While gardening and caring for a menagerie are fine outdoor hobbies, if you’d like to expand your horizons, beekeeping makes for an ideal hobby. The benefits of eating honey straight from your backyard are numerous, and you also get great satisfaction from keeping your own colony – this is priceless. Additionally, the buzzy critters pollinate your plants, which helps them thrive in your flowerbed. There is a real win-win situation here. So, this article is going to be about Beekeeping For Beginners – a 101 lesson.
When it comes to successfully running your own hives for the first time, you’ll have a steep learning curve. A beekeeper’s suit, hat, and other gear are required for starting out. We’ll be putting a lot of Frequently Asked Questions at the end of this article. Please read the full article for complete insight.
What Are Honeybees?
There are only one species of bee kept in America, and it is Apis mellifera, the European honeybee. There are 20,000 species of bees known to exist worldwide, and they are just one of them. Four thousand different bee species live within the United States alone, including solitary ground-nesting bees, solitary tunnel nesting bees, and social bumblebee colonies.
There is only one insect that stores surplus food in excess of its needs. They were introduced to America in the late 1600s by Europeans due to their production of high-value commodities (honey and wax). As pollinators, honeybees have only grown in value in America as they have become one of the most important factors in the current agricultural system. Honeybee pollination services are required by 30 percent of the world’s most popular food crops.
There are three social classes of honeybees, each with its own set of responsibilities that divide the labor in the colony across its members
During a colony’s reproductive period, there will be a single female queen bee. There are two situations in which a queen leaves the hive: first, as a virgin queen to mate, and second, as a veteran queen leading a swarm. A queen can mate up to 80 drones at a time in the “drone congregation area” on her mating flights. In order to use all these sperm, she must store it for her lifetime, which can last up to 5 or 6 years.
Laying drones (unfertilized eggs) or workers (fertilized eggs), the queen will lay eggs for the entire colony.
Bee workers are all female and do most of the foraging, feeding, and cleaning of the hive, as well as honey and wax production, and defending it from threats. During the active season, worker bees do a wide variety of jobs that last 4-6 weeks. They must venture further from the hive as they age, which is more dangerous.
The colony consists of only female bees and drones. They only breed with virgin queens from other colonies in order to spread colony genetics. A successful bee dies once it mates. A drone that does not succeed returns to the hive to eat honey and pollen. The drones are evicted from the hive after swarm season is over since they drain the resources.
How Bees Make Honey?
The honeybee industry is said to be the most efficient in the world, except for mankind. Bees in a hive each have a role to play, which makes the whole process run smoothly.
There are two types of food that bees require. The flower’s nectar is a nourishing liquid that melts into a honey-like substance. Secondly, pollen is found in anthers of flowers. Their pollen also has different colors, just like flowers. The honeybee moved from the flower to the hive, so let’s see what transpired. Pollen and nectar are the only food sources for most bees. Upon sucking nectar from the flower, the bee stores it in her honey stomach, which then distributes it to honey-making bees in the hive. In order to convert nectar into energy for herself, she opens a valve in the nectar “sac”, which enables a portion of the payload to enter her stomach.
Flying bees are a marvel of nature. Her payload can be comparable to her own weight in nectar or pollen. When you consider that even the most advanced designs in aircraft can only take off with a load of one-quarter of their own weight, you will understand how much of a miracle the honeybee is. Honeybees return to the hive when they have full nectar sacs. It is passed from bee to bee mouth-to-mouth until it is reduced from around 70% to 20% moisture content, passing nectar to one of the indoor bees at a time. The nectar is transformed into honey in this way. Some nectar is stored in honeycomb cells at the same time as mouth-to-mouth feeding because 32.5°C temperatures inside the hive can cause evaporation.
As a final step, honey is stored in cells and capped with beeswax in preparation for new hive developments. Bee bread is made by mixing pollen with nectar and feeding it to larvae. When a bee community is to flourish, its babies must consume protein-rich food.
Do the bees comb, clean, and care for themselves before returning to the flower for more pollen? Because she wants to work more efficiently, not because she is vain. A bee will work endlessly to collect pollen, carry it back to the hive, clean herself, then return to seek out more pollen.
This is the most comprehensive video out there explaining the topic we just discussed. Make sure to check it out.
How To Get Started With Beekeeping?
Things You Must Consider In Your Beekeeping Journey
Taking care of beehives requires both knowledge and time.
During the warm months, you should conduct periodic inspections to make sure your queen is laying eggs, your workers are collecting enough honey, and your colony has enough space for expansion. In the winter, bee colonies form clusters and consume their honey stores, emerging only when temperatures rise above freezing. This is a time when inspections should be avoided to prevent releasing heat from the hive. A hive’s management style will depend on the climate, how the hive is constructed, and what kind of bees you have. The experiences of each beekeeper are unique and based on their own experience.
Beekeepers all get stung from time to time. It may happen that a bee gets caught in the folds of your clothing, goes unnoticed, and remains there. Generally speaking, honeybees do not sting, since their stings will cause them to die.
List of Beekeeping Equipment For Beginners
We have put together a list for someone who wants to start beekeeping right away, therefore, this is a pretty basic list of items that you must need.
A beehive is a nest where honeybees live. If you want to start your own hive, you will need to conduct some research first. There are many beehives available in the market like Langstroth Hive, Top Bar Hive, etc.
You are going to have to invest in your bee suit. If you are just starting out, you can buy cheaper suits.
As the name suggests, frames are rectangular pieces of wood that hang inside the hives like filing cabinets. These frames will be used by bees to build combs. They live here constantly preparing for winter, making honey, laying eggs, and raising broods.
The next step is to determine whether you want to buy just frames or whether you also want a plastic foundation. There is only one difference: When more foundation is used for the frames, the bees spend less time making honey, which results in more honey.
In order to successfully take on beekeeping, you should get a smoker. There is a reason for this since honey bees don’t mind the smoke.
Smoke will keep the bees away from you so you have a lower chance of getting stung if you start spraying smoke throughout the hive. The smoker in this picture is one we use frequently.
When you want to separate the queen for some time, a queen catcher is a handy piece of equipment. Taking apart your hives is a good example of this. When placing her in this catcher, sometimes it is easier to not lose her in the process.
The right gloves are a must-have and are extremely valuable. What would you do if you had to dig through a beehive without gloves? It would not be my choice.
It is therefore important to choose gloves that are made of sturdy material to withstand the brunt of the sting for you and that cover your arms so your skin is not exposed when you move around.
If you keep bees, you will eventually need a feeder. Some parts of the year are either blooming very slowly or things are awaiting blooming to begin. When this occurs, you will have to supplement the bees’ food supply. The process isn’t difficult, but it is time-consuming. It’s as simple as mixing equal parts water and sugar. Once the mixture has been incorporated into the feeder, place it there. Alternatively, you can open feed the bees by leaving a bucket of sugar water outside for them to drink.
In alternate cases, front entrance feeders or top feeders can be used. Using these feeders means that you won’t have to worry about other creatures stealing the food from your bees because they’re inside the hive.
Obviously, there are a lot of other tools and resources you will need. Please check out this article to know more about the most essential beekeeping tools.
Most Important Questions For Beginners About Beekeeping
When To Start The Hive?
Whether honeybees behave differently in different climates depends entirely on where they live. Depending on your local climate and geography, you will need to determine when to start a beehive. Find out how others have succeeded in beekeeping by reading widely and connecting with local beekeepers.
Starting a hive early in the spring is ideal for many places between the months of late March and early May. As temperatures rise, flowers will appear and provide nectar and pollen for your bees. To conduct all of your research and planning, you should do it in the autumn and winter.
Often you will not be able to start your beekeeping venture if you haven’t sourced bees by January or February, since the demand for beehives is on the upswing. When spring arrives, you will want your equipment ready and your beehive set up on your property so that you are completely prepared for their arrival. You should feel comfortable and versed in the task ahead!
When Should I Buy Bees?
Getting your bees before all the tools for beekeeping are ready might seem strange, but it’s crucial because most places don’t have bees available for purchase by the end of spring. When ordering bees in January, you can have them shipped or picked up in April or May.
It is a good idea to contact local beekeeping associations to find bees. Furthermore, you’ll have to decide whether package bees, nucs, catching swarms, or buying hives that are already established are best for you. The advantages and disadvantages of each are different.
How To Introduce Bees To The Hive
The fun part is about to begin! Set up your hive and get the bees settled in after they land. As soon as the bees move into the new hive, you need to introduce them safely and comfortably. Allow them to settle in and sit back while you observe their movements. That was a lot of fun!
How Much Money do I Need To Invest?
Repasky notes that a two-hive setup for the first year will cost you between $800 and $1,000, including the equipment and the bees. With proper care, you can even get a decade or more of use out of the hive woodenware (with protective gear). Only honeybees are expendable necessities.
Is There Any Reason My Whole Colony Will Die Out?
If you have ever tried raising bees before, it’s safe to say that your first attempt (or two) will be a failure. During the first few years, failure is prevalent, especially among newly hired employees. Be patient and dedicated to the process, but try not to get discouraged. Beekeeper error isn’t the only source of hive deaths; pests, particularly mites, can also do a lot of damage.
Learning is an integral part of being a beginner beekeeper. Stopping to learn is the wrong thing to do! As a natural beekeeper, you are a part of an evolving subculture of beekeeping that the rest of the beekeeping community is still trying to understand. Even the most ardent of traditional beekeepers are starting to adopt treatment-free, bee-friendly beekeeping practices, even if they are ridiculed or scoffed at.
Don’t be discouraged if your methods and philosophy do not fit into the local beekeeping club. Make your methods clear to them and you may succeed in winning them over. Although long-time beekeepers tend to overlook top bar and Warre beekeeping, there is much to learn from them.