If you want to know how to start a beehive in your backyard, then you’ve come to the right place. This guide will help you get started without any fluff or hassles. Before diving in, here’s an overview on beekeeping in general.
Overview of Modern Day Beekeeping
Bees have been around for a long time. Beekeeping is the ancient practice of acquiring honey without having to go out and look for it in the wild.
Over time, beekeepers have perfected the different methods of keeping bees – from the days when bees were raised in hollowed-out logs and clay pots to modern day hives. Today, the beekeeping industry has come a long way and bees are now safely housed in apiaries and honey bee hives designed to be responsive to the changing climates.
Why Choose Beekeeping as a Hobby
If you’re still on the verge of deciding whether or not beekeeping is the right hobby for you, here are some benefits to hopefully convince you.
Harvesting honey is the main reason most people start a beehive. Producing your own honey tastes better and feels awesome. Natural honey is so much better than the store bought stuff – there is just no comparison.
Honey is not the only reason to start get into beekeeping. The wax is also useful and can be used to make lip gloss, candles and more.
To Pollinate Flowers
Bees will give your flowers a boost. If you’re keen on your garden then bees will help pollinate and enhance the look of your garden.
Easy to Run
Bees are independent and pretty much take care of themselves. Aside from the occasional check-ins, an established hive can run itself from season to season. Of course, there are some situations that require you to get into the hive and work with your bees. This isn’t very frequent and the bees basically work on their own and feed themselves.
Propolis is medicine and when most people talk about the benefits of keeping bees they always forget to mention this. Propolis is so much more than glue for the hives, it has a ton of health benefits that range from healing bones to preventing cavities, fighting cancer and so much more.
Save the bees (#SaveTheBees)
The number of bees worldwide has declined in the last few years as a result of some global event called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). This syndrome is caused by worker bees abandoning the hive. No one knows why or when CCD became an issue, but by raising bees in your backyard, you can help reduce the effect of CCD.
Here’s the deal, CCD is a massive problem on a global scale because it is against the bees instincts to just get up and leave the queen and hive. But this is happening in huge numbers around the world and disrupts the working order of a colony causing a lot of bees to die.
Also, humans are affected by CCD because without bees, our food supply will take a serious hit from the lack of pollination. So raising bees and nurturing them will help increase their numbers and save the bees.
11 Tips on How to Start a Beehive in Your Backyard
When asked about their hobby, many people will say, reading, painting, singing, and more. Only a few people will say beekeeping. This is because many people dread just the thought of keeping bee stings and their insect-like nature.
But whether you start beekeeping as a business or a hobby, there are certainly lots of things that you need to take into account. Some of these considerations are complicated for beginners so the best way to start is to follow the advice of experts. To turn your beekeeping endeavor into a successful venture, here are 11 valuable tips on how to start a beehive in your backyard.
1. Research local beekeeping regulations
The first tip is to research local beekeeping regulations to confirm that you are legally allowed to keep bees on your property. Even though it is your property, local laws may prohibit certain types of beekeeping activities. So before getting started, visit your local council and let them know that you plan to start a beekeeping farm in your backyard. They will advise you on what is required to proceed.
2. Join a beekeeping club
Joining a beekeeping club is one of the first things that you need to do in order to stay updated on all beekeeping practices in your local environment. Most beekeeping clubs charge a small membership fee, but the information that you can gather is much more valuable than the fee.
You will find out about how the weather in the area affects bees and many other important information factors that will help you run a successful bee farm. You will also meet people who have kept bees for years and learn valuable information from them about beekeeping.
3. Buy gentle bees
You will need to obtain your own bees at some point and there are several different kinds of honey bees to choose from. They’ve some scientific names e.g. Apis Mellifera (the most popular in North America), Apis Mellifera Ligustica (Italian honey bee), Apis Mellifera Carniola and also Carniolan honey bees. Our recommendation would be to pick any type that is gentle and also makes plenty of honey. The most popular will be the Italian honey bee.
A lot of new beekeepers miss this tip completely. However, it is important that you get gentle bees for your first hive. Buckfast bees are also a good choice for new beekeepers. They are gentle and a good at pollinating. Avoid hostile bees because they can sting your neighbors and get you in trouble with the law.
4. Fence your backyard
This is one of the first things that you must do once you decide to set up your bee farm. Even if your neighbors are in agreement and the law is on your side, you want to protect your bees as well as your others. Build a fence before you buy bees.
Your fence should be at least 8 feet tall and can be made out of wood or styrofoam. This way the bees will fly over the fence at the height of 8 feet and not lower so that they don’t bump into people.
5. Start your farm with 2 bee swarms
The reason most experts advise that new beekeepers start with two swarms is so that if one swarm has a problem, they can continue running the farm with the second swarm. Beekeepers can raise enough bees from the second swarm to replace the first one that was lost. After ordering the bees, you’ll receive them by mail in a screened-in box with the queen safely encased in its own package.
6. Buy a beehive
You will need to purchase a home for the bees, i.e. the beehive. Again you can find different types of hive, but the most popular would be the Top Bar Hives and the Langstroth Hives. Each one has its benefits and drawbacks. It can be beneficial to consult a few seasoned beekeepers in the area for guidance.
Purchasing a used hive can be a great option for your first hive. Aside from the fact that used beehives are cheaper and sometimes free, your new bees will easily adapt into an old hive than a new one. You can find used beehives in your local club or on craigslist.
People give them away for free so if you’re looking to save money on a hive, contact you local beehive club and I’m sure there will be somebody willing to give away an old beehive. Our recommendation is wood or styrofoam. A hive made with styrofoam will keep the bees stay warm during the winter and cool during the summer.
One problem that should be considered before purchasing a used hive is that it might be contaminated with diseases or pathogens. You should always make sure that all used beekeeping equipment has been inspected and is free of disease before use.
Here’s a quick hive assembly guide:
- Choose a location where the bee colony will succeed. The best location is where there is a wide variety of flowers and trees, and a rich source of water (preferably running and fresh). It should provide ample sunshine and proper circulation of air.
- Put the bottom board of the hive with a landing strip. The brood chamber must be on top of the bottom board. The chamber is where the queen bee will mate and produce eggs.
- Put a metal frame structure to prevent the queen bee from moving upward. All upper levels of the hive are exclusive for honey storage only.
- Put your foundation frames in a brood frame or box. It should be richly covered in beeswax, and in it are hexagonal cell shapes, this is where the bees will store the honey.
- Put an inner hive cover at the topmost level. This area will allow proper air circulation within the hive.
- Install a feeder tray for a faster process of feeding the sugar syrup to the bee colony without the need to open the beehive.
- Secure the beekeeping hive with a cover on top. It should be made of metal for maximum protection of the colony against winds and rains.
- Put the hive cover on top of your created hive complex. Many beehive covers available consist of metal with telescoping sides. The cover is essential for the protection of the hive from the elements, particularly wind and rain.
7. Don’t invest in a honey extractor just yet!
Most new beekeepers just go out and buy all the equipment on their list including an extractor. But as a newbie keeper, it is advisable that you don’t invest in a honey extractor just yet. You want to see how well you do the first time around and besides, the local beekeeping club always has a honey extractor available for members to use. After the first time, you would have gotten a hang of things and will know the type of extractor that will suit you for the next harvest.
8. Buy safety clothing
This is one of the necessities that you shouldn’t skimp on when buying your beekeeping equipment. Safety clothing is one of the first things you need to purchase. Sometimes, beekeepers get frightened when attending to their bees and guess what? the bees can sense it.
Expert beekeepers most times don’t wear safety clothing because they know what they’re doing. As a new beekeeper, it is recommended that you get a veil, hat, gloves, and boots. Until you get to know your bees and how to work effectively, you need to stay safe from the stings.
9. Consult your neighbors before starting
Bee stings can be lethal to some people. It’s not just a simple sting for them and can actually cause death. So you want to speak to your neighbors and get their approval before setting up your hive.
Most people will be fine with you raising bees in your backyard, but you still need to let them know that there is a risk that they might get stung. Remember to give them some honey after your first harvest, after all, that’s what neighbors do.
10. Don’t expect to make a lot of money selling honey
Beekeeping will not make you a millionaire overnight so don’t expect to make a lot of money selling honey from your beehive. The profit isn’t that much after the cost of equipment and initial setup is deducted you’ll have very little left over. However, with time your profits will increase as you would have covered the original cost of starting up the hive. Look at it as a hobby and all extras as a bonus.
11. Check on your hive regularly
Raising bees does not require a lot of effort; unlike other farm activities. However, you can’t just ignore that your bees exist. You have to check on the hive regularly to ensure that they are healthy and thriving. Some farmers do it once or twice a week. One of the most important things to check is that the queen is in the hive and the bees are laying eggs. This is an indication that the colony is prospering and increasing in number.