National Honey Bee Day 
    A day for honey bees...
                                          ...a program for the entire year

Getting Started in Bees

Like any hobby, some consideration in what will be required is a must. How much time is involved? Am I able to keep bees? How much will it cost? How do I go about getting started? These are all good questions. Spend some time planning your path, and use the checklist below to help guide you.

1) Invest in some research of beekeeping. Get a basic beekeeping book. Better yet, get several. Read about the fascinating hobby that so many enjoy. Many libraries as well as county and state bee associations have book loan programs.

2) Ask a beekeeper if they would allow you to ride along or visit an apiary. Many of the National Honey Bee Day programs are based on open houses and beginner introductory programs. But nothing will beat an actual visit into a bee yard and a little hands on session. Most beekeepers are more than willing to talk about their passion with bees.

3) Seek out the closest beekeeping club or association. Attend some meetings, make contacts, rub some elbows, and perhaps find a mentor. Many clubs have beginner courses and mentor programs. You will be surprised at not just the number of beekeepers, but who is keeping bees.

4) Get motivated! Understand the impact of honey bees in the environment. Many have noticed not just the lack of honey bees, but bats, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. Knowing you will benefit beyond the best tasting honey ever produced from your own hives, you will also know that you are contributing towards a better environment.

5) Plan ahead. Depending on your own ability to make wooden ware, find deals on used equipment, or pay for new, will determine your initial investment costs. Once purchased, your equipment will last many years. Beekeeping startup costs can range from $100 to $500 depending on many factors.

6) Where will you keep bees? While bees are kept on farms, in neighborhood communities, and on city rooftops, some consideration should be given to where you will keep bees. Safety and health of those around you should always take priority.

Many people are fascinated with bees. And a couple of the most common comments when asked of someone checking out a bee display if they want to be a beekeeper is "I don't have room for bees", or "I live in town". Many do not realize that 98% of all beekeepers are hobbyists, keeping bees in residential areas. There are very few places that prohibit bees. Don't rule out becoming a beekeeper thinking you need a large farm or other special place. Ask a local beekeeper. And find out the details.    

7) Do I have time for beekeeping? Unlike other hobbies, time is very flexible when it comes to beekeeping. Going away for a few weeks on vacation is no concern. Several inspections will be needed throughout the year to determine the colonies needs and for basic management for honey production. But you can open a hive weekly or go an entire month without. The bees know how to take care of themselves.

8) Provide your bees a habitat to allow them to survive. Having honey bees means consideration of chemicals used around the house. Pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides should be scrutinized and limited, if not stopped altogether. Remember that hair spray and silicon lube are not listed as pesticides, but will kill a honey bee in seconds. Keeping honey bees means making a commitment to keeping them, and the environment, healthy.

9) Will I get rich beekeeping? From a monetary Not unless you have a rather large operation. But the rewards are many as a beekeeper. Having honey for friends and family, the solitude and peacefulness that keeping bees provides, as well as your contribution to the overall health of the environment are all priceless. 


10) Do not allow yourself to be intimidated. Unlike other stinging insects, honey bees are manageable. They do not take pleasure in stinging. And they die if they sting you. There are 95 year olds keeping bees as well as very young children. If they can do can you! Beekeeping is a fascinating hobby for all ages. Once you become a beekeeper, some say you will always be a beekeeper at heart.

Have Fun! And remember, "You don't stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stopped playing!"

Putting on a beesuit and asking questions. We all started the same way.