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How To Start Beekeeping (A Complete Guide)

Honey Bees Best Feeding Method
According to anecdotal evidence on internet forums (and my own experience), a large number of new beekeepers give up after a year or two.

Beginners abandon up early due to higher-than-expected expenditures (in cash and time), hive mortality difficulties, a lack of understanding of the effort involved, and unrealistic expectations. For a better starting beekeeping experience, start with some fundamental information and advanced preparation.

This page summarizes and organizes all of the information you'll need to do these 11 steps to get started beekeeping:

  1. Begin your beekeeping study by learning the fundamentals.
  2. Locate an appropriate beehive site.
  3. Make a budget for yourself.
  4. Place an order for honey bees.
  5. Select a hive type and place your purchase.
  6. Purchase some basic beekeeping equipment.
  7. Put on some protective gear.
  8. Organize your hive(s).
  9. Install your hives of bees!
  10. Continue to learn about beekeeping.
  11. Manage your colonies to ensure that they survive till next spring.

You don't need to be an expert to get started, but you should factor in the time it takes to acquire and set up equipment, as well as the time it takes to obtain your first bees.

This article offers a beginner's guide to beekeeping. Each phase is covered in further depth in related articles.

When Should You Begin Beekeeping?

When your honey bees arrive and you place them in a beehive in the spring, your first beekeeping season will start off.

Beekeeping for novices should begin no later than the autumn, with the goal of managing your first hives the following spring, due to the first learning curve and the necessity to order bees and equipment in advance.

Learn the fundamentals of beekeeping.

Take some time to consider if beekeeping is suitable for you before diving into the deep end of the pool.

You've already begun this process by reading this article.

Keeping honey bees may be a rewarding experience, but it is not without its difficulties. Financial constraints, time responsibilities, and sometimes tough labor are all factors to consider.

Discover this article on beekeeping as a hobby to see whether beekeeping is right for you as the first step in your beekeeping education. Learn some beekeeping fundamentals and begin your studies in earnest if you want to take the next stage.

Beginner beekeepers may benefit from a variety of excellent instructional tools. Remember that the information you discover will almost certainly be a mix of truth and opinion. Gather information from several sources and maintain an open mind.

The following are the greatest locations to learn about beekeeping:

  • Beginning beekeeping needs and skills are best learned via books and courses. These books and courses arrange information in a way that makes it easy to understand.
  • Beekeeping organizations (for suggestions, see the Find A Local Beekeeper Directory in Bee Culture Magazine.)
  • Blogs, internet forums, and YouTube channels are all good places to start.

Find out more! Check out our page on beekeeping education for beginners, which includes book suggestions, information on beekeeping courses (including a FREE online video series), and other resources to help you learn more about beekeeping.

Step 9 was "continue your beekeeping studies," as you may have seen. Continue to read and study at all times. Beekeeping isn't a pastime that you can "set and forget."

Locate an Appropriate Beehive Site

You'll need a good area for beehives before you can begin beekeeping.

For a few beehives, you don't need a lot of lands.

While food sources must be accessible, they do not have to be on your property. To forage, honey bees travel long distances. Providing more water nearby, on the other hand, is advantageous during times of drought or extreme heat.

Beehives should be oriented east/southeast, level from side to side, and close to water, nectar, and pollen supplies. They should also be conveniently accessible and have enough space to operate. Afternoon shade, winter windbreaks, privacy from neighbors, proper ventilation, and water drainage are all things to consider.

Note that the given directions are for the northern hemisphere. The direction would be east or northeast in the southern hemisphere.

The amount of space you require and where you put a beehive may be influenced by local beekeeping laws and restrictions, particularly in urban and suburban settings where neighbors are close by.

Find out more! For more information on these guidelines, as well as choices to consider if your property is not ideal, techniques to reduce concerns in smaller areas, and more, see our post about where to put your beehive.

We also recommend that you read the information on beehives provided below.

Make a financial plan

Beginner beekeeping may be somewhat costly. The cost of your first year is determined by the different choices you make.

Based on our recent surveys of reliable internet providers, we estimate that one hive, your first bees, protective clothing, basic equipment, and other supplies will cost about $725 for your first year of beekeeping.

Your charges may vary depending on your situation and some of the decisions you make.

Find out more! See How Much Does It Cost To Start Beekeeping? for more information. for more information on what equipment you should buy and how your decisions will affect you. Then, using the calculator provided, estimate your first-year expenses.

Unexpected costs might be frustrating for newcomers. Our guide will assist you in avoiding unpleasant shocks.

Select a kind of hive and place your order

There are three different kinds of beehives to pick from:

A horizontal hive, such as a Top Bar Hive, a Langstroth Long Hive, or a Layen's Hive, may be Langstroth, Warré, or a horizontal hive.

The Langstroth hive is the most prevalent in North America, and it's what most people imagine when they think of a beehive.

Begin with Langstroth hives if you're a beginner beekeeper. They're the hives for which providers and guidance are easiest to come by.

More information is available. More information on the Langstroth hive and why we believe it is the finest hive type for new beekeepers can be found in our article. Other hive possibilities are discussed in the article as well. Check out our list of the finest beekeeping beginning kits as well.

Honey Bees are available for purchase.

Bees may be purchased from trustworthy local beekeepers as well as internet vendors.

Bee providers often accept orders for the next spring beginning in December and January. Limited quantities are available from suppliers, and they are only accessible on or around specified dates.

Get your bees as soon as possible, depending on your schedule. Your colony will be able to build up supplies in time for winter if you start your hives early. The most important task in your first year of beekeeping is ensuring that your colony survives the winter.

Honey bees are fascinating creatures. See our article What Are Honey Bees? for more information. For further information, see A Beginner's Guide To The Honey Bee.

When purchasing honey bees, you have two options: which "race" of bees to buy and whether you want them in a "bee package" or a "nuc."

Honey bees are divided into "races" according to their genetic history. Common kinds include Italian, Carniolan, Caucasian, and Russian bees. Saskatraz, for example, is a hybrid bee cultivated for particular features like Varroa resistance.

Beginners may find selecting a kind of bee difficult. If possible, we suggest buying your first bees from a local beekeeper. Local bees have genetic adaptations to your climate.

If you can't find local bees, Italian bees are a great place to start if you're a novice. In North America, Italian bees are the most frequent. They are abundant, widely accessible, and superb foragers.

In our post What Type Of Honey Bees To Buy, we go through the benefits and downsides of popular bee races.

Honey bees are available in two basic forms:

  • A bee package is a box containing around 3 lbs. of bees (around 10,000 bees). A caged queen and a can of sugar syrup to feed the bees while in travel are included in the box.
  • A nuc (pronounced "newk") is a nucleus colony made up of 5 deep frames in a tiny hive box. For a long time, the bees had been in the nuc. The queen has been accepted, and the frames contain drawn comb, brood, pollen, and nectar, among other things. For additional information, see our nucs article.

Nucs are more costly than packages, but they're also simpler to set up in a hive.

Nucs are commonly accessible for Langstroth hives but might be difficult to come by for top bar hives.

Find out more! For everything you need to know about purchasing bees, including shipping concerns, moving bees locally, recommended vendors, and packages vs. nucs, go to Where To Buy Bees.

Purchase Beekeeping Equipment

Beekeeping Equipment

For novices, there are three "must-have" beekeeping tools:

  • Bee smoker
  • Hive tool
  • Bee brush

During a hive examination, bees benefit from the use of a bee hive smoker. Puffing cold smoke on the bees causes them to move out of the path, eat honey (which relaxes them), and suppresses alarm hormones that may make them more defensive.

Bees that are calmer and less defensive are simpler to control. For every inspection, bring a lighted cigarette with you so you may use it if necessary.

Find out more! See our page on bee smokers for additional information on how they function, how to light them, and how to clean them.

A smoker may not be required for every hive visit, but a hive tool is generally always required.

Hive tools are small hand-held instruments that may be used for a variety of tasks. Hive tools are used to separate and lift propolis-coated boxes or frames. Wax, propolis, or even a stinger embedded in your skin may be scraped out with a sharp edge.

Find out more! For more information on hive tools and how to use them, see our article What Is A Hive Tool?

A bee brush may be used to get bees out of your way or to brush them off a frame so you can check it. (A huge turkey feather would work just as well, according to our beekeeping teacher.)

Though we consider the bee brush to be a "must-have" item, we seldom use it these days; still, novices should obtain one.

We learned to remove bees off frames with a good hard shake without becoming alarmed as we became more comfortable dealing with bees. As a beginner beekeeper, I think you will feel more at ease using a brush.

Always use a soft upward sweep while brushing frames.

Get Beekeeping Protective Clothing

I'm aware that there are videos on the internet showing beekeepers wearing little or no protective gear. These are, however, generally seasoned beekeepers who have become used to the stings. They also maintain a calm demeanor and avoid doing anything that would make the bees defensive.

When you first start working with bees as a rookie beekeeper, you will most likely feel nervous. As a result, put on safety gear before you begin. After that, after you've gained more experience, you may pick how cautious you want to be.

The following items may be worn as protective clothing:

  1. A veil to cover your face and eyes;
  2. A complete bee suit or a bee jacket; leather gloves; and boots are all required.

As your confidence grows and you feel more at ease with the bees, you may decide to wear less protective gear (though we recommend you always wear a veil).

Expect to get stung no matter what you do in terms of protective clothing.

Find out more! For additional information on the many alternatives and what to look for while buying, see our entire guide to beekeeping protective apparel.

Organize Your Hive

Set up your hive before the bees come, particularly if you purchased a package of bees. You don't want your bees to be left stranded for days while you get your act together.

Depending on how many frames the bees have occupied, you may have a bit more leeway with a nuc. With just five frames in a nuc, they may be near to capacity, and you will need to provide extra space as soon as possible.

The amount of time it takes to set up your hive is determined by the kind of hive you purchased. It takes very little time to put together fully constructed and painted boxes, as well as assembled frames and foundations.

If you buy unassembled equipment, though, you'll need some time to put it together.

Find out more! See how to put up a beehive for the first time in this post.

Set Up A Hive For Your Bees

If you followed our instructions, you should have received your bees in early spring, after you had built up your hive.

Whether you purchased a bee package or a nuc, how you place honey bees in the hive will differ.

If your budget allows, we prefer a nuc since it is considerably easier to set up. Lift the frames with the bees on them and put them in your hive with your hive tool.

Shake any remaining bees out of the nuc and into the hive. Place the nuc box in front of the hive, and the bees will figure out where to go.

It's a little more difficult to set up a bee bundle.

With a bee package, you first place the caged queen in the hive and wait a few days for the colony to accept her before releasing her.

Shake the box once the queen cage is in the hive to entice more bees into the hive.

Find out more! For a thorough description of what to do when your colonies arrive, see How To Install Bees In A New Hive.

Keep learning about beekeeping.

You are now a beekeeper since you have honey bees in a hive. The aim, though, is to become a successful beekeeper.

Maintain your beekeeping knowledge. Continue to read books, watch movies, look up material on the internet, and learn new things.

Taking Care of Your Bee Colonies

Your duty as a beekeeper is to manage and care for your honey bees, who are your livestock.

As a new beekeeper, your main objective should be to see your colonies through their first full year. To achieve that aim, you must actively maintain your hives.

Taking care of your honey bees entails:

  • Inspections of the hive on a regular basis to check conditions such as:
  • The queen's position and health
  • Needs for population and space
  • The sufficiency of food stockpiles
  • Pests or sickness evidence
  • The state of the colony
  • Symptoms of a swarming situation
  • Cross-combination
  • The state of the hive's components
  • Taking action to address issues discovered during hive inspections;
  • Changing the number of boxes and frames as the colony's population and activities change;
  • reducing the robbery's influence on your hives;
  • Getting your hives ready for the winter;
  • Eventually, honey and other hive products will be harvested.
Find out more! For information on how to examine hives, seasonal hive management, maintaining records, and more, see our series Managing Beehives (A Beginners Guide).


Starting a backyard beekeeping hobby requires advanced planning.

If you follow the methods outlined in this article, you'll limit the chances of unpleasant shocks, which may be frustrating for new beekeepers.

If you can get your bees to survive the first year, you'll be able to taste your own honey before you know it!

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