Want a hobby this spring that you can really fall in love with? Beekeeping is a great way to become involved with a productive pastime that is also beneficial to the balance of nature.
In recent years, studies have indicated that numbers reflecting healthy honey bee populations have declined. Honey bees are responsible for propagating, or pollinating, the crops that comprise a large amount of what we eat everyday.
According to the PBS, in an article discussing how people can help keep honey bees healthy, authors encourage interested hobbyists to try a few hives in the back yard.
“Aside from contributing to the bee population, just two hives can pollinate an entire mid-sized residential garden,” PBS writes. “You might just find yourself with a lifelong hobby. For most people, beekeeping grows into a passion.”
Choose an Appropriate Location
Location is key.
If you own land and hope to establish a personal apiary, first you must look into local zoning laws. Many cities do not allow bee hives because they are considered a farm animal.Every place is different. Be sure to research your municipal’s ordinances concerning beekeeping.If your area does not support beekeeping, you can find somewhere that permits it, or forget about it.
Experts advise to house bees away from insecticides and pesticide sprays. These can have harmful effects on bees and will not encourage a healthy colony.
Be sure to get your hands on literature before beginning such a venture. Also, get out and talk to a local or nearby beekeeper who might be able to offer some inveterate advice. Many places across the country also have a Beekeeper’s Association or official group with other experts who may be willing to talk to you.
After you have chosen a place to house your bees, it is then time to begin planning the construction of the apiary. There are different hives to correspond with your purpose for beekeeping. For example, maybe you only have bees because you want an improved garden. There is a hive for that. There is also a specific hive for those looking to harvest honey.
This instructional site has a great amount of literature illustrating how to build a hive. Before you begin building, you should determine what type of structure you would like and the size of frames you prefer handling. Some expert officials advise choosing a small or medium-sized frame that you do not mind lifting on a daily basis.
Once you have outlined a blueprint, or plan, you are ready to begin constructing your beehive.
What you’ll need
A simple base can be made from plywood and cement blocks. Some beekeeping officials say that the honey bee hive should be kept at least 18 inches from the ground to protect the bees from animals, such as skunks, and other potential threats.
Another option can be read about here, where the structure does not have a traditional bottom frame, but instead simple legs supporting the top hive structure.
After the hive is built
Now that you have decided on your hive, you will need a few more things before moving the bees in. Protective gear can be imperative for many who may have a fear of being stung. This can be one daunting factor of beekeeping, but many experts may admit that it might not happen as often as you think. However, that is something that can be difficult to predict, depending on the person and circumstances. But a beekeeping suit and proper attire, like a veil, can keep your entire body and face protected.
A smoker is another piece of valuable beekeeping equipment. It is a simple tool used to immobilize the honey bees momentarily when you are ready to go in and retrieve your honey. The smoke works by altering the chemical warning signals, or pheromones, honey bees send out when something threatens their hive. In other words, the smoker helps slow the panic button and give you time to get near the hive without being stung so much, if at all.
Bring in the Bees
Now you are ready to buy your bees! What type of bee species you choose could depend on the harshness of your seasonal winters, and your purpose for having the bees. There are thousands to decide from. It is important to pick a variety that is suited to survive in your particular climate. Remember, colonies need a queen. The caste of your hive should include about 2,000 drone bees, 60,000 female worker bees, and of course, the one and only queen bee.
NOTE: Talk to a professional beekeeper or knowledgeable expert about your specific climate and if those conditions are appropriate for the honey bees you have chosen. It is important to make sure the environment you have built your bee hive in is safe and suitable to keep your new healthy bees, and even your hobby, healthy and thriving.