With the decline in bee populations worldwide, many people are starting to respect and welcome their buzzing neighbors. Beekeeping is a stable, scalable hobby that can easily turn into a source of income, but getting started can seem like a daunting task. While looking through pages and pages of hives may be intimidating for the neophyte apiarist (that’s your new fancy beekeeper title), the truth is that with a little time, effort, and the right tools, you can begin a successful beekeeping operation in your backyard.
There are a few things any beekeeper needs in order to be successful. As the size of your beekeeping operation grows (and it will grow), the needed equipment tends to increase proportionately. We’re going to take a look at the bare minimum needed to start a thriving backyard apiary.
Protective Equipment – Just like your 8th-grade shop teacher said, “Safety first, last, and always.” In beekeeping, this means wearing your sting-resistant clothing. Bee suits are available in a range of style, some maximizing comfort, others maximizing protection. Make sure you get a professional-grade suit and hood, as DIY options can fall short, leaving you and your bees open to injury.
A Home For Your Bees
Let’s be honest, sometimes you pick beekeeping, sometimes it picks you. If you have bees already in a safe structure and you aren’t interested in harvesting honey, just keeping bees healthy for pollination, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you want that sweet, golden goodness, however, you’ll need a hive. There are plenty of traditional hives available, but new innovations continue to make harvesting honey easier than ever.
Tools Of The Trade – Whatever hive you choose, there are a few tools that come in handy for beekeeping. Smokers help to inhibit bees’ ability to communicate, pacifying them while you examine the hive or harvest honey. A hive tool and bee brush may be necessary if you’ve chosen a traditional frame-type hive, as they help you manage the frames more efficiently. You may also need an extractor for some hives to help you harvest from frames.
Take Care Of Your Environment – The environment they live in can make or break your bee colony and keep your neighbors happy with you. Ensure your bees have adequate water to avoid wandering. Tall fences or shrubs can help direct bees up and over passers-by on sidewalks or neighboring yards. In colder climates, you will need to winterize your hives to protect bees. Take a look around their home, and make it as appealing as possible.
Get An Education – You don’t have to go back to school, but learning more about bees, their lives, and their habits will go a long way towards helping you grow a thriving and successful colony. There are plenty of books available, and the internet is filled with information (just be sure you’re using a reputable source such as the Back Yard Beekeepers Association)
A Sweet Deal
With a bit of preparedness and thought, you can become a beekeeping all-star. By providing a safe place for your buzzing buddies, you help protect a dwindling resource, support pollination for better flowers and crops, and reconnect with the outdoors. You also get honey, which is a pretty sweet deal, all in all.