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How to start a bee farm from scratch

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

How to start beekeeping? Part 1



Beekeeping is both a science and an art. Most beekeepers (if not all) appreciate being in nature, we love doing something good for our environment but at the same time are mesmerized by these incredible insects and how they interact within their colony and their environment. It is important to note that beekeeping comes with a lot of ups and downs. It can be lucrative, but it can also be painful.

Beekeeping comes with smiles and tears. The harvest time is strenuous but rewarding and the spring is mostly connected with some tears. Honey is your reward and hive mortality is your sacrifice as a beekeeper. We have experienced years in which we lost ALL hives (15 hives) in one winter. It is therefore so important to use the right tools, ask for advice from experienced beekeepers when you are just starting out. We would be honored to help you get started and show you the ins and outs of how to set up your first hives.


Finances:

Before starting your beekeeping venture it is important to get all the beekeeping essentials. To protect yourself from bee stings, you will need a beekeeping suit and gloves preferably a ventilated beekeeper suit and leather gloves. We also recommend using a smoker, to help calm the bees before checking them so they are less aggressive. Every beekeeper should have a scraper to aid him/her in disconnecting attached bee boxes.


The most prominent cause of death in western honey bees is the varroa destructor, an external parasitic mite that attacks and feeds on the honey bees. The disease caused by the mites is called varroosis and causes deformed wings and early death of the bees. I cannot stress enough that having a routine pest control system is a crucial part of beekeeping.



Now to the main workers: You can expect prices current prices between $200-$300 for a nuc in Manitoba (Nucs, or nucleus colonies, are small honey bee colonies created from larger colonies. It is so named because its box is smaller size box, and the colony of honeybees is in it, and a nuc hive is centered on a queen bee, the nucleus of the honey bee colony). You can find bees for sale on: https://manitobabee.org/hive/category/classifieds/ or

https://www.mbbeekeeping.com/nucs or

contact us for bees in your area.


Bee house: It is recommended to purchase 6 boxes with 9 frames inside each box for each bee family (2 boxes for the queen to lay her eggs, add a queen excluder on top of the second box so the queen won’t lay eggs on your honey supers. The top two boxes (supers) are for honey, the other two boxes will be the replacement boxes for the honey supers when you extract the honey from the frames. Check out http://www.lewisandsons.ca/ for quality boxes and a great price. A complete single hive for under $100 compared to almost double that amount on amazon. Or check and compare with https://www.dadant.com/catalog/beginners-kits for a complete beginners’ kit.

So what are the maintenance costs of keeping bees? A rough estimate is $40/hive/year for:

· Feed (Sugar water)

· Pest control (mite treatment)

· Queen bee replacement

· Equipment depreciation

*It is important to note that the more bee families you own the less maintenance costs you will accrue for each bee family due to bulk purchases.


How much time do I need to spend on each bee family? We recommend spending no less than 30 minutes every 2 weeks to check the hives’ progress and for any visuals of any diseases.

Freebies: You can get “free bees” if you catch a swarm of bees.


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