Katie Hafner, District Soil Conservationist
For some, beekeeping is a fun and rewarding hobby. For others, it can become a successful and profitable business. Anyone thinking of starting with a hive, or two, can agree that it can be overwhelming. The books, videos, stories, gear, expense… there are so many aspects of it. Where to begin?
Before getting bees, the first thing to do is research. Beekeeping can be simple, but there are a lot of components to be health, social interactions, timing, and habitat. It takes months to prepare for bees. Being unprepared for your first season can be disastrous. Now is the time to start; bee ordering for 2021 has already begun!
Reading books is a great way to start. Here are a few books worth checking out that are highly rated and recommended:
Use the internet. YouTube is a great way to learn from others and to see how things are physically done. Seeing how other handle hives and move bees is important and can give you tips and confidence for when you do it for the first time. Videos can help you learn the names of tools and equipment that the books are referencing. Also, joining a Facebook groups are a great way to get involved with the beekeeping community. Beekeeping Basics and Beekeepers in Michigan are two good ones. Michigan State University Beekeeping on Facebook offers tips and free webinars.
Get a mentor. Michigan has many beekeeping clubs around the state that always welcome newcomers or observers. Additionally, most experienced beekeepers will never turn down a chance to teach a skill to someone new. The Michigan Bees website is a helpful source in locating a bee club to reach out to.
After a winter of researching, it’s time to get some hives and buy some bees. Good luck, beeK!
Here are some pictures from my first year.
One of the coolest things about having hives is running into your bees around the yard.
Depending on how the spring and summer go, extraction in year one is possible! The bees may not always produce enough honey in the first year. As a beekeeper, it’s important to only take the bee’s extra honey to make sure the bees have produced enough honey to get them through the winter months. For boxes my size, the bottom two big boxes should be their honey. The smaller honey supers on the top are extras so they can be extracted and be bottled. I decided to extract because my supers were full and my dad couldn’t build me more in time. If the bee boxes stay completely full, you run the risk of them swarming and leaving to find a bigger home to expand. I extracted once in August and once at the end of the season and got around 100lbs total!
Thinking of starting yourself? Feel free to contact me at the office. I am happy to offer advice or point you towards someone who can!