Expert advice on getting started with honeybees from Carla Emery's "The Encyclopedia of Country Living."
Choose a Location
You may be surprised to learn that beekeeping is possible in the city or the country, but when choosing a location there are a couple of factors to keep in mind. First you have to check out local zoning laws. If you do live in an urban area with only a small plot of land, you will have to undertake a smaller project (the experts suggest 25 colonies per site in the city and 60 max in the country). Secondly, remember to coordinate so that the bees’ flight path does not cross high-traffic areas, like a swimming pool or your garden. Give your bees a quiet, isolated patch of land that gets plenty of early morning sunlight.
Do Your Homework
Contact your state’s department of agriculture about registering and certification, some states are rather strict while others have very little concern. Your inspector is a good resource for information on prospective equipment needs, bee health, and any services that might be available.
When it comes to selecting your bees and their hive you have two main options: pre-ordered package bees, or locally supplied. Purchasing from a local beekeeper puts you in direct contact with expert advice and the opportunity for some preemptive hands-on experience, and the hive you choose should already be fully functioning. If you choose the supplier option, make sure to place your order several months in advance. You want to receive your bees in early spring at blooming time for your local fruit trees.
One Final Note
Beekeeping can be one of the more complicated projects to undertake, but do not let this scare you away! Local honey has many allergy and health benefits, and producing and selling your own can be a lucrative project. Still, it is important to do your research, and probably the best way to learn is to gain hands-on experience with another local beekeeper. Befriending an expert will also give you an invaluable connection when you hit an inevitable complication.
American Beekeeping Federation: www.abfnet.org
American Honey Producers Association: www.americanhoneyproducers.org
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