There are two types of beekeepers: those who jump right into beekeeping and figure a way to make it work and the 2nd type; those who are more cautious about the hobby, and want to learn everything they can before taking the leap.
Regardless of which category you fall in, at Harvest Lane Honey we are committed to bringing you the most information possible so you can make an educated decision that is right for you.
Following are some of the most commonly asked questions for those wanting to start beekeeping.
Are bees easy to keep?
Anyone can keep bees. The best trait to have in keeping bees is not to micro-manage them. Let them do their thing.
How much time do bees take?
Bees are less time consuming than domesticated pets or livestock. Bees should be checked no more than one time per week. After they are established, they can go two weeks between checks. If you live in a winter climate you want to not do any heavy inspections after mid to late October.
Where do I put a hive?
We recommend placing hives opposite of the wind direction. Keep them away from horses or cows. If they are in the same field, put fencing around the hives. If in a residential area or placing a hive close to your home face the entrance away from any play, work or lounge area. If your yard is fenced put your hive in a corner, forcing the right pattern to go up and out. Always have a water source for your hive to help keep them from becoming a nuisance.
How small of an area can I keep bees?
Bees can be kept on very small lots: there are many beekeepers in Urban cities that keep bees on roofs or porches. Think Music City Center in Nashville or The McCormick Center in downtown Chicago. There are ways to keep bees in major cities and for beehives and urban areas to co-exist.
Of course, if you are fortunate to have more land, that is great and will allow you to expand your hobby. Check your local, county and state codes for any laws regarding space.
How much honey will a new hive produce?
Honey production can range from 0-50 lbs, even in the first year. If you are worried about too much honey, let your friends and family know you have honey and you will be their new best friend.
I have kids, are bees safe?
Bees are safe around children when they are tended and cared for properly. Placing a fence or barrier around the bees will give children and the bees their needed space. When placing your hive, put the entrance facing away from play areas and provide an ample water supply for the bees.
I have other animals, will they bother the bees?
Other animals are fine. Cows and horses are curious and can knock the hive over. Other large pets may do the same. Fence the area around the bees to limit any problems.
Will they bother my neighbors?
Properly cared for bees will not be a nuisance. Check your beehives in the middle of the day when the majority of the hive is out working, to avoid masses of bees flying around. Use your smoker to calm them when you do check. The biggest culprit of nuisance bees is inadequate water. We suggest that you have a five gallon bucket of water, pond, bird bath or other water source nearby to keep your bees from gathering around your neighbors pools, water hoses, or open water areas.
I like to garden, will the bees bother me?
Bees like to garden as much as you like to be in your garden. We suggest that if you find the bees bothersome, then garden in the morning or evening hours when most of the bees have returned to the hive.
What do I need to start?
Our Backyard Beekeeping Kits have everything you need to start your hive. You will only need to purchase bees and protective clothing. As your hive grows you can add additional small, medium or large kits.
I have heard two hives are better than one to start. Why?
We recommend two hives if you can. If one hive fails or does exceptionally well you can compare differences in them. It is also good to be able to pull frames of honey or brood from a stronger hive to help a struggling one.
How late can I order bees?
Bee orders will need to be placed before March 1. Sooner is better to ensure you will get bees. Bees will arrive in either April or May depending upon your area.
What about CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder)? Will I be affected?
CCD is something that is a risk for all beekeepers. There is no proven cause, which means there is no proven prevention or treatment. As with all livestock there is a risk of loss.
What about mites?
Mites do occur. All bees from HLH are treated for mites before you receive them. There are many options and methods for treatment. We treat it after we spot mites in the hive.
I have some old equipment. Is it okay to use?
We strongly recommend not using old hive equipment. If the old hive died out the original cause could kill a new hive. New equipment also encourages production and is not at risk for potential contaminated with chemicals or pesticides. Used beekeeping suits, gloves, smokers, and tools can be used. However, we recommend thoroughly cleaning these to avoid any possible hive contamination.