Adventures in Beekeeping
Have you ever noticed how your interests change based on what you’re exposed to? For example, living in Minnesota I’m much more likely to become a Twins or Vikings fan than say a Titans or Cubs fan. Well, working for Runnings has exposed me to interests I hadn’t considered before. My most recent Runnings’ inspired interest is Beekeeping. Working in the marketing department, I would see information about our Beekeeping products and events at local stores. The more I checked into the hobby, the more interested I became.
In April of 2017, I decided this was a hobby I wanted to pursue and attended my first workshop. While I was a little disappointed to learn that I was too late to order bees for the 2017 season, it ended up being a good thing because it gave me a season to do my research on everything I would need to consider for this new hobby. Beekeeping isn’t a hobby you just go buy off the shelf and start that afternoon, there are a lot of things to plan for before taking live insects into your care.
I spent the rest of the summer researching; starting with the Beekeeping for Dummies book, which provided a ton of helpful information and will serve as a great reference guide. For example, did you know the majority of the bees in the hive, and all of the workers, are female? There is also a lot of beekeeping information available online; blogs and videos from beekeepers, all sharing their knowledge and experience. I found a lot of interesting information, and many helpful things to consider, such as the type of hive and ways to harvest the honey.
The piece I quickly discovered I would need to plan for is where I could keep my bees. I live in a community that doesn’t permit bees within city limits. Well, at least they don’t permit residents to keep a hive in town – I’m sure the bees can fly wherever they choose. 🙂 There is a lot of great information available for helping you decide where to set up your hive. The basics of it are – it needs to be safe. Safe for the people who live in proximity, and safe for the bees. Luckily I was able to find a family who is willing to share a little piece of their land in exchange for some honey.
My first purchase of this new hobby was for a Complete Beehive kit from Miller Manufacturing. This is a Langstroth-design hive, which is the most common and easily accessible in the US. Since this brand is carried at Runnings, I knew I could easily get deeps and supers to expand my hive as it grows.
The Complete Beehive kit includes:
- Telescoping outer cover with protective aluminum sheet on top
- Vented inner cover
- 10-frame 9½” deep hive body
- Ten 9-1⁄8” wooden frames with wax-coated black plastic foundation
- Screened bottom board
- Mite grid
- Entrance reducer
Un-boxing the Hive Kit
Now that I have a home for them – my second purchase was the Bees! New in 2018, I was able to order my bees through my local Runnings store. They will be delivered to my local post office this spring. I trusted Runnings for the sourcing of my bees knowing that the type of bees will be suitable for our cold winters and hot summers. During my research it was strongly advised not to try and capture a swarm as a beginner beekeeper, as you have no idea the type or temperament of the bees you capture. Local delivery was also a big benefit for me – to be able to order through Runnings and have them delivered locally vs. needing to drive across the state to find another source (and then drive back with the bees in my vehicle!).
While I’m waiting for warmer temps, and the bees to arrive – I’m getting the rest of the pieces in place. Last weekend I painted my hive a bee friendly Lilac color. The main purpose of the paint is to protect the bare wood from the elements, but I think my girls will like a pretty color too. Quick tip on paint – look for an exterior grade latex paint. This is important for two reasons – latex will breath better, allowing the bees to be more comfortable, and second – water based cleanup is so much easier. Alternatively you could also go with an Eco-friendly and nontoxic stain for your hive, if you prefer.
Painting the Hive
Next I’ll be making another shopping trip to pick up a few other essentials such as: a smoker, hive tool, smoker fuel and a feeder. My son has gloves and a veil from his Halloween costume from last year, so if he’s willing to share, I won’t need those. I may also get a head start for this summer, and get an additional deep hive body and honey super so I can have those painted and ready before the bees need them. If a bee colony outgrows their space and you don’t have an extra deep for them to move into – it’s likely they will swarm. When that happens, your queen takes half of the colony with her to find a new place to live – usually in a tree. The weaker colony is left in your hive, which is a little like starting over, but with a less established queen. Planning ahead and being prepared for the growth can help prevent this!
My bees will be shipping later this month, so check back in May for an update on how the install goes!
Are you interested in beekeeping? Visit the Beekeeping archives on The Run Down for educational materials and posting of Beekeeping Seminar events in your area. I’d also love to hear from you in the comments, what are your questions or experiences with Beekeeping?