Step 1): Order Bees
It might seem strange to order bees before you get everything else together for beekeeping, but it's important because most places don't have bees for sale by the time spring is well underway. January is the best time to order your bees for pickup in April or May.
Step 2): Hive Setup
The main hive system that is most widely used is called the Langstroth hive, and it's composed of boxes that are stacked on top of each other, each containing frames where the bees build their comb and store honey. You will need to add boxes vertically as your hive grows.
Step 3): Purchase Supplies
Keeping bees requires an investment up front in supplies. The easiest way to do this is to buy a kit that comes with everything you need to get started! If you are new to beekeeping or want to avoid being stung, it is a good idea to wear a protective suit or heavy clothes. Italian Honey Bees are extremely docile and rarely sting during summer months when handled carefully, however during times of honey harvest they can become more defensive which is why the suit is generally recommended.
Step 4): Introduce Bees to their New Home
Now comes the fun part! Your bees have arrived and it's time to set up the hive and get them settled. We will review this in detail with you upon pick up, but here is a quick overview. Best way to introduce bees to the hive is to remove 4 frames from the broad box, set the bee package inside the space where the frames were removed, open lid from the bee package. This will allow the bees to emerge into their new home at their own speed. After three days time, remove top cover of broad box to remove bee package and replace the 4 frames. This will allow you to safely and comfortably introduce the bees to their new home. Then, sit back and let them settle in while you observe the comings and goings. So much fun!
Step 5): Harvest Honey!
Collect honey after at least 75% of the frame is capped over with wax. If you plan to overwinter your bees, you will need to leave a minimum of 5-7 frames of honey in the hive for your bees to eat throughout the winter months.