If beekeeping were a college class, everyone interested would need to start at the beginning. There is no magical formula for successful beekeeping, and anyone who already does beekeeping understands every single hive is different. Even with a good starting point of what to do and when, it may leave some struggling as they figure out every hive is unique and needs its own special treatment.
Although seasoned beekeepers have inside knowledge, they recognize that the longer they keep bees, the less they know. New beekeepers should be prepared to care for the bees, and there is significant work to keep a hive healthy. Although they have a reputation for being entirely independent, bees require care and attention like other animals. Some beekeepers compare bees to kids, meaning they can be high maintenance and have different needs!
Although bees are complex, they are easy to love. Finding a local source to help get started is a good idea. Still, they can only advise and be there when questions inevitably arise in your beekeeping journey.
Throw Out the Calendar on Beekeeping
Most people who begin beekeeping want a guaranteed list of dates and tasks that ensure their hives will thrive and last. Unfortunately, this does not exist, so throw out the calendar. Dates do have some value when it comes to reminders. So, as far as specific dates to follow, every hive is unique, and adding food or storage for honey (called superstructures) should happen whenever the need for more storage is evident. As the hive population grows, it should be protected and treated for mites. Every ounce of care that you give your bees makes a difference. Beekeeping is much like other things in life. If you are passionate about it, the details and purpose become apparent, and there is joy in the process.
All adjustments involve opening the hive and looking at what is happening on the inside. At first glance, most new beekeepers will not have much of an idea of what to look for. Still, over time, the experience will provide some clear indicators of when additional care is needed. Again, each hive is unique and will behave and respond differently to attention and care.
Be Willing to Trust Your Gut and Look Deeper
Many people who begin something new look for a quick, one-sentence answer to their question on the internet or social media. The concern with this is that other beekeepers will not have the exact same experience as others. After all, that is part of the appeal – each hive is unique, and beekeeping presents challenges and requires engagement. Short answers are probably not correct, not complete, or not relevant to your individual circumstances. Trust your instincts when researching (which new beekeepers will inevitably do) and find a local and reputable beekeeper to help provide some ideas and guidance. Still, ultimately you will be your own expert.
Beekeepers may BEE getting into the beekeeping business for commercial use or as a hobby. Some start small and love it so much that they increase their hives and end up selling products locally. Caring for the little buzzers takes work but can be an incredible source of relaxation and is a hobby that gives back to the environment.
Keep An Open Mind About Beekeeping
Beekeepers are in it for the long haul. Understanding the relationship of these pollinators to flowers and other pollen sources is helpful when planning the life of a beekeeper. Things like what to plant, how to provide water, and what other food sources bees need take some time to learn and navigate. Other things to consider are keeping their hives safe from predators and protected from disease. However, adversity and satisfaction are the rewards for overcoming the challenges all new beekeepers will face. Doing some basic natural science research into pollination, bees, and reproduction can set your mind stage for other information that is bee specific.
So, new beekeepers, do not be discouraged. Everyone has experienced successes, failures, and unknowns in the beekeeping process. You are not alone, and even experienced commercial beekeepers find continual adjustments must be made to keep the hives healthy. So, take heart, reach out to a local beekeeper, and research to get some loose guidelines. Then, you do you. Take care of your bees your way to provide them with what they uniquely require.
If you find you have taken on beekeeping, and for any reason, you change your mind, contact a local beekeeper or removal company. If you are in Southern California, DTek is an established and friendly bee company that handles relocations and beekeeping. Only professionals can ensure safe relocation, and many beekeepers would welcome more to their colony! Overall, bees need to be protected and provided for when BEEing kept, so get ready for the ride, and enjoy those moments when you have to let go of the wheel!