I have two new families joining me on the homestead this spring, and I have been rushing to get their homes built so they can have a comfortable landing. Not only have I been building their homes, I have also been constructing a safe area for their homes to be placed—protected from predators.
I would like to announce that the Gubba Homestead will be home to two individual bee hive families!
Having bees be a part of my farm family will help me on my journey towards being self-sufficient. Obviously, bees produce honey which is a long-term sugar storage item. Honey lasts indefinitely, so it is valuable to have my own source of sugar close to home. Bee hives require some maintenance and care-taking, but the benefits of having bee hives on the homestead outweigh the cost of time consumed with maintenance.
Preparing for bees has required me to gain knowledge, do some research, and spend time reading books and consuming content on how to care for hobby bee hives. Here is everything you need to know about hobby beekeeping:
Is beekeeping a popular hobby?
Yes, and it is increasing in popularity. People are returning back to their roots and drawing closer to their food sources. No more not knowing where the product in the grocery store came from because people are turning their yards into their own grocery stores and learning how to source food locally! I have a whole podcast about how to source food locally here How to Beat the Supply Issues and Food Shortage.
What are the benefits of beekeeping?
Obviously, you get your own sugar (honey!) I think the biggest benefit of hobby beekeeping is that you are learning to care for another creature which in turn shares with you a valuable products they produce. Honey isn’t the only thing you receive from your hobby beehives—you also get bee pollen and propylus!
Other benefits include: low maintenance, earning additional income through selling bee products, aiding the bee population, pollination from your beehives, and the relaxing nature of caring for bees and bee-watching.
Is beekeeping the right hobby for me?
When taking up a new hobby, there are a plethora of elements to consider. With beekeeping, you need to consider time, cost, and commitment. Bees are relatively low maintenance, but you will have to spend time caring for them—keeping them safe from pests, providing a quality home, and ensuring they have a good source of nectar. You will have to learn about your individual hives and pick up on their habits. Different colonies will have different personalities, so time will be spent learning about them. You will have to inspect your beehives weekly, so you have to be committed to caring for them. If you aren’t committed, they can easily slip into neglect, and we don’t neglect caring for creatures!
To start two hobby beehives, the initial investment is roughly around $1000. You can cut down on this cost by seeking out equipment from other hobby or commercial beekeepers. You can find discounted equipment on places like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist where you can wheel-and-deal for better prices. It can be risky buying used equipment because disease can carry over, and you don’t want to introduce disease or other pests into your colonies.
Ask yourself these questions:
1) Is your reasoning for starting bees something other than making money?
2) Do you care about the wellbeing of bees and want to better the environment?
3) Do you have patience to learn and adapt?
4) Can you provide the time required for caring for bees?
5) Are you not allergic to bees?
6) Do you like honey?
7) Do you have a place to keep the bees?
If you answered yes, honestly, to these questions, then consider moving forward in hobby or commercial beekeeping! I would suggest start as a hobby beekeeper and move towards commercial as you learn more!
Is it legal to keep bees in your yard?
This all depends on the ordinances, laws, and HOA restrictions in your area. You can call the city and ask about ordinances pertaining to beekeeping. If you have an HOA, you will want to read the ordinances and see if there are any pertaining to beekeeping. If you are right next to your neighbors, the bees will become a part of their lives as well because bees travel up to a mile for nectar. If your neighbors don’t like bees, are allergic, or have children, keeping bees could become a liability to you. You could possibly find a remote area to keep your bees like someone sub-letting out their property. If you choose an option like that, you will have to dedicate time to driving out to your beehives.
What is a beehive nuc?
A beehive “nuc,” “nuke,” or “nuclear,” is a small colony of bees that includes the queen. Generally, a beehive nuc is typically used by beekeepers to start a new colony because all of the essentials are starting a colony are included. Two nucs will be joining the homestead this year!
How do I start hobby beekeeping?
You will want to find a local beekeeping association to find resources local to your area. This is extremely beneficial because connecting with local beekeepers will provide a source of valuable information like what breed of bees work best in your area. You will want to order your bees early in the season (December or January) and prepare to pick them up in April or May.
Decide what kind of hive you want to use-–Langstroth or a top-bar hive. Most beekeepers use a Langstroth hive which is most likely what you are familiar with—boxes that are stacked on top of each other containing frames.
When will I get honey from my beehives?
You most likely won’t start getting honey for one or two years from your beehives. The bees will need their honey supplies to get started, but once the colonies become strong, there will be extra honey for you to harvest. This honey will taste delicious because it is organic, local, and you put the time and energy into helping the bees create it.
Beekeeping as a hobby is definitely possible for anyone! You can follow along my beekeeping journey on my socials!