We have received a hundred e-mail notes from readers of these pages asking for information about getting started with bees.
We have our own Question and Answer Page where some of our e-mail has been posted and answered for you.
This page will try to answer the most common questions and help you beegin with bees!
Can I keep bees by myself?You can keep bees by yourself or do it with your best friend. You probably want to know if the bees will want to be kept by you... You can keep bees almost anywhere that people can live. They won't always make a gazillion pounds of honey every year - that varies with climates and seasons. But most of us keep the critters for the fun of it!
What if the Federal Marshall finds out about my passion?Beekeeping is usually legal. Like almost everything we do, there is always some measure of risk and liability which can be mitigated by judicious common sense. Some communities have banned beekeeping but this usually turns out to be a pretty dumb idea. Vicious, angry, hostile, aggressive stinging insects such as wasps, hornets, and feral bees soon move in when nice, pleasant-mannered honey bees have been evicted (nature abhors a vacuum). An acquaintance has kept bees on Manhattan Island for years. The beehives sit on his balcony. Other people keep bees in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Hootan Holler, Pennsylvania. Just be responsible about it! You might try to fight city hall, but in the meanwhile, set up a hive of bees on Uncle Willie's acreage. His garden will love the pollination, Uncle Wille will love the free honey you'll give him, and he might even enjoy your occasional visits. Unless, of course, he doesn't like you. One more thing.... In most states and provinces, you need to register as a beekeeper. This is really a pretty neat thing - they send you a number and an inspector comes by every now and then and gives you free advice (it's usually worth the cost!), so do follow the laws... they are always in place to help you!!
So, is there lots of money in the honey business?Yes, there is lots of money in the honey business. Unfortunately, you will probably discover that most of the money travels OUT of your pocket. Do beekeeping for the fun of it, you won't likely get rich at it, although a very small number of people have become millionaires by producing honey! If you are wondering about how much cash you'll need to get started, that depends... One hive of bees with supers (boxes) to hold comb honey and equipment to take care of the bees (veil, gloves, smoker, feeding equipment) will probably set you back three hundred dollars. Ten hives with an extractor to separate combs from honey and all the other stuff required will be about three thousand bucks. Three thousand hives with big trucks, fork lifts and a couple of twelve thousand square foot warehouses will run you at least half a million dollars.
Where can I spend some of these millions of dollars?There are several "bee supply" places with excellent reputations. I won't list them all here because I don't know all of them. But for starters, any of these companies will mail a catalog to you: Alberta Honey Producers Co-op, Box 3909, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3B1 Dadant and Sons, 51 S. 2nd Street, Hamilton, IL 62341 Brushy Mountain Bee Farm Moravian Falls, North Carolina Mann Lake Bee Supplies, 1-800-880-7694 (in Minnesota) Western Bee Supply, P.O. Box 171, Polson, MT 59860 Walter T. Kelley Company, P.O. Box 240, Clarkson, KY 42726
How could I ever be as bright and knowledgeable as you?Being bright is a gift from God. But you CAN be knowledgeable: 1) Read the Web Pages (I especially recommend the U of Florida's WWW site- Go to the EXCELLENT APIS Web Site); 2) You'll learn a lot from the bee journals (try American Bee Journal from Dadant and Sons, use the address above AND/OR subscribe to Bee Culture, from A.I. Root and Company, also listed above); 3) Buy a good book... Root's ABC and XYZ in Bee Culture and Dadant's The Hive and the Honey Bee are excellent, but so is James Mitchner's The Source though it has nothing to do with bees; 4) Bother a good local beekeeper. You have a lot to learn from people in your neighbourhood who have bees... bees do different things in different climates and at different times of the year.... A good beekeeper can tell you when to feed the bees, when to put honey boxes on, and how to get the bees ready for winter. If you can't find a good beekeeper, listen to a bad one and do the opposite.Other great references for Beeginning Beekeepers include: University of Georgia's How to Get Started in Beekeeping is probably the best, Penn State offers great beekeeping info from Mid-Atlantic USA; The University of North Carolina site, Insect Notes, includes lots of practical help on pollination, honey plants, diseases; Go Beekeeping's beginner's page is great; The most popular beekeeping page on the net is our own, Beekeeping Web Links where you will find links to hundreds of other beekeeping sites; Finally, Tucson Bee Research Lab offers the excellent GEARS with lots of basic information for hobby and professional beekeepers.
Beekeeping: The Beekeeper's Home Pages