Kind Of Bees You Want
Yeah, there’s several different kinds. The big three are Italians, Carniolans, and Russians. Ask the locals which types are usually used in your area, and make the call based on that. Don’t go crazy your first year getting some wierd hybrid nobody around uses.
After your first year, feel free to get crazy if you want.
Next, Order Your Stuff
I’ll go into this in more detail in another post, but you’ll want to start off with two hives for a variety of reasons. So go ahead and order your bees.
Rudy’s Note: Bees typically come in ‘packages’ that have different weights associated with them. You want a three pound package. Anything smaller isn’t enough, and more is overkill.
You should also consider a ‘Nuc’ which is basically a miniature hive. They have a number of benefits, and I’ll talk about that in a future post.
Make Sure You Have A Place For Them
Most of the time you can keep the bees in your own yard, but sometimes space or legal issues preclude that. This is actually the case for me, which sucks. So you’ll want to make sure you have a good spot for them.
You don’t need a ton of space, oddly enough, especially in the city. Tons of good forage for bees in the city or suburbs. As long as you can find a corner of your yard or garden to keep them, you’re good to go.
While You Wait, Read Everything Michael Bush Has Written
While you may choose to ignore some of it, you should read everything that he’s written. You can find his website here, at Bush Farms.
Michael is very much a natural or organic beekeeper, so if you’re going to use chemical treatments, you may skip some of his stuff, but the knowledge you’ll find there is incredible.
I’ll write more about the equipment you’ll need, as well as what to do when your bees get there, in a future post. But for now, I urge you to consider beekeeping.
Besides, if you ever had to rely on your garden for food in an emergency situation, you’ll be happy to have the extra yield that bees will give you … in some cases up to 300-400%!