I would really like to try beekeeping and am considering purchasing a flow hive- my concern is, How much “work” is involved in maintaining a beehive. I would put the hive at my secondary home in upstate NY. That means I won’t have daily interaction with the hive. Is beekeeping something that can be done if you are not tending to it constantly? What maintenance needs to be done to a hive besides repairs to damages and pest control? Thanks
Hello and welcome to the forum - that’s a big question. Good that you’re asking before you get the bees!
There’s a lot that goes into it, less if things are going well, more at certain times of the year and when things are not going well. Probably a minimum of every two weeks in the spring and maybe a little less in the summer and fall but in the fall the timing may be more critical. For about 6 months in the winter there’s not a lot to do but make sure the bees still have enough food.
Not being nearby to observe from the outside will also slow down your learning about their patterns and you’ll miss things that are good to learn as a beginner. Even though you may not need to go in for an inspection very often, you’ll likely miss outward signs and timing of interventions will be off.
I don’t think it would be a big deal for an experienced beekeeper to have an “out yard” but I have concerns about it being your first hive and not being closer.
Beekeeping for Dummies is a good place to start to get terminology and will only take you a couple days to get through, and there are a lot of good videos on you tube, my favorites are from university of Guelph and there are a few good ones from Cornell and the Dyce Honey bee lab which is basically local info for you.
I also recommend starting with at least two colonies even if you only plan to harvest honey from one.
Hi Evan, happy NY. To answer the question “is beekeeping for me”, you need to ask yourself, “how passionate am I to learn everything there is to learn about bees & more?”.
If you can see your way clear to house the bees at your primary residence, that would be better. It would depend on how far away your secondary home is from your primary home, & whether your second home has neighbors or not. You would need to be able to react fairly quickly in case the colony swarmed, if neighbors are nearby.
I would strongly advise you to find a local beekeeping association and to do a course if one are available before you get bees. There is a lot to learn about keeping bees and you shouldn’t get bees until you have learned basic things about beekeeping and have been shown how to open a hive and inspect it.
Many beginners have a romantic idea about bees at the bottom of their garden and going out a couple of times a year to flow honey fresh from the hive. They get hives but once confronted with opening them and dealing with thousands of flying insects they quickly lose interest and the hives are effectively abandoned, becoming a nuisance to neighbours and a possible source of disease to other colonies.
In my view, unless you are prepared to be able to visit your bees once a week in swarm season, and less frequently at other times of the year then you are not really in a position to look after them properly.
I agree that ideally you need two colonies and if the bug bites you you will want more. A way around this would be to cooperate with another beek so that you can share resources when needed. Beekeeping is a fascinating hobby. If it infects you, you will willingly allow it to take up all your free time, and more. :))
You specifically mentioned that you wanted to get a flow hive. Flow hives have some advantages and some disadvantages compared to other hives. I’m curious about what aspects prompted you to reach your conclusion as this might indicate how you see your beekeeping developing.
I’ve always been fascinated by beekeeping and have enjoyed purchasing fresh honey from local beekeepers. My primary residence is in NYC so it was never really an option. I now have a secondary home upstate NY. So I would love to try my hand at it. I own one acre of land and my backyard is forest. I do have neighbors but they are far enough where the bees would not be a nuisance. I have no issue with opening a hive. I actually walked into the middle of a swarm once in Brooklyn and I did not even get stung! Amazing experience to say the least. Since I do not live upstate full time and would be going up monthly at the least- I wanted to know if beekeeping was possible. Thanks for everyones input.
Hi Evan, if you buy a Flow hive, make sure you get the one you want. This morning a bloke with a Classic Flow hive picked up some bees from me. He wondered what happened to the legs & spirit levels etc., after it arrived. He realized that he clicked on the wrong hive, not the one he originally wanted.