Chances are, if you are a gardener, you have toyed with the idea of beekeeping. Bees are such an integral part of life in our gardens, it makes sense that many gardeners sport both their gardening cap and their beekeeper’s hat and veil. Expert beekeeper Gwyn Murray shares both the basics of beekeeping, and also answers to questions avid beekeepers are asking. Read on to learn more from Gwyn’s experience as a beekeeper.
Not too much equipment is needed for someone to start being a keeper. A basic hive kit can be bought from bee supply companies. Alternatively, you can acquire used equipment from another beekeeper. It is less expensive if you are willing to build your own hive from basic building blocks, and somewhat more expensive if you buy a prebuilt or preassembled hive. I generally recommend starting with more than one hive, in case you need to “borrow” resources from another hive at different times. A basic hive set up, if brand-new, should cost around $300. Packages of bees or reestablished nucs (or nucleus colonies, which are small colonies made from larger honey bee colonies) can be purchased for anywhere from about $80 to around $300. But sometimes it also is possible to get a split (part of a hive) from another beekeeper, or else to capture a swarm of bees. This latter method is my favorite, since it may indicate that the colony already has survived the winter and maybe more resilient. I have had relatively good luck with captured swarms surviving.