Georgia Department of Agriculture

Beginning Beekeepers

 

Historical records indicate keeping honey bees in artificial hives dates back at least 4,000 years. Although there are a few individuals that own thousands of hives and that make their living through beekeeping, most beekeepers have only a few hives. It can be an enjoyable hobby and provide delicious honey to share with friends and neighbors.

Things to consider before buying a hive
There are a few things to consider before purchasing a hive and bees. First, where will you keep your bees? For many beekeepers, the backyard is fine. However, don't take bees, backyards, zoning, neighbors and your family for granted. Check them all out first. Although the Official Code of Georgia prohibits towns, cities, etc. from prohibiting beekeeping (O.C.G.A 2-14-41.1), local zoning boards are still able to adopt ordinances that may limit beekeeping to lots that have a minimum square footage or are away from schools, etc.

Second, are you able (and willing) to manage a bee hive? Prior to the 1980s, there were few pests of bees in the U.S. Now, varroa mites (Varroa destructor), tracheal mites (Acarapis woodi), small hive beetles (Aethina tumida), and other pests are common. The days of "bee-havers" are gone. (Bee-haver is a term used for someone who "has" bees but does do not want spend the time managing and making sure the bees are healthy). Although beekeeping can be an enjoyable hobby, it will require time and effort to learn about bee pests and diseases.

Third, work with a beekeeper for a few days. There are several local bee clubs in Georgia and many beekeepers are happy to share their experience with someone interested in honey bees. Visit www.gabeekeeping.org to find a club near you.

Where to purchase bees and beekeeping supplies Georgia is one of the top 3 states in producing honey bees and queen bees for sale, so you can get local bees if you order early. Anyone selling bees and queens commercially is required to be licensed by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the bees are inspected annually for pests and diseases. Click "HERE" to view our licensed queen and package beekeepers.

Another good source of bees is through your local bee club. A member may have split a hive and is willing to sell the bees (and maybe hive too). After attending a few meetings, you will quickly learn which members are good bee managers and keep their equipment free from diseases.

Be careful of buying a hive and equipment from someone you do not know. The Georgia Department of Agriculture does not inspect all beekeepers, so pests and diseases could be a problem. If you do purchase equipment and bees from someone you do not know, please ask a more experienced beekeeper to go with you so that he or she can inspect the hive and equipment for pests, diseases, or other problems.

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