1. I don’t have anywhere to put a beehive.
This is something which occurs to most people. In reality it isn’t a problem because it’s usually possible to find someone else, even in quite well populated areas, to host your hives. I have beehives on land belonging to five or six different people. Remember there are beekeepers in New York City and there are even hives on the roof of the Paris Opera House. Recently we’ve installed hives on a roof at The Marriott Marquis & Marina in San Diego.
2. I don’t live in the countryside.
Most people don’t live the country, but most people can find a place to keep bees. In fact I have had hives in residential areas and on farmland, paradoxically the hives which are in neighborhoods with gardens are almost always stronger, and produce more honey than hives which are on farmland. I always recommend that beekeepers and prospective beekeepers join a local bee club. Clubs are an invaluable source of information, mentoring and other resources such as apiary space.
3. I’m scared of getting stung.
I’ve been stung thousands of times (yes it still hurts) and although I try to avoid getting stung, it really doesn’t frighten me. It is possible to be meticulous about always wearing a beesuit, veil and gloves and so minimize the possibility of getting the occasional sting, but I’m just not like that. The only word of caution I would give, is that some people are dangerously allergic to bee stings. The instance is quite rare, less than 2% of the population, but can be life threatening, (see below*). These people should always be very cautious and carry an EpiPen® at all times, it would probably be unwise for these people to become beekeepers.
4. I think I’m allergic to bee stings.
* I encounter many people who either say they, or a member of their family is allergic to bee stings (more than 2% of the people I speak to). I always ask them what happened the last time they were stung. The most common response is something like, “It swelled up around the sting, and it hurt!” This is NOT an allergic reaction! If the ‘victim’ develops a rash on their body away from the site of the sting, or has trouble breathing which requires hospital treatment, that IS a serious allergic reaction and should be taken very seriously.
5. I don’t even know a beekeeper.
You will be amazed when you find out how many beekeepers there really are. It isn’t something most people advertise because it’s human nature to be scared of stinging insects. As soon as a neighbor sees a beehive in your backyard, every bee they see is assumed to be yours. I kept several beehives in my garden for over two years before my neighbor saw them. It is a case of ‘out of site, out of mind’.
6. What about equipment, do I need to build a hive?
You certainly can build your own hives although there are many beekeeping equipment suppliers who sell everything you need online. If you’re thinking of keeping bees in as natural way as possible you might consider the Top Bar Hive. Our affiliate, BackYardHive sells various hive kits, tools and even plans for you to build your own.
7. I’ve heard honey bees are in trouble.
Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD is a problem in some areas. I believe that every new beekeeper, and every person who learns about honey bees is another step towards ensuring the safety of our honeybees. In places where onerous, irrelevant restrictions on beekeeping are too stringent, the number of beekeepers has declined. If this pool of knowledge and expertise is allowed to diminish, surely we are putting our bees in more danger. I would say that in some ways beekeepers are also in trouble.
8. What about the so called ‘Killer Bees’?
The term ‘Killer Bees’ is unnecessarily emotive. They should more properly called Africanized Bees. They are by nature more defensive than regular European Bees. Their sting is no more dangerous than any other bee. If someone who has a severe allergy* is stung even once by a bee, they will possibly suffer an anaphylactic shock. Even in areas where there is an incidence of Africanized Bees, it hasn’t proved to be the problem which was anticipated. Very defensive bees do not make for pleasant, relaxed beekeeping, so steps should be taken to obtain quiet docile bees and to amend the behavior of troublesome bees.
9. Where and how can I get bees?
There are many different places to get bees, and many different forms, swarms, packaging, nucs and established hives. Once you start looking and become involved in the beekeeping community you begin to realize it’s not as difficult to get bees as you think. Beekeeping is a huge industry, it’s just not a ‘downtown’ industry.
10. I don’t know where to start.
Of course you don’t, that’s why you’re here! There is a section on Bees-on-the-Net.com, which has the contact details for beekeeping clubs all over the United States. For bee clubs in other areas I thing Google would be your best source of information. I strongly advise you to join a club. Use the search box at the top of the page of Bees-on-the-Net.com to find answers to your questions.