101 in Beekeeping

There are around 17,000 species of bees and approximately 80 million beehives in the world. In the United States, there are between 115 and 125,000 beekeepers, and beekeeping has been practiced since 15,000 BC.

Honeybees are essential to agriculture and food production. In the United States, insect-pollinated plants account for one-third of the food, with honeybees pollinating 80% of those crops. Blueberries, cranberries, apples, pumpkins, and peaches are among these crops. Animal pollination is necessary for 90% of all wild plants. These crops would not grow without bees. There are other pollinators, such as insects, birds, and bats, but honeybees may be relocated to pollinate wherever they are needed. Furthermore, certain fruits, legumes, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are more expensive to produce without honeybees.

Bee Keeping

There are numerous alternatives and paths that a beekeeper enthusiast might take. In addition to fresh honey, honeybees make beeswax, pollen, royal jelly, and propolis, which can be used in the house or sold for profit. Other methods people make money from beekeeping include loaning out their bees and moving them to pollinate crops for a fee. Some beekeepers also offer beekeeping equipment, full colonies, queen bees, and bee packages. Other beekeepers do it purely for the pleasure of consuming honey and pollinating their own crops and orchards.

President Obama established the Pollinator Health Task Force in 2014 to improve pollinator health on a national scale. Honeybees were dwindling, therefore this plan was put in place to figure out the best pollination techniques. Pollinators play an important role in our economy, food supply, and environmental health. Each year, honeybee pollination adds around $15 billion in value to crops.

Sales of Honeybees

Before purchasing bees, check with your local and state ordinances to learn what rules govern beekeeping at your property and where you can store hives safely. Hives should ideally be located in a peaceful region, away from sidewalks, roads, and pedestrians.

Once you've selected where you're going to keep your hives, getting bees in the spring is the greatest time for them to thrive. There are four alternative ways to obtain bees, each with advantages and disadvantages.

  • Established colony: Local beekeepers provided the bees, laying queen, frames, and hive for the established colony.

Pros: The queen is laying eggs, and a honey yield is possible in the first season. You can get them inspected by your state bee inspector to guarantee they are disease-free.

Cons: It is the most expensive. These bees may have diseases, powerful colonies may be difficult to manage for inexperienced beekeepers, and frames may be old and in need of replacement.

  • Nucleus colony: 4-5 brood frames (larvae, eggs, pupae), honey, pollen, adult bees, laying queen

Pros: Less expensive, new queens that can be obtained locally, easier for novices, and a large nectar honey crop can be generated in the first year if there is a lot of nectar.

Cons: There is a risk of unhealthy bees and aging frames.

  • Package bees: are 2-5 pounds of worker bees and a queen in a cage with sugar that may be purchased online and delivered by mail.

Pros: Less expensive, simpler for beginners, and less risk of disease

Cons: Less likely to produce honey the first year, no brood, and transporting might cause stress and queen death.

  • Swarms: When honeybees reproduce to the point where half of the colony abandons the hive and travels away, they are frequently captured by local beekeepers who volunteer to rescue swarms. You can sign up for the swarm at your local fire and police agencies.

Pros: Free, simple, and enjoyable to gather; suitable for beginners.

Cons: It is unlikely that a honey crop will be produced in the first year, and swarm availability is variable.

If you are a newbie beekeeper, it is preferable to have 2-3 colonies rather than just one because you may require second colony to help manage the demands of the first. A young mite-resistant queen and locating your hives in an area with a variety of flowering plants and food resources are ideal for a healthy colony.


The majority of beekeepers utilize a Langstroth beehive on a platform. On top of the stand is a solid or screened bottom board, followed by a succession of boxes (or supers) containing 8-10 wooden frames. The frames often feature an outline of beeswax or plastic cells that bees can use as a foundation to build a beeswax comb, or hexagonal cells that bees use to store honey and lay eggs. The supers are available in three sizes: deep, medium, and shallow.

The colony, along with the brood, usually dwells in the lowest deep supers. Excess honey is stored in the shallow supers above. You can have one or two deep honey supers and one or more shallow honey supers. On top of the supers is an inner cover with a hole for bees to exit the hive, followed by an outer cover. A queen excluder board is not required.

Honeybees like to obtain their whole nutrition from flowers. Fresh nectar is a good supply of carbohydrates, and bees prefer it if it is available. They will store extra nectar in the wax hexagonal cells of the comb for the winter and dehydrate/dry the nectar to make honey. Pollen is also collected and consumed by honeybees. Bees get a lot of protein, vitamins, lipids, and minerals from pollen. Excess pollen is also stored in cells, along with nectar, and fermented into bee bread.

Bee Colonies

Bees are social insects that live in big populations and communicate and collaborate. The queen of the hive lives for approximately 2-3 years, but can survive for up to 5 years. She will lay 250 thousand eggs every year, or 1500 eggs per day, for a total of one million eggs in her lifespan. She is the colony's largest bee.

The majority of the colony is made up of worker bees. They are all female and do all of the hive's work. They feed the brood, care for the queen, guard the hive, construct the beeswax comb, remove dirt, cool and ventilate the hive. They are the tiniest bees in the hive. Their lifespan ranges from five weeks to five months.

Drones are male bees that are larger than worker bees. They are usually only present in the spring and summer, and they are expelled in the winter to conserve food reserves. They lack a stinger and exist solely to mate with the queen and perish. Their life span is approximately two months.

Except during late fall and early winter, the queen's brood, or eggs, larvae, and pupae, is present for the majority of the year. If the hive is agitated or lacking in food, the brood may not be present at this time.

Honey Production

A hive can generate 25-60 pounds of honey each year on average. Honey is best harvested in late summer or early fall, when the hive is fully capped with honey.

To collect the honey, use your smoker with or without bee spray to force the bees down into the lowest supers, then open the hive top. Take the honey supers out of the hive. Remove the frames and the wax caps to get the honey out. You can use a cold or electric uncapping knife, a fork, a serrated kitchen knife, or an uncapping tank. The frames are then placed in an extractor or centrifuge, which spins them and extracts the honey. The honey should then be strained through a strainer and stored in containers or jars. The FDA has a labeling guide for honey and honey products for sale.

Bees clean themselves, but if you wish to reuse a frame from a deceased colony, bleach it and scrape out any material. Please do not reuse the hive or any of the components if it dies from American Foulbrood, a lethal bacterial disease.

In addition to honey harvesting, it is critical to inspect the hive every few weeks or so throughout the season to check on the queen and ensure there is enough pollen and nectar storage to feed the bees. Ideally, this should be done between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when temperatures are over 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is critical to ensure that the queen is laying eggs and that the worker bees are capping those eggs. A splotchy shotgun brood pattern in the hive can suggest underlying health concerns and sickness. You must inspect your hives on a regular basis to ensure that the bees are healthy and free of disease and pests. If you have any questions or concerns about the health of your hive, please seek advice from a veterinarian who treats honeybees or your local state apiarist.

Honeybees are a great investment, whether for fun or to sell bee goods like honey or to rent out your bees to pollinate crops for a charge.

Supplies for Honeybees

Beekeeping equipment:

  • Queen excluder board
  • Stand for your hive
  • Shallow honey supers
  • Feeder
  • Varroa mite chemical control
  • Top bottom and inner covers
  • Supers with frames and foundation

Honey harvesting equipment:

  • Bottle tank with cover and strainer
  • Extractor
  • Storage tank
  • Pale
  • Stainless steel capping scratcher
  • Sieves

Equipment for running the hive:

  • Bee costume
  • Hat, veil, and gloves
  • Pry bar or hive tool
  • Fuel and a smoker
  • Optional soft bee brush for gently brushing bees away from the frame to view the brood

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