The Buzz About Beekeeping

Beekeeping gloves

Are you interested in beekeeping? The USDA reports that as of 2014, the number of colonies managed by human beekeepers was at the highest it has been in 20 years. Beekeeping has many benefits and for some is a hobby and others a money-making venture. In addition to the good taste of local raw honey, it helps you overcome local, seasonal allergies. You can use the beeswax to create lip gloss, candles, and even yummy gummy bears. If you are looking for a beautiful and bountiful garden, bees are pollinators and are responsible for cross-pollination allowing your vegetables and flowers to thrive. Lastly, Americans consume about 1.3 pounds of honey per person per year; aside from a fun hobby, beekeeping can turn into a profitable business.

When searching for used beekeeping supplies, there are plenty of websites selling supplies and offering advice. However, check your local city for beekeeping colonies that are willing to sell used beekeeping supplies but also share their knowledge to help you get started on this journey.


For the beginner beekeeper, there are necessary beekeeper supplies to purchase. You can choose brand new equipment or look online for used beekeeping supplies.

  • Bee Hive Smoker – to settle and calm bees when checking the hives; any size will work, but the larger size is easier to use.
  • Protective Gear – gear to protect you like a veil, jacket, and beekeeping gloves.
  • Hive tool – a tool to help split or separate hives. Any flat bar will work, or a flat head screwdriver will work if you are on a budget.
  • Bee brush – to gently and harmlessly brush bees from a surface.
  • Queen Catcher – makes catching the queen easier and is a lot gentler on the queen.
  • Beekeeping Hives – for bees to do their work and live.
  • Bottom Board – wooden stand on which hive boxes rests.


  1. Assessing colony health based only on the level of bee traffic – it is recommended new beekeepers inspect their hives once every two to four weeks but no more than that as the process of opening the hive is stressful for bees. Some beehives have windows to view bee activity, but this also causes stress for the bees as well, so use sparingly.
  2. Not recognizing queenlessness – a beehive can?t survive without its queen, but it may not become obvious to a beginner beekeeper that the queen bee is no longer alive. If a colony loses its queen, the hive?s population will decline, there will be a lack of eggs, lack of young larvae, and then the colony will have no brood at all. To confirm if you have an active queen, keep an eye out for eggs, if your queen is active then she?s laying eggs.
  3. Harvesting honey too early or taking too much from the beehive – As a general rule, don?t take honey from a colony in its first year. Wait until year two when they?ve built up a good reserve. Often bees aren?t strong enough yet to make an excess amount, and they need every drop they have to make it through winter.
  4. Not feeding new colonies – When you buy a package of bees in the spring, you must feed them as they are not used to being fed. Package bees are confused, weak, and have no honey and take at least a month of consistent feeding to get them on their feet. If you do not do this, you?ll likely lose them and your investment in the fall.
  5. Leaving out frames or placing empty supers – bees will build comb in any empty space you give them. Beehive hardware is designed to keep bees building only in the spaces you want them to build in. If you put fewer bee frames in a space meant to hold a certain amount, you will have a mess on your hands.

Once you?ve decided to move into beekeeping, purchasing and setting up your equipment is your priority. You can purchase your equipment brand new or look for used beekeeping supplies; both will work when setting up your beekeeping area. Once your beehives are set up, purchase your queen and bees. Good luck!
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Francis Pitt

Francis Pitt has made a name for himself in farm-to-table organics, working at restaurants in Portland, Seattle and Burlington, Vermont. While he has a taste for the extreme, most of his restaurant’s top sellers are much more down-to-earth, regularly featuring mushrooms gathered from the slopes of the Cascades, and fresh wild-caught seafood from the Oregon coast. Inspired by trends in Portland, his latest restaurant offers the ultimate chef’s table: dinner begins in the morning at his island collective farm, and 4 lucky guests every week get to follow the food, literally, from the field to the plate! Francis is a firm believer that you are what you eat — do you really want to be a chemistry set?