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Beekeeping for Beginners

Have you ever thought about keeping bees?

Well, if you haven’t thought about it—or you’ve considered it but haven’t taken the leap—here are four great questions to answer before you decide to become a beekeeper extraordinaire.


Beekeeping for Beginners_Part One


Do I have the space?

Bee hives themselves don’t take a lot of space; they actually have quite a compact footprint (see this video for a good look at the size and setup of a beehive). But you’ll need to consider the fact that bees will be flying in and out of the hives near ground level—meaning they’ll be flying through your yard right at just the right height to disturb people and pets who may be enjoying some time outside.

There are steps you can take to direct the bees’ flight path in and out of the hive (placing a bush or other “barricade” a little bit in front of the hive entrance to direct them upward), but space can still be an issue—so be sure to limit the number of hives to a reasonable amount for your acreage (or lack thereof).


Do my family members and neighbors have objections?

In theory, it’s easy to say that it doesn’t matter what other people think, but because your family and neighbors will likely have (hopefully harmless) encounters with your bees, getting their buy-in is a great idea—especially in suburban locations.

In more rural locations, or if you have a lot of acreage, you can place the beehives far enough away from your family’s usual haunts that they can easily avoid too much contact if bees give them the heebie-jeebies.

One of the most important factors when addressing concerns of family and neighbors is allergic reactions. If you’ve got a family member or close neighbor who’s deathly allergic to bee stings, reconsider keeping bees on your property. The risk simply isn’t worth it. And if you don’t know whether you’re allergic, get tested before you get started—a surprise reaction to a bee sting can turn into a scary, even deadly, situation.


What are the zoning laws or other restrictions?

While it’s kind of a bummer to think that keeping bees might actually be illegal in your area, it’s better to be aware before getting set up than to pay fines and have to call it quits after you’ve got a good colony thriving.

If beekeeping is against zoning or other restrictions in your area, you may be able to find a local farmer who, if they aren’t already maintaining hives themselves, would welcome someone to set up hives on their land. You may even be able to work out an agreement that allows you to keep them there for free in exchange for honey, beeswax, or a combination of both. Win-win!


Am I dedicated and patient?

Keeping bees isn’t rocket science, but it does take dedication, patience, education, and planning. If your plan is to get a big, golden payday right off the bat, then you’re probably best off just buying a SuperPail of honey. It can take up to a year to get a colony established and producing enough excess honey for you to enjoy it without harvesting the honey that will sustain the bees through the winter. But if you’re willing to put in the work, the rewards are well worth it.


Think you’re ready to dive in? The American Beekeeping Federation has a few Beekeeping FAQ’s that will help you get think through some of the logistics of getting started.



Sound off:

Do you raise bees? What other questions should beginners consider before starting a hive?

Are you newly interested in taking up beekeeping? What questions or concerns do you have about getting started?

We’d love to hear what you think in the comments.






6 thoughts on “Beekeeping for Beginners”

  • LORK


  • Mike in Florida
    Mike in Florida March 25, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    As a new beekeeper myself, I would highly suggest that before getting bees, go on the net and locate your local beekeeping club and go to some meetings, people there will help and advise you in how to get the right kind of start. Also, universities have web pages devoted to beekeeping. (University of Florida for one) It's very important to learn how to keep bees alive now that imported parasites are killing hives by the thousands.

  • Beekeeper 77

    Our family has kept bees for several generations and we love it! The initial cost is something to consider, and there is always the loss of a hive here and there, especially in a hard winter to deal with. As a child, I read and reread the book, The Hive and the Honeybee. My children read my copy, and then watched the worldofbeekeeping.com videos. We have also found BeeHelp.com to be a fabulous course to take online.
    Beekeeping is a great way to get together outdoors with your family, learn about your complex and often puzzling colony, and have a big party to extract the most delicious honey imaginable!

  • Sher Russell

    I'm interested. how much does it cost to start to get one hive started?

    • beprepared

      Hi Sher,
      I had to do some research on this question myself. It's difficult to pinpoint the exact cost of starting a hive. There are a lot of different options for materials and supplies to consider when purchasing items to start a hive. I found an article from Illinois State University that gives a lot of good information about the cost of starting a hive and things to consider. Here is a link to that article http://www.phy.ilstu.edu/~wenning/HIBA/bkcourse/counting.pdf.

  • Beekeeper77

    We have purchased bees several different ways. Our very first hive was purchased as a deluxe kit from World of Beekeeping. It had everything we needed to get started, including everything needed to assemble our own hive with 2 deeps and one medium box with frames, bee suit, gloves, veil, hive tool, frame lifter, smoker, full instructions, even an incredible starter video , etc. We had a blast assembling it over the winter, painted it hot pink, watched the videos several times and prepared our observation notebook. This cost about 500 $. We ordered a 3 lb box of bees with a fertilized queen from a bee farm about 2 hours drive away. We installed our bees (about 85$) and fed them until they were up and running on their own.

    We have also purchased an established hive with 2 deep boxes and a fertilized queen (about 500$). Our thinking was to get more built up frames and more honey sooner, plus a different experience for the family. We had to add a honey super right away and it is a very strong hive. We love BeeHelp.com as beekeepers from all over can use the forums to get questions answered and take an incredible month by month beekeeping course that answers every question you could ever have! It is great for family to get together and learn about beekeeping together. Another thing we learned from Ron Upshaw's World of Beekeeping videos is to carry an Epipen for safety (about 90$ for a 2 pack here), and always suit up. Nothing beats learning from a real beekeeper, and we have truly learned a great deal from the above sources in a fun way! Once your hives are set up, the cost is really just new bees if you lose a hive, and jars for honey (we use mason canning jars and print our own fun labels). We have passed down our extractor over the years, but honey can be extracted easily with a strainer and hot knife to avoid excessive expense from that. Beekeeping has been a real blast for us!

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