Once considered a high-risk endeavor, backyard beekeeping has become a popular hobby for many. If you enjoy gardening, beekeeping is an excellent way to ensure your that plants are healthy and fruitful. In addition, having your own beehive is not only fascinating, but it will also produce your very own locally grown honey. Whether you've been researching beekeeping at home or you're new to the idea, there are a few important things to keep in mind before you begin. Saving these important pollinating insects is integral to the survival of environment, and by having your own backyard beehive, you can contribute to their overall numbers and contribution to the planet.
Why You Should Try Beekeeping
There are many beneficial reasons to try beekeeping aside from just being able to watch the bees come and go. When bees create a hive, they make wax that can be harvested later and used for many applications, including crafting candles and making all-natural cosmetic items like lip balm. Of course, bees also produce honey, meaning you can enjoy all-natural honey in desserts, coffee, or just eaten alone, all harvested from your own backyard. Bees are facing increasing threats from humans and territorial loss, but their survival is vital to the planet. Beekeeping is an excellent way to help maintain their population and well-being, allowing you to contribute to their survival. Bees are prolific pollinators, so your plants and flowers will flourish and remain healthy when the bees are around in the warmer months. And these types of backyard projects can be both educational and fun.
- The Economic Importance of Bees
- Beekeeping: Honeybee Planning and Benefits
- Basic Beekeeping Operations
- Bees in the Big City: Urban Hives
Saving the Bees
For decades, bees were some of the most feared insects on the planet due to their sting. A combination of overuse of harmful pesticides and the destruction of forests and other wild places has resulted in a decreasing number of bees. As a backyard beekeeper, you can help save these important insects and keep them alive. Bees pollinate a huge variety of plants, meaning that their survival is vital to other animals and birds who need those plants and flowers for food and shelter. Aside from beekeeping at home, you can also help save the bees by using organic pesticides, planting bee-friendly plants in your garden, and educating others about the many benefits of bees.
- Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees
- How Bees Benefit Other Living Things
- Would We Starve Without Bees?
- Bee Health and Stressors
How to Get Started
Becoming a backyard beekeeper is simple, but it's important to make sure that your outdoor space has the right conditions and that you have the proper tools in place before you begin. First and foremost, check with your locality to confirm that beekeeping is allowed. Some areas ban beekeeping, so ensure that you can have a hive at home and find out if you will need a permit. It's also necessary to make sure that you have a clear path for bees to enter and exit the hive where people and cars will not interfere. This is for the bees' safety and the safety of others. Next, create or purchase your hive and place it in a low-lying, flat area. Make sure that both sunlight and water will be accessible to the bees. Then, plant flowers that the bees can pollinate, which will keep them coming back to the hive and avoid using harmful pesticides.
- Beekeeping Tips for Beginners
- What Is a Beekeeper?
- Beekeeping Facts and History
- Beekeeping for Beginners (PDF)
Different Types of Bees and Different Types of Hives
Not all species of bees are the same, and each one may require a different type of hive. The species of bee you use for your projects most often depends on where you're located. In general, there are three main types of bees in any hive: drone bees, worker bees, and the queen bee. Each type plays a specific role in the survival of the hive. The most common species used in beekeeping are honeybees and bumblebees, both of which are popular choices for beekeeping projects. For man-made hives, there are three most commonly used formats: the Langstroth hive, which consists of a wooden enclosure, a top-bar hive, and a Warre hive. Each one is very similar but has a slightly different setup in terms of vertical or horizontal placement and how many slots are available to hold honeycombs.
- Honeybee Facts
- Races of Honeybees
- Bee House: What Kind Is Right for Your Bees?
- Bee Facts
- Bumblebee Nests
Equipment You Need
There are five important tools that every beekeeper needs in order to be safe as well as successful. The first thing you'll need is protective gear. This gear includes protective clothing such as a body suit and face netting or mask that will prevent stings. Gloves are also recommended, although more experienced beekeepers may forgo them due to dexterity issues. A smoker is another necessary tool; it helps prevent the bees from communicating with one another when they need to be moved or relocated. A hive tool is another essential piece of equipment. This metal tool will allow you to pry out and remove sections from the main container safely and easily. A bee brush is another essential tool, containing soft bristles that allow you to remove or move bees as necessary. Just be sure to be extra-gentle, as these brushes can injure bees' wings, legs, and other body parts if used improperly. Finally, extracting equipment is needed to pull honey from the hives' frames. This special equipment is not absolutely essential, but it's certainly beneficial to anyone who plans to use the honey produced by the bees.
- Helpful Beekeeping Videos
- Hardware and Tools for Beekeeping
- In the Beekeeper's Workshop
- Beekeeping Equipment: Excluders
Clubs and Societies
Since backyard beekeeping has grown in popularity, a large number of clubs and societies have sprung up that are dedicated to the craft. Many states have their own beekeepers' associations where you can meet with fellow beekeepers and get tips and tricks. It's also helpful to find a beekeeping mentor who can check on your current hive setup, discuss safety, and provide you with helpful information on your beekeeping journey. Beekeeper courses are also an option. The number of websites and informational resources is growing thanks to the ever-increasing appreciation for bees and the desire to keep them in both rural and urban backyards.