Apiculture or Bee-keeping is the practice of scientific maintenance of honeybee colonies, commonly in hives, by humans and collection of bee products, and marketing them professionally.
A bee-keeper if he or she wants to start a new bee-hive, must know the number of bees they do actually require to start a beehive.
How Many Bees Do You Need To Start A Beehive? Beekeepers generally purchase a queen and a package of bees together. Basically you will need a swarm of 10,000 working bees of all ages along with only a mated queen.
You can buy a package of bees in a cage and place it in a new hive in your location.
Or, you can even purchase an already started small box hive called a “nuc” that will have all of the bees in the hive set up for you to start a new big colony.
How Many Bees Do You Need To Start A Beehive?
You will need at least about 10,000 bees with a single Queen bee to start a hive. The weight of all of these bees can be about 2.5 to 3 pounds.
When you gonna start bee-keeping most people can purchase a package of bees from an experienced bee-keeper which counts about 10,000 bees weighing about 2.5 to 3 pounds.
A single bee weighs 0.00025 to 0.00030 pounds. So, 10,000 of the required bees will weigh about 2.5 to 3 pounds.
It is very important that you purchase this minimum required number of bees to start an all-new beehive.
So, what about an old hive that is already producing honey? Each of those hives can have about 50,000+ bees, weighing 12+ pounds together.
There is normally only one adult-mated queen in a hive, which the worker bees will usually follow and fiercely protect her.
If you purchase the package of bees to set up a hive all by yourself then that package of bees will bee weighing about 2.5-3 pounds with likely about 10,000 bees of different ages.
You need bees of each age class because they do different jobs in the hive. You will place that package of bees along with the queen in your new hive.
If you purchase a nuc, that means that you will already have a good beehive with a working population.
The nuc hive will give you the advantage of having some frames with cells filled with eggs, presence of an egg-laying queen, and the workers are raising young and collecting resources.
So, what actually are the nucs? Nucs, or nucleus colonies, are small honey bee colonies created from larger colonies. The nuc box is a smaller size box with something 3 to 4 frames with the colony of honeybees in it centered around a queen bee. Nucs are also called the nucleus colonies.
Bees can stay in a standard five-frame nuc typically for two to three weeks before filling it up.
In brief: How do you get bees to start a hive?
If you are a bee-keeper and want to start an all-new bee-hive then you need to first purchase or build a new hive all by yourself. The readymade beehives are usually made up of wood or hard plastic fibre frames.
Then you will need to find a swarm of bees. A bee swarm is nothing but a temporary colony of bees found on a tree, shrub, or house which they maintain until and unless they find a permanent hive.
Or, you can even purchase a package of bees consisting of about 10,000 bees with a queen.
Or, you can even order a nuc bee colony whichever you find easy to install.
In the early spring season, just after the winter is over, it is time to order a package of bees, or a nuc, or get onto a local swarm list. You can order your package from any local Bee Package Supplier you know.
Bee Packages normally arrive just before the start of the warm summer season, depending on your local climate.
Make sure that you have the warm weather needs to be warm enough for the bees to be put into a hive.
Also, you need to make sure that you have flower gardens and awesome pollen source for the bees to collect nectar and pollen in your area, as well.
They will need these requirements along with your beehive for the bees to start collecting to feed their young and start rearing.
Now, simply set-up your hive with the set-up guide you got. Next, its time to bring those bees either from that package, or nuc, or the swarm into your new beehive.
If you have a swarm nearby, cut the twig of the plant that has the swarm holding it. Next, open the brood chamber of the beehive and simply place that twig with the swarm of bees in it. After a little while shake it and remove the twig, putting the swarm inside. Next, close the brood chamber.
If you have a package bee, open it up and shake all the bees inside the brood chamber of the hive. Next, open the queen cage cover and put that cage in the same brood chamber along with the worker bees. Now, cover the hive properly. The workers after a few days will free the queen and she will happily stay there.
If you have a nuc, then take out the frames of the nuc bee colony from the small-sized nuc box. Open your hive’s brood chamber and put those frames inside it. Now close the hive.
Remember: While getting those bees into the new hive either from a swarm, or package, or a nuc, remember to put a frame with nectar and pollen grains in the new hive. This will act as a source of food for them for a few days, because they have entered a new home where they need to know the place and the surroundings in order to find their food source.
Can you start a beehive without buying bees?
Yes, of course, you can start a beehive without buying bees. All you need to do is to search for a swarm of bees nearby and take that swarm and put it in your beehive following the proper set-up guide.
Starting a beehive without any investment is indeed one of the simplest ways that a beekeeper can start a new colony completely free. Making use of the swarms you can easily do so.
So, let’s first understand what is a swarm colony, and what actually means by swarming.
Swarming is the reproduction of a honey bee colony, and it occurs when an existing colony subdivides into two colonies. Swarming is essential to the bees’ survival.
If the hive becomes overcrowded, resources will be scarce and the colony’s health will begin to decline. So, new swarms are often formed at new locations, during or before the early spring season.
Swarming bees are always in search of a new home and if you can provide them one (a beehive) they will be more than happy to stay there.
That’s a simple trick you need to follow. Just find a swarm and add it to your beehive. And, they will just be more than happy to stay there.
The very good news is that it’s very easy to collect swarms and handle them. As long as a swarm is not well established in its new location, it has no young brood or honey to defend, so the bees normally behave very gently.
You can find a swarm in a shady place near a tree or shrub, outside the house wall in shade, or wherever location they find it relatively easy to catch and hold themselves.
You can even contact your local beekeepers who can help you find a swarm. More or less, you can easily find one during the spring in the many shady areas under the tees for sure.