You can buy honey bees for pick up from local beekeepers or distributors. Online suppliers will ship bees to you. You can trap a swarm to get free bees, though we do not recommend it for beginners. Reputable local beekeepers are the best source for honey bees. You can buy starter colonies or mated queens.
The best bee smoker fuels are nontoxic organic items that smolder and do not burn quickly. Many options are free (or cheap), including cotton fibers, burlap, dry pine needles or grass, and herbs. Suppliers sell fuel. Never use chemicals, treated material, plastic, or rubber that can harm you or the bees.
Begin to add honey supers when a beehive’s upper box is about 75% full of drawn comb with brood or food. If it is early in the season, bees can use the new box for brood. If honeyflow has begun (or is imminent), using a queen excluder keeps brood out of the added honey super, reserving it for ripening nectar.
Honey bees are flying insects that live in complex social organizations called colonies. They build wax comb in nests to raise young and store food. Adult bees are either male or female. Females consist of two castes: queen bees and workers. Honey bees divide labor and work collectively for the benefit of the colony.
A drone bee is a male developed from a queen’s unfertilized egg. Larger than workers, a drone’s sole purpose is to mate with a virgin queen. Drones perform no other hive tasks and cannot sting. Since they have a limited function, the colony controls the drone population, so they do not burden resources.
A worker bee is an infertile female unable to reproduce. A queen bee’s pheromones suppress the workers’ reproductive organs. In their 45-day lifespan, workers perform most of the tasks needed in a hive. Workers forage for resources, make honey, nurse brood, and guard the hive, among other responsibilities.
A queen bee’s role in the hive stems from being the colony’s only fertilized female. Her primary roles are egg-laying for population growth and the production of pheromones to guide colony behaviors. Though she does not rule the hive, a healthy queen bee is critical to the hive’s survival and productivity.
To assemble a hive body, join the sides at 90° angles, checking corners with a square. Tighten joints with a mallet. Secure the connections with nails, staples, or screws. Exterior wood glue and clamps are optional but strengthen joints. An assembly jig can speed the process.
“Nuc'” (pronounced “newk”) is beekeeping shorthand for a small nucleus colony housed in a mini-hive or “nuc box.” With resources from an established hive, a nuc consists of a queen, a small number of other bees, and frames with food and brood in various development. Among other uses, nucs can start or expand apiaries.
Beekeeping is the ancient agricultural practice of managing honey bees in enclosed structures called beehives. Beekeepers may obtain crop pollination services from these bees and harvest their honey, beeswax, pollen, and other products. Beekeeping can be a hobby or commercial in nature.