There are many ways you can do your bit to care for bees, including buying bee pins or adopting a bee. Companies such as Project Honey Bees exist to ensure the survival of the honeybee. They sell a variety of bee-inspired jewelry items and donate money from the sale of these handmade pieces to help with bee conservation.
But there are other things you can do too. For example, if you are keen, you could become a beekeeper. Maybe you have never thought about beekeeping before, but it is a really fascinating hobby and one that will help to ensure the survival of these important insects. In addition, you will get to enjoy some delicious honey in the process.
How to Get Started
There is a wealth of information for newbie beekeepers online, but this article is intended to give a brief outline of what it takes to become one and care for bees. It may be wise to do a course in beekeeping so that you have a clearer understanding of what the hobby involves. Contact your local beekeeping association for information about where these are being held. Alternatively, look online for a course that will provide you with all the basic knowledge you need to get started.
The most important things that a colony of bees need is a place to live (beehive), a sunny spot with shade for when it gets too hot, shelter from the wind, access to water, a place to forage, and privacy. If think you know the perfect spot, then you should be good to go.
Ideally your beehive will be facing a southerly direction and should be raised up off the ground. The hive should be around eighteen inches from the ground. This should allow you to easy work with the hive without having to stoop over. You can buy hives and other equipment you need online. You may be lucky and pick up a hive at a yard sale but if you do, you will need to clean it properly before you use it to ensure it is not contaminated in any way.
In addition to a hive, you will need frames, a beekeeping suit, a smoker to calm the bees when you check on them and, of course, some bees.
Where to Buy Bees
Most new beekeepers will buy bees from a local supplier or online. Experienced beekeepers can catch swarms of bees, but this is not something that those with little-to-no experience should ever try.
Bees are typically sold in packages, or nucleus colonies. A bee package will arrive in a screened box and will usually contain around 10,000 bees, most of which will be worker bees. There will also be a caged queen. The queen must remain in the cage until the other bees become familiar with her. You will need to introduce the bees to your hive.
A nucleus colony is a mini hive with a few frames that already has a queen who is laying eggs.
Although the nucleus colony is more expensive than the bee package, it is easier for new beekeepers as the queen has already been accepted and the colony just needs to be transferred to the bigger hive.
Looking After a Beehive
Before your beehive is established and making sufficient amounts of honey, you may need to provide supplement food, such as sugar water. This will only be needed for a few days if the flowers are already in bloom because the bees will instantly get to work making honey. Once they do, you should leave them to it and check on them periodically.