The Beginning Beekeeper: How Many Hives Should I Start With?

| 2/11/2019 9:18:00 AM

Liz FulghumThe husband and I are entering into our third spring as beekeepers with hives flourishing. This puts us firmly beyond “beginner” but still somewhere quite far away from “expert” as we’ve not raised our own queens or successfully lured a swarm. But we have harvested honey for the past two years, learned how to manage the particularities of winter in the South, and built enough confidence to add a few more hives to our backyard apiary this year.

Essential to our success so far has been a lot of online reading, trial and error, along with the community and education provided by our local Beekeeper’s Association.

The interesting thing about the beekeeping community in general is that there are different opinions of "what works” for almost every single aspect of managing bees. And beekeepers can be a prickly lot, who are very happy to vigorously debate the merits and successes of their preferred methods. The saying is oft repeated and very true: ask a room full of beekeepers a question about something; you’ll get at least five different answers and they all might be right.

When you’re just getting started with beekeeping, this can be a little frustrating. In our lifetimes, science has removed much of the mystery of our world and provided us with the comfort of "the definitive answer.” Beekeeping really has very few definitive answers, but I would personally argue that this is part of the charm of being an apiarist.

That said, there are a few things that the beekeeping community does seem to agree on, and this is one of them: if you are just starting out, get more than one hive.

Photo by Liz Fulghum.

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