INTRODUCTION TO BEGINNING BEEKEEPING
Beekeeping can be a rewarding experience which has many benefits for our environment and ecosystem. It also can be a source of personal accomplishment and, possibly, offer a limited amount of financial reward. Beekeeping has been in our world for many centuries going back as far as the ancient Egyptian civilization.
For the beginner, it offers a challenge that will require costs, time, and plenty of patience. Today the honey bee is faced with many dangers ranging from man made chemicals to predatory threats. The world’s honey bee population is never constant and, in fact, may be shrinking. This threat is alarming and is more reason for the need of more beekeepers in today’s society.
Before a person starts this journey, they should consider this checklist of things before making the commitment.
1) Make sure you have the proper space and area for keeping a hive. If you have an HOA, check with them to make sure it is not prohibited. You need to make sure you have amply space for the hive and will not infringe on your neighbors. Honeybees do not understand property lines so it is imperative that they do not become a nuisance to your neighbors. Honeybees are not predators but seek nectar and pollen.
2) You must have the proper equipment. The essential equipment is contained in the “bee
equipment” list in this section. Many times you can locate used equipment from other
beekeepers at a reduced price, but it is imperative that you possess all the needed equipment
before you start a hive. As the hive progresses you will need more equipment, but that will
depend on the size of your bee yard.
3) You will need a starter NUC. A NUC is a small hive with a limited quantity of bees and a queen.
This is the beginning of your hive and will grow into a full body of bees. There is a complete
checklist of things to consider when obtaining a NUC in our website section of NUCS/SWARMS.
4) You should have a mentor to help you with questions that will arise as your experience grows.
The VBBC offers mentors to its members. The VBBC monthly meetings offers a great
opportunity for questions and answers to beekeeping questions.
5) Although honeybees are self sustaining they need frequent monitoring and care. Hive
observation and maintenance is essential. There are warning signs if hive issues arise and you
must have the time and awareness to take corrective action. A neglected hive normally means a
This should give you some idea of the things to consider before taking the leap into beekeeping. It can be both rewarding and frustrating. It is definitely challenging, but the rewards are well worth the effort. The Virginia Beach Bee Club’s main mission is to encourage and grow beekeepers in our area. We encourage you to consider the challenge.
BEGINNING BEEKEEPING EQUIPMENT NEEDS
The following list includes the basic equipment needed to start and maintain a beehive. It also includes a price range for the items. The pricing is for new equipment and does not reflect obtaining used items. Many times used items are available from other beekeepers at a lower cost. Beekeeping will require additional items as experience and longevity of the hive progresses. We are giving items that refer to the traditional Langstroth type of hive.
1. Hive stand on which to set the hive. Many time concrete blocks will work.
Price: $13.00 - $90.00 Concrete blocks may cost less
2. Bottom board which will have an entrance for the bees to enter and exit hive. We recommend a screened bottom board. This is the lowermost part of the hive
Price: $18.00- $36.00
3. Hive boxes (supers) Supers come in different sizes: shallow, medium, deep. You will need several supers as the hive grows. It is best to have all same size supers.
Price: $12.00—- $22.00 Depends on wood quality and assembled or unassembled. Prices are for medium boxes
4. Top inner cover which gives insulation from heat and cold. This sits on top of uppermost super. This can be used as a bottle feeder platform if you elect to bottle feed in dearth.
5. Hive top which seals hive from wind/rain and is top outermost part of hive
Price: $19.00—-$35.00 depending on quality and complexity
6. Frames to insert in supers. This ranges from 8 to 10 per super.
Price: $15.00—- $35.00 per case of 10 frames. Cost is unassembled to assembled frames
7. Foundation that is fixed to the frames and on which bees build
Price: $!0.00—- $18.00 per 10 sheets. Type of foundation varies from waxed to unwaxed sheets
8. Protective veil which may be a full suit or jacket type
Price: $60.00—- $200.00 depending on full or jacket with varying qualities
9. Protective gloves to guard against hand stings
Price: $15.00—- $25.00 depending on quality
10. Smoker to calm bees during hive inspection
Price: $25.00—- $50.00 depending on quality and accessories
11. Fuel for use in the smoker. Pine straw is free and can also be used
Price: $4.00—- $12.00
12. Hive tool for prying frames apart
Price: $7.00—- $17.00 depending on type
13. Bee brush to brush bees off frames
Price: $5.00—- $12.00
14. Entrance reducer for use in colder part of year
Price: $2.00—- $5.00
As the hive progresses and the beekeepers experience grows, there will be many additional needs, but that will be left to another source. Many times members of the VBBC share items which will reduce costs.
Virginia Beach Bee Club