Becoming a backyard beekeeper is easier than ever. Beekeeping equipment is also more affordable than ever. Estimated start-up costs on necessary beekeeping supplies can run a new beekeeper $200-400, depending on the products selected and whether you opt for any DIY projects.
The most important piece of beekeeping equipment is the hive. The most popular for beekeeping enthusiasts are top-bar hives or designs featuring removable framed combs. The best material for hives is sturdy wood. You’ll want to have a hive set up and ready for the hive around the first of spring.
The next bit of beekeeping equipment you want to have on hand before bees arrive is a beekeeping suit. Although you may opt out of the traditional full body coverall, be certain to get a veiled hat and thick gloves. You can save a bit of change if you happen to have a light colored coverall made of a heavy, thick, durable fabric. However, if you don’t, go ahead and order a full beekeeping suit.
A piece of beekeeping equipment that you won’t need immediately, but will eventually, is a smoker. This device emits smoke which will calm bees and disrupt communication when you need to enter the hive for maintenance or honey collection.
Once your hive is in place and your beekeeping suit is ready for use, you are ready to order some bees. There are thousands of bee species and they are divided into two groups: honeybees and native bees. Although feral honeybees do exist, the honeybee is the bee of choice for domestication and honey production. In the honeybee family are many sub-species with their own unique characteristics. Understanding their differences may help you select your bee of choice when you place your starter colony order. Take note that many commercial bees that are for sale may be hybrids of the different honeybee sub-species.
It doesn’t take much to get started as a beekeeper. Aside from the basic beekeeping supplies that you need, there are some other things that can improve your beekeeping experience and help ensure success.
Good Neighbor Practices
Although most municipalities do not prohibit backyard hives, you don’t want to get on the bad side of your neighbors. If your beehive is near your neighbor’s backyard, try to locate it where there is a 6’-8’ barrier that would force a fly-over if your bees attempted to venture that direction.
Offer plenty of water in your own yard so your bees will not need to go in search of it elsewhere. This can be done with several shallow containers of water set out in the garden.
Just as offering fresh water to the bees will help to keep them at home, be sure that plenty of food is on hand for them as well. They are happy pollinators so plant a garden that is bee friendly. The highest attraction will be native plants. Bees also prefer the colors blue, violet, white and yellow. Plant in clusters so they can get their fill in one visit to your backyard.
Go Organic In The Garden
Giving your bees a good home also includes their safety and security. Forego the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that could harm your bees. Practice organic gardening methods and your bees will thrive.
Gardening organic is not complicated. A simple recipe for a bee-friendly weed killer:
Ingredients: 1 gallon of vinegar
2 cups of Epsom salts
1/4 cup Dawn dishwashing liquid, the regular blue variety
Application: Mix fresh and use. It should effectively kill any plant you spray with it.
Go Organic In The Hive
Bees are susceptible to parasitic infections and hive beetle infestation. Organic treatment can be performed with the following recipe:
Ingredients: 1 pound coconut oil
2 ounces of essential oil (spearmint, winter green or peppermint)
2 ounces of eucalyptus oil
2 ounces of white thyme essential oil
2 ounces of tea tree essential oil
Instructions: Mix together all the oils. Soak heavy duty paper towels in the mixture. Wring out excess, leaving towels damp.
Application: Cover the tops of the hive with the damp paper towels. Leave until the paper towels dry out.
Backyard beekeeping equipment needs are relatively simple. It doesn’t take much to get started. As long as you have the essential beekeeping supplies to get started go ahead and order some bees. You will learn as you go and add to your beekeeping supply cabinet in time.