Over the last few years, beekeeping has seen a sharp spike in popularity amongst suburban families (and even some urban dwellers). Perhaps it’s in response to the plight of the honeybee, or maybe it’s because of the increased interest in self-sufficient lifestyles. No matter why you’re considering this sweet hobby, there are many benefits to be had.
Beekeeping brings you closer to nature, and having a hive on your property is a great way to aid in the conservation of these threatened pollinators. Plus, honeybees help with the growth and nourishment of your plants, greatly increasing your garden’s yield (and let’s not forget about the honey, beeswax, propolis, and other extraordinary products – all free for your taking!)
Once you get going, beekeeping is a reasonably low-maintenance hobby – but it does require some preparation in the beginning. Below are a few basic products that everyone needs to invest in upfront for a long and successful honey-farming journey:
A Beekeeping Class
Due to the growing popularity of the hobby, it’s easy to find beekeeping classes in a variety of locations. From community colleges to local farms, everyone seems to offer a workshop or course. Often, they include time observing the beekeeper work their hive, and sometimes even hands-on experience. Classes vary from hour-long sessions to full-weekend affairs, so find something that suits your needs and sign up!
A Good All-Around Book
Even after you’ve taken a class, you’ll still have lots of questions! Pick up one of the many excellent beekeeping books on the market and keep it nearby – it’ll come in handy when you’re in a mid-hive inspection and forget everything the instructor told you! Look for one that covers all the important topics (from set-up to pest control, to harvesting) and is easy to read.
One we really enjoy is The Beekeeper’s Handbook. Originally published in 1973, this ageless work has stood the test of time. Now in the 4th edition, it’s been updated with all the latest information on beekeeping – and with step-by-step instructions and detailed illustrations, it makes finding all your answers quick and easy.
More often than not, your bees will leave you alone. They don’t want to sting you any more than you want to be stung – but sometimes it happens. You might accidentally set down your smoker right on top of a bee, or pinch one with the hive lid – and then watch out!
You want to keep yourself protected just in case. While it’s ok to wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt if you’re comfortable with it, an actual beekeeper’s suit usually makes beginners feel a little safer.
No matter what you decide about protective clothing, the fit is critical! Too-short arms and legs, or gloves that gape at the top will leave you exposed to your fuzzy little friends – and their stingers.
This Beecastle set is perfect, because not only does it come with a beekeeping jacket with attached hood and a pair of gloves, but it also has the added bonus of a beehive brush, j hook, queen cage and bee feeder!
A Good Set of Tools
Working your hive is a lot easier if you have a few specialized tools that, while not required, are extremely helpful. Some handy items to purchase include a smoker, an uncapping tool, a hive brush, and a frame grip.
This handy set from Blisstime includes all of the above, plus a few extras, like an entrance feeder and a beehive tool.
What’s the one thing you HAVE to have if you want to keep bees? A hive. Sure – all of the other stuff on this list is important – but you can probably function without it. There’s no getting around the hive, though!
Hives are available in a variety of styles, materials, and colors – but we like to recommend a complete kit for beginners. Kits aren’t fancy, but with everything you need all in one box, they make set-up easy and pain-free. Most will include a hive body, frames, a bottom board, and a cover. Some have extras, like an entrance reducer or a feeder, but those aren’t always necessary.
Good luck on your beekeeping journey! You’re sure to find it a rewarding, and fruitful, hobby.