Doug will arrive any minute now to pick up a swarm I captured hanging from a loading dock two days ago. I brought the swarm home in a cardboard box (my preferred method these days) and immediately hived the swarm in two medium-depth supers and on foundationless frames. Doug will want a crash course in top-entrances, bottom-board feeders, foundationless frames, medium-depth supers, and all the other quirky things I’ve incorporated into my apiary.
Here’s the reason for this post: A number of wonderful people want to keep bees, and they want to start right this minute. And I’m more than happy to accommodate. However, I don’t have the time right now to teach all these nice people how to keep bees. It’s a process that takes many years to learn (though everyone has to begin…so it’s fine that folks want to start right off…I did too. But then I had to begin reading my crazy brains out to figure out what to do with all those bees in the box. And I encourage all beekeepers to likewise read their brains out).
I’ve compiled the following list of resources that I found invaluable as I began keeping bees. So, Doug, welcome to the first of your many many future hives. Now, start learning from the world-wide community of awesome beekeepers:
- Linda’s Bees. I’ll bet I’ve read every entry of this blog.
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping: Written by smart people who keep their bees treatment free. Change the world.
- Any word ever written by my bee hero, Michael Bush: The Practical Beekeeper (both the website and Michael’s new book contain the same information…the book is simply more organized.
- Michael Bush and my other bee heros (such as JP and kathyp and iddee and schawee and others) post frequently at my favorite beekeeping forum: Beemaster.com. Go there, sign up, and read until you can’t ready any more. I read the posts in General Beekeeping, Bee Removal, and Top-Bar Hives almost every morning. Watch JP’s bee removal videos. It all contributes to making me a better and more knowledgeable beekeeper.
- There’s a group of wildly radical natural beekeepers over at the Organic beekeepers yahoo group. I highly recommend subscribing to the group and reading the threads. Yes, they’re radical vigilantes, but they’re also right about it.
- Read everything about Dee Lusby, the leader of the Yahoo group and a misbehaving woman. I’ve spent time with her, and I find her sweet and shy. She’s simply right and ruthless about eliminating chemicals in our food and on our plants and in our beehives, and she keeps on talking. Which I find heroic. Google her.
- Learn all you can learn about running all medium-depth supers (this is Michael Bush’s big idea, so read him).
- Learn all you can about running foundationless frames.
- Learn all you can about Langstroth hives with top-entrances (Michael Bush again).
- Read all you can about Michael Bush’s idea for using the bottom board for a feeder (Yep…Michael Bush).
Below is a list of beekeeping suppliers I use and like. You can find equipment and order online, but upon request, each of these companies will also send a paper catalog, and I find I learn a lot by thumbing through those. I like the pictures. But, let me say this when it comes to beekeeping equipment: Less is best. I ordered a lot of little things I thought I’d need and will never ever use. I’ve since simplified (and I usually keep on hand the few pieces of equipment I use in my own apiary. So, if you need something immediately, I’ve probably got it, and I’m happy to sell it to you):