Resources for New Beekeepers

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.

Matt and Doug meet Doug's Bees

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:

  1. Linda’s Bees. I’ll bet I’ve read every entry of this blog.
  2. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping: Written by smart people who keep their bees treatment free. Change the world.
  3. 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.
  4. 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: 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Learn all you can learn about running all medium-depth supers (this is Michael Bush’s big idea, so read him).
  8. Learn all you can about running foundationless frames.
  9. Learn all you can about Langstroth hives with top-entrances (Michael Bush again).
  10. 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):

  1. Walter T. Kelley
  2. Brushy Mountain
  3. Dadant
  4. Mann Lake
  5. Rossman Apiaries