Beginning to be a beekeeper

June 7, 2012 | By | Comments (2)

Bee1A long-time goal of mine was to keep my own bees, and I finally started in early April of this year. The venture has been fairly successful so far (fingers crossed), and I was encouraged to share the adventure with our Simmer and Boil readers. After all, bees make honey, and Cooking Light staff and readers both love honey.

I hope to take some honey from the hive this year, but surprisingly, the bees are not making the honey for me (shocker). I never really thought about it, but the bees need to eat something when the flowers are not blooming. Because of that, I have to leave enough for them to eat over the winter, or they will run out of food before spring comes. To give you an idea, I’ll need to leave at least four delicious, sticky, flavorful, rich, divine gallons of honey for Joyce (the name we have given to our queen) and the rest of the bees to eat during the winter… I can estimate how much honey the bees have made, and anything over what they need will be shared with Cooking Light staff and turned into yummy gifts for friends and family.

The hive probably has about 20,000 bees, and I am yet to be stung! Given that I just wrote this, I will probably be stung the next time I inspect the hive. It is a very surreal moment when you take a step back and realize thousands of bees are buzzing all around you. Your heart definitely beats a little faster when you realize what you have embarked on. Despite the seemingly inherent danger, beekeeping is surprisingly safe, given you are not allergic to bee stings.

Are any of our readers beekeepers, or do you have neighbors with beehives?


  1. Adam Hickman

    Hi Jen- We have a really active beekeeping association here in Birmingham, AL. I can tell that there is a lot of great knowledge there, and I’m working on meeting more members. When the weather starts cooling down, I may have to give them a sugar/water combination for them to eat. Sugar/water is a poor substitute for their own honey, so my goal is to not have to supplement their food.

    June 11, 2012 at 10:07 am
  2. Jen

    Hi Adam, Do you belong to any type of beekeepers association? I don’t raise bees, but my dad does and he’s gotten a lot of great advice and guidance from the association that he belongs to. They meet once a month or so and often help each other harvest. I know in the winter my dad makes the bees a sugar and water mixture to drink and that the other beekeepers told him, if it’s a newly established hive (they had to build everything) that you may not want to harvest the first year. Also, a good tip, my dad lost 2 hives in March, and the beekeepers association that he is with told him to send some of the dead bees to the CDC and they would tell him why they died so that you can fix it, and you can be sure they weren’t sick and they didn’t die because of a pesticide being sprayed for mosquitoes. His ended up having a slight fungus and all he had to do was move them a few feet and give them more sun. His honey is great, Good luck raising bees, it’s something that my dad really enjoys!

    June 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm

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