First it’s important to educate yourself on bees and beekeeping. When we began, we read a lot of articles. We also watched a lot of YouTube videos online which were extremely helpful because we were able to see the bees, beehive, and beekeeper in action.
Another way to prepare is to begin to socialize and reach out to other beekeepers in your area. Beekeepers are a different breed of people and everyone we have met has been nice and willing to share their information. Join local beekeeping groups (If you live in Arkansas). Check out Facebook groups. Your local group may be meeting online. Udemy also has some wonderful classes available online at reasonable prices.
Picking a Location for Your Bees
Below is a list of attributes to think about when choosing a location.
- Southwest facing hives allow for the sun to trigger the bees to start foraging earlier.
- Wind is an important factor. You don’t want cool air chilling their brood.
Rain…As the old beekeeping saying goes, “a wet bee is a dead bee”.
- Be mindful of storm directions in your particular area.
- Use a hive stand. This can be as simple as a couple of cinder blocks with 4X4 lumber pulled through the holes, to a metal elevated hive stand and every combination in between. Whatever you choose be sure to give your hives a slight forward tilt to allow for drainage.
- Sunlight is your friend and at times your enemy. With increased heat in the hive it’s difficult for the nurse bees to control the temperature. The hive will redirect resources to water collection, taking workers away from honey or pollen collection. Here at Help A Hive we chose a location, with a small tree that provides some shade during a hot summer day.
Basic Beekeeping Equipment
You will need some kind of bee protection. At the very least, plan to purchase a veil. You wouldn’t want to be stung on your face or in your eye since those areas are very sensitive. Many people on a budget use a hooded cotton jacket for many years before upgrading. On the premium side are vented jackets and full suits. We began with regular bee jackets our first year and sweated a lot in them! If you can afford vented jackets or beesuits, you will be much more comfortable during the summer months. Don’t forget the gloves; any beekeeping specific gloves will do. As far as hand tools go, a smoker ( buy USA MADE), and a hive tool is all you really need. Some optional accessories that make your inspections more pleasurable are, a queen cage, frame holder (worth the money), and dry fabric swiffer sheets non scented (used if you see hive beetles for the first time).
The Type of Hive.
If you are getting a bee NUC from us, the type hive you will need to have is a “deep box”. The “deep” designation refers to the height of the box. So you can have deep boxes with 8 frames, 9 frames, or 10 frames. We also recommend you have a 2nd box ready with frames at least 4 to 6 weeks from the time you install the bee NUC. This allows you to be ready when the colony needs more space for resource collection. Oftentimes, books refer to this second box as a honey super. To a beginning beekeeper is often misleading, a “honey super”, is simply an additional box added to hive. If a queen excluder is used to trap the queen to the lower box, the hive will start storing resources, like honey, in the top box (no baby bees in that top box), hence “honey super” for short.
Picking Up Your Bee NUC:
It’s best to pickup before daylight or after sunset. You don’t want the bees to overheat with the entrance closed on the way home. Also, the forager bees are in the hive during these times which means you get more bees! When picking up, you want to bring your bee protection and smoker in case there are any problems on the way home. Don’t be that person with a car full of bees and no protection.
How to Install Your Bee NUC
Since bees orientate to the location of the hive entrance, simply place the nuc box on the exact spot where you are going to be placing the hive. Release the entrance guard to allow your bees to orientate to the location of their new home. Bees achieve this by flying in a figure 8 pattern. If you transported your hive at night, wait until daylight to install.
About an hour or so after your bees have been flying, place your Hive in the location of the bee nuc and carefully place all the nuc frames in the middle of the hive in the order they were in the nuc. Fill in with the remaining space with additional frames.
Assemble the rest of your hive, being sure to keep the entrance open, and you are done with an install. It’s been said by many beekeepers that you should start with two hives. This is so you can compare them to each other and if one starts having difficulties, you still have one. Two hives are best but if you can only afford one nuc, don’t let that stop you from becoming a newbee!