Keeping Backyard Bees | Debra Brayton

Keeping Backyard Bees

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bee keeper holding frame from hive

Beekeeping can be a very rewarding experience and it’s become a popular hobby, with more and more hives popping up in neighborhoods across the country. Whether you’re trying it to keep yourself active, to help improve pollination in your garden or to launch a side hustle selling honey, like any other form of agriculture, beekeeping involves knowledge, time and commitment. Where to begin? Here is some advice from the University of Missouri Extension.

Do Your Research

First, find out if beekeeping in your city is legal. Some places require permits, while others don’t have any restrictions at all. Check with your local government to find out what is allowed where you live. If beekeeping is allowed, touch base with your neighbors to make sure there won’t be problems down the road. Then, learn all you can about beekeeping. Read introductory books and join a local beekeeper’s organization, such as the Northeastern Kansas Beekeepers Association or the Midwestern Beekeepers Association.

Order Your Bees

Plan ahead and order your bees for the following year. Bee suppliers will typically take orders in November and December, for delivery in April or May. Then, several months before your colonies arrive, buy your hive supplies and any other equipment you need, making sure everything is assembled and in place 30 days before your bees arrive.

Plan Your Location

Place your apiary near a good source of nectar and pollen. Trees and shrubs are good sources of pollen, and for nectar, look for plants in the daisy, legume or mint families. It’s also important that your hives have a good supply of water nearby, ideally within a quarter mile. Lagoons, swimming pools, birdbaths or even a shallow pan of water would work well. Whatever you use, make sure to add some type of substrate, like small rocks or floating pieces of wood for the bees to perch on. Hives should also be placed in a level location, where they can get sun during the day and be sheltered from strong winds.

Order Your Equipment

In order to keep your bees healthy, it’s better to purchase new equipment. For a beginning beekeeper, an eight or 10-frame Langstroth hive is ideal, because you’ll be able to interchange and add standard hive equipment as needed.

This is just an introduction to a topic that incorporates a lot of knowledge. For further resources and information, visit theUniversity of Missouri Extension. Happy beekeeping!