© 2017-2021, ZBees Apiary, Waynesville, NC.                                                                                                          Buzz the Apiary

Lifetime member of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association

Buzz the Apiary

Beekeeping for Beginners Honeybess feeding on canned sugar syrup.

Beekeeping is a tenacious undertaking if one does not prepare their apiary properly. Read honeybee information regularly and engage in conversation with other beekeepers as much as possible. A local beekeepers club is great places to gain knowledge, watch, and work with more experienced beekeepers. For those beekeepers in Haywood County North Carolina, I invite you to review the Haywood County Beekeepers Chapter website for more information and the opportunity to attend one of our meetings.

This is just a partial list of important things to remember:

  1. Beware if you are allergic to stings, because it is an inherent part of managing honeybees.
  2. Read, read, read…. Choose the proper temperament of honeybee for your apiary location by reading about their traits. I recommend you read this PDF file as a place to begin your search for honeybee knowledge, Beekeeping in Tennessee, an excellent guide for all “prospective” and “beginning” beekeepers.
  3. Watch videos by reputable beekeepers and review your proposed management technique with the presenters and see if your vision of beekeeping correlates with their presentation.
  4. Find a mentor to help you get your apiary setup properly. Local bee clubs like our Haywood County Beekeepers Chapter are a good place to start.
  5. Buy enough proper equipment to ensure a successful apiary.
  6. Pick a good location where the hive opening faces South to Southeast during the morning sunlight hours (6 -10 AM).
  7. Choose the correct hive for your apiary and consider using a mixture of hive bodies.
  8. Place your hives with a minimum of 24 inches of space between the sides of each hive. This allows enough space the beekeeper to work the hive.
  9. Keep the hive entrance at least 12 inches above the ground as this helps to prevent small mammals or reptiles from trying to enter the hive.
  10. Start your apiary with a minimum of two hives, as this increases the chances of the apiary surviving the first winter. In the mountains of Western North Carolina, temperatures can drop as low as -10 degrees F.
  11. Approach beekeeping with the understanding that it will cost money and call for hard work, but it can bring “sweet” rewards to the apiarist who starts with a good Hive Management Plan (HMP).
Italian Queen honeybee

Italian Queen

A revitalization is going on within many honeybee communities as beekeepers worldwide are making the public more aware of the vanishing number of honeybee colonies and the various reasons for such declines. You do not need years of experience to become a beekeeper. I have found that one major key to a successful apiary is to have the willingness to educate oneself before you ever buy the first package of honeybees. Read books on beekeeping, bee journals, reputable web articles, and videos as possible and you will soon know what method of education best fits your beekeeping attitude. As a certified beekeeper and webmaster for the Haywood County Beekeepers Chapter in Waynesville, North Carolina, it is rewarding to experience the interest in honeybees during the first year.

In addition, lifetime membership with the North Carolina Beekeepers Association also has its rewards. Individuals wanting to improve the environment within their local community and for the possibly of making an income while beekeeping will find solace in this guide. Every beekeeper needs the insight of more experienced beekeepers and joining a local bee club is one effective way of gaining greater knowledge. You will never stop learning about honeybees and apiary management, regardless of your beekeeping experience.

New Saskatraz Queen honeybee with attending workers.

New Saskatraz Queen honeybee with attending workers.

 Ask experienced beekeepers about the cost of starting an apiary and you may get “stung” by their answer. However, anything that gives people enjoyment such as: crafting, fishing, sewing, or sports can be expensive too. During the first year, beekeeping costs are no more expensive than other hobbies or activities. Example, a bass fisher or snow mobile owner will pay ten to twenty times the cost for equipment than any backyard beekeeper. Before you decide to become a beekeeper, consider some economic and environmental points with beekeeping. First, beekeeping benefits the environment through pollination of flowers, vegetables, and other plant life. Second, it brings pleasure to the beekeeper and the bees. Third, there is the benefit of the beekeeper collecting pollen, wax, and pollination income which can become profitable for the beekeeper. Finally, the honey the beekeeper harvests is one of the sweetest ways to offset the cost of managing an apiary.

Below are average costs for starting your first year of beekeeping;

Costs may vary depending on vendor.

New beekeepers should ALWAYS start their apiary with two hives because there is a fifty-percent chance that one hive will not survive the first winter. Should both hives survive then, the beekeeper will have a great beginning at the start of the second year.

New beekeepers can often bee misled by the overseas vendors who advertise Langstroth hive boxes of varying dimensions. To be clear on this matter, use the following guidelines when purchasing a Langstroth 10-frame hive body:


Standard Langstroth hive boxes are as follows:

Langstroth Hive Body Parts.

Langstroth hive boxes

Measuring medium hive boxes.