1. Before Getting Started You must be willing to spend at least $350 on equipment to get started. You must also invest in modest recurring costs, such as medication and repairs. You must also be willing to invest time. This includes tending to your hives, making repairs and updating your inspection log. One colony can keep you active 40 hours a season; one colony is typically 30,000 to 60,000 bees. And of course, you have to ensure that none of your family members is highly allergic to bee stings. And you must educate and cooperate with your neighbors. And you must also be willing to get stung! Bees arenâ€™t aggressive, but accidents do happen, and they will naturally defend their hive if you drop a frame. You should also check with your state department of agriculture to see if bee colonies in your area must be registered. You should also check local zoning laws to see if keeping bees in your area is legal. 2. Lot Size Your property and the surrounding two mile radius area must provide a steady supply of nectar- and pollen-rich plants from spring through fall. If there are not enough plants within a two mile radius area, the colony may starve to death. A nearby water supply is also absolutely essential. Another consideration is how much space you can dedicate to the beesâ€™ inbound and outbound flight zone to and from the hive. The flight zone should not be used frequently by people or pets. Some beekeepers have urban lots as small as 110 feet by 60 feet! If you do have a small urban lot, itâ€™s a good idea not to have more than two hives. Some beekeepers have several acres. The space you need mostly depends on pollen sources available within 12 square miles and the size of your colony. 3. Equipment Hereâ€™s a rundown of the most basic equipment you need for beekeeping: Supers - These hive boxes hold 10 frames. feeders - These feeders help a brand new colony get started. Fill the feeders with a mixture that is five pounds of sugar and five pints of water; simmer until the sugar dissolves. Stop feeding the bees when a nectar flow begins; the sugar syrup will compromise the quality of the honey sugars--besides, itâ€™s illegal to sell adulterated honey. Bee smoker and bellows - Smoke calms bees and masks any alarm pheromones released by guard bees. Hood and veil - This basic beekeeper garb will keep you from getting stung on the eyeball! Vented leather gloves - Leather gloves are sting-proof. They should be long-sleeved and well-fitted. Gloves help keep you from getting stung. Hive tool - This tool is similar to a pry bar, with a notch on one end to pull nails and scrape burr comb. A bent lip on the opposite end helps pry frames and boxes apart. Log book - A simple notebook will do, with enough space to keep notes for several seasons. 4. Installing the Colony The best time to launch a beekeeping operation is in spring. Blooming flowers and trees will supply ample nectar and pollen for the colony. Bees can be ordered from any apiary; different apiaries stock different types of bees. You can order bees by the pound, as well as new queens. You should give the apiary approximately 60 days to prepare your bees. You should also request that the apiary marks your queen prior to shipping, if that is something you choose to do. Bees are delivered in screened boxes via U.S. mail or United Parcel Service. A box of bees typically contains two to five pounds of bees; thatâ€™s about 3,500 bees per lb. This box includes all female worker bees, a handful of male drones, and a small box--called a queen's cage--with one young mated queen. One way to install new bees into the super is: 1) remove four frames; 2) remove the lid and feeding can from the shipping box; 3) gently spill the bees into the super; 3) remove the cork on the queen cage and attach a small wire to the non-drilled end; 4) slide the queen cage between two frames toward the center of the super; 5) carefully insert the frames into the super; 6) place the inner cover and lid on the super; 7) install a feeder so the bees can produce spaces for the queen to lay eggs. There are many variations to this procedure. You should investigate several before deciding on one. 5. Inspecting the Hive You should inspect the hives at least every two weeks to ensure that the bees have plenty of room, are storing honey, are free of disease, and that the queen is laying eggs. You will spend approximately 20 to 30 minutes per colony. If you observe odd behavior, you should inspect the hives more frequently. If you are not actively involved with observing the colony, it will die. If at all possible, contact a local beekeeper to be with you for the first two or three inspections. You should inspect whether: 1) the bees are building new comb on the foundation; 2) there is brood in the center of the frame of comb; 3) there is honey being stored; and 4) whether pollen is present in the cells. A normal hive will have most of the center frames filled with brood, a small arch of honey at the top of the frame, and some pollen stored between them. The outer most frames will likely be stored honey and/or pollen only. Be sure to log your observations, particularly swarming behavior, treatments, feeding, or anything unusual. In the log book, youâ€™ll want to include: date inspected; number of colonies; number of swarms; general health; any signs of disease; estimated poundage of honey; whether the queen was located; whether there are any freshly laid eggs or young larvae; whether other insects or predators were sighted; and anything noteworthy or different from the last inspection. Colonies can fall victim to bacteria, viruses, protozoans, fungi and parasitic mites. Sometimes hive equipment is attacked by other insects. The most common bee diseases are American foulbrood, European foulbrood, chalkbrood, nosema, wax moths, tracheal mites and varroa mites. Medication and treatments are essential for the colonyâ€™s survival. Treatments should be given as often as recommended. 6. Swarm Capturing You can capture swarms with pheromones that can be placed in swarm capturing boxes; these can be ordered from beekeeping supply companies. Contrary to their appearance, swarms are usually quite gentle. Be sure there are no obstacles below the swarm; pure clearance is ideal, but may be impossible, particularly if the swarm is in a tree. Make a platform to hold a cardboard box thatâ€™s large enough to house the swarm. Place the box beneath the swarm and powerfully shake the object it is attached to in one strong motion. This is easy for tree branches, but can be tricky if the swarm is attached to a mailbox or car bumper. You may need to scrape the bees off the object. Try to get the entire swarm. 7. Harvesting Honey Honey is typically harvested from July until September. The season may be a bit longer in warmer regions. Be sure to leave enough honey for the colony to survive winter. You should leave 40 pounds absolute minimum in the far south, and up to 100 lbs. in the northern states. To estimate this amount, check the honey supply in the brood chamber. A deep frame full of honey weighs approximately six pounds. Two shallow frames equals one deep frame. A new hive should have a double brood chamber with one box completely full of honey in the northern states; the lower box should have outside frames filled with honey. Harvesting honey from plastic frames by the crush & strain method. For plastic frames with plastic foundation, use a large container, such as a five-gallon bucket. Use a filter cloth, such as cheesecloth or paint strainer sacks sold by paint dealers. Place your hive tool at the edge of the frame end bar and press it into the wax. Push the wax and honey onto the straining cloth, draped over the container; the honey passes through, but the wax is strained out. Scrape the honey from the foundation with your hive tool; the wax comb and honey come off quite easily. You can reuse the frames in the super. The bees will clean them and reuse them. Bottle the filtered honey.