Imagine having your own source of honey in your backyard. You can have it anytime you want. How do you do it?
Are The Odds In Your Favor?
Deciding to be a beekeeper is a little bit like deciding to take care of other animals, but you have to consider all the odds.
Do you have ample space for your bees? A regular-sized city lot can house one or two bee colonies. Check your local ordinance and zoning regulations first to make sure that they permit beekeeping from where you live.
Your family also has to know what it takes to have bees around. Obviously, you should be sure that no one is allergic to bee stings. Get your family tested by a doctor to prevent trips to the emergency room.
You also have to consider your neighbors. When it causes problems with your neighbors, you have to find another place for them. It would be helpful to get a screen or a sight barrier wherein your neighbors’ kids wouldn’t be tempted to do anything that may endanger themselves or your colony.
Create A Perfect Home For Your Bees
Using a hive stand, elevate your hives for about 18 inches above the ground to protect them from skunks. It can be easily constructed using treated 2x4s and cement blocks.
Honey bees naturally nest in cavities of about 2-3 cubic feet. These nests are constructed with 3 areas. The gold area is where the honey is stored. The white area is where the pollen, the main brood food, is stored and surrounds the nest like a protective layer. The brown area is the lowest and most protected layer because it is where the queen bee lays eggs and the young bees are raised.
To create your own hive, you have to visualize the hive as a sphere where your bees will construct their hive in a similar way that their natural nests are created. Bees live in vertical-hanging beeswax sheets that are suspended at the top by a bar of wood that fits into a groove at the top of the box. Beekeepers use wooden and sometimes plastic frames to keep the beeswax secure so that it doesn’t bend.
There are different boxes that beekeepers use. There are boxes called deeps that hold ten frames and are 9.5 inches tall. The mediums are boxes of 6.5 inches tall, while the shallows are boxes of 5-7/8 inches tall.
You have to have protective gear when dealing with your bees. To prevent them from entangling with your hair, you can use a hat with a veil. It is advisable that you should put a full suit on, especially if doing heavy work. Gloves come in handy when you are uncomfortable having bees around your fingers.
You also need to have a smoker. A smoker is a simple cylinder with bellows attached. It should be a slow-burning fire that produces smoke.
When the bellows are squeezed, smoke comes out and enters the beehive. When bees are agitated too much, their natural instinct kicks in, and they will duck into the hives, eat as much honey as they can to abandon the hive, and find a new nest.
Since communication among bees happens through chemical messages, the smoke messes up and breaks down their communication so you can go about your work unhindered.
The Best Bee For You
You have to decide what variant of bee you would like to keep. You can have the Carniolans, which are dark bees, gentle but demanding for management. They survive winters better, but their population builds fast during spring.
Russians, on the other hand, are gentle yet erratic. They are docile and build slower in spring. They come in different colors of yellow and dark. They are a bit more complicated to manage but are resistant to varroa mites.
Take care of backyard bees
If you are considering backyard beekeeping, you should ensure your bees are healthy. Here are some tips on how to take care of bees when practicing backyard beekeeping:
- Provide a clean and safe environment: Bees are sensitive to chemicals and pollutants, so it is essential to ensure their hive is clean and safe. Avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your garden, and keep the hive away from areas exposed to pollutants.
- Monitor the hive: Regularly inspect the hive for signs of disease or pests, and take action as needed. Watch for mites, wax moths, and other pests that can harm your bees. You can also use a varroa mite monitoring system to keep track of mite populations.
- Provide a diverse diet: Bees need a mixed diet to stay healthy, so it is essential to plant various flowers and plants in your garden. This will provide the bees with a range of nutrients and help ensure they have access to nectar throughout the year.
- Manage the hive: Regularly manage the hive to ensure the bees have enough space and resources to thrive. You may need to add or remove frames and monitor the honey stores to ensure that the bees have enough food to last through the winter.
Backyard beekeeping is a lot like gardening; you put the same amount of effort and time into keeping the bees, plus your buddies can help your vegetables and flowers thrive!
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for freshness and consistency.