Whether you live on a farm, in a suburb, or in an urban city, beekeeping can be a fun and rewarding hobby or small business. As a beekeeper you can make more than just honey! Beeswax, lip balm, candles are a few of the things you can make from your hive. You can also sell bee pollen and offer services such as swarm catching, bee removal and starter hives or replacement bees!
As the first article in this series, we will discuss the very basics of beekeeping to help you decide if you want to start a beekeeping hobby. As the series continues, we will get in more depth of how to start your hive and take care of it, harvesting and much more!
Know Your City Ordinances
Before you begin your beehive endeavor, you must check local laws to be sure beekeeping is allowed in city limits. Some cities don’t allow hives at all while others allow them with limits on location or quantity. Be sure to check with your city hall to make sure they are allowed. Many cities limit the number of hives, how far from property line, and height of fence (to reduce chance of stinging).
A beehive can’t just go anywhere. If you are considering a hive (or more) you need to make sure you have an appropriate location for it! You need a nice sunny location ideally with morning sun. The sun helps keep the hive warm and dry. The less windy the better as well. You also want to be near a steady water source such as a stream or pond. Ideally within ¼ a mile of that steady water source for their health. Finally, you want your bees to have access to pollen sources. Obviously flowers are a great pollen source but poplar trees and clover fields are good as well.
Being in a rural area makes finding the ideal location easier but it is still possible to find a good location otherwise. If you live in the city or suburb, you could use a child sized pool or other item for your water source. You can plant extra flowers and even use a rooftop as your hive location!
Cost of Beekeeping
Keeping bees can be pricey, especially when you start out. The upfront cost can be high because of all the gear you need. You will need a hive plus all components, protective gear, tools, and smoker. (Be sure to check out our starter kits which can save you a lot of time and money!)
You will also need to get the bees themselves. You can get either a package of bees or a Nuc. A package is a collection of bees and a young queen. A Nuc, or nucleus colony is a miniature hive consisting of 5 deep frames of honey, pollen and brood, plus the bees.
Beekeeping also takes a lot of time, especially when starting out. At the beginning you will need to check your bees every few days and once established you will still need to check them at least once a week. And this isn’t just going and looking at the hive! You will be putting on your suit, starting up your smoker and thoroughly inspecting your hive. If you find any issues, such as mites, pests or infections, that could cost time and money as well.
Once established, a beehive can be a great way to have your own honey and beeswax products or sell them at your local farmers markets, to neighbors or even online.
Keeping bees can be very fun and satisfying. Not only can you get your own honey or make your own supplies, but watching your bees on flowers and flying around your yard can be very exciting. And with the decrease in bees as pollinators across the country, you can feel good knowing you are helping pollinate your corner of the world!
Decided on beekeeping?
If you think beekeeping sounds right for more, be sure to check our our next article on how to get started! (Coming soon!) Or stop by any of our stores to check out our wide selection of Mann Lake beekeeping supplies!
Kramer, Mary Hope. “How to Make Money with Bees.” The Balance. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2017. <https://www.thebalance.com/making-money-with-bees-125660>.
Trantham, Emry. “How To Keep Bees – An Intro To Help Get Your Hands Dirty.” DIY Natural. N.p., 30 May 2014. Web. 17 July 2017. <https://www.diynatural.com/how-to-keep-bees/>.