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How Much Does it Cost to Get Started in Beekeeping?

Beekeeping is not only an enjoyable hobby for may people; it can be a backyard money maker as you can sell honey, beeswax, nectar, propolis, and other bee byproducts.  Some estimates put the average annual yield for one bee colony at $500.  However, before you get involved in beekeeping, you need to realize that there are some upfront costs of typically around $1000.  So it could take multiple colonies or multiple seasons to pay yourself back and start earning a return.  There are a variety of supplies that need to be purchased.  Before you purchase these supplies, you also want to make sure that:

#1.) You are not allergic to bees.  Besides the pain the stings will cause, someone with a bee allergy could incur significant medical bills and other severe consequences.  Don’t start spending money on supplies until you know you are not allergic to bees.

#2.) You need to make sure your property is adequately sized to allow for beekeeping.  There need to be barriers such as walls, trees, and space between your hives, your house, and your neighbors’ houses.  Since bees are attracted to light, make sure that light from the neighbor’s house is not the only light attracting bees.  Bees also do better with shade and protection from the weather.

Learn as much as you can about beekeeping before you purchase any supplies.  This can be from talking to local beekeepers and other hobbyists, as well as reading books like Beekeeping for Beginners: How to Raise Your First Bee Colony.  Once you’ve built your knowledge base and are ready to start shopping, you can start looking online for supplies.  There are several categories of supplies that you will need to purchase.  These include protective clothing, beekeeping tools, hives and the bees themselves.

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Protective Clothing
You’ll need coverage for your entire body in order to keep yourself protect and to prevent bee stings.  Protective clothing includes a veil, jacket, gloves and pants.  You should probably also buy some rubber boots and you might want cuffs that go between your gloves and your jacket.  Finally, consider wearing a hat underneath your veil in order to keep your skin from directly touching the veil.  This will make it less likely that you are stung.

 

Beekeeping Tools
There are a variety of tools that you will need.  These include: a smoker, hive tool, horsehair brushes, an extractor, a strainer/sieve, uncapping tool, and a hive stand.

a.) Smoker – relaxes the bees when you open up their hive to extract honey.

b.) Hive Tool – use it to pry apart hive bodies and supers.

c.) Horsehair Brush – brushes the bees off the honeycomb without harming them.

d.) Extractor – drains honey from the honeycomb.

e.) Sieve – filters out particles like bee scraps and pollen from the honey.

f.) Uncapping tool – uncaps sunken areas of honeycomb.

g.) Hive Stand – keeps your hive off the ground and away from ants, water, etc.

Bee Hives
When you think of a bee hive, you probably think of a hive hanging from a tree.  In beekeeping a hive is actually a stack of large wax coated boxes.  One of the key features is a queen excluder, which separates the queen from the honey.

Bees
There are several ways to get your first bee colony.  You can catch your first swarm, you can contact a local beekeeper and see if the have a nucleus (nuc) colony to sell, or you can order a package of bees to be shipped to you through the mail.  That is how a vast majority of new beekeepers get started — via mail order purchase.  Even though it would be ideal to obtain your bees locally, most of the bee suppliers are located in Georgia.  For instance, Georgia Bee Supply is one bee supplier that has been in business for many years.

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