Q:

How do you raise honey bees?

A:

Quick Answer

To raise honey bees successfully, build a safe and functional hive for the bees to live in, acquire enough bees for the colony to thrive, and perform regular maintenance to keep the hive healthy. Harvesting of honey is usually done in September, but the hive requires some attention throughout the year.

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Full Answer

  1. Assemble a kit

    The first step in raising a colony of bees is building a suitable home and acquiring the necessary tools to care for them. Hive boxes are commercially available and should have around 10 cells with hexagonal wax foundations. The tools needed are a hat and veil, gloves, hive tool, and a smoker.

  2. Acquire the bees

    Bees can be acquired from multiple sources. Some established beekeepers sell surplus bees, as do commercial outlets. Surplus bees are delivered in 3-pound boxes containing approximately 10,000 bees and a small amount of sugar water to keep the bees viable. Alternatively, it is possible to capture a wild swarm. Without a home to defend, swarming bees are generally docile and can be taken peacefully once the queen is captured.

  3. Tend the hive

    During the spring and summer months, bees feed and water themselves. It is important, however, to monitor closely the health of the hive. Be sure to keep predatory wasps and other honey thieves away from the colony, and harvest the honey in September.

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