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Beekeeping 101

Posted by Tammy Chapman on

I am not going to get carried away here.  I am not the beekeeper, Tim is the expert.  What I do know, I know from him and it is more than I ever thought I would know about these amazing little creatures!  But it is not an easy task.  He was interested in bees years before we moved to the farm and he could pursue this passion.  Here is how beekeeping really goes:

CLASSES:  Tim and Nick both took classes at the University of Minnesota.  They both took 1 & 2 classes and Tim took the Advanced class.  Tim also took online classes in Queen Rearing/Spitting Hives and in Monitoring and Mentoring.  He is always online 1st thing every morning learning all he can.  I swear his thirst for knowledge keeps us running!  Here is what I know from my point of view.

LEGAL:  Check with your county, township and Neighbors before getting bees!  Tim wanted to do bees when we lived on the outskirts of the city.  We had friends who had a big farm and he thought he could do bees out on their property.  Legally he could, but our friends were allergic to bees.  A real problem people!  Be Kind!

COST:  More than you think.  Hives can run from $100-$600 and that is without the bees!  Nucs are about $150-$200 per hive a year (unless you can split & winter them).  Plus suits, gloves, smokers, sugar, pollen patties, extra equipment for queen rearing and extra hives for splitting, disease control, equipment to help move the heavy hives, extractor, bottling, labels, websites, fees for Farmer's Markets, displays, etc, etc, etc.  Like any business, it is never-ending!    But that golden nectar...so worth it!

Here are the questions I think are worth asking before you decide you want to have an apiary:  1.)WHY?  Why do you want bees?  Hobby, Sales, Bored?  2.)TIME:It takes about an hour a week per hive...minimum.  Plus suiting up, testing for disease, and treating for diseases.  Tim builds our hives, so he is always busy!  When the flow is on during the summer bees just do their thing, but still need weekly check-ins.  Spring & Fall are busy for the keepers. 3.)Do you have a place for them?  Bees are living creatures and have needs besides making you honey.  Fresh water, lots of pollen options in about a 2 mile radius from the hives, and room.  Your hives will grow out!  You will need space for them and hives or they will swarm!  Heat is a huge swarm factor.  A packed hive on a hot day with those busy bees...SWARM.  4.)Can you afford it?  Lots of information on the internet nowadays.  Here is a formula...take whatever you think you will need and double it!  Stuff happens.  Bee prepared!  4.)What do you want to do with the honey?  We use A LOT of honey ourselves.  It is a staple for us.  I use our Arthritis Inflammation mix everyday!  I put it in my morning tea.  We have a customer who buys 5-6 bottles of our Cold Suppressor at a time.  She uses it every morning and hasn't been sick in 2 years.  Honey is an ancient, natural healer.  Besides being sweet and good on about everything!

So much more detail on this, but I just wanted to let you know some basics.  Having a mentor is a great idea too.  Someone who had been around and knows the pitfalls to watch.  We are really babies at this, but Tim is a knowledge sponge and always willing to help anyone.  Actually, willing is a mild term...he is excited to help!  It is great that we have an abundance of natural wildflowers here, and 2 fields planted with clover!  Bee heaven.  Oh, and our property boarders the river.  Healthy, Happy Bees make the Best Honey!

Have a great weekend all!  Stay Safe, Stay Sane!

 

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