Getting Started In Beekeeping? Do Your Research!

Don’t Make the Mistake I Made!

I was so excited about becoming a beekeeper, I immediately went online and ordered an 8 frame beginners kit for beekeeping “English Garden” style from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm. The kit included an entrance feeder, book, smoker, bee brush, 10” hive tool, plastic gloves, and hatless veil.  I purchased all for $195.00 plus an additional $60 for shipping. The Brushy Mountain folks were very helpful and knowledgeable. They even gave me contact information for buying a package of bees from a bee farm in Georgia. I hung up from placing my kit order and called “Gardner’s Apiaries Spell Bee LLC.” I ordered a 3-pound package of bees for about $80.  They will be shipped by May 21.  I could not believe it was going to take that long; they explained that orders are shipped on a first come first served basis. I tried to offer them more money to push me  to the front of the line but they would not do it. So, I thought, “okay” I will just have to wait.  Now, I have my hive coming and eventually the bees.  Later, I did more research and realized that I should take a short course for beekeeping. So, I found a short course offered by the “Tara Beekeeping Association,” an association located in the Atlanta Georgia metro area.  There I learned so….. much!  The number one thing I learned  was that  “10- Frames hives are the standard.”  But wait, I ordered an 8- frame hive already. Now what?  Well, what I learned is that 8 frames are not bad but just not the standard that everyone uses. Also, there was a lady  from “Buster Bees”(another beekeeper supply seller)  at the short course taking orders for bees in “nucs.” So, I decided to buy some more bees. Only this time, I am getting a “nuc.”  A “nuc” is a more established colony of bees.  The bees already know each other. Packaged bees are dumped in a screened box from different colonies until its 3 lbs and then a queen is added and they are shipped by mail. I guess the bees get to know each other  during their trip through the mail.

I decided to order another hive since I was buying more bees.  I ordered the first hive from “Brushy Mountains Bee Farm,” so I decided to try another company by the name of  “Dadant” in High Springs Florida.  I will tell you that my ordering experience with Dadant was not so great.  It took their customer service a week and a half to get my order packaged and delivered.  They could not give me a price for everything I ordered until after delivery– sort of defeats the purpose of comparing costs.  When I received my items, which was an 8-frame garden hive and two shallow supers. It was missing the bottom board.  I called customer service when I realized it was missing and they shipped it out promptly. Their products seem sturdier than Brushy Mountains. Dadant also shipped the hives with the foundation installed in the  frames. However, I don’t think I will order from the High Springs Florida location again because they seem to take care of their walk-in customers first and the call-in customers get put on the back burner.  So, I will either try a different “Dadant” location,  go back to ordering from “Brushy Mountains” or depending on the product, try any local supplier here in the Atlanta area. Below is a picture of my two hives.

Brushy Mountain and Dadant

Here are some of my main points in all of this:

1) Research, research, research. There are many great books out there.

"The Backyard Beekeeper" Wonderful book! This came with my "Brushy Mountain Bee Farm Bee-ginners Kit"

"Beekeeping for Dummies" Great book! I purchased from Borders.

"First Lessons in Beekeeping" Excellent book. This book was included with the Short Course for Beekeeping. Published by Dadant

2) Don’t rush to buy anything.

3) Attend a local beekeeper meeting.

4) Take a short course for Beekeeping.

5) Join a beekeeping club.

6) Network with other beekeepers.

7) Get a mentor.

4 Responses to “Getting Started In Beekeeping? Do Your Research!”
  1. Dalyn Huntley says:

    Great advice. I’m up in Maryland and just finished a short course offered by my county association. I was one of two African Americans in the class so it is nice to see your blog. Looking forward to seeing posts and sharing your adventure. I didn’t order bees this year. I think I may even take the short course again at some point. Like you mentioned there is so much to learn.

    • Thanks. I knew I wasn’t the only African American interested or involved with beekeeping but I will tell you my initial search on the internet trying to find other African Americans involved with beekeeping came up zilch. My search would always lead me back to information about “Africanized Honey Bees” or beekeeping sites with warning messages about Africanized Honey Bees. This is one of the reasons why I started this blog.

    • amc says:

      I am also in Maryland, but my bees are in VA I would love to learn from you, and share stories. I want more bees at our farm, and want some for my fairly urban back yard too. I was so impressed with their temperament, and wish I had done this long ago when I first wanted to.

  2. D.A. says:

    Thank you African American Beekeeper for sharing your knowledge on how to avoid mistakes and providing advice on the different beekeeper suppliers. Your latest post is VERY informative and encouraging.
    I’ll continue to follow your progress and gain info.
    Great information and Well Done!

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