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- Also known as apiculture
- Requires a knowledge of bee behavior and biology
- Bees can be used as crop pollinators
- Products from bees include honey, beeswax, royal jelly, and pollen
Beekeeping can be an income-producing venture by providing pollination services to orchards and farmers, or by harvesting and selling honey and other products such as royal jelly, beeswax, and pollen.
To get started in beekeeping, you will need some basic equipment including a hive, protective gear, some bees, equipment to handle the honey, and other gear. Some beekeepers make their own hives, but you can readily purchase them and assemble the hives yourself. If you purchase equipment, make sure it has been inspected and certified to be free of disease and mites.
Beekeepers need to be aware of the laws related to their livelihood. In many states, bee hives must be inspected annually for disease and infestations. Also, it is important to find out about the pesticide use and pesticide notification laws in your state. You should frequently inspect your own hives for disease or pests.
Beginning Beekeeping for Kentuckians (PDF)
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
Apiculture, or beekeeping, requires a knowledge of bee biology and society. This publication gives a brief overview while also providing you information on basic beekeeping equipment (with illustrations). A discussion of how to get bees and basic beekeeping operations is also given. Seasonal management activities and enemies of bees is also covered.
This publication discusses various aspects of beekeeping or apiculture, including state inspection programs, beginning basics, income sources and budgets, insurance, Africanized bees, organic certification, and various bee pests and diseases. Information on educational and training opportunities and further resources are also discussed.
Protecting Honey Bees from Pesticides (PDF)
Honey bees are attracted to plants that produce nectar and/or pollen and to bodies of water. Communication between beekeepers, growers, and pesticide applicators are key. Bees forage up to 3 miles from their hive, so beekeepers in that area should be notified of pesticide application. This publication discusses ways to reduce the harm to honey bees from pesticide use on agricultural crops.
Planning and purchasing your beehive
So you’re ready to start your first hive! Congratulations! There’s a world of wonder awaiting you! And also a decent amount of planning. Starting a hive isn’t the work of a weekend, and it can’t be started just any time of the year. But don’t be daunted! As long as you have a sense of what to do when, the work is really pretty minimal.