Being a beekeeper on its face would seem to be something that would be a solitary activity. However, I have found that the more you network work with other beekeepers, the more your hives benefit.
I am an outdoor writer; I got into beekeeping after writing about it. I found it to be a fascinating look at nature. In a way, I had never discovered in the past.
I thought it would be straight forward and a simple thing to understand. You know, they are flying bugs in a box. The truth is, it’s about as far from the truth as it gets. I have read three books on beekeeping, as well as attended eight schools. I belong to a few clubs, and they are still questions I am discovering all the time.
I went from two Nuc’s to eight hives of my own, and I take care of another three others. As a sideliner that’s near my goals. I have promised myself 15 hives is my limit. I will hit that limit by the end of this season.
Maybe I should back up just a bit and give you a definition of the levels of beekeeping. The backyard beekeeper is usually called a hobbyist or backyard beekeeper, someone that has a small business with bees is called a “sideliner.” that is someone that has an unrelated job but still makes a few bucks on bees. Then there is the commercial beekeeper that makes his living full time as a beekeeper.
The benefits of joining a club can make the difference between struggling from year to year buying more bees than the money you hope to make on honey or bees.You get to network with the beekeepers that have already struggled with doing things the wrong way. They are usually eager to share with you the things that work and the things which lead you down the path to dead or vanishing bees.
You will learn about the pitfalls of mites, hive beetles, wax moths, disease and how to combat things like ants and yellow jackets. Proper hive placement the importance of moisture and swarm control. They are more issues than I can list here, but I don’t want to forget that fellowship of other beekeepers is something I have found to be very rewarding.
Local clubs are usually inexpensive to join and what you get from them is invaluable. If you are not sure where to find a local club you should check with your local Agricultural Department it is usually connected to your local county government. You can also find out about your state laws regarding the selling of your honey, label rules and the limits of your production before you reach the requirements of a commercial producer.
We will be covering many issues as we begin this long journey and we are looking for your thoughts and insight. You are welcome to submit articles to this magazine; click on the writer guidelines and follow the instruction.