Bee Keeping has always been a dream of ours. And we knew once we moved we wanted to get started on growing our hives as soon as possible! We are about to receive our first set of hives in the next few weeks and we are beyond excited.
Leading up to this new adventure, we have done a lot of work this winter to prepare ourselves. And I’m sharing what everyone person should think about before considering bee keeping, and what to do before receiving your hives.
Consider the Hive Location
Of course you can not bee keep with out a proper spot to place your hives. You want to make sure you have an open space that gets a good amount of sunshine in the day. You also want the hives to be distant from your house, neighbours or pretty much anything the bees might upset. Also consider enough space to build a fence around. You want to protect the hives from predators such as bears or smaller rodents. As well as protect children from entering if they are playing outside. Bees usually keep to themselves, but can be dangerous if they are disturbed. Be sure to also have enough space to plant a variety of different flowers and herbs to help the bees collect pollen and nectar easily. You don’t need a large garden to achieve this because bees can fly miles to get what they need, but it can be helpful for you hive to have fast access to what they need. Bees also need water, so place them near a water source or prepare to create one near their hives. There are many things to think of when choosing a hive location.
What kind of Bee Keeper do you want to be?
Are you wanting to just do this as a hobby? Or are you considering a business in Bee Keeping? This is important because it will help you determine the size of area you will need, your overall long term plan and overhead. It will also help you create your schedule. The Spring is when you will be spending most of your time with the Bees. Inspecting a few times a month and mixing sugar water for feeding. You harvest in the Summer time, and then you spend time in the Fall feeding them to prepare for Winter.
Prepare for Costs
Although bee keeping does not cost a lot of money all year round, it does upfront. Between the cost of the NUCs (small hives purchased from your local bee keeping centre) and the hive boxes and equipment. Most NUCs range from $150-$300 depending on the Bees and Queen you pick. You are looking at a couple of thousand dollars in total for the whole start up. I am also including material needed if you need to create a fenced area. Now you can reduce cost by catching swarms of Bee’s instead of buying them. And yes it can be done! Every Spring, many bees swarm looking for a hive. Setting up a trap can help you collect a new hive without having to buy one. It is tricky and a bit of work, so I suggest as a new Bee Keeper to buy a Nuc from a local bee centre or keeper. To also help reduce cost you can build your own hive boxes and purchase used bee equipment. And just know you need a smoker and a suit. They are a must have!
Start with more than one Hive
Many skilled Bee Keepers will tell you how important it is to start with two or more hives. Bees are amazing creatures that can help one another. So if one hive is lacking, the other hive may help support it. It’s also good to have the comparison. If one hive is doing well, and the other not so much. You can figure out why and use what you have learned from the successful hive and implement it into the lacking hive. Also if one hive loses its Queen, you can place a brood frame with young larvae into the queenless hive so they can raise their own.
Find a Mentor
Many things can happen to a hive in one year. Losing their queen, disease, parasites and other issues. You will have many questions throughout the year (I know we have!). Find someone who can help you along your journey, give you tips and advice. This will help you more than you know. I highly recommend joining a few Bee groups online or on Facebook to have easy access to information. You might even meet a few new bee keepers!
Learn about Bee Keeping
Take your time and do as much research as you can before getting your first Hives. Buy Bee Keeping books, watch YouTube videos, sign up for a workshop or go check out someone’s else hives. You want to prepare yourself for the first few weeks of owning a hive so you know what you’re actually doing. If not you could wake up one morning and all the Bees could be gone. We have actually taken the time to create our own bee Keeping binder with all over our notes.
Are you ready to start?
Now is the time to get started! Nothing will be more rewarding than harvesting honey and watching your garden around you flourish. And I love knowing that I will be helping the Bees and our environment.