Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How To Get Started With Beekeeping

David has really been wanting to keep bees for a while now to help pollinate our garden and to provide us with delicious honey, and we decided this year to finally take the plunge and get started with beekeeping. We both didn't know much about beekeeping when we made this decision, but we have jumped headfirst into it and are ready to go! I am excited to share our experiences with you and hope we can help out anyone who is thinking of becoming a beekeeper through our own successes and mistakes.

I thought I would share what has been our process so far for getting started with beekeeping. We are total newbies and have no prior experience, so if you have any advice for us we'd love to hear it!
 
1) Get An Education
First of all, we read Beekeeping For Dummies to get a general education on all things bees. I would highly recommend the book because I feel like I have a good understanding of beekeeping now. Of course we are not experts, but I feel like after reading the book we have a solid foundation from which to start.

2) Order Your Hive
David did a lot of research on hives and we decided to order from Rossman Apiaries in Georgia. We chose the super deluxe beginners outfit which includes everything you need to get started. This hive came unassembled so David had to take a couple of weeks to put everything together. It is made out of cypress wood so it should be very durable, but we are going to paint the outside to protect the wood even more. Rossman was really great to work with and promptly answered several of our questions about the hive components after we received our order.


3) Connect With Other Beekeepers In Your Area
There is one prominent beekeeper in our area who sells his honey at all the farmers markets and the local health food store. We knew he would be a wonderful resource for us, so we contacted him via email to see if he had any advice on how to get started. He encouraged us to attend the area beekeeper's meeting last month, but we were unable to make it. Luckily, we were able to go to the meeting this month which took place last night and we learned so much! We met another beekeeper there who started keeping bees with his father when he was a teenager. He has many years of experience and at the present keeps over 900 hives! We were able to pick his brain for a while and learned so much in our conversation. I know our contacts will be an invaluable resource for us. Not only that, it is so fun to talk about bees with others who are equally as excited as we are! It seems that beekeepers love to talk about bees and are a very passionate bunch.

4) Decide How To Acquire Your Bees
There are several options for getting bees. Just starting out, you can order package bees online, but we've decided that we are most interested in obtaining a nucleus colony (called a "nuc"). With a nuc colony, you get several frames with the bees already in place, working away. To us it seems that this is a better option for first time beekeepers. The beekeeper we met last night with over 900 hives said that we could get a nuc from him next month. We will just bring him a box of six frames and he will insert four frames including the nuc into our box. He will monitor the colony for us for a couple of weeks to make sure the queen is laying and everything is running smoothly. Then we will pick up our new bees and bring them home!

It is thrilling to think that in just a few short weeks we will have bees taking up residence in our new hive. To be honest, I am a little bit scared but I'm hoping that will subside in time. I'm sure all new beekeepers feel at least somewhat nervous, right?! With any luck, the curiosity and excitement will overshadow any anxiety I have over beekeeping. I just have to get that first sting out of the way.

Do you keep bees? If not, are they on your wish list for your homestead?

~Tammy

Shared with Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Eco Kids TuesdayBackyard Farming Connection Hop  

Disclaimer: By clicking on the link above to Beekeeping For Dummies and making a purchase, we will receive a small commission. Rossman Apiaries did not sponsor this post and we received no compensation for our endorsement.

59 comments:

  1. sounds like you have a really great local resource in that local beekeeper! awesome that he'll start your hive for you.

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  2. Oh Tammy congratulations I have a few bee bloggers here is the link to the smartest Bee Lady I know http://thebeeladyfromhilltopfarm.blogspot.ca/ she knows everything. Tell her I sent you. Cindy will know the answer to all your concerns.
    You are going to do great. With your love and understanding of nature and animals you are a natural. B

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    1. Hi Tammy,

      I answered your comment on my blog. Thanks for stopping by! Buttons is such a sweet person. I'm probably the ONLY beekeeper she knows! It looks like you are getting off to a great start. The best advice, as you said, get with other beekeepers. Learn from them.

      Cindy Bee

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  3. It's great that there are such wonderful people to help you out! I'd love to keep bees but the Great Scot 'wigs out' if I even mention it. (Not only do we live in town, I have to carry an Epi Pen with me for stings.)

    On the other hand, I used to help one of my grandfathers care for his hives and was never stung. By bees at least...yellowjackets and wasps are another matter.

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  4. Yippee...I can experience beekeeping through you! I have always been fascinated with bees and would really like to try. Hubby is not on board with it because unfortunately he is allergic to bees. Sigh.
    Farmhouse hugs,
    Cindy

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  5. How exciting!!! We would SO love to start beekeeping as well, but haven't gotten to it yet. We have a book though and we need to start our research! I look forward to hearing more about your experiences with it! That will be so nice to have fresh honey from you own bees :)

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  6. Ok Tammy, that just does it...you are living my "dream" life...yes, just like chickens I want bees....We have friends who have both...I am hoping with our new home..we have 3 acres....we can do a few things...I want a chicken coup for sure...I would love, love, love to have bees. Love all your infomation...Just admire your little homestead. Enjoy those bees and keep us updated...Blessings!

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  7. Sounds wonderful.
    Mike (my husband) would love to get bees. He just mentioned it to me the other night. I am not ready. I feel we have too many pots in the fire right now. Maybe down the road.
    Good luck with your new adventure.

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  8. You'll have to connect with Natalie at Knatolee's World. She has a wonderful blog and has taught us all so much about bee-keeping. Drop over and meet her.

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  9. You two sure are busy! This is really exciting, and I understand feeling a little scared, but that will most likely pass as you learn more and get more experience. How exciting!

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  10. This is definitely on the wish list for the future homestead. I am so happy that you two took the plunge! That honey will remind you of just how very smart you are! ;0)

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  11. I've never really thought about keeping bees but I think it will be amazing to have all that beautiful honey and bees polinating the flowers in your garden! Good luck and keep us updated.

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  12. Great Info Tammy,
    We have thought about keeping bees , but haven't quite gotten there.
    We live near cranberry bogs. They bring hives to pollinate each year, we ride by them on horseback and the bees seem very peaceful.
    Great for you and David :)

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  13. I really like your new hive! I also admire the way you just think about something and by gosh you and David do it! Excellent looking forward to seeing your bees.

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  14. Looking forward to seeing this progress, gal!

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  15. Ohhh Tammy!
    I WANT BEES!!!
    my girlfriend at school and I ooooo and ahhhhh and have talked about getting into bees. We teach the importance about bees and do nothing. In fact - this Friday - we have Science Day at school and a local bee keeper is coming to speak about it to the kids. You're really got me going here! And the neat thing, I live in Georgia, so since you've done all the research- I'm going to ride your coat tails if you don't mind and will check out the place you said to order the hive!
    I noticed last spring that there were no bees in my jasmine, honey suckle, and ligustrum bushes. There use to bees everywhere - feeding all over the bushes!!
    I'm going to order the bee book for dummies for me and for my girlfriend tonight!! Thank you Tammy!! You've been an inspiration!!

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  16. Wooot Wooot Congratulations on your hive! Oh my gosh I am so excited for you guys. Bees are definitely on my list for the same reason, local honey and pollination for my garden. I am hoping that next spring will be our time. I love that you found a local resource that sounds amazing... They will start your hive... Eeeeeeeeeeek that is so awesome!!!
    I am looking forward to seeing and hearing about your adventures.

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  17. I'm excited for you!!! We had bees as kids, but my dad ended up selling all the stuff. Grr. He is allergic to bee stings and his reactions kept worsening...so he thought it would be best to play it safe.

    My neighbor used to be a beekeeper as a part time job. He has all the stuff and will let me dig it out whenever I have the energy to learn. :)

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  18. Wow - very cool! Congrats on your new endeavor. You'll have to let us know how it turns out. I can't wait to hear about all that delicious honey you'll harvest.

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  19. Oh my gosh, you guys do the neatest things over at your place!

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  20. We're getting our first bees this year too! We've got Dad's old hives and all his gear, it'll be fin learning together!
    Janie x

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  21. I just have one word for you...BRAVE! Good luck, and keep us posted.

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  22. We'd love to have bees too, hopefully one day we will fulfill our wish, so in the meantime I am really going to enjoy reading about your buzzing endeavour! This is one blog my Mister will enjoy reading with me.

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  23. This is very cool! I would love to keep bees, and I know that people do it here in Maine, but I am very concerned they wouldn't make it through the winter...although I imagine that bees have always been around, so maybe I am worrying for no reason. Maybe this summer I can convince Matt to get some :-)

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  24. Very exciting for you. Please let me know if you have any question. It is wonderful!~Melissa www.tillysnest.com

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  25. I am very interested in bee keeping. Our friends are starting their journey this Spring and I'm anxious to learn about it from them! I find it fascinating and am anxious to read more about your journey as well! Someday (when we have more land) I would love to do it as well! Plus, I never realized you could order your own kit! Great info, thanks Tammy!

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  26. This is something I have always wanted to do! I am excited to see how it works for you.

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  27. Oh, I love honey but am scared of bees.

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  28. Very very interesting. I LOVE honey and I've always found it amazing that honey comes from bees. I can't wait to follow this story on here!

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  29. JEALOUS!! I want bees so bad. I can't wait to hear more about your adventure!

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  30. We (meaning my partner) started beekeeping three years ago, and has found it to be a lovely and profound thing. She is very much of teh school that believes in gentle beekeeping, soft releases for queens, and working with the bees' natural rhythms. As a result she has rarely been stung, and only wears the hood because she has long hair that a bee can get tangled in. There are zillions of videos online that can teach you what you need to know, but if there's a beekeeper's group in your area, join it!

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  31. This is my fifth year so fire away if you have any questions (my email link is in my blog profile.) You will have lots of fun. If possible, it is good to start with two hives so you can compare their progress (you learn a lot about what is and isn't normal that way!) but you'll do fine with one!

    But I think having a mentor (like the guy you met) is THE most important thing! :) Have fun!!! And thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  32. Tammy, what an exciting venture for you guys! I'm wishing you sweet, sweet success!!!

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  33. Hello;
    My husband & I have talked about getting started in bees. The previous farmer that lived here had some. I think that is why we have so many bees in our area.
    I'd like to get them not just for the garden but also for the honey. Growing up, my brother had some bees. I don't know too much about them. We do have 1 or 2 books on the subject.Thank you for sharing.
    Brenda
    http://homesteadinginwv.com/2013/02/26/meal-planning-for-the-homesteadfarming-family/

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  34. Chris and I did a bee "course" a couple of years ago... But I still have not taken the plunge....

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  35. Great tutorial! You guys are smarties!

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  36. How wonderful for you guys!! :)
    I would love to have bees but not sure I'm up to the extra work at the present time. I do buy all my honey from a local beekeeper at the Farmer's Market, which is the next best thing!

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  37. How exciting Tammy! We live in a rural farm area and there are bee keepers nearby. Nothing beats fresh honey! I'll look forward to seeing the first honey pot!!

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  38. Tammy I have been wanting to start beekeeping for a while too, but just didn't know how to begin. I am going to order that book and follow your future beekeeping posts with particular interest...maybe I will be ready next spring!

    Thanks so much for sharing this with your readers :-)

    Holly

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  39. Wow, all I can say is you must have a ton of energy. I would be too scared of the bees to do the beekeeping. It does sound interesting, looking forward to more post on your bees. Have a happy weekend!

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  40. I think I would be too scared to ever try this myself, but I love that you guys took on the challenge! I am definitely looking forward to reading all your experiences with this venture.

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  41. Congrats on this accomplishment! I'll be following closely!

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  42. That is very much an accomplishment! I would be afraid to death to do bee keeping!

    www.trendinginfashion.blogspot.com

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  43. oh what an exciting adventure....those books for dummies are the best invention! do you know michelle over at small town life? she keeps bees too, maybe you could ask her a few questions if you get stumped! good luck!!

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  44. You two are definitely living and promoting sustainability. We have a Kuwaiti neighbor around the corner who raises chickens, keeps bees and harvests his own dates. Sadly, he found out several months ago that he has cancer and has been in London ever since for treatment. We saw his bee hives one time. I find the whole process so interesting. Good luck! I know whatever you two put your mind to, it will be a success. Best wishes, Tammy

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  45. Tammy, I am thrilled that you posted this! I grew up with my dad keeping bees, but I never really learned the ins and outs of it all, but I want to learn! Definitely on my wish list!
    I am enjoying your blog, and I am following you on Facebook (Yesterfood and Joy)and GFC!

    Joy @ Yesterfood
    http://yesterfood.blogspot.com

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  46. Very exciting and very helpful. We've been thinking about bees for a long time now, just haven't made the move. Look forward to following you on this adventure :)

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  47. I am scared to death of bees. I hope you get all the protective gear that you need so that they don't sting you. You need a suit and a big hat with net over your head so they can't get in and get you. Be careful.

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  48. I am scared to death of bees. I hope you get all the protective gear that you need so that they don't sting you. You need a suit and a big hat with net over your head so they can't get in and get you. Be careful.

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  49. Congratulations on beginning your beekeeping adventure! We've only had our hive for less than a year, but it's already most of the interesting, challenging, and exciting things we've ever done. Can't wait to read more about it!

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  50. Wow! What a great adventure! Enjoy that delicious honey! Life to the full, Melissa

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  51. This is such a fascinating story, and I will definitely keep watching on this one. Sounds to me as if you and your husband are going to be a great success in doing this, but know that all things new will have its ups and downs. Sort of like having a baby and watching them grow up. LOL. Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving your sweet comment.
    I will be following you... and look forward to watching your adventures

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  52. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!


    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino

    The Chicken Chick

    http://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

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  53. Bees are on our wishlist, but I'm not sure how it would work in our neighborhood, and my parents (only a few miles away) have the space, but my mom is allergic. Maybe someday! I hope your venture goes really well!

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    1. Thank you for sharing on Eco Kids BTW!

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  54. Honey would be wonderful! But not so sure about bees with two little ones??? Please keep us updated with how this all goes for you!

    Thanks for sharing and please join us again this week at Eco-Kids Tusday! http://likemamalikedaughter.blogspot.com/2013/03/nifty-thrifting-at-eco-kids-tuesday.html

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  55. Wow! I don't know how I missed this before! We are gearing up to keep bees too! My husband tended on his gradpa's hives when he was younger, but it's been a while (and I'm a complete novice) so we also read that book! Great advice for beginners! We had the old frames from his grandpa, that my hubby cleaned up. And we purchased all other supplies from our local bee store. Unfortunately he was sold out of bees. And the other local bee guy only has Italian bees, we decided we wanted Russian bees. So we ordered from Walter T Kelly bees. We're just starting out with 3 lbs and a marked queen.
    I wish y'all the best of luck! We'll have to share lessons learned and compare notes!

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