Beekeeping (also called apicuture) is the maintenance of bee hives in order to collect honey and beeswax from the bees. Bees are also kept for the purpose of pollinating crops or to produce more bees. Kathleen and I have been planning to start a hive for a while. She has been in contact with a local beekeeping organization, The Florida State Beekeepers Association. They were very helpful a lot of information and even offered to help. We have done considerable research so I thought I should share some good beekeeping information we've compiled.
The first thing to consider is a location for the hive. You don't need a lot of space for the hive, but there are few guidelines that should be followed. First check you local zoning laws. Most places don't have any zoning restrictions on bees, but I have heard of a few. All you need is a quiet sunny spot away from heavy traffic and loud noises. Bees are creatures of habit and tend to use the same routes to leave and return to the hive. They usually enter and exit straight in front of the hive, so try not to place it near a sidewalk or high traffic area. Try to locate the hive .........
.....in a quiet spot. Bees dont like loud noises like mowers or air conditioning units. It should be fairly easy to find a suitable spot.
The next thing to consider is the equipment you will need. Most people recommend that you start with a single bee hive, even if you plan to have more eventually. The first thing I would recommend is a good book for beginner beekeepers. It will be good to have a reference when questions come up as you learn to care for your bees. Next you will need a hive. Most people recommend starting with a standard ten frame hive. Your hive should have an entrance block, outer cover, inner cover, bottom board, frames and foundation. You will also need a bee veil to protect your face and gloves, but you dont really need the full bee suit. A hive tool will be necessary for prying the hive and frames apart. A bee smoker is also necessary to calm the bees when you are messing with their hive. That should be it to get started (other than the bees) and you can pick up anything else you want as you go along.
Once you have the hive and other gear, you will be ready for the bees. If you can contact a local beekeeping association, they can probably recommend a good local source for bees. If not there are several places that sell package bees by mail. Bees are frequently sold in 1,2,3 or 4 pound packages. The beekeepers I spoke with recommend starting with a 3lb package of bees. A three pound package will contain 1 queen and about 10,500 worker bees. Many places that sell bees require ordering in advance so plan ahead a few weeks so your bees are ready when you are. The package of bees will contain the worker bees, the queen suspended in the package ina seperate cage, and some syrup to feed the bees until they arive.
Well, now that you have a bit of an idea of what it takes to get started you can begin planning your own hive. In the next few days I will post another article detailing the method to move your bees into the hive. I would also recommend checking out other free sources of beekeeping information online. University of Florida extension has a ton of information on beekeeping and bees. You can check it out here. In the meantime if you have questions or comments about this article or any other yardsteading topics, please feel free to post you question or comment in the forum.