Start Planning Now for Bees in the Spring!

| 12/3/2013 2:44:00 PM

The beginning of winter may not seem like the time to start thinking about becoming a beekeeper. However, if you are considering starting beekeeping this spring, now is the time to begin planning.Hive/Hive

First, it is a good idea to get as much background information as you can. There are several ways to do this. Check out your local bee club – if you haven’t been attending meetings, this is a good time to start. See if they offer any sort of mentoring program or classes for beginning beekeepers. There are probably lots of people in the club who would love to talk to you about getting started in beekeeping. We were lucky enough to join a very active bee club when we first started beekeeping.   We got great advice, had people to call when we had questions, and even got to attend a “beeyard visit”, where experienced beekeepers showed the “newbees” how to do a hive inspection.

Some colleges, universities, and beekeeping supply companies offer beekeeping classes. My husband took a beginner’s beekeeping class through Betterbee, a beekeeping supply company that is local to us, and I took a two day beekeeping class offered by Cornell University. If you are lucky enough to live close to one, this is another way to learn more about beekeeping.

Start reading! There are many great books on beekeeping for beginners out there. Two of our favorites when we were getting started are Beekeeping for Dummies by Howland Blackiston, and The Backyard Beekeeper by Kim Flottum. These books are both full of great information on getting started in beekeeping, and are still a valuable reference for us.

Also consider subscribing to a beekeeping magazine such as Bee Culture and/or American Bee Journal. These are great resources as they have articles with current information for beekeepers on many different aspects of beekeeping and products of the hive. They also have question and answer sections, and calendars of events to keep you up to date on workshops, seminars, and other events that are taking place. You may also want to contact some beekeeping supply companies and request copies of their catalogues.  This can help you to get a feel for what kind of equipment you may need, and how much you will need to spend.

While you are doing all of this background research, take some time to make sure that you have the right location to keep bees. Check into local ordinances to make sure beekeeping is allowed in your area. When deciding where to position hives, some factors you will need to consider are amount of sunlight, how windy or wet the location is, and how easily accessible it is for you. It’s also a good idea to keep the neighbors happy – make sure you can position your hives so the bees flight path isn’t right across your neighbors front yard.   The books mentioned above have a lot of information on selecting a good location for an apiary, and keeping the neighbors happy.  

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