Beekeeping: 10 Questions to Ask BEFORE you get Started
If you are remotely interested in sustainable living or homesteading, chances are you have toyed with the idea of beekeeping. And why wouldn’t you? You love honey, you need bees to pollinate your plants in order to grow food, and who doesn’t appreciate making a little Do-Re-Mi on the side? If you ask me, it would be silly NOT to want to be a beekeeper. BUT (and this is a large BUT) there are, in fact, many reasons why you shouldn’t keep bees and many things to consider before you grab your butterfly net and start climbing trees to catch a swarm.
1. Is it legal in your city/town to own bees? Do you live in a HOA?
If it’s against the law, research ways you can make an appeal, educate others, start a petition, and see if you can get the law changed for your area. I see too many people that buy bees regardless of the laws then end up being forced to re-home them, fined, and even sued. Avoid this by knowing your rights beforehand.
2. Is any member in your family allergic to bees?
It is still possible to own bees if you have allergies but extra safety precautions need to be taken.
3. Does your homeowners insurance allow it?
Ask before getting bees and inquire about adding additional liability in case of accidental stings.
4. Do you have a location out of high traffic areas?
Bees like to stay high and dry with a wind break and protection from the elements; boggy, wet areas should be avoided.
5. Can you provide a water source?
A beehive can drink up to a liter of water a day.
6. How close are your neighbors? Will the bees bother them?
You always want to keep your neighbors in mind when pursuing your homesteading dreams.
7. Is there a nectar source within 3 miles?
Bees will fly up to 3-5 miles away in search of nectar but will visit thousands of nectar sources in order to make that liquid gold. Chances are, you will not be able to provide enough nectar/pollen on your property to provide the bee with what they require.
8. Will you have time?
Bees are relatively low maintenance but they do require monthly inspection & check-ups, several hours during honey extraction, regular feeding, watering and adding frames/boxes.
9. Can you afford it?
There are ways to become a frugal beekeeper, However, the average person will not have access to, or the ability to, go the frugal route and the start-up cost can be pretty hefty, so this may be something you will want to save for.
10. How Many Hives Do you Want? I ‘thought’ I wanted one; I was informed I wanted two. Why two?
So, you have something to compare your hive to. If you’ve never seen a failing hive how would you know when to recognize the warning signs unless you had a healthy hive to compare it to?
• If your queen dies and you need to merge hives. Accidents happen and life happens, or in this case death. Ordering a queen bee is not always easy or affordable ($30.00 and up + shipping for one queen) and combining colonies may be the best choice for you at the moment to avoid losing a hive altogether
• Weak colonies. Combining a weak colony with a strong colony is sometimes needed for the survival of your hive.
• Double the honey. With all of the beekeepers in the beekeeping course and the hundreds of years of combined experience, not once did I ever hear “I have too much honey”, you will never have too much honey
Article by Amber Bradshaw
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