So You Want to Be a Beekeeper?

If you love bees as much as I do and all that they do for us, you might be considering becoming a beekeeper yourself. If this is the case then understand that even though beekeeping can be relatively easy, it does in the end require a lot of knowledge, a pretty good amount of equipment and room for the equipment as well as some hard work. But, if that doesn’t scare you off then you might be ready to set up your own beekeeping area and business in your own backyard.

First off, here is a list of all the things you will need to help you get started:

•    Already established beehives with existing colonies
•    Hive tools
•    Smoker and fuel
•    Protective clothing that includes a veil and gloves
•    Equipment to extract the honey
•    Space to create a bee yard
•    Space to extract and package honey
•    Plenty of flowering plants that will produce nectar or pollen for the bees
•    Some sort of vehicle to transport beehives
•    Packaging
•    Other supplies that should include feeding and medications

Putting Your Beekeeping Business Together

The most important thing you need to do before you start is figure out how big you want your business to be. If you are just going to be a hobbyist then you can be small enough to make just enough money to cover the expense of your hobby. However if you want to be what’s known as a sideliner then you will want a bigger business that will not only cover your expenses but supplement your income. Then there’s commercial and that means hitting the big time with thousands of hives, lots of property and many employees to help work the hives.

After you’ve decided how big of an operation you want you will need to come up with a business plan and figure out if you are going to fund this yourself or if you will need to borrow money in order to start up your business.

After you’ve got your business plan in place you will need to establish your business legally and that means you will need to register your business with state and local governments and your state department of agriculture.

Once this is done find the location that you want to set up your hives in. You need to have enough room for the hives you have and there needs to be plenty of light, protection and water for the bees. You should also have an area near the hives where you can process and package your honey.

Understand Your Bees and What Their Needs Are

In order to be a good beekeeper even if it’s just a hobby you still need to learn all that you can about bees, their biology and their behavior. If you don’t have a good understanding of these things the likelihood of being a success is pretty slim. You should understand how colonies of bees work and how to interact with them as well as manage the beehives. You also need to learn about all the different races of bees there are and what race of bee is going to fit your needs.

You also need to learn about and follow the different seasons of beekeeping. You need to know how spring, summer, fall and winter all affect the different activities of your bee colonies. Understand that the effects of these thing are going to let you optimize your inspections, your plan for feeding the colonies and when you can medicate the hive.

You need to treat your bees as if they were your livestock. You need to know and understand their needs like food, protection, shelter and water along with when they might need any kind of medical treatment. Take care of your bees good and they will take care of you as well.

You need to learn how to manage your beehives in the right way so they produce well. You need to know the difference between how to manage hives as a hobbyist and commercially because the environments will be different. You will need to learn management techniques that are accurate and efficient.

Bees will swarm, there is no getting away with it so you will need to learn how to manage swarming. This is a natural process for bees and they use this technique to propagate. When swarming does occur, the old queen will leave her hive and she will take a lot of the bees with her in order to create her new hive, she leaves behind a new queen to take care of the old hive. This is how you end up increasing your stock of bees. So, you don’t want to stop them from swarming.

Make sure that you know the area in which you live. Learn about the plant life and make sure that the area gives them enough to forage on so your bees can thrive and then be able to produce enough extra byproducts for you to harvest for your needs.

The best thing you can do before you try to really get into beekeeping is to just get a little bit of experience first. You can do this by simply getting a couple of beehives and put them in your backyard. Not only will this help you get use to the idea of beekeeping but you will learn a lot from this small group of bees. You also might want to find a mentor. Someone who already is adept at beekeeping and get information and training from them. Join a beekeeping club, you’d be surprised at how much you’ll learn from a group of beekeepers all at different experience levels.

Once you feel you are ready, go out and buy all the equipment you need and set up your hives where you plan on keeping them. It’s a good idea to order your bees during their swarming season which is early spring this will ensure that your will have bees that are looking to set up a new hive.

Ways You Can Earn Money as a Beekeeper

Now you are set and your bees are producing honey what can you do to make money as a beekeeper? Well, first and foremost you can sell the honey itself. This is the main money crop. You can sell it locally at local fruit stands, farmer’s markets or find a honey broker. You can even sell your honey online if you like.

Other ways to make money from beekeeping are:

•    Selling pollen
•    Selling propolis
•    Selling beeswax
•    Provide pollination services
•    Sell queens
•    Sell packaged bees
•    Sell beehives

Final Note: Make sure to keep up with your local and state laws that control beekeeping because the laws are always changing and you always want to make sure you are in compliance with these laws or you could lose everything you worked so hard for.

Lori