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5 Things You Need to Know About Beekeeping

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5 Things You Need to Know About Beekeeping

Photo: Marcy Stellfox

Backyard chickens are all the rage now, but increasing in popularity are backyard beekeepers. San Saba sisters Ashley and Sara Smith share some information on how to keep a happy hive.

1. The Space Suit is a Must

5 Things You Need to Know About Beekeeping

Photo: Marcy Stellfox

We’ve all experienced the unpleasantness of a bee sting, but how ‘bout hovering over the hive shaking things up without protection. Not a great idea. So protective gear is a must. Beekeeping suits vary in price from $20 – $50 for a jacket to $70 – $125 for a full suit. According to Sara, “significantly more expensive but well worth the price” are specially vented beekeeping suits made from mesh – a necessity for the hot Texas summers. Because bees need their hives checked regularly to ensure the health of the queen, productivity levels, and evidence of life cycle stages, you’re gonna want the duds to do the job. Gear is available from area specialty beekeeper shops or online.

2. Smoking Out Your Bees is a Good Thing

5 Things You Need to Know About Beekeeping

Photo: Marcy Stellfox

Another piece of equipment necessary to beekeeping is the smoker. Interestingly enough, smoking out your bees “relaxes them and encourages them to eat,” says Sara. That way, when you start disassembling their hives to do your maintenance checks or introduce supplemental feed in drought conditions, they are less likely to become an angry mob.

3. All Hail the Queen (larger bee with elongated body pictured at center)

5 Things You Need to Know About Beekeeping

Photo: Marcy Stellfox

Bees have a unique colony system. The queen is the most important member of the hive, but cannot do her job without the multitude of servants she has to keep her healthy. Drone bees develop from unfertilized worker bee eggs. Their job is to mate with the queen and do nothing else. They are seen as a drag on the hive during winter months as the queen is not laying, so they are killed off in the autumn to conserve precious resources for the other bees to adequately survive the cold. Worker bees are just that. Sent out to collect nectar and pollen, keep the hive clean, feed newborn bees, and lay eggs to create drones, these bees are definitely keeping busy.

4. Don’t Get Robbed

5 Things You Need to Know About Beekeeping
Photo: Marcy Stellfox

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