Copyright 1997 by Janice D. Green
We are alway excited to encourage a new potential beekeeper! To get started in beekeeping you will need a minimum of $100-200. We suggest you get a copy of the Dadant catalog for prices of basic equipment (phone 217-847-3324, fax 217-847-3660). There are other companies as well. Walter T. Kelley Co., Inc (phone 502-242-2012, fax 502-242-4801). Either are good sources. Kelly is in Clarkson, KY. Dadant has offices and stores in several locations. Pick out a beginner beekeeping book from one or the other, both are good. Also you should subscribe to the "American Bee Journal" by Dadant, or "Bee Culture" (phone 800-289-7668 ext. 3220, e-mail BCULTURE@aol.com, http://www.airroot.com). This will give you a realistic idea of the costs involved in starting up.
Next you need to locate another beekeeper in your area, hopefully there will be a beekeepers association nearby. Call your local county agriculture extension office as they may help you locate other beekeepers. These beekeepers will be able to suggest the best place to buy bees, perhaps even locally. You might even be able to buy used equipment, but that can be risky as the bees may have died of foulbrood and any new bees put in the hive is subject to the same fateful end.
Spring is the best time to actually start beekeeping. It is more difficult to keep bees alive through the winter months, especially for a new beekeeper. So if you are waiting for spring to come, get started on your reading and decision making so when the time comes you will be ready to go.
Also get on the B-List and read the discussions there. You can gain a lot of knowledge and insights there. The directions for getting signed on are on my web page. Look under the newbee section or the readers share section of the web page.
Another recommendation we make to new beekeepers is to start with two or even three
hives, not just one. That way if a queen fails or other problems develop, you have extra
bees to help make a new queen or to even out the hives if one is especially strong and
another is weak. And take medicating the bees for mites and foulbrood seriously. Too many
beekeepers don't and end up loosing their entire operation suddenly. Learn about other bee
parasites and diseases so that you will be able to take the proper care of it.
NEWSGROUPS FOR BEEKEEPERS & SERIOUS BEE ENTHUSIASTS
Bee-List is a newsgroup for beekeepers around the world which gets about 7-15 posts
each day. Members may read and post comments, questions, research.... etc.
To subscribe to, or to manage subscription options for BEE-L, go to
BEST OF BEE
Best of Bee is a filtered Bee-List subscription. As it's name implies, it includes only
the best posts on the Bee-List. One cannot post directly to Best of Bee. Posts must go to
To subscribe to, or to manage subscription options for Best of Bee, go to
http://www.internode.net/HoneyBee/Bee/bestofbe.htm and follow the instructions...
The following is a post to Bee-List written by Roy Nettlebeck
I have been talking to some people who are starting this year in beekeeping. They want to know what to do first.
1. Get a beginers beekeeping book and read it. Don't just read the first chapter like I did and have bees in the trees within one hour.
2. When you open up the hive DON'T stand over it and breathe on the bees. They do not like the CO2 from your breath.
3. Put on all of your gear. Don't play Rambo. After you understand the bees more then you can work slowly, maybe with your hands uncovered. Last fall I was going to just pull one frame and put it back. I recieved 25 stings on my left hand before I could close the hive. When a bee stings you it leaves a scent which is a target. You have to cover it up or you will get more stings in the same spot. I droped the frame on the hive and all heck broke loose.
4. Pay attention to what the bees are doing and what time of day it is. Write down in a log what you see. Then go back to the books and see what they have to say about it. Over time you will be able to evaluate your bees with not much more than lifting up the lid. Sound is very important. Once you get to the level of understanding the sounds the bees make for different conditions in the hive you are home. This takes work and plenty of attention.
I read a post not long ago about hobby beekeepers being the only ones that are real beekeepers. That is hog wash. If you only have a couple of hives you can spend a lot of time watching those hives. The big boys are seeing many more conditions and have to correct any problems or they are out of business. The good ones have a check off list in their head and there's not a second thought on what they have to do. One quick look and they make a decision on what to do for the hive. They can make a mistake here and there and not lose everything.
As a beginner you can spend a lot of time watching your bees. If you really get hooked, you will get more books and magazines. What you will find is priceless. The Honey Bee is more than just one more insect on this planet. It is part of a wonderful harmony that we call nature. It gives us much more than honey and pollen. The more you study the Honey Bee, the more you will appreciate this wonderful Earth, with all of its creatures.
Having bees is like a journey that never ends. You will have smiles and much more understanding, due to your wonderful exploration. Just watch the bees and they will take you on the trip. Use the brain God gave you and open it up, like a childs mind.
Now just enjoy the trip.