Beekeeping for Beginners | Suitable Place | Collect Beehives | Maintain Beehives | Harvesting Honey | Processing Honey | Packaging Honey | Advanced Beekeeping | Bee Farming on Large Scale | Instructions | Tools, and Equipment | How to Make Money | Tips, and Warning | Beekeeping Guide for Advanced Beekeepers | Prepare Tools and Equipment |
Beekeeping for Beginners
Raising honey bees: A successful beekeeper can run his beekeeping project with a good profit. A beginner Beekeeper should learn and study bee behavior and its lifestyle. Most people are not aware of bee facts and its amazing lifestyle.
Remember, it’s only the insect capable to produce honey all over the world. So, its lifestyle is also different than other insects. Bee Framing or beekeeping is an agricultural project but it’s completely scientific, technical, and more profitable than the usual Agricultural Project. You can start it as a hobby or as a small business following the 6 steps I have explained here.
If you wish to start as a large project I recommend you complete the Feasibility Study and SWOT analysis prior to taking this project at hand. Find here the Feasibility study and SWOT Analysis. For Beginner Beekeepers, there are 6 basic and simple steps as I explained below. Stick with this instruction and step-by-step guidelines, that will help you to be an ideal and successful Beekeeper.
Remember, all the places aren’t suitable for honey beekeeping. A dark area with trees/gardens, without any passage of people or animals, is the best place for bees (Fig. 01 on Page 2).
Far from the Electric overhead line and Grocery market is an ideal place for bees. An electric overhead line can kill worker bees while flying for searching for flowers (Fig 02). Grocery shops include many types of sweets that attract bees and they used to move their searching food.
While Queen bee flies for sexual intercourse it can be killed by the electric overhead line which is a very bad situation for the entire bee colony or beehives.
Keep eyes on the queen
So, you have to keep your eyes always on Queen bee and take special care as it’s the only one in the entire hive. Missing of queen bee can disrupt Beekeeping seriously. Without a queen bee, a beehive can be damaged or collapsed. If there’s any local grocery shop in the nearest area, female bees or worker bees may run toward sweet shops and can be killed there (Fig 05).
While Queen bee wants to be conceived, she runs too-and-fro for mating with Male bees. During this period you have to be more careful about queen bees to keep safe from some birds like this picture on the left. Some small birds always searching for bees to catch and eat. Worker bees or female bees also can be attacked by such birds (Fig 03). Keep in mind and Take care of this also.
Take care of the Hornets’ attack on your female bees or worker bees. My 4 hives became completely damaged by the attack of hornets. So, I don’t like you to get damaged like me. Check if there is any hornets’ nest near your Beehives (Fig 04).
Hornets are stronger and larger than honey bees and make a nest-like bee. These are the enemies of honey bees forever. They’ll catch and eat bees wherever they find them. Now I hope you learn enough to properly select your place of beekeeping considering all of the above factors. Don’t do the mistake to select a suitable place for beekeeping, also consider your affordability and overall circumstances.
02. Collect beehives.
Now if you like to start beekeeping for free, you can catch natural bees from any existing beehive available (if any) in your garden or trees. But for these steps, you should have enough knowledge on how to catch natural bees. And you should know what species of bees are in the hive.
Remember, all bees are not suitable to keep and not profitable also. So, be ensure before catching the bees. For beginner beekeepers, it’s not recommended to collect bees from natural hives. It’s only for experienced beekeepers.
Beginners beekeepers are suggested to Collect beehives with teenage queens and sufficient female bees, nectar, and pollen storage from a reliable source. Well reputed beekeepers or any Govt. organization on Beekeeping can help you to get productive and useful beehives.
While a queen becomes old, the laying capacity of the number of eggs decreases, but mortality remains in the same ratio. So, ultimately the number of bees will decrease gradually in the beehives. So, the teenage bee would be more profitable.
If you don’t know any beekeepers you can buy them from Amazon online shop. Or You can Buy here Beekeeping Starter Kit with a 47% discount: Deluxe Beehive Starter Kit – Premium Bee Hives for Beginners, Professionals, and Beekeeping Supplies – Need 8 Frames.
Recommendation for new beekeepers
Amazon, e-Bay, Mann Lake, Dadant & Sons, etc are reliable suppliers worldwide. The beehives should have a sufficient number of young worker/Female bees to grow your beekeeping project fast. After collecting the beehive you have to install it properly. While you collect and install your bees, keep in mind the following recommendation:
01. Collect at least 2 Hives so that one can back up another and use to interchange between them while necessary during maintenance.
02. Buy a set of basic tools or buy each of them separately. Advanced Tools you can buy later on. Basic tools include Smoker, Brush, Hand Gloves, & Scraper.
Also buy beekeeping suits, veils, & shoes to protect yourself from a bee sting. Always buy tools and equipment of good quality from any reliable supplier.
03. Transport beehives in cold weather and preferably at night to keep the death rate at a minimum. Remember, during transportation if a huge number of bees die you’ll be unable to recover it, and finally maybe the colony collapse.
04. Collect strong Bee Hives that include a teenaged Queen, sufficient Female/worker bees, Pupa, Larva, nectar & Pollen Stock in the hive.
You may think what’s bee management or is it really necessary? Once I was General Manager of a Group of Companies as well as the owner of Beehives. So I can assure you that beehives management is far more difficult than human management, especially if you are new in this field.
You need at least 2/3 years of experience in this field to be aware of bee behavior. During this period you may lose a few beehives. But don’t worry, I shall tell you how to recover this situation and make your project more profitable.
01. If you have spare time in hand, try to get at least a few days of training from any Beekeeping Training Center or Beekeepers project. This will help you enough to maintain your bees profitably.
But if you don’t have enough time to attend physically, there are several online training available, choose anyone, and start learning. Search using the phrase Beekeeping Training online. You’ll find many websites that provide online training.
02. Keep notes of important things suggested from the Training center to apply in your project. Also, I suggest you read more to learn details on How the Bee Hives Management in different seasons.
03. For maintaining beehives and harvesting honey you need to wear a bee suit. Learn more: Bee Suit–Beekeeping Suit: 5 Easy Steps To Make A Beekeeper Suit at Home.
You’ll feed honey bees all year round but harvest honey only a few (3/4) months. But still, now it’s profitable if you follow my instructions and be patient. Apis Cerana is the most popular species of honey bees that came from South Africa and is practiced in the Asia zone and Indonesia.
This is the most productive and profitable species. From each beehive, you can get 50 Kg honey per year whereas from indigenous honey bees you’ll get only 5 Kg. Apis Mellifera is a European honey bee. Its scientific name is Apis mellifera Linnaeus, and its subspecies are Insecta: Hymenoptera: Apidae.
For economic benefits related to pollination and honey production, this species has become popular and spread extensively in America. Honey can be extracted either manually or Automatic Machine. For a large amount of extraction, an automatic machine is recommended. But, only for a few beehives, it’s not feasible and a manual is recommended.
05. Processing Honey.
The taste, quality, and flavor of honey depend on the type of flowers. There is one kind of honey called Padha Madhu which is very expensive and rarely available. The usual honey price is $4-$10 per Kg but Padha Madhu if you found somewhere, they’ll ask $50 per Kg. Some honey is specially produced to use for the treatment of specific diseases.
The honey processing machine is the most expensive in the Honeybees project. You can start a project of 10 beehives with only 1000 dollars but one Automated Processing machine cost is Min. $20,000 and it’s only recommended for commercial beekeepers.
So, I suggest you either process by yourself manually or process from a Machine owner paying on a quantity basis like per kg. You might find some Machine owners near you. Another option is to buy a Power Blanket Lite for your small project and its price is less than $100 on Amazon. Learn how to process honey manually.
06. Packaging Honey.
If you start Honey beekeeping as a hobby or on a small scale, packaging may not very important. But while doing it as a big project, nice packaging and marketing aspects are necessary. Glass or ceramic bottle is the best for long-lasting packaging. Plastic containers may be used only for a short time. If you keep honey in a plastic container for a long time, you’ll get a bad smell from honey.
Comply with local and central Govt laws
For packaging, you have to comply with local and central Government Laws and policies. Such as – your product should be tested and approved by Govt. Authority or Testing Institutions. Also regarding the Monogram used in the label of packaging, quantity & date of production, date of expiry, batch #, MRP with VAT, etc. are required & must be registered and approved. Without prior approval from Govt. the authority, you can’t use any label in the product for sale.
If you are not likely to sell honey, keep your honey and store it in Glass or Ceramic Pot. It’s better not to keep in Plastic containers a few months later plastic smell will affect your honey. And you should not keep your Raw honey for a long time. Process/evaporate it as soon as possible and keep it in a safe place.
Remember, some states may have requirements to start beekeeping with a license and training. Other states may allow you to start beekeeping at first and then try to get a license.
Beekeeping Guide for Advanced Beekeepers
Honey Bee Guide: You can start Honey Beekeeping as a hobby, a side business, or a full-fledged business on a large scale. The rural area is suitable for a beekeeping business where adequate plants & trees are available. But it can be done anywhere including urban areas also depending on the types of bees. The bee colonies can be bought from beekeepers or caught by the wild bees.
If you are a beginner beekeeper, we suggest you buy packaged bees and queens that are ready to transfer. Because it will be difficult for you to manage wild bees as you have no experience of bee behavior. An expert beekeeper can catch wild bees and keep them inside the hive for beekeeping. Learn more about the honey bee.
How To Start Bee Firming On a Large Scale?
For large-scale beekeepers, feasibility study and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis are essential to ensure whether this business is for you or not. What type of business you should do depends on many parameters which are key points of the feasibility study and SWOT analysis. You can hire an expert to do this.
Beekeeping can be the main source of your yearly income. You may be interested in pollinating crops, selling bee-related products (like the honey, wax, queen), or both. Beekeeping is relatively easy to do, but it requires a lot of knowledge, a reasonable amount of equipment, hard-working and space for operation. And some practical experience in beekeeping is essential.
Things You’ll Need
01. Beehives with established colonies
02. Hive tools
03. Smokers and fuel
04. Protective veil, coveralls, and gloves
05. Honey extracting equipment
06. Land to establish bee yards
07. A dedicated space for extracting and packaging
08. Flowering plants that produce pollen or nectar
09. A vehicle for transporting beehives
10. Packaging for bee-related products
Additional supplies, including feeding and medicines
Get your business together.
Determine how big you wish to be. Hobbyists can make sufficient money from selling their honey & honey products to cover the expense of their hobby. Sideliners may use beekeeping to the addition of other businesses. They may have several hundred beehives.
Commercial beekeepers may keep thousands of beehives and are likely to employ people to move hives for pollination services in addition to honey production.
02. Accounting records
Keep your accounting records in sequence. Ensure to keep good quality records. If necessary, use Software such as Quicken, Tally, Vista GL, Focus 5, and other applications that will help to manage your accounting & finances. Learn more about Beekeeping Software.
03. Choose a location
Choose a location. Ensure that your bee yards have adequate space, forage, light, water, safety & security. Honey extracting and packaging facility should be suitably located in your yards, and meet all state and local laws and inspection requirements. Learn more about the Beekeeping Laws and Grants.
04. Make Business Plan
Make a business plan. Whether you aim to fund your operation entirely or have a loan to get established, a business plan will act as a road map to grow your business gradually.
In your business plan, a Feasibility Study and SWOT Analysis are essential.
The feasibility study is the analysis prior to the start of your business to determine whether you should start this business or not. After completion of the feasibility study, you can determine whether you should do this business or not.
A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is a method of strategic planning for evaluating the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in the business you’re going to start. For this analysis, you should have some training like “Entrepreneur Development Course” or you can get help from an expert (Business Advisor).
05. Lunch your business legally
Launch your business legally. This may consist of registering your business with your state & local government, and the state department of agriculture. Some states require inspection of your hives on a regular basis. So a valid registration/Beekeeping license is essential.
Know your bees and their needs.
Study as much as you can about bee behavior & environmental science. Be aware of how a colony of bees works and how to run and control a beehive. Also, learn about the different species of bees and which best suits your needs from a commercial viewpoint. Learn more about the different types of bees.
02. Learn and follow
Learn and follow the instruction based on the seasons of beekeeping. Spring, summer, fall, and winter influence the specific activities for a bee colony. Being aware of all these things will let you optimize your inspections, the chart for feeding and medicating beehives, deal with times of nectar extraction, and manipulate harvesting.
03. Manage bee hives
Manage your beehives efficiently and effectively. Remember, Managing hives in a commercial environment is extremely different than the hobbyist world. Taking care of thousands of beehives obviously requires a quick, accurate, and efficient management procedure. Learn more about Beehive property management in different seasons.
04. Be trained
Be trained on how to manage to swarm. Swarming is a natural process to spread or propagate bees. When swarming occurs, the queen bee will leave the hive and come back with many bees with her to set up a new hive. The Queen bee will leave the old hive to a new queen. Understanding this total behavior of Queen bee will enable you to create new hives, thus increasing your beehives and ultimately the volume of production.
05. Be familiar with the botany or trees
Be familiar with the botany of trees & flowers available in your area and also near to you. Because the bees will move to collect nectar within a few Kilo Meters. Consider, do your area and surrounding have enough plants for bees to survive and produce an excess for you to harvest? Or will they need to be moved sometimes to another area for nectar in a specific season? Check the trees and flowers near to you within a reasonable distance that bees can reach.
06. Acquire knowledge
Acquire knowledge of bees and get some experience in beehives maintenance. You can start as simple as a couple of hives in your backyard. This will help to make you knowledgeable about beekeeping.
07. Find an adviser
Find an adviser near to you to help you while necessary. The State Extension Office or local beekeeping club/organization can provide sufficient information on beekeeping. Find here to learn more about Master Beekeeper Program.
08. Risk and challenges
Be aware of the risks and challenges to your livestock and how to face them. Mites are new risks to honey bees in the form of other insect vermin. Bacterial and viral diseases, pesticides, and a relatively new and somewhat strange syndrome known as Colony Collapse or Disorder are rigorously impacting the beekeeping industry at this time.
Prepare Tools and Equipment | learn how to use them.
01. Use proper tools and equipment
Obtain and learn to use beekeeping tools & equipment. To manage your beehives efficiently, you’ll need tools such as:
(1) Scraper – a small crowbar-like tool for opening hives, (2) Soft brush
(3) Smoker to quiet the bees down while inspecting a hive,
(4) Hand glove. It’s also essential to wear before opening a hive cover.
(5) Protective clothing to help to prevent bee stings.
You can buy necessary tools and equipment from Mann Lake, Thorne, Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, etc. Even you can buy it online and get it at home from Amazon, eBay, etc.
02. Collect healthy beehives
Collect your beehives. Know the different parts of a hive and how to use them properly. It’s vital to have sufficient boxes known as ‘supers’ with frames available for hives during the nectar harvesting season. For example, if you have 1,000 beehives, you’ll need at least 2,000 extra supers. A strong beehive is defined as a healthy beehive that includes a virgin queen with sufficient female bees, larvae, pupa, eggs, pollen & honey storage.
Be sure to deal with a reputable & well-established seller when buying beehives and inspect each hive thoroughly. Some dishonest beekeepers will sell sick or weak hives. Entering a sick hive into the bee yard can be terrible for the entire project. So, always try to collect healthy beehives from any reliable and established company or beekeepers.
03. Get help from expert beekeepers
Get help from experienced beekeepers to set up beehives properly, especially while you bring new hives and install new ‘package’ bees. Re-arrange your bees during the swarming season & in the early spring.
Always be ready to install them at a moment’s notice while necessary. Usually, Bees are shipped via U.S. Postal Service and will not live long after being shipped. So, time is very important to keep them alive.
If you are knowledgeable enough to transport them by yourself, it’s recommended to do so. But remember, there are some extra precautions and procedures necessary to transport bees. And nighttime with cool weather is the best for transport. Daytime and hot weather can increase the mortality of bees during transportation.
04. Feed your bees
Feed well your bees during a shortage of nectar in nature. Sufficient feeders, including sugar and fresh water source, are essential to take care of bees properly.
05. Treat your bees as necessary
Treat the bees with proper medicines to eliminate mites, insect pests, or other diseases. Ensure to follow the directions recommended and have adequate space to store the supplies. Learn more: Beekeeping for Profit: How Much Money Can A Beekeeper Make Each Year?
Tips and Warning
For commercial Beekeeping, consult with Beekeepers Club/Organization or Local Agricultural Extension Office, or local beekeepers near to you. They can provide valuable information regarding this.
02. Newspaper & Magazine
It’s wise to subscribe to the beekeeping journals like Bee Culture or The American Bee Journal.
03. Beekeeping for whom
For those who are afraid of getting stung, allergic to bee stings, can’t perform tasks requiring some heavy lifting, or can’t stay outdoors for extended periods of time, beekeeping is not fit for them.
04. Unpredictable influence
Beekeeping, like any other agricultural project, is affected by climate, environment, location, and other unpredictable influences.
Always keep eye on changes in Local and state laws for beekeeping to stay in compliance. Learn about: Grants for Beekeeping: USDA Grants, Agricultural Grants, Honey Bee Laws. To learn more you can visit Wikipedia.
1. Best 7 Beehive Supply Companies For Apiary,
2. Honey Bee Management,
Sources of information
National Honey Board, American Honey Producers Association, American Bee Journal, The Pollination Home Page, Photo Credit – Picasa.
Photo Credit-Google images – unrestricted.
Experience of my own beekeeping project.