Becoming a Beekeeper

Welcome to a hobby that will keep you healthy and fit, as well as a life-long learning endeavor. We are confident that you will find this a satisfying reward for your efforts. In exchange for providing the bees a quality home, you will receive the sweetness of honey, and the versatility of beeswax.

Benefits:  The list of benefits of keeping bees and their products is countless. For the gardener, you will have a better yield from many of your plants as a result of the increased pollination from the bees. Come fall, there will be honey to harvest.  Your natural, unfiltered honey has high levels of antioxidants, which help reduce the incidence of some cancers. Your bees' beeswax can be used for candles, lip balm, skin cream, and many other things. Perhaps the most rewarding is the satisfaction and relaxation that comes with keeping bees. I often find myself enchanted and fascinated by their doings.

Challenges: There are also challenges you will face as a beekeeper. Bees have parasitic mites that can, at high levels, cause the colony to die out. There are also bacterial diseases that you may have to address. These should not deter you, but as a beekeeper you need to be aware of them and what the appropriate actions are to keep your bees healthy.

If you are ready to start your journey, you have come to the right place. We have a knowledgeable staff that can help you, and an abundant selection of resources. We are one of the few bee supply companies that manage our own colonies. We are out there working our hives just like you will be. We do and see what our customers are experiencing.

Tools of the Trade: Before you can get started, there are some basic tools and equipment you will need:

1.  Protective Clothing to help protect you from stings while working your hives.

2.  A hive or hives, depending on your aspirations.  Betterbee offers a variety of hive setups and hive types.  Our BeeMax line of hives offers superior insulation, helping you over-winter colonies more successfully.  Our traditional wooden hives are thicker, and therefore stronger and longer lasting than our competitors.  They are made for traditional 10 frame hive setups as well as 8 frame hive setups. 

3.  Beekeeping tools - you'll find everything you need to be a successful beekeeper on this website or in our annual catalog.  There are tools for general hive maintenance, feeding your bees, harvesting and extracting honey and wax, and much more. 

4.  And, of course, BEES!  Bees are most often sold early spring (April and May), but orders are taken at the beginning of the New Year. We sell bees for pickup only. Mail order bees often suffer undue stress as they pass through the postal service. If you are unable to pickup bees at Betterbee, contact a local association, they will be able to help you find a local source. These associations are also invaluable resources. If you are unable to find an association near you, let us know and we will do our best to help.

New vs. Used Equipment:  You can buy used hives with the bees already in them, but you may be inheriting someone else's problems.  The comb could be infected with foulbrood disease, or the bees could be heavily infested with mites.  The bees may be, through the neglect of the previous beekeeper, genetically disposed to swarm, or through lack of requeening, highly defensive.  We strongly advise the beginning beekeeper NOT TO BUY used hives, unless you have access to the advice of an experienced (and trusted) beekeeper.  We recommend starting either one or two hives of bees.  Two hives will allow for a basis of comparison should one of the hives not perform up to expectation. 

The Betterbee Beginner's Kits include everything you will need for your first season of beekeeping and the equipment for your bees to make honey. 

Getting Started: Now that you have the equipment and bees, you are on your way to an exciting new hobby, or perhaps someday a successful business. To insure your beekeeping success, we suggest you find a beekeeping mentor (an established beekeeper) who is willing to share how he or she manages his or her own bees.  If you cannot find a mentor, you might consider attending an introductory class on beekeeping.  Classes are held at locations throughout the country, and at our learning center in Greenwich, NY (call for details).