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Today kicks off a brand new series on beekeeping, and you can think of this “quick start” guide as your overview to keeping bees, whether you have one or one hundred acres. If you’re looking for natural sweetener and beeswax, beekeeping is right for you. Keeping bees sounds intimidating, but it couldn’t be easier.

Education

We would never recommend beekeeping without doing your research first. Bees are rewarding, but you’ll need to do a lot of upfront information-gathering if you want to keep them happy and healthy.

Check out your local library or beekeeping organization for educational resources. Many beekeepers offer informational classes, but even a YouTube tutorial will take you far. Learn about bee anatomy, diseases, communication (yes, they communicate!), how honey and wax are made, and the bee life cycle.

This knowledge will take you far on your journey to keeping bees.

Materials

Once you’ve learned about bees, it’s time to get started! You’ll need a few startup materials.

Bees: We recommend finding bees locally. Connect with a local beekeeper, bee society, or even a bee removal company. Many people will happily relocate a mature hive to your property for free.
Hive: Your bees need a place to live. You can choose one of two types of hives: Langstroth or top-bar. Most beekeepers use the Langstroth hive, which is made of vertically stacked boxes. Top-bar hives, which are horizontal, are good in some situations, but most beekeepers swear by the Langstroth hive.
Proper clothing: Bees are infamous for their stingers. Protect yourself with a proper beekeeper suit. These are steep at a $150 price point, but that’s still cheaper than an ER bill!

Maintain the hive

Once your hive is set up, you’re ready to go. Check your hive daily to monitor its health. Make sure to act at the first sign of trouble; a sick hive is an unproductive hive. If you ever have questions about your bees, connect with a professional beekeeper to troubleshoot the problem.

As far as regular maintenance is concerned, you can harvest honey and beeswax in spring. Remember to prepare the hive for winter, as well!

Not for you?

If you want to reap the benefits of bees without the fuss, you can always connect with a local beekeeper. Many keepers will place their hives on your land to pollinate crops, and in exchange, you get free honey and higher crop yields. What’s not to love?

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