Beekeeping FAQ: 19 Things to Know (For Beginners)

What’s the best way to get started with beekeeping? How much time and money is it going to cost me? What will I need for equipment, supplies, and upkeep? Is there a lot of maintenance that needs to be done on my hive over the course of year? Read this blog post in order to find out all you need know about getting into beekeeping!

Are Bees Easy to Keep?

Beekeeping is easy and rewarding, but you have to be dedicated. It’s going to take a fair amount of work, just like running a garden or any engaging in any other worthwhile pastime.

Is it Safe to Keep Bees in Your Backyard?

While it’s normally safe to keep them, you’ll want to make sure that the hives are away from any pedestrians. Plant a barrier of shrubs or bushes to prevent the bees from coming into contact with others.

Will an Empty Beehive Attract Bees?

Empty beehives will attract bees if they’re clean and dry. If there’s a sign that they’ve been previously used by other bees, then some colonies might avoid them.

Is Bee Keeping Cruel?

As an art, beekeeping itself isn’t usually considered cruel. Unfortunately, there are people who don’t take good care of their bees and let non-native species out into the wild.

This is especially true of commercial honey. Those who make local products often treat their bees much better.

How Far Should a Beehive Be from a House?

While there’s no hard and fast distance to keep, you want to make sure that the colony is far enough away to avoid any contact with people. Urban beekeepers will often put their colonies up on rooftops.

Barriers consisting of plants can help to reduce the distance.

Do You Need a Licence to Keep Bees UK?

Most people don’t need any license at all to keep bees in the UK, but local councils may require beekeepers to register. The British Beekeepers Association provides courses for those interested in beekeeping, which may help those who need to gain a local license.

How to Raise Bees for Honey for Beginners?

Ask yourself if you’re ready to raise bees and then try the following:

  1. Build a solid hive frame that’s large enough for the species you plan on raising
  2. Select a gentle species of bees, preferably one that doesn’t have developed stingers
  3. Position the colony behind a shrub or other barrier
  4. Select an area with adequate ventilation
  5. Set a one-way bee escape exit to help you brush off the bees when it’s time to collect honey
  6. Don’t collect honey on hot days
  7. Brush bees off using a soft synthetic artist’s brush
  8. Cut honey out in comb chunks with a sharp pocketknife
  9. Plan your operations around the seasons
  10. Let your bees do the heaviest work in spring
  11. Never harvest too much honey, since your bees need some too
  12. Start with a thin non-wire foundation, especially if you don’t plan on spinning honey
  13. Use appropriate protective gear, including a dedicated beekeeping suit
  14. Add additional supplies of water as the colony grows
  15. Plant bushes to provide more of a barrier over time

Should Beehives Be in Sun or Shade?

This is a hotly debated issue and depends largely on the species of bees you’re keeping. Bee expert Kim Flottum recommends placing colonies in an area where they’re protected from the late afternoon sun.

They should normally receive a little sun in the morning, however.

How Many Acres Do You Need to Keep Bees?

You may not need much land at all, but you’ll want to be in an area where the bees are free to roam over several acres to find flowers. Bees don’t normally stay on one lot.

How Many Times a Year Can You Harvest Honey?

Assuming that your colonies have a secondary super collection box, you can continuously take honey from it. Leave honey stores in the primary box for the bees during the warm summer months.

How Many Beehives Can One Person Manage?

Beginners will want to start with one or two. You’ll want to judge whether or not to add any more hives depending on the amount of land in an area ready to support them.

How Long Will Bees Stay in a Hive Without a Queen?

Colonies can’t live more than 4-6 weeks without a queen. If the worker bees are already older, then they might not make 14 days.

How Do You Attract Bees to a Beehive?

Unless you’re using a commercially-prepared collection of bees, you’ll need to follow these steps to attract bees:

  1. Restrict the initial size of your brood box
  2. Put a small amount of artificial comb inside of the box
  3. Clean your entire hive
  4. Position it in a dry and shaded area
  5. Add additional water supplies for your bees
  6. Get rid of artificial swarm lures; environmental advocate Thomas Nelson notes that there’s some debate over using them to begin with
  7. Plant shrubs in the area to give scout bees the idea that the hive is easily defended
  8. Eliminate any local debris
  9. Clean up lawn waste and clippings to avoid discouraging bees
  10. Wait until spring or whenever the bees are the most active in your area
  11. Don’t go near the box too often, since people might scare off bees
  12. Leave plenty of space inside of the enclosure
  13. Take out any extra frames to avoid overwhelming the drones
  14. Cover up any spare openings so that drones know your box is easy to command
  15. Give your bees plenty of time to make a colony

Can You Put a Beehive in the Woods?

Beehives can be put in the woods as long as they’re protected from predators and other natural threats. They also shouldn’t receive too much sun, which is possible in forest clearings.

Do Beekeepers Clip the Queen’s Wings?

Some beekeepers clip off the queen’s wings, but this is a fading practice. It’s often considered cruel and, according to the America’s Beekeeper publication, it probably doesn’t really stop swarming anyway.

Do Beekeepers Kill Queen Bees?

No, they usually don’t on purpose, but poor management and colony rejection can cause a queen to die. This could potentially cause an entire hive to collapse.

Why is the Bee Industry Bad?

Commercial honey companies often use potentially dangerous species of bees and then neglect them. They tend to transport entire colonies by tractor-trailer, which can get loose in the process and damage local ecosystems.

Quite a few local beekeepers have pledged to avoid these practices.

How Close Can You Put Beehives Together?

In theory, you could put beehives right next to each other. You’ll need to separate them to at least some degree if the colonies start to compete with one another, but bees are smart enough to tell the difference between close boxes.

How Much Honey Do You Get from One Hive?

Anywhere from 3-60 gallons of honey can come out of one hive, especially if you’re in a warmer southern state. This can translate into 50-200 lbs. if measured by weight rather than volume.