Top Tips on How to Start a Honey Bee Hive

Beekeepers looking at their hives

A bee’s nest is a complex creation of tunnels and chambers constructed to aid a bee’s daily life. A hive is a man-made structure used to keep a bee. A hive gathers honey and helps nearby pollination of crops and plant-life. Through the use of beeswax, bees create honeycomb that they use to store food and raise their young.

Find out how to start a honey bee hive today by following these key steps!

The Structure of a Hive

In order to really understand how to best start your honey bee hive, you have to understand what the bees will need to have a successful hive. Providing bees with all the essentials they will need to create their home is important.

A hive is structured in such a way to protect its occupants and food. Only one entrance is made so that it is easy to defend. Once the construction is started the bees will create many layers of wax that are suspended vertically in sheets. These sheets are made of honeycomb and affixed to the walls of the nest to add structure.

How do bees make honeycomb?

Sheets structured with hexagonal shaped beeswax are known as honeycomb. Worker bees have special glands in their abdomens that secrete the wax used to create combs. The sugar sources found in nectar give bees the energy they need to produce wax from their glands. After the wax becomes scales on the bee’s abdomens, they use their mouths to chew and manipulate the wax so that they can place it and create the honeycomb.

How long does it take for bees to make honeycomb?

From the time a bee finds a place for their nest, to the creation of everything the colony needs to survive, the process takes around seven days. In that time they may create a beehive holding up to 3 lbs of honeycomb. If a bee needs to survive the cold, it may take up to a month to create a home ready to support the colony through the winter.

How to Start a Honey Bee Hive

Study

The most important step of creating your beehive is to study up on the subject. Start with a good book on how to keep bees and what your bees need. You’ll want to figure out which kind of bees you’ll be keeping so you know exactly what they need in order to create a home-y hive.

You may also have a local beekeeping organization nearby that would be an amazing resource of information about local laws and city codes. Club members may all have first-hand information you may not find as easily in a book.

Building or buying your hive

When starting a hive, many beekeepers will purchase their hives premade. With the internet at our fingertips, it’s as easy as ever to find the proper hive to keep you bees in. However, you can also create your own! Creating your own allows you to add features like a glass window so you can watch your bees in action.

If you create your own, you’ll want to be sure to make it before your bees arrive. You’ll also have a number of styles to pick from. A Langstroth hive is the most common and has little maintenance however is the heaviest to lift. A Top Bar Hive has no heavy lifting involved and creates happier bees, but also delivers less honey.

In your research stage, be sure to look into as many plans and designs as possible to pick the best fit for you.

Ordering your bees

The best time to start a hive it right before the spring. In the spring bees are able to produce the most beeswax to create their hives. To give them ample time to produce you’ll want to purchase your bees in January or February.

In order for the bees to survive, you will need to do research on how warm they will need it to be to thrive. Arrange for your bees to arrive at your home around the best time of year for their preferred temperature.

Placing your beehive

Once constructed you’ll want to find a place with very little foot traffic in order to place your hive. Shady spots under trees are a great place to place your hive stand. Trees will provide shade in the summer. It also best to place it on the east side of a tree or building so that its direct sunlight is during the coolest part of the day.

Also, consider its placement for the winter months. Will this area be free from freezing winds? Think about the placement and what it will mean for your bees in all seasons and climates.

Getting you beekeeping gear

Backyard beekeepers will need protective gear in order to install their bees. The bees won’t be agitated while you’re installing them, but getting used to your protective gear is a good idea in the long run and will also help you become comfortable with your new bees. You can purchase gear online like a screened hat, however, you can also simply use thick clothing. Before deciding on gear and hive tools, consult a doctor to make sure you aren’t allergic.

Prepping your hive

Each beehive type has a specific process of prepping. Top Bar hives require you to put beeswax on the bars that will support the honeycombs. Other styles may require you to use a water and sugar solution to clean your hive before the bees are installed.

Install your bees

Once you’ve prepped your hive, placed it, and picked up your bees you can start installing them right away. Be sure to research instructions on installation for your specific style of beehive. Top bar hive installation and Langstroth hive installation both have different steps. If you have to wait a day or two to install your bees you can keep them in a dark and cool area.

The most important focus of installing is making sure the queen bee makes it into the hive. That is how bee colony will know that this is their new home.

Your Walls Aren’t The Safest Bee Hive

If you have bees you didn’t intend on installing in the walls of your home, don’t sweat it! Bee Masters of Las Vegas is here to help you with our bee and wasp nest removal services. If you have any other questions about bees with doing your apiarist research feel free to check out our FAQ or contact us!