Beginning Beekeeping

Everything you need to know to become an enthusiastic beekeeper !


For the beginner who is just starting with bees, buying all new beekeeping equipment with package bees is the best way to start. An established hive can create problems for the beginner in areas such as swarm control, re-queening, and colony defensiveness. Buying new equipment will allow you to learn the individual parts of the hive while putting it together, and with package bees you can gain valuable experience from manipulating a small colony. You will witness the colony's growth from a small package into a strong honey-producing colony. This way your beekeeping skills will grow as your colony grows. Starting with more than one colony is helpful and will give you more management options. Two to four colonies are ideal for new beekeepers.

Buy your first bees and equipment from a well-recognized source. Refer to advertisements in beekeeping journals and request catalogs from the suppliers listed at the end of this publication. Before you buy usedequipment, familiarize yourself with honeybee diseases and pests. Second hand equipment may be safe; or it may turn out to be a costly and discouraging investment.

Getting Yourself Ready

Obtain a smoker and a hive tool. Learning to use these tools properly is an important skill for the beginning beekeeper to master. You should be able to light your smoker and keep it burning before you attempt to open a colony. Never attempt to open a colony without having a smoker burning. With a well-lit smoker, you are in charge; without it, the bees may take control.

Beekeeping Course

Attend a Beekeeping Course if possible, if one is offered by a nearby Beekeeping Associaton. These Assocaitions very often offer field days where beekeeping techniques are provided. Try to find out if there are any nearby beekeepers in your area and introduce yourself. Beekeepers love helping others who exhibit an interest in the hobby. Ask if you can go with them when they work with their beehives. This experience will prove very helpful when you get your own bees. Subscribe to at least one beekeeping periodical.

Beekeeping Clothing:

Outfit yourself with work clothes and needed accessories to make your work easier and more enjoyable. When you begin working with bees, always wear beekeeping gloves and a veil. As you become more aware of the factors that affect a colony's temperament, you will learn when you can work with your bees without gloves and when the colony will be quite defensive. You will only learn these lessons through experience working your bees, so be well protected. Before attempting to open a colony, carefully study information on how to handle bees when opening the hive.

Everything you need to know about Beekeeping Clothing. This is an extract from the broadcast 'Studio Bee Live " by David of Honey Bee Farms in Illinois. It is an mp3 audio file and should automatically call up your Windows Media Program or maybe Quick Time to play it when you click on the speaker. An excellent discussion that plays about 20 minutes. You can save it to your computer to play again at any time.

Bee Stings

People react to bee stings in different ways. Most people become accustomed to bee venom with time and tolerate occasional bee stings with little reaction. Unfortunately, a small fraction of the total human population can be dangerously allergic and have a life-threatening reaction. Generalized reactions, where symptoms occur away from the site of the sting, indicate a dangerous sensitivity. These symptoms include difficulty in breathing, swelling away from the site of the sting, itching and hives, nausea or abdominal cramps, dizziness, and confusion. If any of these symptoms occur, the beekeeper should seek immediate medical attention. Allergic reactions can be stopped by administering epinephrine. Allergic individuals can be desensitized in most cases and should consult their physician.

Updated January 4, 2017

© 2010-2017 Albert W. Needham

What you should do if you have acquired used equipment

When you have obtained used hives disinfect them before use.

To do this, first scrape the boxes using a paint scraper, hive tool or other suitable instrument, so that the bits of wax and propolis fall onto some cardboard or newspaper. This Should subsequently be burnt. Be especially careful when cleaning the internal corners of the boxes and the frame runners. Consider removing frame runners and replacing with new ones after disinfection. When done, clean your scraper.

Then disinfect in one of the following ways:

a. Scorch with a blowlamp. Make sure any remaining propolis boils and that the timber darkens. There is no need to burn the timber. Be especially careful in the corners.

b. Boil in Caustic Soda. This is not very practical for the average beekeeper due to the caustic nature of the bath and the problems of disposal of the used solution. It requires great care and caution. The method is to prepare a bath using a solution of 450g. Sodium Hydroxide to 38 liters. of water and bring the solution to the boil. Wooden hives parts are then immersed in the solution for between 5 and 15 minutes. Then dip the parts in clean boiling water. After drying, the parts will probably need re-nailing. YOU MUST wear suitable protective clothing when using this system.

c. Dip into molten paraffin wax. This requires specialist equipment, which the average beekeeper does not have. For further details see a suitable bee-keeping textbook.

Some of these tips provided by the Monadnock Beekeepers Association.

Beekeeping Supplies And Equipment

Last updated January 4, 2017

© 2010-2017 Albert W. Needham