Setting Up a Beehive Is the Hardest Part of Beekeeping

Learn why maintaining a colony is not as complicated or scary as some think from the March/April 1970 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

  • Beekeeping
    Maintaining a beehive takes fewer than eight hours a year, but is extremely rewarding.
    Photo by Fotolia/Valeriy Kirsanov
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    The north entrance of a beehive saves the bees from death in case the bottom entrance gets clogged with snow or dead leaves. This also provides better ventilation.
    Photo by Carolyn Robinson
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    At first, Carolyn Robinson would have no part of the bees. Later, she learned you can handle bees without getting stung.
    Photo by Ed Robinson
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    A honey "extractor" is used to whirl the honey out of the comb.
    Photo by Carolyn Robinson

  • Beekeeping
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We didn't decide to have bees until we had laying hens, chickens to eat, goats, pigs, and — of course — our garden all producing.

As I look back, I believe it was my father who got us interested in the idea of keeping bees. Actually, he didn't know anything about bee-keeping, but every time he visited us he brought along a jar of honey. He liked honey so much and believed it to be so much healthier than sugar, he got us interested in producing our own.

Starting a Beehive

We've found out that doctors do recognize that honey is the perfect sweet — it's easier to digest, furnishes a quick source of energy, and, unlike processed sugar, contains minerals.

About this time we were reading a book called The Farm Primer in which the author says that a hive or two of bees will increase the fruit yield by 30 percent and even make the fruit taste better. Moreover, he pointed out that a hive of bees requires only eight hours of care per year and gives about 75 pounds of honey. Seventy-five pounds per hive seemed a lot but I've since heard of single hives producing as high as 500 pounds. Of course, it's unlikely a novice will get as much as that.

One lunch hour in New York, I went down to a bee equipment place. All I meant to do was buy a booklet called Starting Right with Bees, which I was going to read first — and get the bees later. I asked them how much the equipment necessary to have one bee hive would cost. They said, "About 20 dollars — including a queen and three pounds of bees — but right now we have only one complete amateur outfit left."

It seems they were having trouble getting zinc to make bee smokers. This is no longer true. Obviously, if I were going to have bees, then I'd best sign up for them right then and there. So, I made out a check for the works.

2/23/2007 12:29:18 PM

Beekeeping is a great way to help pollinate your garden. There is an easier type hive called the Top Bar Hive that requires much less equipement and is much healthier for the bees. Becuase the Top Bar method does not stress the bees for sevreal reasons. YOu can visit: for more information. Bees are so important to our food crops we really need to be sure we are taking care of them.



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