Tuesday, July 12, 2011

To Bee or Not to Bee...

Last year we took on the new endeavor of beekeeping. We started with a package of Carniolan bees to install in our first hive. A package of bees consists of a mated queen with 3 pounds of worker bees. I instantly fell in love with our bees and could not wait to check in our hive every weekend.

I cannot recommend beekeeping enough. Keeping a hive or two requires very little time: about an hour a week during from late winter to late fall depending on where you live in the world. It's also amazing to observe the inside of the hive and what the bees are doing, not many people get to witness this.

If you think you might want to try beekeeping, I would recommend reading up on the topic as much as possible both in books and on the web. A great site that you can start reading right now is Beekeeping Lessons created by Long Lane Honey Farms. Beekeeping for Dummies is a fun and educational read that's loaded with information that can get you started in beekeeping.
Also, you will want to find out if there are any local beekeeping clubs in your area that offer beekeeping classes. This is how I started out and it was very valuable to learn with hands-on experience. The day we pick up our first bee package we actually got to watch how to install a package of bees into our hives.

For beekeeping supplies in your area you will save yourself a lot of time by contacting a local beekeeping club to find dealers in your area. Buying online is an option, too. Mann Lake Ltd. has a great selection of everything you need to get started and they offer free shipping on purchases over $100 which is an easy minimum to reach when purchasing your initial hive set up.

After starting one hive, it was a very natural progression to add more bees to our lives. Now a year later we have 4 hives: the one we started last season, a split from our first hive, a new package of bees for my daughter and a small nucleus hive that was also split from our first hive. Our limiting factor is the size of our bee yard which we had to construct to help prevent the neighborhood bears from helping themselves to the honey buffet.

My hope is after reading this post that your interest in beekeeping will be perked and you may consider taking this one as a hobby for yourself. If you have heard the news about the decline of the honeybee in nature and wondering how you can help, well starting a hive is the best way to bring bees back to our gardens again.

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