How to Build a Simple Bee Apiary
Beekeeping is a historical craft and an agricultural method of husbandry or farming. It involves housing and tending colonies of bees and harvesting honey and beeswax. Beekeepers are also called apiarists because they tend apiaries, or bee yards. An apiary is the place where hives are located for colonies of bees. Whether you want one bee hive or many, the location you select for them becomes an apiary and requires some preparation and maintenance.
Find out about local laws and ordinances about beekeeping where you plan to locate your apiary. Don't spend a lot of time and money setting up your apiary only to find out it isn't legal in your area.
Examine and prepare the location selected for beekeeping. An ideal apiary has trees and shrubs for shelter from the sun, wind and rain, good drainage without standing or stagnant water, an open, airy space and a nearby water source such as a clear stream or small freshwater pond. Remove any noxious weeds or overgrown shrubs and trees, as well as any insect infestations such as large ant hills or wasp or hornet nests. Mow the grass around the area where you want to place the hives. If the location is not in a garden or landscaped with a lot of plants to provide pollen for the bees, prepare areas around the hives to plant with sweet corn, vegetables, fruit trees, herbs and other flowering plants. Consider enclosing the area with a picket fence to keep the bees safe from animals and curious people.
Purchase or build bee hives. Place bee hives in the prepared location, set up properly on sturdy foundations. Hives need good air circulation around and under them and stable foundations that won't tip or fall.
Fill hive or hives with bee colonies and queens when the location has enough pollen-producing plants established to keep the bees fed.
Tend the bees regularly and consistently to avoid problems such as starvation, disease, loss of queens or swarming. Visit the bee hives at least once a week, and smoke the bees and open the hive at least once a month for inspection. Look for dead or diseased bees, infestations of other insects in the hive and any other unusual conditions that indicate problems.
Join a local beekeeping association, take a class in beekeeping and get a good beekeeping manual to educate yourself about beekeeping and honey harvesting. Learn as much as possible to improve the health and hygiene of your apiary for the best results for your bees and honey.
Things You Will Need
- Beehive or beehives
- Colonies of honey bees with queen bees
- Plants for pollen, such as sweet corn, clover, vegetable garden plants, or flowering fruit trees
- Hive tool
- Beekeeper's veil and gloves
- Honey-extracting equipment, including uncapping knife, uncapping tank, extractor, strainer and storage tank
- Remember that hygiene is very important in the apiary. Keep the area clear of overgrowth, pests and problematic conditions.
- Set up a hive inspection schedule and keep a log to have good records of your bees' condition and your maintenance.