Adopt-a-Hives: A Welcoming Way into Beekeeping

Adopt-a-hive programs provide a low-cost, low-risk entry to beekeeping for beginners who are stumped about where to start.

| October/November 2019

firsthand
On hot days, the author’s bees emerge from their hives and cling to the sides to cool off.

For the past several years, I’ve wanted to get into beekeeping. Adding beehives to our property seemed like a natural fit, because we already have a large garden, some chickens, and lots of native flowering plants. However, beekeeping seemed a little daunting. What would I need to get started? Where would I get bees? How would I manage a hive?

The answer came in the form of a regional Adopt-a-Hive program that serves wannabe beekeepers who live in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The program was started in 2018 by experienced beekeeper Dane Wallis. “A lot of people were pondering getting into beekeeping, but didn’t know quite how to get started,” Wallis says of the endeavor. I was one of those people, so I eagerly pursued the program.

firsthand
Adopt-a-Hive programs help beginners get acquainted with beekeeping under the guidance of an experienced mentor.



For $300, I was able to acquire all the bees, a hive (on loan), a T-shirt, and 10 pounds of honey delivered to me at the end of the season. More important was the promise of some hand-holding by Wallis, who’s not only knowledgeable about bees but is also a patient teacher.

I decided to purchase another hive to go along with the rented one. I bought additional bees and a kit that included an assembled hive and 10 frames, a smoker, a protective veil and gloves, a hive tool, a sugar-water dispenser, and a book on beekeeping for beginners by Keith S. Delaplane titled First Lessons in Beekeeping.






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