How to Start a Honey Bee Farm

by Caryn Kelly; Updated March 16, 2018
Honeycomb and bee

Honey bees can produce lots of honey, and selling honey can be a lucrative business for people who aren’t allergic to bee stings, who don’t have a lot of money, and who have a little space in their backyard to farm their honey bees. If you’re interested in working with insects and seeing the fruits of your labor, not only will you be taking an active part in agriculture, but it’ll be a fun and rewarding way to satisfy a hobby. Learn here how to start a honey bee farm and enjoy your new swarm.

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Call your local Cooperative Extension office to find out if you’re allowed to farm honey bees in your backyard. Not all towns or municipalities permit keeping bees.

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Choose an appropriate area in your backyard to start your honey bee farm. Start with one or two hives, and place them where there are lots of nectar- and pollen-producing flowering plants. There should be lots of shade, no wind, and in a discrete area where they won’t disturb your non-beekeeping neighbors.

Beehive

Get your first established honey bee hive colonies from a local beekeeper, or order them from an established Apiary. Honey bees should be ordered in January or March for shipment in March and April. You can also buy packaged bees and queens and transfer them to a hive that you build yourself. Most packages weigh about two to five pounds and contain 9,000 to 22,000 honey bees.

Hive with blue stripe

Buy beekeeping equipment, such as hives, hive body or brood chamber, queen excluder, honey supers, feeders, and inner and outer covers for protection from weather. Many online auction sites, such as eBay, sell beekeeping equipment for discounted prices.

Person by beehive

Wear appropriate beekeeper gear, such as a netted veil and long gloves for protection from stings.

Tips

  • Become a registered beekeeper by joining your state’s beekeeping association.

    Be considerate of your non-beekeeping neighbors by keeping your honey bee hives away from sidewalks and other public places.

    Give your bees a container of water with some Styrofoam chips or floating wood to keep them from drowning.

    Move hives around every so often to give your bees new flowering plants to feed from. Every flower will produce a different type of honey.

    Reduce stinging by using gentle queens that have been reared commercially.

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