Getting bees is both expensive and exciting. There are a lot of items for both the bees and the bee keeper that are needed. Here we will tackle the basics of bee keeping - It will be a kinda learn as we go since we are new to beekeeping. We've joined a couple of bee keeping clubs and taken a few classes so we know just enough to be dangerous :-)
While an entire hive is not necessary to begin keeping bees, you should have two deep supers, a bottom board, entrance reducer, an inner cover, a top cover, a hive stand, frames and foundation, and a feeder for the bees for each hive. (To start bee keeping the experienced bee keepers recommend starting with two hives.) Finding and joining a local bee club and taking classes is highly recommended - there is a lot to know!
Determining the best spot for the bee hive requires some thought. Southern exposure, dappled shade, with a near water source, and a stand 18" to 24" off the ground is best. This stand is 18" off the ground, 22" wide and 4' 5" long was made from scrap wood from the barn. We will be using tie downs on the hives to keep them secure from winds and critters that may want to rob the hives.
To begin bee keeping will you need protective clothing or bee suit, bee keeping gloves, a smoker, a hive tool, a bee brush, a spray bottle and bee feeder to begin bee keeping. As you progress, you can build on your bee keeping tools and supplies. A benefit of joining a bee club may allow you the opportunity to rent or borrow the honey extraction tools when you harvest honey.
Bees need a source of water and can fly up to five miles in search of a feed source/pollen.
In early Spring, good sources of pollen in SE Michigan are pussy willows, witch hazel, maple trees, crocus, freesia bushes and a few other early blooming trees and plants. You'll want to supplement the bees to ensure they have enough food to get them started until the nectar flows begin.
After installing your new bees and supplying a supplemental source of feed whilst they settle into their new hive, you'll want to check on the hive after they've had a week to ten days to settle in. You'll want to make sure the queen is alive and the hive is thriving. There is a lot more to learn so stay with us on our journey of keeping bees!
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