Backyard Beekeeping for Beginners

Backyard beekeeping can provide you with fresh honey and pollinated crops, use these tips to start your own hive.

| April 23, 2014

The Beginner’s Guide to Beekeeping (Voyageur Press, 2013) can help you start your first beehive the right way. Veteran beekeepers and farming professionals Daniel and Samantha Johnson walk you through their tips on raising honey bees. Use this excerpt from chapter 2, “Starting Out as a Beekeeper,” to help you enter the world of backyard beekeeping.

Buy this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Beginner’s Guide to Beekeeping.

Finding Bee Breeders

Here’s a great question that probably has been bouncing around in your mind for a while, and perhaps you’ve even skipped ahead in the text to find the answer: Where exactly are your bees going to come from?

Well, unless you plan on tracking down and capturing a swarm of loose bees (possible, although challenging and beyond the scope of a beginner) or collecting them one by one off of dandelions and daisies (not practical), you will be purchasing your bees from someone else—either a bee breeder (who may live far from you) or a local beekeeper. And that’s a good idea, because this way you will be able to do your research and purchase from an established, reputable source—and besides, that wild bee roundup idea sounds a little too ambitious!

Most bee breeders in the United States are located in the southern portions of the country and California (because of the warm year-round temperatures) but will ship packages of bees and queens all over the country. If you’re not planning on buying locally, then explore bee journals and magazines for bee breeders who will ship to your location. (A breeder that offers a package replacement guarantee is a good thing—just in case your bees perish during shipment.)

Generally speaking, you can purchase your bees in three different ways.

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