Understanding bees, beehives, your area, and your limitations
Which Beehive Should I Get? This is a question we have heard many times, and we have seen many simplistic charts that flow to a suitable beehive. This question does not have a simple answer. Each person and area will have a variety of answers. At first we thought we would create a flow chart that allowed more questions, but it became a nightmarish mess. Then we decided we would list or show the types of beehives and have a spec sheet for each, like you would comparing a car or a cell phone. The problem is there is more you need to consider to make the decision, you need not just specs of the beehives but to also consider area limitations, personal limitations, and even what is not written but will be expected. Like shopping for a car, you know if you buy this car you will have leather seats, air conditioning, wide tires, and so forth. You don’t usually think of the increase of insurance based on the car you pick, the cost of repairing as some cars are more expensive than others, the type of fuel and access to electricity if it is a hybrid. There are also expenses that are based on you as an individual…you might be able to maintain the car yourself, others have to hire everything out. There are so many things we don’t think about when we buy a car, rather we let the flow-chart just happen once we fall in love with the item.
We want to have a way for potential beekeepers to see more of what ‘WILL’ be expected, instead of being surprised later. Beehives don’t come with a owner’s manual with checkpoints and expected service dates!
Here we are again thinking about bees and the problems we come across. All of these blogs are fluid, as we go back and change and edit them periodically. This post will change as we think further, and we hope it will eventually evolve into a nice preparation link to beekeeping. As for now it is an outline. Even as an outline, we realize it will benefit others, so we have published this post. We welcome comments, especially by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We emphasize that beekeeping can vary from region to region, and micro-regions exist as well. Beehives too can vary to accommodate the varieties of regions and needs/wants.
Understanding basic needs of a bee colony and how that relates to you and your area. Access to water (salt and fresh), access to pollen (diversity), access to nectar (diversity), access to propolis ingredients, protection from predators, understanding the beehive is an incubator first and a honey production plant second.
Are you beginning? (Expenses, aggression, learning)
How much area do you have? (Apartment, Urban, Rural)
How much honey do you want initially? (None, Some, Lots)
Do you want to extract? (No, Will Rent It, I Plan To Own It)
Do you have access to learning? (Books, Internet, Mentor, Local Clubs)
Are there other beehives in your area? Understanding survival of the fittest among bees, and BEEKEEPERS.
Sustainable Beekeeping is your goal?
Do you want a painted or natural beehive?
Does beauty matter with your beehive?
Theft risks and vandalism associated with beekeeping?
Beehive options? (Mini Urban Beehive, 30 Frame Medium Langstroth, Horizontal, Standard Langstroth, Top-bar, Warré, Slovianian are just a few)
Do you plan to rear a queen or buy them?
No winter, some winter, long winter?
Coastal, coastal wet, plains, desert, mountainous, forest, northern cold, southern hot, land of lakes, land of crops.
Your physical limitations? (none, elderly, disability, age, no hand strength, weak back, handicapped)
How does failure affect you? (give up, try a couple times, die-hard)
Type of honey? (natural comb, plastic foundation for extraction)
When do you want the honey? (slowly during the season for a variety of floral nectar, all at once in fall-blended honey)
Use of medication? (When there is illness: do you plan for it, suffer thru it when it comes, take some medication to help you bare it, use it to combat illness, or see a doctor? How would you care for your dog or cat? How would you care for your child? How would you care for yourself?)
Africanized risks or not?
Hive beetle in your region?
Risks of summer robbing associated with inspections and forage?
Do you plan to purchase packages yearly, or split them from over-wintered colonies?
Understand the relationship between wood and the beehive. How moisture works with wood and a bee colony. How wood wicks out moisture. How this micro river inside lumber affects the structure of the beehive thru finger-joints, expansion and retraction of grain, rotting of wood around fasteners, and so forth.
Details of difficulty of repairing the style of beehive you choose? Is it a throw-away beehive or can it be fixed?
Universality of each beehive, or does the beehive mix with other beehives and methods?
We’d love to provide a chart with several choices of beehives, showing the limitations, expectations, costs, accessibility to parts, universality of equipment, etc. That is forthcoming.