Before you start keeping bees in your backyard, one thing that may strike your mind is whether beekeeping is legal, and whether it suits you.
Generally, it is legal to keep bees in residential area. However, your local authority may have certain rules or guidelines that you need to adhere to, so that your new hobby doesn’t become a nuisance for the people around you. Aside from legality, there are also other things to consider before you start beekeeping.
The types of requirements for beekeeping may vary from states to states, or even from city to city. For instance, you might need to register your hive, attend certain courses, or record all your hive management activities. Usually it is not something complicated.
The Apiary Inspectors of America promotes beekeeping best practices and maintains links to the beekeeping-related regulation in different states that you can refer to.
Make sure you abide by the rules at all times. In case there are any disputes or complaints against you and your bees, you can demonstrate that you have done your due diligence. That helps you get out of trouble.
Benefits of Backyard Beekeeping
Some may wonder what are the benefits of keeping the seemingly dangerous honey bees, and going through the trouble of understanding and complying with the regulations.
First, you have to understand that honey bees are docile creatures. They are not as dangerous as you thought, if you know what you are doing.
Compared to other pets like cats, dogs, and other insects that give you non-tangible benefits, keeping honey bees gives honey! Who doesn’t like honey? A typical hive can produce at least 40 pounds of honey. You can sell it for some extra income. You can even collect royal jelly as you progress further.
On top of honey, beekeeping helps increase the yield of your backyard farm. Honey bees aid pollination. If you are doing farming in your backyard, you will definitely get more harvest after you start keeping bees.
If you want to contribute to the environment in a positive way, beekeeping is definitely something you can do. Honey bees are important in the ecosystem thanks to their role in pollination. However, they are under immense pressure from urbanization, pest control chemicals, and colony collapse disorder. Creating more sanctuaries for these tiny little creatures will help preserve them.
Lastly, beekeeping is unique and fun. It’s always a wow factor for your visitors and kids. If you want to stand out from other people, beekeeping is something to consider!
Things to Consider before Keeping Bees at Home
On top of the legal consideration, which is often easy to handle, there are a few other things to consider before you start your beekeeping journey.
The first thing is to get the consensus of your loved one, or whoever you are living with! Not many people can accept insects as part of their life, especially if they fly around and can sting. Not to mention there are thousands of them.
To persuade them to buy in, you need to get your facts right. Do the bees sting? Do they bite? Under what circumstances would they sting? Is the sting lethal? Do they spread diseases? Study the biology and behaviors of bees so that you can answer those doubts.
The second thing you need to consider is space. You don’t need a huge space to house your bee hive, but you do need some space around the hive so that you can comfortably work around the hive. Wherever you plan to place the hive, do make sure it is not under full sunlight or exposed to strong wind.
Communication to Neighbors
Unless you don’t have any neighbors, you must communicate at least to your immediate neighbors about your bee hive. While they might not be happy with that, communication is the only way to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts.
Again, you need to be prepared for any questions that they may ask, even if those are stupid questions. Remember, not everyone is as knowledgeable in bees as you.
Some people may choose to communicate with their neighbors only if they raise concerns. It’s up to you. As long as you attend to their queries, it would be fine.
Try to restrain yourself from setting up more than 2 hives. Your neighbors might be OK with 1 or 2 hives, but I doubt they are OK with 10-20 hives.
One thing you can do is share with your neighbors some of the honey you harvested. Pack some honey in small bottles and give it to your neighbors as a sign of appreciation for their understanding and acceptance of the hive in their neighborhood. That will further increase their tolerance level to your hive. And they might even help keeping an eye on your hive from pests and vandalism.
Before you start beekeeping, ask yourself this: Are you willing to commit your time and energy for your hive? At the initial stage, you will need to spend a lot of time reading so that you understand the biology and behaviors of the bees, as well as how to keep bees.
When you start beekeeping, you will need to spend longer time practicing the skills, tending your hive, understanding your bees, and helping the bees survive its first winter.
As you progress, the hive can self-sustain. You will need to work on your hive around 10-12 times a year. You will be busier in the summer, and less so in the autumn and winter. That’s not a lot, isn’t it?
Cost of Starting a Beehive
Another crucial element to consider is the cost required for starting a beehive. You will need to spare around $300 to $500 for the bees, the hive, and the necessary tools. Those are one-off expenses that can be recouped after 2-3 years of honey harvest.
Lastly, don’t forget your liability insurance! While bees are docile, they do sting when they feel threatened. Having general liability insurance will cover you against lawsuits in case anyone gets stung by your bees. You are also covered if someone fell sick after consuming your honey. Simply do a Google search, and you will find insurance providers offering beekeeper insurance in your region.
Beekeeping is surely a rewarding hobby. Surely it’s not easy, but it’s not difficult once you start understanding what you need to do. Do check out my guide if you need help to start keeping bees in your backyard. So, what are you waiting for?