If someone wanted to try beekeeping

Discussion in 'Beekeeping' started by Caelma, May 22, 2005.

  1. Caelma

    Caelma Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,338
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2005
    1) What is the best time of year to start?
    2) How do you start?
    3) Suggested reading?
    4) Best websites to check out?
    5) Best places to get supplies?
    Thank you
     
  2. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,565
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Location:
    West Central Minnesota
    1) What is the best time of year to start?
    Depends upon your location. In the northern states it may already be too late to start this year- here in MN package bees are delivered around April 15. If you are located further south you might be ok to start later, if you can find package bees, or possibly a nuc.

    2) How do you start?
    Find your closest local beekeeper's association. Attend their meetings, find yourself a mentor, and start helping them with their bees. Read all the books you can find on beekeeping through your local library association. Take a beginner's class in beekeeping if one is available in your area. Once you are sure that you really want bees, purchase your equipment- Tip- beekeeping stuff makes great Christmas presents, lol! You will need some time to assemble your hives, get them painted (I put three coats on mine), and build your frames and install foundation. Then, next spring (or, if in the south, later this year), order your package bees. Your mentor will be able to give you dates for when all of this should happen.

    3) Suggested reading?
    Everything!!!! But, for sure, Walter Kelley's "How To Keep Bees and Sell Honey", or something like that. You can read Beekeeping for Dummies but I would not buy it- it's ok, but not great. Has some good basic info but you will outgrow it quickly. Also, read everything by Sue Hubbell. There are dozens and dozens of good beekeeping books, just read them all- seriously, as many as you can. You'll learn a lot, and besides, they just make good reading!

    4) Best websites to check out?
    Beesource.com
    Not sure, there are lots of good ones but I haven't been to any of them lately.
    Try a google search.

    5) Best places to get supplies?
    Really, depends upon your location, once again. If you are lucky you are within reasonable driving distance of a beekeeping supplier so you can pick your stuff up and thus avoid paying for shipping. I am a big fan of Dadant, have used their equipment for years and really like it. But, I now live close to Mann Lake and just bought a bunch of things from them. Their boxes are good. Frames, I had a bunch of them split on me during assembly, maybe 10 percent or so- I have to talk to them about that the next time I am up there. I don't think I like their metal goods though. I also really like Walter T. Kelley in Clarkson, Ky, though I seldom buy from them since I cannot pick up my orders. They have really excellent metal goods. I just bought a sump tank (used) which is probably 15-20 years old and is in excellent shape. I also have one of their 32-frame extractors which I know is at least 25 years old, works perfectly, and I think my wax melter was made by them as well, and is probably at least as old as the other items. Those are the only three I have ordered from (I think). I know that there are other suppliers, especially on the west coast, but I don't know anything about them. The best thing to do is to order catalogs from each of them, then sit down and do a cost analysis, including shipping, and see which is the best deal.

    I hope you decide to try it- we need more beekeepers.
     

  3. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,143
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2002
    I think Elizabeth covered the basics. The only things I would add are:

    1) Get your woodenware done early. A lot of beekeepers I know (myself included) seem to always get behind the curve on this. For example, this year I lost a month to being ill. That was the time I had planned on doing my woodenware. So I have been scrambling to keep up (I'm finally at a point where I feel comfortable).

    2) Order your bees early. The last couple years prices have gone up and availability has gone down (varies by region of the country). Try to order through your local club... it makes things easier.

    3) I wouldn't jump in and buy an extractor. See if you can use someone elses the first year. Even if you have to pay to use it you will be ahead of the game. Don't cheap out when you do buy one. Having an electric one makes a world of difference. Either that or you will ahve really strong arm muscles (or just get worn out).

    Mike
     
  4. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,565
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Location:
    West Central Minnesota
    Mike raised a good point about woodenware- I try to keep 10 percent extra of everything on hand all the time- amazing how quickly it gets sucked up by swarms, splits, replacing broken or worn components, etc. Of course, you won't have to worry much about that the first year or two, but after that, especially if you want to expand the number of hives you keep, it would be good to always have extras on hand.

    Here are a couple more book suggestions- I was too tired and brain dead last night to think of them-
    First Lessons In Beekeeping by Dadant is the "classic" beginner's book.
    After you get started (you're gonna, right?, we've convinced you? :) ),
    you might want to get copies of The Hive and The Honeybee and the ABC to XYZ of Beekeeping- something like that. Both good references, but not light reading.

    Also, you might be tempted to buy used equipment, but beware. I would never recommend that a beginner buy used woodenware. too much chance for disease. Everything that goes in the hive, and the hive itself, should be purchased new. Later on, you can economize by buying used extracting/bottling equipment, IF you decide that you need to own al that. If you are only going to have a few hives then Mike's suggestion is best- try to borrow/rent it from someone in your area. Many local clubs own equipment which they loan/rent to members. Or, other members might make theirs available to you. If you decide to buy, before you do, offer to help several other club members do their extracting so that you can try out different brands/types of equipment to see what best suits you.

    Let us know when you take the plunge!