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Beekeeping can be an inexpensive hobby or a profitable business, depending on your goals and where you live. How much time you spend on your bee colonies will depend on how many you have, what your reasons for doing it are, and how much time and money you want to invest.
A new hive will cost about 150 dollars, depending on where you live and what is available. With the vast dying off happening with bee colonies the last few years, it is very important that as many people as possible get involved with beekeeping in some way.
Using green beekeeping practices isn’t always in vogue, but it’s better for the environment and it’s better for the bees. Although there is a lot of disagreement among beekeepers about the topic with beekeepers blaming treatment-free keepers for colony collapse, there is no evidence that this is true.
What Are Green Beekeeping Practices?
Green beekeeping means that you don’t use artificial means to take care of your bees without a good reason. You ensure they have a good supply of organic flowering plants that haven’t been ruined with dangerous pesticides, and you’re careful not to introduce bacteria to their environment.
Let Them Eat Honey
The way you do this is you don’t use all their honey for your harvest. Instead, you leave enough honey so that the bees can live through the winter. You can even freeze some of the frames in case of an emergency. But, leaving the honey bees with their own stores that they produce in the fall is the best way to do it.
Let Them Die
Additionally, instead of trying to save poorly performing hives with fake food, it’s probably better to kill off the queen and introduce the hive to a new queen. This will make the colony stronger and healthier in the long run, because you don’t keep weak hives alive artificially.
Start with Two Colonies
Beginning your beekeeping enterprise with two colonies is a good green practice; you’ll be able to learn faster since no two colonies are the same. Depending on where you got your bees - whether from a package, nucleus (nuc), or swarm - one hive might be stronger than another. And having two can help you keep the strongest, thus building a much stronger eco-system of colonies.
Start New Hives in the Spring
New hives should be started in the spring during the heaviest blooming time, because that is when the most nutrition is available. Leave enough honey for all your hives all the time, so that you don’t have to feed them anything that's bad for them. Feeding healthy bees sugar water is not good nutrition and will produce poor quality honey, leading to more serious problems as time moves on.
Buy Bees That Are Native to Your Area
When you buy bees, buy them from local producers rather than through the mail from a long distance. Locally produced nucs will be healthier and more accustomed to the environment. Some of the behavior of bees is bred into them from the DNA memory of the bees that came before them. Stick to hives from home.
Smaller Honey Harvests Are Best
It’s better to have a smaller harvest to keep your bees well fed than it is to harvest everything and feed them junk food to keep them going. All that happens when you do the latter is that your bees will produce weaker and weaker offspring due to the low nutrition.