Updated: Aug 4, 2019
Getting bees is exciting although somewhat expensive to get into. There are a lot of items for both the bees and the beekeeper that are needed. Here I will try to tackle the basics of beekeeping - It will be a kinda learn as we go since we are new to beekeeping this year. We've joined a couple of beekeeping clubs, taken a beginner bee course at Michigan State University and attended a few talks on beekeeping subjects so we know just enough to be dangerous :-)
Let's take a look at some beekeeping requirements.
An entire hive is not necessary to begin keeping bees. You can start with two deep supers, either eight frame supers or ten frame supers for each hive, a bottom board, entrance reducer, an inner cover, a top cover, a hive stand, frames and foundation, and a feeder for the bees of each beehive. You will also need a package of bees for each beehive.
Note: To start beekeeping successfully, bee clubs and experienced beekeepers recommend starting with two hives although two are not necessary.
I highly recommend finding and joining a local bee club and taking classes is highly recommended - there is a lot to know about beekeeping.
SETTING UP THE HIVE
Determining the best spot for the beehive requires some thought. Southern exposure, dappled shade, with a near water source, and a stand 18" to 24" off the ground is best. Our stand is 18" off the ground, 22" wide and 4' 5" long was made from scrap wood from the barn. We will be using tie downs on the hives to keep them secure from winds and critters that may want to rob the hives.
To begin beekeeping will you need protective clothing or bee suit, beekeeping gloves, a smoker, a hive tool, a bee brush, a spray bottle and bee feeder to begin beekeeping. As you progress, you can build on your beekeeping tools and supplies. A benefit of joining a bee club may allow you the opportunity to rent or borrow the honey extraction tools when you harvest honey.
FEEDING THE BEES
Bees need a source of water and can fly up to five miles in search of a feed source/pollen.
In early Spring, good sources of pollen in SE Michigan are pussy willows, witch hazel, maple trees, crocus, freesia bushes and a few other early blooming trees and plants. You'll want to supplement the bees to ensure they have enough food to get them started until the nectar flows begin.
INSPECTING THE HIVE
After installing your new bees and supplying a supplemental source of feed whilst they settle into their new hive, you'll want to check on the hive after they've had a week to ten days to settle in. You'll want to make sure the queen is alive and the hive is thriving. There is a lot more to learn so stay with us on our journey of keeping bees!
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While beekeeping may be expensive for a lot of folks, honey bees are a wonderful addition to a homestead. Bees pollinate our fruits and vegetables, supply us with honey, propolis, bee pollen and beeswax. All the bees give us is nutritious and healthful they have earned a spot on our homestead.