If you can start a garden, you can raise bees! Considering all the buzz (Sorry!) about beekeeping right now, you might be thinking of jumping in and starting your own hive. As you would when with bringing a new animal species to your farm or homestead, it can be tough to know whether you’ll eventually regret your decision addition or celebrate it. So with this mind, what does it take to keep bees? Before you jump into beekeeping, here’s a few points to consider: the right questions to ask, the equipment you’ll need and the cost and, finally, how to choose the right bees.
Should you keep bees? Check your local ordinances for keeping bees to make sure there are no restrictions in your area for beekeeping. Obviously, bees should be kept away from outdoor areas frequented for outdoor activity or recreation. Also, make sure you and your family members or anyone who would be living near the bees does not have any known allergic reactions to bee stings. This issue alone is probably the deal breaker if you or a family member have any reactions to insect stings.
Why Keep Bees? Of course, collecting honey the bees produce is the obvious goal, but there’s a little more to beekeeping than producing honey. Beekeeping is good for your garden and crops, too. They help pollinate vegetables and flowers and may help your yields.
Honey, honeybees, beeswax and other bee-related products like propolis tincture and beeswax-based beauty products can be a great supplement to a homestead or farm income and can even form the basis of your farm’s business. Many small farmers find bees to be a rewarding and productive means of income. Beekeeping can also qualify for an agricultural exemption on property taxes under Texas law. To learn more about tax credits for beekeeping, go to the Texas Apiary Inspection Service (TAIS) website here.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Started? Costs vary, again, depending on the method you choose. Most people start with two hives so they can compare how they’re doing. Here is a basic breakdown for one hive, according to New England Beekeeping Supplies:
- One hive setup (includes bottom board, frames, etc): $200
- Package of bees (3 lb of Italian bees and a queen): $75
- Clothing and tools (veil, gloves, smoker, 2 hive tools, bee brush): $125
- Medication and Feed: $35
- Beekeeping Classes: $75
- Extraction: $15
According to this estimate, your first year with one hive would cost $525 and with two hives, $835. If you’ve decided bees are for you, please comment below to Russell Feed & Supply. Depending on interest, we are considering offering Beginning Beekeeping Workshops if interest is positive. There are also several beekeeping groups in our area who offer ongoing classes for first time beekeepers as well as provide general advice on keeping bees.