Staff member ArapahoePattyJI has been a beekeeper for several years and says keeping honey bees is fun and fascinating! The honey bee population has been in decline for the last decade due to improper and excessive use of pesticides, Varroa mites and disease. Maintaining a hive is a great way to help the honey bee make a comeback. And, if you love honey, there is no better way to satisfy your craving than harvesting the liquid gold in your own backyard.
Patty is the the Communications Liaison for the Colorado State Beekeepers Association, opens a new window in addition to being the Events Co-Chair of the Eastern Colorado Beekeepers Club, opens a new window. She has learned so much about honey bees right here at Arapahoe Libraries, from books to magazines to documentaries. Did you know that a bee hive is considered a single organism? One honey bee cannot survive alone. They all work together to maintain the hive and they each have different jobs.
Want to know more? We have access to everything you need to learn about honey bees and start your own hive!
Here are some pointers to get you started:
Visit the library
Visit your local Arapahoe Library and educate yourself on every aspect of the honey bee.
- Check out materials on beekeeping
- Access the internet to find and visit beekeeping websites
- Find resources for beginning beekeepers
Contact a local club, supplier or beekeeper
- Take some classes before you purchase a hive
- Colorado State Beekeepers Association, opens a new window
Eastern Colorado Beekeepers Association, opens a new window
- On Facebook: type Eastern Colorado Beekeepers Association and ask to join
- Northern Colorado Beekeepers Association, opens a new window
- Southeast Beekeeping Club, opens a new window
- Pikes Peak Beekeepers Association, opens a new window
What to know about a hive
How to get a hive
- Purchase a package
- This is a group of honey bees and a queen which you install into your own hive box
- Purchase a nuc
- This is a hive of bees already installed into a small hive box. Ready to go!
- Find a wild swarm
- Bees swarm when their hive gets too crowded and if you can reach them, you can catch them and put them in your own hive
- Not sure where to start? Check out Colorado Bee Suppliers:
When to get your bees
- Honey bees are installed into a hive during the spring months. It is very important to order your packages or nucs from a store or mail-order business in December or January as suppliers run out in the spring very quickly.
- Make sure to place your new hive in a secure area
- Place your hive on a level surface about 18 inches above the ground
- Choose a warm and dry location that is easily accessible year round
- There must be nectar/pollen sources nearby
- Secure the area from predators
- Most importantly...have a source of fresh water!!
Gear You'll Need
- It is recommended to start with two hives so you have something to compare
- Choices are Langstroth, Top Bar and Flow Hives
- Hood with facial screen
- Smoker to keep bees calm during inspections
- Hive tool to pry apart hive frames
- Honey Harvesting Equipment; you can borrow or share with others
What to Expect Your First Season
- First year honey is for the bees
- Find a mentor who can help you understand the process of building up a hive
- You are not a full-fledged beekeeper until you have been stung!
- Be aware of your response to stings, keeping honey bees may not be for you if you are allergic, keep an EPI pen nearby
- Keep baking soda around; it neutralizes the sting and takes the pain away
- Honey harvesting takes place in the late summer, but be sure to leave enough honey for the bees to survive the winter!
Enjoy your busy bees!