What is beekeeping

Bees can be kept almost anywhere provided there is good forage within a mile of the hive-such pollen- and nectar producing plants as alfalfa, clover, or goldenrod, or such trees as tulip, locust, or basswood. The honey yield and whether or not there is a surplus after the bees have eaten their fill depends on this food supply. Ask your cooperative extension agent about suitable local growth. Put the hive in a sunny, secluded spot with good air circulation and drainage and fresh water nearby (natural or supplied). Provide protection from winter wind.

The most convenient bee source, especially for beginners, is mail order. Your best choice is a 3-pound package of about 14,000 bees and one young queen. As for hives, you are better off buying the standard Langstroth type because it’s easier to obtain equipment and supplies. Bees will build their own comb, but they’ll do it better-and you’ll get more honey-if you install comb foundation (wax sheets similar to natural comb) in the supers (honey-storage boxes above the hive chamber).

Collect honey soon after the major local flow (check this timing, too, with. your cooperative extension agent). Unless you plan to use honey in the comb, you’ll need to buy or rent a centrifugal extractor to remove honey without comb damage.

Any beekeeper must expect some stings (see Insect bites and stings). They’ll be fewer if you handle bees on warm, sunny days when they’re contented. Before removing a comb, drive the bees away with a smoke-blowing device. Wear light-colored, smooth finish clothing- polished cottons and khakis are ideal. Protect your face and neck with a bee veil. Wear boots and loose-fitting gloves and tie your pant legs at the ankles.

Caution: Although most beekeepers become immune to bee stings, certain people react severely to them. See your doctor if this happens.