Beekeeping Basics: Could Keeping Bees Be Right For You?

Consider factors such as time, location and money to find out if beekeeping is right for you!

| February 2011 Web

bee hives

"Homemade Living: Keeping Bees with Ashley English" is a guide for those interested in beginning beekeeping. Ashley English covers key issues, from space and time considerations to the basics of acquiring, housing, maintaining and caring for bees year round.

Photo By Susy Morris/Courtesy Flickr (

The following is an excerpt from Keeping Bees with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Tend Hives, Harvest Honey and More by Ashely English (Lark Crafts, 2011). The excerpt is from Chapter 2: What to Consider: To Bee or Not to Bee. 

What to Consider: To Bee or Not to Bee 

The siren song of beekeeping can be difficult to resist. Honeybees are fascinating to observe, essential to the pollination of over one-third of foods enjoyed by humans, and produce a number of desirable items such as honey and beeswax. Although the craft is not necessarily difficult, not everyone is a good candidate for honeybee caretaking. Like any form of stewardship, beekeeping requires investments of space and time as well as money. You’re reading this book, so your interest is clearly piqued. Let’s examine some preliminary considerations before you get your heart set on an adorable Italian or intrepid Russian (honeybee, that is!).

On Location 

Compared to other forms of animal husbandry (dairy cows come to mind), honeybees require very little space—just what is needed for a hive and a little room to work. You can keep honeybees everywhere from urban rooftops and quarter-acre backyard plots to vast, rural expanses. Honeybees are skilled foragers and will travel miles from the hive searching for nectar and pollen.

Urban bees seem to do quite well in cities where a fairly good degree of biodiversity persists. Public parks, landscaped office buildings, antiquated churches planted long ago with ambrosial roses, rooftop gardens, backyard veggie patches, potted herbs on balconies—the amount of urban flora and fauna is profuse. Packed into such dense spaces, nectar and pollen available from these sources, along with water from lakes, creeks, rivers, birdbaths, and puddles, provide ideal foraging grounds for our buzzing friends.

elderberry, echinacea, bee hive


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