Learn the basics of backyard beekeeping
Learning how to keep bees will give you an endless supply of the purest honey you can get, which is a delicious and versatile product with an indefinite shelf life.
Honey is a healthy form of sugar. You can also use it as an antibacterial to protect skin, help heal minor wounds and burns, and boost your immune system when you are sick (you can put it in tea, for example).
Other benefits of beekeeping include the production of beeswax, pollen, propolis, and royal jelly, all of which are useful in their own way.
Finally, raising bees will help pollinate your garden, making it more abundant.
So unless people in your household or your neighbors are allergic to bees, starting a beehive is worth looking in to. Check to make sure it is legal to do so where you live before you start.
Starting a beehive in the spring is the best time of year.
As a minimum, you will need the following beekeeping equipment.
Common parts of a backyard beehive
Choose where to put your hive. Look for somewhere:
Face the entrance towards the wall. That will force the bees to fly up when they leave the hive.
Once you have all your equipment, buy your bees. Don’t do it beforehand, because if your bees arrive and you’re not ready, it will be a problem. Get a gentle breed, like Buckfast or Italian.
Buying a nuc or two is easier than getting packaged hives, since the bees will have already accepted the queen. Ask to have the queen marked. Make sure you order your bees from a reputable seller that is not too far from you to cut down on their travel time.
The nuc will come in frames in a screen box. The best way to learn how to install your bees from bee hive boxes is to watch a video.
In the above video about how to raise bees, he doesn’t wear a bee keeper suit, or any protective equipment, but you should. Here’s a rundown of the process.
First, you need to install the queen. Remove a few frames from your hive to make a gap where the bees can enter. Take off the plywood covering the entrance of the package using your hive tool.
Remove the feeder can and then the queen cage. Remove the cork on the candy side of the queen cage and attach the cage to the top of a frame in the hive. The candy faces down.
To install the rest of the bees, spray them with the sugar solution, then bump them down the package by tapping the package on the ground.
Remove the lid and spray inside the package. Place the package with the opening face-down on top of the hive where you removed the frames. Wait a few hours for most of the bees to leave the package, and shake out the rest.
Put the rest of the frames back in and close the honey bee hive up. Give the bees some food. You can also use an entrance reducer.
After one week, remove the queen cage, assuming the queen is out of it. If not, check back in a week.
Your bees can get diseases. Research your breed of bees and the area you are in so you know what to look out for and what action to take.
After putting in the effort raising honey bees, you will soon get to reap the rewards. Honey and wax may be ready to collect at any time of year, but are most likely to be available in the fall.
Use the honey for eating, cooking, and health. Use the beeswax you can make things such as candles and salves.
Protective clothing, including beekeeping hat, gloves, veil, and jacket. You can also opt for a full beekeeping suit.
Come up from behind the beehive and smoke the entrance, then open it and smoke the upper area. Remove the inner cove. If it is sealed with propolis, use your hive tool to pry it open.
Gently brush off the bees from the frame you want to take out, then extract the frame. Check to make sure most of the cells are capped. If not, the honey isn’t ready and you should put it back. If it is ready, put it in an empty honey super while extracting the rest of the frames.
Once you have all the frames with honey, scrape the wax caps off both sides into a container. Put the frames into the extractor and rotate it. The honey will come out the bottom. Strain it through a cheesecloth and put it in sterilized jars.
Allow the honey to drain from the wax for at least two days, then put then drained wax in the bucket and top it up with warm water. Slosh the water around to remove any remaining honey. Strain out the wax and repeat this cleaning process until all the honey is off.
Put the wax in a sterile glass jar and place the glass jar in a small pot. Fill a quarter of the pot with water. Bring it to a simmer and stir while the wax melts. Once it is melted, remove the jar from the water, take out the wax, strain it through several layers of cheesecloth. Melt and train it again as needed until all the impurities are gone.
This jar-in-pot method is a makeshift double boiler. Double-boiling is used for safety when melting highly flammable substances.
Pour the clean wax into clean containers for storage. Beeswax gets very hard when it sets, so it is best to store it in small amounts. That way, you will not have to cut it later.
Now you know all the basics of how to start beekeeping. You can use the information for small scale "urban beekeeping" or a small honey bee farm if you have the room.
Backyard beekeeping is a great step in becoming more self-sustainable, but make sure you are allowed to do it were you live, as well as there is no risk to anyone that may be allergic.
If you have any questions about how to start a bee farm, or perhaps you want to add some honey bee facts, you can do so in the comments.
Did you find this article about beginning beekeeping useful? If so, please share it with your friends.
Sam Fury is the creator and owner of the Survival Fitness Plan.
He has had a passion for martial arts and outdoor pursuits since he was a young boy growing up in Australia.
As a young adult he joined the military and studied outdoor leadership in college. After that, to further his skills, Sam started traveling to learn from the best in the world in various fields related to the Survival Fitness Plan including various martial arts in China, SE Asia and Brazil, Parkour in Singapore, Surf Life Saving in Australia, and others.
These days, he still enjoys learning new things, traveling and sharing what he has learned via the Survival Fitness Plan.
The information on this website is made public for reference only. Only you are responsible for how you choose to use the information or the result of your actions. Consult a physician before undertaking any new form of physical activity.
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