Northwest Indiana Beekeepers Association

What Does It Take To Get Started In Beekeeping?

Q: What Happens To Bees During The Winter?
A: During the winter bees do not hibernate. Instead, they cluster tightly together in their hive and generate heat to keep each other warm. They eat honey and pollen that they collected during the spring and summer.

Q: How much time does it take to keep bees?

A: Beekeeping is a seasonal hobby, and therefore, the time varies with the seasons. In the winter, there is practically nothing to do except to occasionally check for physical damage or snow blocking the entrances.  The busiest time is the early summer when each hive should be checked weekly to prevent swarming, and to add additional honey supers.  This need take no longer than a few minutes once you get the hang of it. 

Q: What equipment do I need to start keeping bees?

A: First you will need the hive.  This consists of a bottom board, two hive bodies with frames and foundation, three medium honey supers with frames and foundation, an inner cover and an outer cover.  Secondly, you will need a smoker and hive tool.  Buy a large smoker with guard, and the long hive tool.  Your personal safety is important when working with honey bees, please remember to wear a veil, jacket, and gloves!

Q:  What do I do if I get stung?

A: Pull out the stinger...quickly. Never grab the bulb (venom sac) of the stinger and pull.  That squeezes all the venom into your skin, like a hypodermic syringe. Instead, scrape the stinger off with a fingernail, or the sharp edge of your hive tool. This grabs the shaft of the stinger, and pulls it out, leaving most of the venom in the sac. 

Q: How much will it cost me to get started?

A: There are several bee supply houses that offer a variety of beginner kits.  These contain all the equipment you will need to start your first hive.   The woodenware can often be purchased pre-assembled. While these kits are handy, they tend to have some things that may not be needed by beginner, and are a little expensive.   They range in price from $215 to more than $300.

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