IRescueBees Presents Beekeeping Basics Getting Started
Congratulations, you have made a wonderful decision! Embarking on beekeeping shows your selfless character, along with your care and concern for others and our environment.
Doing something for the first time can often be nerve racking. Not knowing where to start and having no experience, does not help.
We, at IRescueBees, are here to guide you along your path to successful beekeeping. While at the same time, preserving life on our planet.
Experience is the worst teacher...
Learning the fundamentals of beekeeping is easy these days. Thanks to Youtube and Google, knowledge and important information on beekeeping, is right at your fingertips.
Subscribing to this blog is a great place to start. Or if you prefer, you can still old school it, by reading the large number of books on the subject. But who has time to sift through all that.
Then there are college courses you can take. But those are often heavy on the pocketbook and sometimes lengthy. So again, I say, great choice. Now let's get started.
Safety First, Protective Clothing!...
Beesuits are important. But although they are protective, beesuits ARE NOT STING PROOF. Beesuits only cut down the amount of stings you WILL receive.
So keep in mind, you will get stung being a beekeeper.
We recommend wearing full body bee suits. Since it gets really hot in the summer, ventilated is the best in our view.
We order ours from Pestmall.com They offer free shipping and are reasonably priced.
Along with your beesuit, you will need gloves. You can also get these at Pestmall.com.
Yes, the smoker is an essential tool for the beekeeper. Smoking the entrance causes the workers to gorge on the open cells of honey.
This makes the bees calm and easier to work with. Two or three puffs into the hive is enough, then wait two or three minutes before opening.
We use brown cardboard as fuel for the smoker. It is free and easily accessible for most. You can get your smoker from any beekeeping sales company. We use Pestmall.
The Hive Tool
Honey bees glue all the woodenware together with a substance called propolis. Propolis is very sticky in the summer, and makes it difficult to pry boxes apart.
A hive tool is used to brake the seal. There are plenty to choose from on the market and is a "must have" for any beekeeper.
Of course, you will quite often lose them and need to reorder them. So you might want to own more than one, and expect to wait two to three weeks for the company to ship.
Better yet, you can get hive tools at your local hardware store. They are called paint scrapers :-).
These are the ones we use; Cheap and handy with no shipping or wait.
Choosing A Hive
The hive is the container in which the bees are kept. Again, there are a lot to choose from.
Most will either use a Langstroth or a Top Bar Hive. We recommend the beginner start with the Top Bar.
Lets Talk About The Top Bar Hive...
We recommend this type of hive for beginners because there is no heavy lifting or tricky manipulation to risk injuring the queen.
The Top Bar hive resembles a hollow log laying on it's side, and gives the bees a more natural home. This keeps them calmer and more productive.
This hive gets it's name because of the many bars that make up the cover. Each bar has a comb guide to help the bees decide where to draw comb.
As mentioned before, there are many top bar hives to choose from. Prices range from two hundred fifty to three fifty depending on the MFG.
All beekeeping retail outlets have them ready to ship. However, we do not like any of the top bar hives offered by them.
This is because they cost too much and are too short. Also, the body of the hive is too deep and the heavy honey comb often falls, creating a big mess.
With that said, if you are handy with wood working you can build the perfect top bar hive. Just go to my post $60 top bar hive, where we show you everything you need to know.
We will also be discussing top bar beekeeping in a future post. So be sure to keep up with our blog to learn more.
Now, the Langstroth hive...
Invented by Rev. Langstroth, this hive is the best selling of all hives. Langstroth's movable frames were a giant leap in beekeeping.
Prior to this, bees were kept in skeps, and had to be killed to remove the honey.
Langstroth's idea meant that, now, the beekeeper doesn't have to kill their beloved insect.
Beekeeping Basics Getting Started
This hive has many different parts that are needed. There are the boxes, both brood ( this is where the young are kept ), and the honey super. Most beekeepers use two or more of these boxes.
Then, inside the boxes, are ten frames each. There are many frames to choose from. We use foundationless frames; this saves a lot of money.
You can choose from foundationless frames, frames that the foundation snaps into, wedge top bar frames for embossed bees wax foundation, or the one piece plastic frame and foundation.
Confusing and very expensive when you figure you will need close to forty per colony. Frames are right around two bucks a piece, and don't forget shipping. Therefore, we build our own.
Again, we only use foundationless frames in our langs. You can build them for pennies just watch the videos at the bottom of this post.
In addition to frames you will also need a bottom board, an inner cover, an outer cover, a hive stand, an entrance reducer and a queen excluder. Then you are ready for bees, coming soon in a future post...
We will be discussing Langstroth beekeeping in a later post. So be sure to subscribe, and check in often.