Selling honey can be a great and lucrative business. You can farm honey bee in your backyard as well as it doesn’t demand a lot of space. All you’d need to do is call your local corporation municipality office to obtain a permit to farm honey bees in the backyard. If you are okay with bees buzzing around you and if bee stings don’t bother you, then buddy, you can actually think of starting a cost-effective business. In fact, you will actually be contributing a great deal in preserving the Mother Nature. Have you thought about it this way?
In this post, you will learn how to start a honey bee farm with limited money.
Honey Bees and Their Lifestyle
Unlike sheep, chickens, and horses, honeybees are pretty clean and they are thousand times easier to pet – no cleaning stalls of bee manure needed, no need to keep troughs of water during summers and freezing winters, and thankfully you do not have to wake up early morning to take them for a walk. Honey Bees are your ultimate and eco-friendly (note that) pets; they clean themselves, being members of Apismellifera, can fetch their own food and water, even store them for harvest. They even patch their hive’s leaks.
They practically produce one of the best and healthiest natural food products in the world. They are independent by nature, extremely workaholic and very mysterious. Honeybee Farming is not in your hands alone. If you show dominance to these little creatures, your life can be in danger. They are as wild as tigers and lions and working with them needs cooperation for sure.
Ignorance and fear are two things that hold all of us back from beekeeping. But, patience, knowledge, and techniques can make you a commendable honeybee farmer.
Bee Community and Scientific Facts
Okay, you will probably be raising a complex community of small member where the numbers can go up to 1, 00,000. They are hard workers, like serious hard workers. Most of the community members are infertile female bees. We call them the workers. The workers generally work for the queen bee – they run the beehive, clean it, maintain it and feed the queen.
The worker females’ duties include gathering nectar, collecting pollen, feeding developing larvae, making beeswax to build more hive cells, and finally keeping the temperature of the hive normal depending upon the climate.
You will be sadly astonished to know that a single worker bee doesn’t live more than six weeks. It dies from exhaustion. And, its hard work will comprise gathering enough nectar to make 1 ½ teaspoon of honey.
Here come the lazy bums, the males – the drones.
If you see a bee idly sitting and wandering, then it is the male bee. They are very few in numbers, probably only 100. Their work includes eating honey, flying, and mating. Here is an interesting story about drones and workers. Mating among bees is a rare union and only the healthiest and strongest males are allowed to mate the queen. So, when the queen takes a mating flight, the larger drones, with distinctive large eyes come into play and pass on the sperm that the queen keep inside her alive for years.
What happens to the mated male? Well, they die after mating – plain and simple. And what happens to the not-so-popular drones? They get kicked out of the hives in autumn by the worker bees.
The Queen lives at the heart of the hive.
Each hive has only one Queen Bee. She is the sole egg layer and has a fully developed reproductive organ. She is capable of producing 1500 eggs in a single day during peak season. The hive’s existence depends upon the health of the Queen bee. However, if the workers find their Queen faltering in her duties, they replace her without batting an eye. They choose brand new worker-eggs, enlarge those cells to hold bigger queen bees, feed the eggs with protein-rich jelly-like substance and wait to witness the miracle to take place.
Now that’s quite a lot of bee information. However, one last thing we would like to add is the nectar gets converted into honey and the pollen is used to make bee-bread.
What Do We gather From Bee Biology?
From the above information what we conclude is that you need a whole lot of bees to harvest a crop and so, you have to do everything needed to ensure your beehive is packed with bees, especially when lots of nectar-bearing flowers are in full bloom. And most importantly, if you want a colony full of bees in your hive, you better invest in a healthy and productive queen bee.
Steps Involved in Starting a Honey Bee Farm
You Can either Build or Buy the Hive
Choose an appropriate area in your backyard to build the hives. Initially, just go with one or two hives and place them in an area where there are lots of nectar-producing flowering plants and pollen grains. The hives need lots of shade and workers prefer no wind. So, make sure your location is away from disturbances and neighbors. Make sure there is enough garden around for the bees to feed.
You can either buy readymade honey-bee hives or build one for yourself. Either way, make sure the woods are well stained to withstand rough weather. Most modern beehives are simple and ingenious, and include two novel features: they have movable frames and uniform bee space. The interior sections can be easily slid and taken out. Since honeybees naturally prefer a 5 /16-inch passageway that is how the pieces are separated.
With a modern beehive, you can keep an eye on the queen bee, harvest honey, even move colonies and eggs from a weak to a strong hive without damaging the hive or disturbing the bees. It’s all about cooperation, remember?
If you are starting out, we recommend you to buy a knocked down hive from the supplier.
You can either buy your first beehive colony from an established Apiary or from a local beekeeper. This is a good way to start and it will probably cost you around $100 only. However, do not randomly buy a colony that is not properly inspected by an apiarist or by someone who knows about bees.
A box of packaged bees usually contains 10, 000 workers, one mated and ready-to-start-laying-eggs queen and some sugar water to keep the workers fed during transportation. Installing the crate into the beehive is a work of a novice – anyone can do it. The procedure involves placing the queen in the hive first and then pouring the workers over her.
Don’t worry about strings as generally the travel-weary bees get tired and are flat-out discombobulated.
Honeybee hives should be ordered between January and April. Some of the essential additional supplies you would require include;
- Hive body
- Brood chamber
- Queen Excluder
- Honey Supers
- Feeders and
- Protection covers from Weather
You may also want to add few flowering plants, a pair of gloves and netted veil.
Working With the Worker Bees
This part is definitely unnerving. Even though the bees are just tiny-tots, when they are 50,000 in numbers and you are just one, you may feel suffocated, anxious, and even scared like horror movie victims. If you have never worked with a bee colony, we advise you to go out with someone who is familiar with bees and learn a few tricks and techniques from an Apiary expert. When you actually see someone else working around bees without getting stung, your nerves will spontaneously calm down.
Once you have set your beehive, call your local beekeeper and ask him to show how to work around bees. Don’t be too panicky around bees as they may sense your nerves and get irritated by your actions.
The only suggestion we can give you is cooperating with these tiny honey makers and we promise you that you will come alive and sting-less.
Tips to Keep in Mind When Working with the Queen and Workers
- Visit your beehive on sunny days when the nectar-bearing flowers are in full loom.
- The workers will be too busy gathering stuff that they will not worry about your presence. With experience, you will be able to work around them under any weather.
- Wear only white or light colored Tuck every cloth properly so there are no ways for a bee to accidentally enter your clothing.
- Don’t wear wool or any kind of perfume. Wash your bee outfit after each visit.
- Use a smoker, the standard beekeeping equipment.
- Keep your hives away from neighbors, sidewalks and public places.
- Avoid placing your hives in damp and cold places.
- Don’t let the bumblebee swarm obstruct your bee colony.
- Move your hives around the yard to give your bees new flowering plants for nectar and pollen
That’s all basic information we can cram into one post. If you are inspired by reading this article, get started with an experienced person and we are sure that you will not regret. Don’t give up. Let us know your first experience in bee farming in the comments below.