Friday, June 5, 2009

Beekeeping At Home -- First Steps

Beekeeping could be a great decision for a person who wishes to participate in agriculture without huge start up costs and limited space. While the start up of a beekeeping business might seem expensive, estimated $500 per hive, you can begin with just one hive. Then as your business grows, you can build more. Hives don't require a lot of land and can easily be stored in your backyard. However, before you consider having a beekeeping business and start building your hive, there are some factors you must know beforehand.

Not all locations are legal for beekeeping. To find out if having a beehive is legal for your area, you would need to contact your local Cooperative Extension office. This agency will inform you if your area is legally zoned for keeping bees. You may also consider other locations and inquire about them. Do make sure you receive your States beekeeping organization's phone number and office address so that you can register as a beekeeper.

Upon the approval for keeping bees, the next step would be determining the place you would want to build your beehive. Find a location that is flat and in shady area. Consider the elements of weather and have your beehive safe from rain and heat. For the safety of the bees, have the beehive away from animals and close neighbors. Bees will come out of their hives and will feel threaten if they are harassed.

After choosing a good place for your beehive, it is time to purchase the necessary supplies to build your hive and maintain it properly. Ebay can be a good resource for purchasing used and discounted items. If eBay, doesn't work for you, then there are several online shops you can purchase from. You can also contact the Cooperative Extension office or the Federation of American Beekeepers for more information.
It is important to have your beehive ready before purchasing bees. Double check your beehive location and foundation to ensure it is safe and correctly set-up. Now that your beehive is prepared, you are now ready to purchase your bees. It is highly suggested to go to a reputable Apiary, also known as a bee yard. Do require an Apiary to show a current certificate of inspection from the State Department of Agriculture.
Some beekeepers like to purchase their bees around January and February. These orders are usually shipped out in March and April. Bees are customary shipped in two to five pound containers of about 9,000 to 22,000 bees. It is a common practice for an apiary to ship bees via the United States postal service. Your local post office may require you to pick-up the bees for the safety of their employees and bees. A vehicle is usually too hot for the bees and while in transit bees should be stored in a cool shady area.

When it comes time to pick-up your bees, you should find them in a special carrying case. This container might be in a wooden frame box with a screen on the outside, allowing air to flow through and protecting handlers from getting stung. Transporting bees is a rough condition for them and you might find some dead on arrival. There should be a separate container that will house the queen bee. Some apiaries will ship the queen with a couple of nurse bees.

There is a certain procedure before placing your bees inside their hive. Have a bottom board with half of its frames removed. If your bees where not equipped with enough sugar syrup, you can make more by using one part sugar and one part water. Spray the bees through the screen. Bees love this syrup and will be easier to manage. Remove the container with the queen bee and ensure the rest of the bees are still in the box. The queen's container should be designed with holes and plugged at both ends.

Take away the plug that contains the white "queen candy" and place the queen's container between two frames in your beehive. The worker bees will eat away at the candy and eventually free the queen. Tap the box to gently move the bees to the bottom and immediately remove the lid. Place the bees in a hive above the queen. When the bees extend throughout the hive, carefully put back the frames that were taken out prior.
Cautiously, put the inner and outer covers on the colony. Feed your bees with sugar syrup on a regular basis until natural nectar starts. Inspect the bees after two days to check if the worker bees has freed the queen. If the queen was let out, she may be found on the center combs. However, if you are unable to located the queen bee, place the container back into the hive until she is out.

Inspect the colony again in a week after the first inspection. At this time you should see white wax combs building and cells collecting syrup, eggs or larvae. If you do not see eggs, then queen might not be alive and she must be substituted right away.

Starting up beekeeping will require you to carefully plan everything from beginning to end. The success of beekeeping will depend on your beehive and having healthy bees. A person should expect on-going costs and routine maintenance.
There are a number of good books available about beekeeping. Read two or three of the more recent ones.

Getting started beekeepng.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beekeeping at Home -- Tips for Starting

Getting Started Being A Beekeeper

Honey bees are truly wondrous creatures, and keeping them can be a thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable hobby. Getting started though is not always easy. The path may be simple and straightforward, or it may be strewn with difficulties. To ease your way and to make your introduction to the world of the honey bee as enjoyable as possible, consider taking the following steps:

Find an experienced, successful beekeeper who is willing to help you. Look over his or her shoulder whenever possible, and ask lots of questions. Recognize, however, that years of experience do not guarantee a beekeeper's competence or success. It may actually be one year of experience many times over. Select your mentor with care.
There are a number of good books available about beekeeping. Read two or three of the more recent ones. Acquire one or two of the better ones for your own library. Read them and reread them. In selecting your books, realize that beekeeping is generally the same worldwide. There are some national and regional differences, however, in both equipment and methodology. Beginners will do well to stay with books written for their own area. A New Englander, for instance, might not be best served by a book written in California or England.
Start with new equipment of standard design and dimensions. Used equipment or homemade equipment both have the potential to bring problems that the novice may not be equipped to recognize or handle. . Do not experiment the first year. Learn and use basic methods. Then you'll have a basis for comparison if you choose to experiment in future years.
Do not buy a so-called beginner's outfit until you know the use for each piece of equipment and are sure that you want it. You may find that you are better off making your own selection. A suggested list of equipment follows this section.
Start with Italian bees. They are the standard, the most common, and readily available in this country. Those acquired from a competent breeder are as gentle as any other race or strain available. In future years you can experiment, and again, have a basis for comparison.
Start with a package of bees rather than with a nucleus hive (a nuc) or an established hive. Once past the initial awe and apprehension, the novice can easily handle and install a package. By its nature a properly bred package is non-aggressive. It is a unit that a beginner can handle and relate to immediately. You will grow in confidence and competence as the colony grows in size.
Start early enough in the season, but not too early. Late April through early May is appropriate for most of New England, and packages are readily available during this period. .Recognize that you may not get a surplus of honey the first year, especially from package bees. The first year is a learning time for the beekeeper and a building time for the bees.
Join your local beekeepers' association. These groups welcome and encourage beginners. You will find kindred souls there. Beekeeping is much more difficult to learn in isolation, and beekeeper associations are a prime source of information about books and other publications, classes and workshops, and beekeeping events in the area. Many associations hold annual bee schools for beginners. You can usually get information on your local association from the county extension office.

Subscribe to a beekeeping magazine. They are full of valuable information for beginners.

Getting started beekeepng

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beekeeping at Home -- Catching a swarm

Catching a Fall Bee Swarm

I got a call from a mother in Santa Rosa, California, that a small swarm had moved into her back yard in a tree right above her kids play equipment. She told me that they had been there for three days.

Normally, bees hang around for only a day or two, so I knew I should hurry over there and hive the swarm. When we went into the backyard, there were a few bees around, but the swarm itself, was buzzing. I looked about 9 feet up and there it was.

The bees on the outer edge were dancing in figure eights with a passion. This usually means that the scout bees have found the place for the hive to settle and were telling the rest of the colony to go there. I placed a white tablecloth on the ground under the bees. On the edge of that, I placed a hive body with drawn combs and some honey to entice the bees to stay. I got my 5 gallon bucket and my spray bottle and climbed up the ladder.

Since I would most likely have some bees raining down on my head, I put my bee veil on. First, I sprayed a solution of sugar water on the cluster to keep them from flying and give them something to do, while I plotted how to get them. I placed my bucket under the swarm and raised it to touch the tree branch they clung to.

I figured that I was too late, as the last swarm I went to collect swarmed just as I got there and poof they disappeared into the sky. But, to my amazement I saw bees start landing on the landing board and, oh my goodness, they were fanning! Within 10 minutes the bees had all gone into the hive. I taped the top on, picked up my gear and went to report to the homeowner, who was watching from a window inside the house. I told her that there were still forager bees out looking for and gathering honey and that they would all be back inside the hive at dark. If I left now with the hive the bees would form back on the tree over the play structure, but if I came back at dark, I could take them ALL away.

Around 7:30p.m. it was almost dark and I picked up the bees after screening the opening and put them in my van and headed back home. I took them from the van and put them on a hive stand in my bee yard. The next day, I would give them some sugar syrup and a telescoping cover. And hope that they could put away enough stores for the winter when there is nothing to forage.

Well, the next day, my Chihuahua went into labor and she delivered four pups. That day flew by and I temporarily forgot about the swarm. The next day, I left in the morning to run errands and when I returned home, stepping out of the car, I heard a telltale sound of bees in a swarm. I looked up above the beeyard and there was a swarm, all right. I felt a little bad that my hives might feel the need to swarm, because I manage them so that they will not do this. Anyway, I walked with the swarm as they swirled across the yard and gathered about 60 feet away in a snowball tree. This time I got a nuc, which is half the size of a regular hive and removed 2 frames in the middle.

I trimmed away some of the branches of the tree and exposed the cluster. I clipped off one branch of bees and put them in. Then I clipped off the main branch and in they went. The bees filled the landing and began fanning. I went and got some sugar syrup to give them and by the time I came back the cluster was not to be seen on the tree and there were flying bees facing the nuc and memorizing their new home. Not wanting to lose them again, I decided to leave the nuc right there and worry about moving the bees later.

Moving bees is a big deal, because the bees use markers to know which hive is theirs. If you move them they will come back to the original sight. Unless you move them 2 feet or 2 miles.It seems that they forget their old home if you move them 2 miles away. (Bees normally forage in a 2-mile area.) Since I didn’t intend on moving them to one of my other locations, I now am committed to moving them in 2-foot increments.

On day one I moved them back one foot and up a foot on a stand. On day two I moved them two feet back. I will keep this up until I get them to my roadside stand, where I plan to put them in an observation hive for my customers to see. This was my 19th swarm for the year.
If you're thinking of starting beekeepng then the information you can find Here may be Exactly what you need.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beekeeping at Home -- A Business ?

Starting Your Own Beekeeping Business

Starting a beekeeping business may sound exciting and fun, but in all reality it's a lot of work and is time consuming. Most people who are in this are actually doing this as a hobby. Having a hobby and a livelihood are two entirely different areas since one is something you invest time and in some cases money and one is when you're trying to make a living at. Beekeeping is like farming you have to stay on top of the market demands and be technologically savvy because much of the business is going to depend on how fast you can produce a single product.

Yet this is where you're going to learn that beekeeping isn't even like that because if you expect to make a profit you would have had to have been in the business for a long time and following the trends on what the market demanded of the time. Today if you don't even have a website consider yourself a fossil in the area of business because that's your only link to the rest of the world by having a website or even a page.

Most of the companies today are commercialized because the small businesses today are just not equipped to handle the mass production of honey and small businesses won't make a lot giving the fact you are paid by the pound and the average amount after weighing the whole season isn't a whole lot. Commercial beekeepers average a couple thousand pounds, but farmers have to really push production if they want to average at least $15-30 a year. This is a competitive field to be selling honey and producing beeswax products since the beekeeping industry doesn't function as a co-op like many organic farmers do in this day and age where they work together beekeeping is sub-contract work and many of these small businesses are sub-contracted by these major corporations to produce honey under their label and their food line.

Sub-contracting may sound good and all, but you are also competing for these contracts as well with other small businesses and the high risk is that you can lose your contracts if the companies who hire you aren't happy with something for whatever reason it could be the quality of the product to anything. That's why this is a risky business to get into because you never know what the outcome is and how the market will fair during the season since this is what a beekeeper bases their financial output by which is how much they anticipate to make on a seasonal basis.

Beekeepers almost have to base their financial gain through good weather and season with the market demand, but you can't always predict good weather, which is what many worry about. They have more to worry about than crop farmers since they can make the difference when they get rain and lower climate suitable to the food they're growing. Beekeeping is dependent on the activity of the bees and how well they produce honey since bees produce in certain climates and temperatures. If you're expecting to thrive in this business understand that it's a lot of work and a lot of time invested into making this work for the long run.
There are a number of good books available about beekeeping. Read two or three of the more recent ones.

Getting started beekeepng