Beekeeping In Your Back Yard


When you come to get some honey, and I am at home, I’ll ask if you want to see the bees.

I have four hives in the woody area behind my house. The bees are usually gentle and you can see them flying in and out of the hives. If you are allergic to bee stings, don’t go back there, because there is always some fool bee who is interested in you. They sometimes bump into you and want to check out your smell, especially if you use a shampoo with perfume. They can sting if you try to swat them and get them upset. It is much safer to ignore them.

If you want to raise your own bees, it is not all that hard. You WILL get stung. Bee stings are good for you and prevent arthritis, but they can hurt for a day. The honey bee sting is not as bad as wasps or other bees, but it is a nice jolt. Your body will eventually get used to the stings and they get to be like mosquito bites, more itch than painful.

You don’t need much room to keep bees. Getting started costs around $400 for your first boxes, bee suit and tools. You order bees in December or January, pick them up in April or May, and then worry about them for the rest of the year. You should have two hives to compare how they are doing.

You get $200 to $300 worth of honey from each hive after the first year. Each year about 1/3 of your hives will die and you have to pay for new ones (about $100).

After you buy all the equipment for the bees, new hives cost around $100 plus the bees. You can split hives if they are strong so you can keep adding hives. The hives are competing for the local food supply and you can have too many hives.

Your neighbors might complain. Local kids wrecked my hives soon after I got them and they suffered greatly. They did not die, but they were very weak for a while. The bees gave is good as they got because the kids never came back.

Bees are subject to all kinds of health problems and it is not unusual to lose a hive. In the suburbs, people put pesticides on everything and it kills or weakens the bees. People raise lawns, but kill all the weeds, so bees have to fly a long way to find food. I am happy that my lawn is full of clover and dandelions and my bees are happy with it, too.

It is good if you have someone nearby who has more experience in order to ask questions. I don’t have any resources for beekeeping other than the internet, and I made every stupid mistake you can make. I am in my second year and I hope that my bees will make it through the winter. We’ll see.

There is much more information about my adventures in beekeeping on my Bee Blog.

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