What do you really need to start beekeeping?
Going to the fair each year is something I have always looked forward to! The bee booth was always one of my favorite things to see there. Two years ago someone there suggested I sign up for the beekeeping class in the spring. I figured why not!
In January of 2018 I took the beekeeping for beginners class. I loved it! I didn't expect that there would be so much to learn and take in. I was hooked so I completed the class and decided to take take the jump and purchased 2 Nucs during the class.
I highly recommend taking a class if your interested in keeping bees. There are so many things involved. On top of that there are tons of different methods. A class will give you a good idea if keeping bees is something your really interested in. There are classes all over some are even free! In addition to the class I also joined a beekeeping club. Its amazing! Its a great place to get advice and continue to learn!
When you buy bees there are 2 options. You can get a package or a Nuc. A Package is a box that contains 3lbs of bees and a queen. They are typically $120-$135. A Nuc is basically a tiny started hive. It is a small box with 5 frames. It contains a queen, bees, and started frames of comb with brood, honey, and pollen. It gives the bees a huge head start but costs more. Typically $170-$180.
Now let me start by saying as with any hobby, there are so many things you can buy! There are tons of hive option, the come in different styles, materials, and size options. Suits and accessories galore, 10 types of smokers, books, DVDs, you name it.
For us we wanted bees on our property for a few reasons. Polination is a big one of course. We have two large gardens, a small orchard, large dual purpose flower beds, a few strawberry patches, and an herb garden. We also wanted to add to our farm experience. When people come to buy eggs, produce, herbs, or livestock, we wanted them to see the bees. They are awesome! Our third reason is obviously honey of course! Both for ourselves and to sell! Beeswax is another great plus! I may even get into selling queens or bees at some point but I don't want to overwhelm myself this early on.
With the hope of added profit in mind we thought we would get the most bang for our buck. I went for two 10 frame deep hives. I choose to also get bottom boards that can hold an oil tray for hive beetles as well. If your trying to decide oh a hive size, let me make it easy for you. Each frame full can weigh 10lbs. That means each deep box of my 10 frame hive could potentially weigh 100lbs. For me I wasn't worried. I'm fit and my husband was all about helping(at that time lol). If this is to heavy for you there is an 8 frame option. You can lighten it even more by using medium boxes instead of deep.Just make sure you buy the correct size frames to go with the size you choose.
As far as accessories the were a few vendors that attended my class. They had great deals on suits and a few other things. It was great to see them in person and even try them on to check for size since im pretty small! If your a guy you have it pretty easy. your thick jeans are perfect so all you'll need is a jacket and veil. Womens jeans are not only thinner but they are tight. Let me tell you from experience they have stung my right through my "loose" jeans no problem. So I went with a full suit! I got a nicer vented one. Its great and was worth the money! You'll be wearing that suit in July and August when its hottest out. Its nice that I can throw the suit over shorts and a tank. I bought a hive tool, there are a few options. I prefer the one with the hook. I also nice smoker that will last, and isn't huge. You don't need the giant one.
Notice anything im missing? I forgot to get gloves! Now some people choose not to wear gloves. I don't like to be stung and I swell up! When I brough my nucs home I tried gardening gloves. There a photo of me after I installed my Nucs above. Most likely they were agitated from being transported but I did get stung through the gloves. So don't forget to get gloves!
My husband is amazing and built my a stand for my hives. Its up of the ground to help with hive beetles and to save my back! it also has a large space in the middle. It could hold 3 hives but I use the space to hold my upper brood box and frames as I inspect everything. this keeps the sticky frames out of the dirt! Make sure if you use a stand it can hold the weight and isn't going to fall over.
My Quick Tips...
1. Don't over buy. Start small and buy as you go.
2.Dont forget to buy gloves.
3. wear a baseball hat under your veil to keep it out from your face.
4. Wear a sweat band! I know so 80s but your going to thank me! The sweat is going to be rolling down into your eyes, bees will be everywhere and wiping your eyes through your veil is a mess and a good way to get stung.
5. If your not physically able to lift a heavy hive, start small! Purchase 8 frame hives.
6. Be calm and move slowly when working your bees!
7. Don't worry about honey production your first year.... your not going to get any!
What you really need to get started...
-A hive body for your brood box
-Frames that fit your box
-A bottom board
-An Inner Cover
-A hive tool (there are several styles I like the one with the hook)
-A Suit or jacket with a veil
-Bees (a package or a nuc)
-You may also want a brush but I don't use mine much!