If you are interested in becoming a beekeeper, or you want to become a better beekeeper, join me for thoughts on beekeeping in the news, honeybee research, book and equipment reviews, interviews, and other beekeeping topics.

Subscribe in iTunes

Subscribe in Zune

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My Beginner Equipment

With regards to beekeeping equipment there are numerous ways to get started in beekeeping. You can buy new or used hives and can obtain bees naturally from a swarm, buy an existing hive, or order a new package of bees. I chose to buy new equipment and new packages to start off. Most all of the literature I read before getting started suggested that new beekeepers should purchase new equipment to avoid possible disease and contamination from existing colonies. The rationale is that beginners may not be able to spot these problems and may end up with trouble their first year. It makes sense to me. You may end up paying a little more to get started, but if you don’t have much experience, it may be the best way to go.

For my first year I purchased two hives, both with removable top feeders, queen excluders, and propolis screens. There are various opinions of how to feed bees sugar-water during the first few weeks of the spring. I have choosen the top feeder method due to the higher capacity and ease of refilling it. The queen excluders keeps the queen from laying eggs in the honey chambers and the propolis screen encourages bees to build up propolis which is used for first-aid and handcreams.

As far as the bees go, I purchased two three pound packages of Italian honeybees with marked queens from a breeder here in Kentucky. My research has told me that the Italian breed is the most gentle and very quick at building up a popluation in new colonies. The queen in each package is marked with a dot in order for me to make it easier to find and observe her laying eggs. I'll also know if she has been replaced by the worker bees for one reason or another.

At the suggestion of the Kentucky State Aparist, Phil Craft, I will be treating my bees with Fumagilin-B. This drug protects against Nosema, a known honeybee disease.

I also have various beekeeper tools like a bee suit, smoker, hive tools, and brush. I've held off purchasing any honey extraction equipment until the fall when the honey harvest occurs.

For beginners, sifting through the various equipment can be a challenge. I'd recommend talking to various people and doing some simple research with vendors and on the web before spending any money.

No comments: