Beekeeping for Beginners!
Is beekeeping on your homestead wish list? Do you want to increase pollination in your orchard and garden? Maybe harvesting sweet golden honey is a dream of yours. These are great reasons to keep bee colonies on your homestead! Beekeeping for Beginners by Amber Bradshaw is a great read for anyone interested in starting this homesteading project!
Read about How to Homestead on One Acre or Less!
Interview with the Author, Amber Bradshaw
I’m fortunate to have Amber Bradshaw as a blogging friend and online collaborator. She shares a wealth of information on homesteading and living off-grid and I always enjoy reading her articles!
If you’re not familiar with her, Amber and her family shared their adventures Building Off The Grid on the Discovery Channel and you can read more about their adventures on her website My Homestead Life.
When Amber agreed to do an interview about her book, Beekeeping for Beginners, I was super excited! Beekeeping is one of those homesteading projects that is always at the back of my mind but I just haven’t delved into… yet! So getting to know Amber has been pretty sweet. 🙂
So let’s get started!
Beekeeping for Beginners with Amber Bradshaw
How long have you been keeping bees?
I have had bees for a decade now. I started raising them to help me with my garden production as we were lacking local pollinators and I was growing tired of hand-pollinating everything. I knew I needed bees and they needed me.
Bees need our help in creating a natural habitat for them to survive and to help them build healthy colonies.
Is it possible to raise bees even if you have a small homestead?
Bees are wonderful livestock to raise no matter where you live. From rooftop apartments to acres of land. I’ve seen hives on balconies, roofs of restaurants, and more.
What advice would you share with a beginning beekeeper?
The best advice I can give a beginning beekeeper is to find a local bee mentor. Someone who raises bees the same way you want to, that has experience and is willing to share their knowledge. Most experienced beekeepers are more than happy to help. You can check with your local extension agency or Beekeepers Association to inquire about a mentor or beekeeping class.
What equipment is absolutely essential for getting started?
You can spend thousands of dollars on beekeeping equipment, or you can stick with the basics. A must-have is a hat and veil. Even if you are a bee-whisperer and bees just flock to you in perfect harmony. A bee sting to the eye (yes it can and does happen) can permanently blind you.
The other must-have is a beehive of some sort. There are several options out there but I recommend either a Top-Bar or a Langstroth Hive.
If you are looking for budget-friendly options to beekeeping, I share all my money-saving tips in this article.
Have you tried top bar beehives and/or Langstroth beehives? Do you feel one is best?
Unfortunately, I have only had Langstroth Hives myself. However, I have several beekeeper friends that have Top Bar Hives and love them. Building a Top-Bar Hive is on our to-do list this year.
Langstroth hives are the best for commercial beekeeping so if you are getting into raising bees for profit, this is the hive you want.
Hives that allow the bees to build their comb as they would do in nature, such as the Top-Bar hive, is a more natural approach to beekeeping, and in my opinion, healthier for the bees.
Have you had any problems with diseases or parasites in your beehives? How did you deal with those problems?
I have never used chemical treatments for our bees and the only issues I’ve had thus far is hive beetles. Hive beetles are pretty easy to maintain with a little water and dish soap on the bottom board of the hive. They fall down on the tray and get stuck. A healthy hive will naturally defend its colony from pests and sickness.
We did lose our colonies a couple of times after hurricanes when we lived by the coast in South Carolina. After the hurricanes, there is a lot of standing water. The standing water promotes mosquitoes and the local residents didn’t like the increase of mosquitoes. The county performed aerial spraying several times after the hurricanes.
The county does notify beekeepers so they can ‘lock’ their bees up. However, bees forage up to five miles away and forage on all the treated/sprayed plants. The days following the spraying, we had thousands and thousands of dead bees laying all around our hives.
Sadly, there is little we can do to protect our bees when the county sprays poison out of the air.
What is your favorite way to use honey and beeswax?
I love using honey in pretty much anything I want sweet. I use a dollop of raw honey on my yogurt every morning for breakfast. I make all my own skincare products and the beeswax is an essential ingredient.
There are hundreds of ways you can use honey and beeswax. From treating burns and helping with allergies to making candles or furniture wax.
I talk about how honey helps with seasonal allergies in my article, Top 10 Natural Remedies for Allergies.
Do you sell honey, beeswax, or other bee products?
I sell honey, honey straws (learn how to make honey straws!) and my book, Beekeeping For Beginners (shameless plug). I also sell all the products I make with my beeswax such as lip balm, face lotion, body lotion, salves, and more.
What inspired you to write Beekeeping for Beginners?
To be honest, I was contacted by the publisher- they reached out to me. I never thought about writing a book before that. As I started writing, I found a renewed enthusiasm for beekeeping and I remembered what it was like knowing nothing. I remembered how hard it was not having someone to talk to about all the questions I had, all the mistakes I made, all of the things I didn’t even know to ask.
I’m so glad they reached out to you! Do you have any other online resources for beekeepers?
I have a Facebook Group For Beekeepers if anyone would like to join.
Perfect! I’m a member of Amber’s Facebook Group and I have found a wealth of great info there. ‘Bee’ sure to join the ‘hive mind’ on her group and ask questions!
If you are interested in more information about Amber’s book, here you go!
Beekeeping for Beginners: How To Raise Your First Bee Colonies
Beekeeping for Beginners is a simple, step-by-step guide that helps you learn the fundamentals of modern beekeeping. You (and your bees) will be buzzing with delight.
From picking the right hive and bringing your bees home to surviving winter and collecting honey, Beekeeping For Beginners takes you on an easy-to-follow journey through your first year of beekeeping and beyond.
I hope you enjoyed ‘meeting’ the author, Amber Bradshaw! Are you a beekeeper? Leave a comment!