Bees are cool, aren’t they?
They obey their queen. Make honey. Work like no other insect. Won’t sting you if you don’t mess with them. And even then, they’re sweet (haha!)
So, who wouldn’t want to learn how to raise bees?
It’s an easy process, often cheap, and what’s more important, very rewarding.
You will be PROUD of yourself once you see those bees flying away and coming back from your garden. That effort is going to be worth it.
But you have to be prepared…
We’ll tell you how below!
Why Raise Bees in your Garden? Top Benefits!
Let’s give you a heads-up of the significant advantages you’ll experience once that beehive starts growing:
Bees Help with Pollination
Growing plants that pollinate? Bees boost the process, helping not only plants in your garden but almost EVERYONE around. It ends up being a win-win because the plants’ pollen helps the bees in many ways, like…
Tons of Sweet Honey!
What better than to enjoy your Sunday pancake with honey from your OWN backyard? A single beehive can make over 50 pounds of honey in a good season. THAT’S A LOT OF HONEY!
Bees secrete a substance from pollen that forms their beehive. It becomes solid to the point of spongy. And believe it or not, you can use it for anything, going from candles to creams, lipsticks, shoe polish, medicines, and a lot more. THERE’S ALMOST NO LIMIT!
They Grow Alone
Last but not least, bees grow almost by themselves and don’t become a nuisance. You can’t say the same about ants, wasps, or even flies. Bees are so self-sufficient you’ll actually feel like they need no help from you.
Is it Hard to Raise Bees? Short Answer: No!
With all those benefits, it feels like bees could be a PAIN IN THE ASS to raise… right?
Well, the short answer is no.
The long answer? HELL NO, THEY AREN’T!
Not only do bees require little to no output from your side, but they also keep themselves busy as long as temperatures allow. So that honey and beeswax will keep coming even in the harshest environments.
And what’s even better, why does it matter if raising bees is hard? THEY GIVE HONEY. Isn’t that a worthy reason enough to raise them?
Being REALLY serious now, the only hardship you’ll experience with bees is their stinging. You’ll have to be careful and cooperative. Otherwise… you can imagine.
Where to Get Bees for your Garden?
If you haven’t done this before, you’re probably worried that finding bees is impossible. Well, it’s not.
But you still need to understand the level of difficulty depends on what method you use. So here are some to consider:
Capture an Established Colony
Exactly how it sounds. You find a beehive, capture it, and bring it home. Then you just release the beehive where you want it to keep growing. That’s it.
It sounds simple, but it is probably the hardest way. In fact, it’s so hard you better avoid it unless you’re a beekeeper or can use the help from one.
If you’re not, try the following methods instead…
Buy Packaged Bees
Yes, you can buy bees to raise at home. They come with a bunch of bee workers and their queen. This “package” is often cheap. And more importantly, it is easy to find online and in beekeeper’s guilds.
Be aware that this method takes time to see any beehive growth (much more to harvest honey). But it’s worth it, as you’ll see how they start building their beehive from the start.
Get a Bee Nucleus
Probably the safest alternative if you want rapid growth and honey. It consists of a small beehive, nothing fancy, with few workers and the queen. These tend to be a bit more expensive than packaged bees but make it all happen quicker.
You usually get part of a honeycomb or hive with the nucleus. It’s great.
The American Method
This is the fastest way of growing a beehive at home. You can buy hive boxes or frames (large honeycombs), coming with a few hundred bees and their queens.
They can be a bit expensive, but the results are unparalleled. As soon as you set them up, the bees will get to work. You can expect the hive to last years and give tons of honey in the process.
Step-By-Step Guide: How to Raise Bees in your Backyard
With all the basics figured out, let’s get to the point.
How can you raise bees in a garden? Easy! Follow these steps:
1. Gather the Equipment
There’s not much you need apart from protection. The protective gear includes:
- A hood (with face netting preferably)
- A sting-proof jacket and pants
- A smoker (if you’re too scared)
- A bee box or bee nest
The hood, gloves, and jacket/pants are for protection. Meanwhile, the smoker is to calm the bees in the process.
Be aware that you can do this without protective gear if you want. But you’ll probably get stinged.
2. Choose an Appropriate Place
The location is vital when it comes to beehives. Choose something too damp, too dark, or too windy, and the hive will fail. Here’s how to prevent that:
- Pick a place that receives direct sunlight in the morning, so the bees wake up to work right away. Make sure they receive some shade at midday and early afternoon to prevent the hive from overheating.
- It should be protected from winds. Too much wind prevents bees from flying safely while getting rid of their warmth, so they stop working.
- It mustn’t be too humid. If you can place the hive under a pergola or cabana to prevent the hive from inundating when it rains, that’s good.
- The location should be far from high-traffic areas. Preferably in a hidden or closed-off part of your garden or backyard, away from pets, children, other people, and pests (like ants).
- Choose an area with food and water sources close. If you can locate the hive surrounding a butterfly garden and a pond, that would be ideal.
With a proper location in mind, you’re almost done. After that, it’s time to start working!
3. Prepare Everything
So, you bought the bees, right? But they haven’t arrived yet.
You wouldn’t want them to arrive and find out unprepared. You need to have the place and equipment ready.
Set everything up and wait for the bees to come.
We recommend finding a “house” where you can place the honeycombs right away. Bee boxes and bee nests work well for this.
4. Get the Bees in Place
Before placing them, calm the bees.
Use the smoker if you can. Otherwise, spray some water lightly into the honeycomb or frame. This should appease them for a while.
When the bees start slowing down, you should remove the queen from the nucleus, cage, or honeycomb and place it in the new home.
The bee queen will crawl into the home and the bees will follow.
Once they’re set up, you’ll see the bee workers flying around like crazy. If that happens, don’t worry. That’s normal, as they’re testing the place and discovering new grounds. They should get back to normal in a few minutes or hours.
5. Give them Food & Water (If Needed)
If the hive is placed far from water or food sources (flowers, fruits, etc.), they’ll likely struggle. And in some cases, they’ll go away instead.
To avoid that, keep a jar of pollen/nectar (or sugar with water) close to the hive. A bowl of clean, fresh water is also crucial.
These two will keep the bees from starving or dying of thirst.
NOTE: This works at first. But later on, they’ll need natural ways to survive if you want the hive to be self-sufficient. A rich area is ESSENTIAL!
6. Inspect the Hive
Now you have almost nothing left to do apart from inspecting that the hive is healthy.
If the hive box can be opened, check whether their larvae are growing. Also, check the interior looks healthy (bright honeycombs and tons of honey).
When inspecting, you generally need to smoke them off to calm them down. You’ll want to do this sparingly (only once every two weeks). The smoke usually stresses the bees and could make them unproductive for about 24 hours.
In case everything seems okay, you probably don’t need to check back in a few weeks. Otherwise, consult an expert.
7. Check for Pests
Honey bees are pretty strong. But they’re also fragile to insects larger and sturdier than them.
This includes wasps, hive beetles, wax moths, and the awful varroa mites.
These pests could overcome the hive and kill it off within months. If you don’t check your beehive every few weeks, you could risk the whole hive.
In case you see pests, intervening within the first few days is critical. Luckily, there are many ways to get rid of these pests, but never use pesticides that could also kill the bees.
8. Expand When It’s Time
Lastly, raising bees also mean they may overgrow the original placement. When that happens, you’ll want to give them a newer, bigger, and comfier place to live.
The best solution is typically bringing an additional hive box to the place. Cut a part of the original honeycomb and install it in the new place. The bees should partially relocate and form a new neighboring hive.
If you got to this step, that means you’ve successfully raised bees in your garden. You should be proud!
Now there’s no time to waste. Those bees won’t raise themselves!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you raise bees in the city?
Yes, it’s pretty doable as long as your city allows it. In that case, you will need to meet specific ordinances. Here’s how to find out about them:
- Research the laws in your state
- Contact local beekeepers
- Call the city wildlife authorities
How much does it cost to raise bees?
Depending on the method you choose, the prices can be as low as $100 to start small with a bee box. But they can go as high as $500 if you go for a bee frame or two. Gear and equipment may cost you a couple hundred more.
What bees live in the ground?
Believe it or not, some types of bees don’t use beehives. They’re diggers instead. These bees don’t produce honey or beeswax, though. And more interestingly, they’re loners. So you won’t see many of these black-and-yellow bees together.
There’s no doubt about it. Learning how to raise bees at home is a FANTASTIC experience.
Whether you’re doing it for the honey, the beeswax, or the experience itself – you’ll have a BLAST!
So, are you ready to embark on such an exciting adventure? Follow our advice and recommendations above.
You won’t regret it!