New to Beekeeping?
Considering getting into Beekeeping? Here's some questions you may want to ask yourself:
What's my reason for getting into beekeeping?
- Pollination for your vegetable garden or orchard?
- Do you want to help the bees?
- Do you want to keep bees for the honey?
- Do you want to keep bees to do commercial pollination and travel the US?
Important things to consider before starting:
- Does your town/city allow you to keep bees? Make sure to check with your local zoning laws before starting. If you live in the country like most of us in NY then it's usually not a problem.
- Do you have the right location? Bees need shelter from the wind, dry ground underneath with the hive atleast 6" off the ground, as much sunlight as possible (real shady areas should be avoided), nearby water sources and a lot of good foraging year round. Wildflowers are a huge part of a bees forage, not just early blooming fruit trees.
- Is anyone in your immediate family allergic to Honeybees? Everyone gets reactions when stung by a Honeybee but there is a difference between being allergic and just having a reaction. The difference becomes when you get stung on say your hand but you get hives all over your body, have difficulty breathing, start itching, or your leg or other part of your body starts to swell instead of the spot that you received the sting. Everyone reacts differently to being stung as well as being stung by different types of bees. Normal reactions are localized; if you got stung on your finger, the swelling occurs on your finger. If you are allergic, the reaction is systemic, instead of your finger swelling a different part of your body experiences the reaction and symptoms vary and can be extreme. Anaphylactic shock is serious and if left untreated will result in death just like any other allergy, ie peanut allergies, shellfish allergies. It's always recommended that you keep at least one Epi-Pen with you just in case. Please talk with you doctor to determine if you are allergic or not or have other questions. A good local resource for more information- Allergy Advocacy Association
- *Note, in no way is this information intended to be medical advice, we are not medical professionals, only beekeepers. If you think you may be allergic please talk with your doctor before starting beekeeping. If you think you are having an allergic reaction please call a medical professional immediately, 911 or get to a hospital.
- What will you do with the Honey and Wax? Keep in mind that if you keep bees, you will get honey and wax from the hives. Will you sell your honey? Give it back to the bees? Will you make candles with the wax or creams and lotions, etc? A hive in one season can make you 100 lbs of honey on a good year. You should have a plan starting out so that you are prepared and know what to expect.
- *If you are going to keep Honeybees, PLEASE, be a Beekeeper, not a Bee-haver! You will need to inspect your bees and take care of them. While they do not take a lot of time, please do not buy a hive of bees then leave them in your yard all year without checking them. You are doing more harm than good to them and they may develop sicknesses which could spread to your neighbors hives so please, be a responsible beekeeper and check your bees.
What items do I need to start beekeeping?
There are many options to choose from when starting out in beekeeping and we know this can be overwhelming. Feel free to stop in to our store and we can help you choose the right setup for your needs. You can also call or email us with your questions. Below are some things to consider:
Decide which type of hive you will start with first. Good choices for beginners are the Langstroth Hive and Top Bar Hive.
- A Langstroth Hive setup comprising of a Telescoping Top, Inner Cover, Bottom Board, Entrance Reducer and at minimum 2 deep brood boxes with frames and foundation. You can add medium honey supers later in the season after they have finished filling up their 2 brood boxes.
- A Top Bar Hive setup. The top bar itself, a follower board and top bars. There are many types available for sale or that you can make at home. Please do your research on Top Bar Hives before starting out as they greatly differ from a Langstroth Hive and parts are not universal between the two. Also, if you are ordering bees, you usually will need to order Packaged Bees, not Nucs.
- Warre Hives. Not a good choice for beginners as care taking can be more complicated. A few seasons experience with a Langstroth or Top Bar Hive is recommended before starting out with a Warre Hive.
How will you buy your bees? Nuc or Package? What's the difference?
Nuc (Nucleus Colony) is a 5 frame Langstroth nuc box with an already established colony in it with a laying Queen. The frames are full of already drawn honeycomb with pollen, nectar, honey,
larvae, eggs and full grown worker bees. These 5 frames get taken out of the nuc box and are transfered into you Langstroth Hive setup. There the bees will start working on the new frames in the hive by building new comb to start expanding their colony. *Note, most nucs are in deep boxes which hold deep frames. Those will not fit in a medium super. Please talk to who you are purchasing your nucs from to make sure of what size the nucs will come in, either deep, medium or shallow boxes.
3lb or 5lb Package of Bees. Comes in a wooden screened container with 3 or 5 lbs of bees in it and a separate cage that holds a queen. There are no frames or larvae or honey. The bees get dumped into the hive setup when you get them home and they begin building honeycomb so that the queen can start laying and they can start storing food. The queen that comes in a package of bees usually does not come from the same colony that the worker bees come from so they have to get used to the queen and accept her. Sometimes they may not accept her, will kill her and make their own queen. Other times they may not like the hive with empty frames and no honeycomb and may swarm. Most of the time though you will be successful with a package of bees. This is the typical way you will get your bees if you are getting a Top Bar Hive. You can also get a package of bees to put in your Langstroth Hive. So you have some options.
What tools will you need at minimum?
- Matches, Lighter or small torch
- Smoker Fuel (compressed cotton fibers, dry grass, newspaper, untreated baling twine, untreated pine shavings)
- Hive Tool
- Bee Brush
- Capping Scratcher
Tools that aren't required but certainly make things easier:
- Frame Perch- Holds up to 4 frames on the outside of the hive as you do your inspections instead of putting frames on the ground.
- Frame Grip- Helps you lift out heavy frames if you can't easily pull them out with our fingers.
- Frame Assembly Jig- Gives you the ability to build 10 frames at a time instead of building frames one at a time.
Protective Clothing Options:
- Hatless Veils- Please wear a Veil at the very least starting out until you get used to keeping bees. Being stung in the face is very unpleasant and can be dangerous. I personally always wear a veil when working my bees and probably always will.
- Gloves- Optional
- Full Suit with Veil- Optional. Offers a layer of comfort and helps from being stung. Nothing is sting proof though.
- Ventilated Helmet- Used with Round or Square Veils.
- Boot Bands
- Heat Bands
Here are some products you should look at when starting. We suggest you start with 2 hives, you compare the 2 during the year and you'll learn faster and be able to see the differences, if one is lacking. You also have resources then to take from the one doing good and give to the one that is weaker. It gives you a big safety net that you then can fix things one your own, while out in your bees.