Getting Started in Beekeeping

Beekeeping can be a fun and rewarding activity for you, your family, and friends. Not only does it let you enjoy fresh honeycomb, but it can also benefit your garden through pollination. It can take some time to put together a bee community, but once you do, beekeeping is relatively easy. You can get started beekeeping by putting together your hive, introducing the bees to the hive, and caring for the bees.

  • Study, study, study. Start with a good book on beekeeping. Beekeeping for Dummies is a great place to start. Watch videos from reputable sources like Brushy Mountain Bee Farm or Barnyard Bees.
  • Join us! The Pineywoods Beekeepers Association exists to help you succeed in beekeeping. Our members have decades of experience and are available to share their experience with you. Attending our annual Bee School and our monthly meeting can be an invaluable way to learn more about keeping bees. Here's how to join.
  • Check your local city codes. There may be a limit on the number of hives allowed, or a minimum amount of space allowed between your hive and the property line. Don’t despair if your city doesn’t allow beehives. You can often find friends or farmers in outlying areas that will allow you to keep a beehive on their property. Just ask around.
  • The best time to start a beehive is in the spring. This is when bees are just starting to get busy. You want to start them up as soon as the weather warms up so that they will have plenty of time to build up a strong hive.
  • Get your gear. Here is the short list: 1) A bee suit, complete with hood and gloves. 2) Beehives. This consists of boxes, supers, bottom boards, covers, and frames with wax foundations. 3) A smoker 4) A hive tool. Some great places to purchase equipment include Mann Lake (with a location in Marshall, Texas).
  • Choose a good location for your hives. Here in East Texas, a sunny location is best or a location with sun and part shade. Hive beetles like the shade so keeping your bees in the sun will help fight them. Choose a south/southeast facing location. The morning sun hitting your hives helps the bees get started on the day early. You will want to locate your hive where they have an open flight path. There will literally be thousands of bees coming and going out of the hive.
  • Buy your bees. A “nuc” or a nucleus of bees is a great way to start. It comes with a healthy queen, worker bees and several frames of comb. We have members of our club that sell locally raised bees at reasonable rates.
  • Feed your bees. When you first get your bees it's important to feed them sugar water to give them a head start. More about feeding bees.
  • Monitor your hives for pests. Varroa mites and hive beetles can be a detriment to your new bees and if left unchecked they can be fatal to them. It's important to combat pests with traps and other treatments.
  • Inspect your hives. Check on your bees periodically to make sure that they are doing okay. Here's how to do an inspection.
  • Harvest your honey. Here are the basics of honey harvesting.

Beehive Anatomy

The modern beehive is like a highly efficient multistoried factory with each "story" having a specific function. These "stories" work together to provide a home for bees and ·a honey factory for the beekeeper.

Hive Cover - telescoping cover ''telescopes" over the sides of the top super to protect the hive. Galvanized covering.

Inner Cover - Creates a dead air space - for insulation from heat and cold.

Shallow Supers - For "'surplus" honey storage. Honey can typically be harvested from these supers.

Queen Excluder - Keeps the queen bee in the brood chambers as she is too large to pass through the excluder.

Deep Hive Bodies - "brood chambers" are the bee's living quarters. Queen lays eggs in these chambers and brood is raised. Honey is stored for the bees' food.

Bottom Board - Forms the floor of the hive. Shown with entrance reducer.

Hive Stand- Supports the hive off the ground to keep hive bottom dry and insulate hive.