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So, you want to keep bees

So, you think you
want to buy a beehive

by   Beekeeper Dave + Beekeeper Keri

EXCITING, RIGHT?

Also, a little overwhelming. There is a lot of info out there, after all, bees have been around for hundreds of thousands of years! We decided to lay out our best advice for anyone thinking of taking on our sweet friends.

WHERE TO START?

What's the first step of getting into beekeeping?  Planning ahead! There should be absolutely no rush to get into bees. The most important thing is to take your time, give yourself the opportunity to learn, and create a clear, concise plan. Remember, honeybees are considered livestock and are regulated by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture. You must register your hives with the province and must hold yourself accountable for their care.  Taking on a hive is a very large responsibility. We aren't trying to spook anyone, but we'd like you to understand the commitment! Keep reading!

RESEARCH.

Once you are sure you want to undertake the responsibility of maintaining a hive, be sure to plan at least 1 year ahead. Bees are most often purchased in late Spring or early Summer. So, at this point in the season, anyone looking for bees as a novice beekeeper should not purchase bees until at least Spring 2022. Be sure to use winter 2021 to read books, online blogs (LOCAL, beekeeping looks different based on species, climate - reading a blog about beekeeping in Texas won't help you much here in Ontario), or online workshops. Use Spring and Summer 2021 to join local bee clubs and meet other experienced beekeepers, and most importantly - taking hands on workshops. 

There are typically three main courses we recommend starting with if learning with Hunnabees Honey Co: Intro to Beekeeping, Advanced Beekeeping, and Integrated Pest Management.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

WHAT IS YOUR EXPENSE TO START BEEKEEPING?
WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF BEEKEEPING?

financials of beekeeping

There are a number of different ways to get into beekeeping. Our first question when talking with someone who wants to get into beekeeping is - What are your goals? Do you want to learn as much as possible? Be a good beekeeper and steward of the land? Or are you in it for the honey?

Depending on this answer, you can go down a few different roads when purchasing your first beehive. You can start with a nucleus colony which is essentially a mini-hive. These 'Nucs' are the cheapest way to purchase bees at the cost of roughly $210 each. When you start with a nuc, you get to grow with the hive from a mini hive into a full strength colony in your first or second year. A mini hive requires purchasing all of the other woodenware and equipment separately, which is a cost that must be factored in to your decision making. 

For those more interested in the honey aspect, buying a 'single' colony, or a full sized colony is the more attractive route. These hives are already established colonies, ready to move with you and begin collecting honey. We always recommend starting with at least two-three hives, this helps you gauge and troubleshoot problems, as you have another colony to compare to. 

We're going to break down  some example costs to start out with 2 or 3 nucleus colonies.

Example 1: 
3 Nuc Colonies x $210 = $630.00  
3 Double Hive Kits  3 x $175 = $525.00
3 Bottom Boards
6 Deep boxes for brood
60 Deep ritecell frames
3 Standard inner cover
3 Telescopic outer cover
  

Growing Forward Kit
Medium  3 x $55=$165.00
3 Medium boxes for honey 

30 Medium ritecell frames    


Beekeeping Gear 
Standard Beekeeping Suit = $155 
OR Standard Beekeeping Jacket = $136 Standard Beekeeping Gloves = $20 
Hive Tool = $10 
Standard Smoker = $30 
** consider how many family members will be involved as all will require safety gear   


Winter Supplies
Standard winter wrap double 3 x $20 = $60.00

Entrance reducer/mouse guard 3 x $6 = $18.00
  

Medication 
Rough medication cost for three hives per year = $100 (Can vary)

Total/minimum costs to start beekeeping with 3 nucleus colonies + gear for 1 person= $1,713 (plus tax).
Does not include classes/books or any educational component. See below
.

Example 2: 
Nucleus colony 2 x $210= $420 
2 Double Hive Kits  2 x $175 = $350 
2 Bottom Boards 
4 Deep boxes for brood 
40 Deep ritecell frames 
3 Standard inner cover   
3 Telescopic outer cover
 
Growing forward kit
Medium 2 x $55 = $110   
2 Medium boxes for honey 
20 Medium ritecell frames


Beekeeping Gear

Standard Beekeeping Suit = $155
OR Standard Beekeeping Jacket = $136 Standard Beekeeping Gloves = $20 

Hive Tool = $10
Standard Smoker = $30

** consider how many family members will be involved as all will require safety gear  

 Winter Supplies
Standard winter wrap double 2 x $20 = $40

Entrance reducer/mouse guard 2 x $6 = $12


 Medication
Rough medication cost for two hives per year = $85 (Can vary)
   

Total/minimum cost to start beekeeping with 1 nucleus colonies + gear for one person = $1,232 (+tax). Does not include classes/books or any educational component. See below.


INJURIES + ALLERGIES

Let us chat briefly about the unpleasant side of beekeeping. Sometimes it's hot, sometimes it's heavy, sometimes it's scary and painful. Bees are wild animals and in the wrong conditions things can quickly go wrong and result in injury. On the left is Beekeeper Keri after her first sting between the eyebrows (she was not even in the beeyard at the time). Proper training and preparation can help minimize sticky situations. 

If you have a severe allergy to bee stings we do not recommend taking up the hobby. Some beekeepers develop severe allergic reactions later in their practice and have to make a difficult decision to give up their hobby.
We are not trying to scare you, but be realistic! You are committing yourself to caring for your hives even when it is scary or painful.


Sounds good, i'm still interested!
does this still sound cool? if so, keep reading for options to become a beekeeper with us

Our requirements for new beekeepers.

Here at Hunnabees Honey + Co, we are not interested in selling hives to anyone who is not willing to take the commitment seriously. We care deeply for our colonies, and if we’re to part with them, we must be confident in the beekeeper we are selling to. We  do not sell bees for the sake of selling bees, we want them to thrive and flourish in their new homes. 

There are two options for new beekeepers to purchase bees through Hunnabees :
- Hive Sponsorship + Buyout
- Pathway to Beekeeping Program (class bundle)  

If you’re a family looking to start beekeeping we recommend sponsoring a hive so we can get the kids comfortable in the bee yard with us monitoring. We also recommend you check out the Kawartha Junior Beekeeper program linked below to get your kiddies excited. 

For more info or if you have any questions on getting involved with us, please email info@hunnabees.com 

WE HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON
xox - Beekeeper Dave +Keri 
Hunnabees Honey + Co.


Additional Resources:

Please be sure to check out these sources for additional educational materials + references.
Hunnabees Honey + Co instagram
Ontario Beekeepers Association
Central Ontario Beekeepers Association
University of Guelph Bee Program 
Junior Beekeeper Program


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