A New Zealand Beekeepers' Association report published in the September 2022 edition shows a prominent proportion of beekeepers that quit within a couple of months. This is due to:
Start out by doing a little bit of basic training for an enjoyable beekeeping experience. Detailed instructions are provided in this article which focuses on the best ways to relax and have fun keeping bees.
Betsy with a Hoover Hive of bees at the Joshua Tree Preserve.
Beekeeping for Beginners
My advice to anyone considering getting into beekeeping is to do your research. The more you know from the start, the better off you'll be. Of course, the fastest and easiest way to research beekeeping is to watch YouTube videos.
Many YouTube channels feature experienced beekeepers who show you practically everything about beekeeping. This video buffet is how I learned a lot about beekeeping and how much enjoyment the bees can bring you.
On our website, we have many links to our favorite YouTube beekeepers. Another great way is to go to the library and pick up books about beekeeping.
But what helped me along was when I became an apprentice beekeeper. This decision gave me hands-on beekeeping knowledge; you have the master beekeeper to answer any of your questions. This situation is the most valuable resource you can have. He taught me everything from live bee removals, moving bees, hive inspection, and the importance of when the hive entrance should be opened for ventllation, or reduced to help with defense.
Working with a professional beekeeper, you will learn all the ins and outs and tips and tricks they have to offer about beekeeping. Not to mention it is a lot of fun to do it with someone who is a pro. They will make everything look so easy, and it will become easier and easier for you as you gain experience with the master.
There is so much to know and learn and beekeeping. But, when you start thinking you know the bees, they will do an about-face on you and make you sit there scratching your head, wondering what just happened.
Sure the apprenticeship will be rough at times, and the pay will be non-existent, but the information and learning you get will last a lifetime.
Check with your local beekeeping organization for possible apprenticeships. You will have many experiences that you will never forget.
A beehive located underneath a shipping container in Las Vegas.
Saving a Swarm of Honey Bees in Las Vegas, Nevada
My training started out doing bee removals with a bee removal company. I was working with them for an entire summer, usually five days a week.
Las Vegas summers, as you know, are sweltering, and I wasn't that prepared for the hot bee suit. The entire time you are in it, you sweat non-stop. So you better have water close by, or you'll drop dead from dehydration.
So the key to doing no-kill bee removals in the summer is staying hydrated and focusing on the job despite bees flying around you, bombarding you, sweating, and you being so hot. It was a challenge but a doable challenge.
In the summer, you want to work early in the morning, get a job or two done, and call it until later. Then, when the sun goes down, you could do another job; although it is still scorching out, you'll be working with flood lights on.
My training was intense, and we did many different cut-out bee removals. The education that I received that summer was outstanding. It's something you could never learn in a classroom. You must be in the field doing the work under extreme weather conditions that you will be working in daily.
Someone can tell you how hot it is in the middle of July in Las Vegas, but until you put that suit on and do a beehive removal, you will never know the unbearable conditions you will have to work in five days a week.
The bees work in the same conditions as us gathering nectar, honey production, gathering pollen, making bee bread, feeding the queen while she lays eggs all day, and taking care of the young. That is just a short list of their duties!
Hot bee suit in Las Vegas June 2022.
When we started beekeeping, a friend told us to get two hives up and running. You would still have a beehive if something went wrong with one of them. And with bees, there is a lot that can go wrong.
This advice was constructive, as one of the hives swarmed out and never recovered. However, the other hive is doing great, and they are a healthy colony. So I recommend going with at least two beehives to start your adventure. It is always nice to have an insurance policy.
This is another instance where local beekeepers can help you decide the number of hives you should set up in your area. Most will be happy to help a new beekeeper.
Start with at least two beehives, it is always nice to have an insurance policy.
The Italian honeybees make honey at the Joshua Tree Preserve
Hands down, the Italian honey bees we found are the best. They are very sweet-tempered, and we never even need to use the smoker with these bees. They are an excellent option for backyards too.
We love our Italian honey bees and are so happy we got them right from the start. You can stand around their hive, and they won't bother you or get angry with you being so close. They are busy worker bees and do a great job managing their hive and bringing pollen like crazy. The queen is a very good layer and keeps the combs full of brood.
At a minimum, you would be looking at around $400 for the equipment. And between $150 to $250 for your initial box of bees. This cost is to start one beehive.
Depending on how deep your pockets are, you can spend way more than this base price. Especially if you buy Apimaye hives! It is not a cheap hobby, but you will have hours and hours of enjoyment doing it.
If you followed the advice and all the questions we've answered in this blog post, you should be well on your way to your beekeeping adventures. We also have many posts and articles on our website answering most questions when starting out.
Local beekeeping groups are beneficial and may help you set your honey bee hives up. They can advise you on small hive beetles and varroa mites. These villains can wreak havoc on your bee hives. Varroa mite hive inspections must be done at least twice a year.
On our Joshua Tree Preserve, we have three acres. One of the acres is used for our bee colonies. One acre could house more than 20 beehives. But I would keep it just under 20. If you have a backyard, you can easily do one or two hives and not make your neighbors too crazy.
They will compete for resources in the area, so you want to do it correctly. When we say 20 beehives, that is the maximum we would do for one acre. We have several Langstroth hives, a few Apimaye hives, and a Warre top bar hive here. We really like the top bar hive layout and ease of use.
Backyard beekeeping has started at one of our customers' houses.
Our answer is no; it is not hard. You have many resources and information available online or in book form. In addition, we can answer any questions you may have during your journey.
Our Vegas Bees website and blog is a treasure trove of beekeeping stories and helpful advice. We are always happy to help our fellow beekeepers.
I have read several beekeeping books and I have yet to find one I didn't enjoy. They all talk about similar topics, but each one has different facts and wild stories that make it stand out.
Like most beginning beekeepers, the first book I read was Honeybee Democracy by Thomas Seeley. It is mostly about honeybees and their behaviors. With so many good books out there that it would be impossible to say which is the best. I would head to your local library and browse some of the beekeeping titles they have in stock.
With something like beekeeping, there are always many stories, crazy situations, and colorful people you meet. It is enough to fill up many books, and some terrific authors have pulled it off flawlessly.
Now, this is a very odd subject. When I talk about anything and use the word "facts" often, it is a recipe for disaster. With beekeeping, there are some facts, but things could still go the opposite way.
What works with one hive might not work with another. There are so many variables and situations that could go wrong. Such as, we had two bee hives next to each other, separated by about six to eight inches. Wax moths took one out, and the other was untouched. That is why it's nice to have several apiaries to bring the bees to.
That's like when a tornado goes through a town; the whole place gets leveled except one solitary house. So yeah, it was like that.
Sure that same setup, the same style of Langstroth hive, and the same amount of bees, but one fell where the other succeeded. So yes, variables constantly change everything.
There are a lot of guidelines that we follow, but facts are a complex subject. No matter if you do everything right, there are still so many windows of opportunity for failure.
All we could do is treat the bees the best we can, give them a lovely home with lots of fresh drinking water and leave everything else in God's hands.
It's funny because when I tell people about beekeeping, they don't understand that the odds are stacked against the bees often. We provide what we can, but nature is there to do what it does.
The facts of beekeeping are that there are no real facts in nature.
There are a few tools that help out with beekeeping. The hive tool is indispensable. It's a great all-in-one tool for scraping, lifting frames out of the hive, and crushing wax moths and their larvae. In addition, it helps pry off boxes from one another. You will see many beekeepers with hive tools. It's like their right hand; we will never travel without one in tow.
The bee hive smoker is, without a doubt, the most recognizable piece of beekeeping equipment. I would only consider entering a wild beehive by first smoking the bees. You never know what you'll get into when you go to remove a wild beehive.
The smoker will put things in your favor, and you will know by using the smoker if you've got friendly or angry bees. I like to use pine needles which create fantastic smoke. Anything that helps calm the bees is okay with us.
On bee jobs, we will have a lot of equipment, such as ladders, saws, drills, extra hive tools, and screwdrivers. Rubber bands, empty frames, honey bandit, transport net, extra Langstroth hive, and hive body, bee vacuum, other hive components, swarm commander, bee hives entrance reducer, protective gear, and many other items.
But if you're doing backyard beekeeping, you're good with the bee hive smoker and the hive tool. Beginning beekeepers usually buy more equipment than they will ever use. Remember, you are keeping bees, not running a beekeeping supplies warehouse!
Betsy, with her bee vacuum, removed the bees from a cable tv box.
This rule can also be called the 8/10 rule. Depending on your theory, it is time to add a honey super when seven of ten hive frames will have bees covering them. Others will tell you eight out of ten frames need to be covered with bees before they will add a honey super.
So who is right and wrong, and which way should you go? I like the 7/10 rule. This situation works better for us. It's a lot less stressful because we know we still have plenty of time for the honey bees to fill up the three frames, and the bee colony could make a lot of headway in the honey super.
The faster they get to work on the supers, the harvesting honey will come sooner than later. Of course, we all love to harvest honey; that is part of the beekeeping experience.
Capped honeycomb full of wild honey.
Well, this will depend on where in our country you live. Your local climate will dictate the best time to set up your new beehives. Here in Las Vegas, we start warming up in March, and April is delightful, and the bee colonies are working hard already. But first, it matters which company is sending you the package bees.
Ask your local beekeeping organization when they suggest setting up a new bee colony. We recommend you also inquire about ordering bees and buying bees from a local and reputable company. We started with two Italian honey bee colonies. They are the best bees, and we love them. If we had to order bees again, we would get Italian honey bees as they have been great in the desert.
If this is your first hive and you're just starting beekeeping, there are a few things to consider. First, if you ordered a package of honey bees, you must correspond with the date the bees arrive. For instance, if my bees were coming on May first, I would start getting things together on April first. In our zone, package bees come the first week in May.
This time frame would include finding where I want to put my bees in my yard along with having the hive box and equipment where I want them. Maybe do a little landscaping next to the bee box.
It's essential to have your perfect spot selected and everything ready to go when your box of bees finally shows up. Having hive boxes ratchet strapped down makes a lot of sense. Wind, bears, and other animals can knock down hives. This is especially true with Warre Hives.
Trust us; you will be thankful you used one. Another thing to have close by the hive box is a reliable water source for the bees. Fountains work very well and you can make a DIY solar water fountain easily.
Betsy with the Hoover Hive and Italian Honeybees.
We have a three-tier fountain in our backyard for the bees, which is very popular. So please be sure you don't have a big area where the honey bees can drown. Ours is full of little rocks to keep the bees safe. However, they are terrible swimmers, so please consider this when designing your water area.
When your bee colony shows up, you will have everything ready. All you'll have to do is install the bees into your hive, and I would give them a gallon of sugar syrup to get them started. Then, check it after a week; if they need more, add more to fill, and that's about all you'll need.
The pollen and nectar flow should be robust in your area, and the bees won't need any sugar syrup after the initial feeding. But take a look at it; after a week, if they drink half, I would refill it. But you won't need more after that. If that is the case, remove the in-hive feeder and replace it with frames with a foundation. Again, Langstroth hives make this process simple and efficient.
The honey production should be starting now. Early spring is a great time to catch swarms and remove beehives. The male bees, or drones are larger than the worker bees, will be out in full force looking for some queen bee-loving too. Only male bees don't have stingers, so they are not an issue. Worker bees are females and will sting! They can be such rascals.
There is so much going on at this time, so keep your eyes open and take it all in. If you get overwhelmed, call a local beekeeper and see if they can help you out.
If there is anything we can help you with, please send us an email. We want you to be a successful beekeeper and enjoy keeping bees as a fun-filled stress-free hobby.
Betsy and Pete
Our Experience and Qualifications:
We are Betsy and Pete. We were trained by a master beekeeper in Henderson and have completed hundreds of bee removals and bee swarm removals.
We are constantly educating ourselves and working with other bee removal experts on new ways and methods of beekeeping and bee removal. It is important to us that we are always up to date on honey bees and the newest bee control insights.
We have the skill and expertise to get the job done and save the bees properly and safely. Here is our bee removal service process.