Anyone who reads our blog with regularity quickly realizes how vital of a role honey plays in our life at the farm.  Honey is a main ingredient in our strawberry and blackberry jams, homemade granola crunch cereal, granola bars, whole wheat bread – and many other recipes we consume on a regular basis.

The bees provide us with amazing honey
The bees provide us with amazing honey

We prefer using raw honey over processed sugars to provide an all natural form of sweetness – not to mention – it’s really good!    (We included links to those favorite recipes listed above at the end of the post).

It’s also the perfect sugar substitute for morning coffee and tea – not to mention that Mary and many other converts in our extended family now swear by its ability to curb or eliminate seasonal allergies when taken daily in the spring!

Strawberry Honey Jam - just 4 natural ingredients including of course, honey!
Strawberry Honey Jam – just 4 natural ingredients including of course, honey!

The benefits of keeping bees however goes far beyond just the amazing honey we get back from our hive. They also play an important part in our farm’s future success by helping to pollinate all of our fruit trees, grapes, blackberries, strawberries, flowers, and of course, our vegetable garden!  Let’s face it – without bees – our world would be a pretty barren place!

So, with that in mind – we decided to increase our hive from just one to three this year.  In fact, if I had to give any advice to someone who is considering raising bees for the first time – it would be to start with at least two right from the start.

A completed bee hive assembled and ready for paint
A completed bee hive assembled and ready for paint

Why?  For one, establishing a new hive can be tricky – and if you start with only one and it does not survive – you are back to square one!   Even the best and most experienced bee keepers lose hives  – some to pests, some to disease, and others still to a poor queen or a host of other potential reasons.  Keeping multiple hives not only protects you from losing your bees entirely, but gives you great reference points to compare activity from one hive to another – making you a more informed and thus better beekeeper.

Besides – if everything goes well – you have a bit more honey to distribute to all those family members asking for a jar :).

Our packaged bees going into the hive last spring
Our packaged bees going into the hive last spring

We have spent the last few weeks preparing new hives and ordering frames for our new guests that will arrive this spring.

We purchased our first bee hive structure as a complete “build-it-yourself” kit on-line. This time around – we are purchasing the frames and inserts, and building the boxes ourselves to save a little on the cost.  As a point of reference – a typical two box hive with bottom board, frames, cover and bottom will run around $100 to $125 dollars as a kit – and package of bees will run anywhere from $80 to $120 depending on your supplier.

Bringing back pollen to the hive...if you look closely you can see the yellow pollen on the incoming bee
Bringing back pollen to the hive…if you look closely you can see the yellow pollen on the incoming bee

Weather permitting, our package of bees will arrive sometime around the end of April.  Bees are usually sent through the mail – however, we are lucky enough to have our supplier within driving distance – so we simply pick them up.

Over the course of the next few weeks – we will finish off building the two additional hives, and hopefully have our new members of the farm family in their homes by the first of May!

In the meantime – here are some of our favorite honey recipes we talked about earlier in the post!  Just click on the link to see the recipe:

Strawberry-Honey Jam Recipe

Blackberry-Honey Jam Recipe

Home Made Granola Crunch Cereal Recipe

Home Made Granola Bar Recipe

Whole Wheat Bread

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Happy Gardening And Beekeeping – Mary and Jim

11 thoughts on “Keeping Bees – Adding More Hives To The Farm This Year

  • October 25, 2014 at 10:54 pm
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    We’ve been keeping bees since June of last year. The first year we had to supplement with sugar water because we got them too late in the season for them to make enough honey to support the hive through the winter. They seemed to be doing great this year, but not producing much honey. Now we’ve read that bees do not produce honey when their main food is oak pollen, which ours is. Quite disappointing. The bees still do a good job of pollinating our vegetable garden though!

  • February 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm
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    I am planning to start two (2) a year from now (spring of 2015). I’m reading a lot and researching and have joined the beekeeping assoc. here in Albuquerque to meet beekeepers and get 1st hand experience this season. Question for you – what type of bee hive do you recommend someone start off with ? Langstroth, Top Bar, Warre or Other ? Thaks – Sam

  • February 10, 2014 at 8:35 am
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    Good luck with the extra hives. I made the same mistake of starting with one hive that did not survive. Second time around I went for three hives and they all prospered. This winter is wet in the UK but pretty warm and so I have high hopes for a bumper year

  • February 9, 2014 at 9:05 pm
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    I think it would be fantastic to keep bees, but my husband, who has pretty severe reactions to their stings, is pretty against the idea. How often do younger stung when dealing with the hives, and do the need tend to bother you in your yard even when you are not bothering them?

  • February 9, 2014 at 7:18 pm
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    I have wanted to start bee keeping for a long time, but I don’t know where to start.

    • February 10, 2014 at 7:08 am
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      We started keeping bees last Spring. We took a 6 week class thru our county’s bee association. The world of bees is amazing. We learned so much. I think it is great advice to start with two hives. We anxiously await the warmer weather to check on our hives and see how our bees are doing! The biggest challenge the first year in keeping bees is that they survive the first winter.

  • February 9, 2014 at 12:55 pm
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    Thanks for the encouragement your site is to all of us who are farmer wanna be’s. My husband and I have had bees on and off for the last 20 years. My suggestion is to find a local beekeeping group to become a part of. We’ve gotten invaluable advice (and LOTS of yummy honey-based food) over the years, not to mention some wonderful friends.

  • February 9, 2014 at 12:02 pm
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    Great post. I just posted about how I bought more equipment so that I can add some more hives, I am thinking of getting to three from one as well. With another setup in case I can catch a swarm. I concur with your suggestion about getting two to start.

  • February 9, 2014 at 11:52 am
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    I just found your strawberry-honey jam. Next month, I will try it out! I’ve already had my jam adventure for this month!

  • February 9, 2014 at 10:10 am
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    I have pinned all of these recipes this morning. We had bees and something happened??? Trying again this spring. Hopefully we can fill our current hives and our top-bar.

  • February 9, 2014 at 9:31 am
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    Good morning u guys! Perfect timing on the bee info,got mine ordered for April.This will be the 3rd colony,so if these litlle buggers don’t make it, I give up.Changed supplier this time. We live in an area where there are lots of aireil crop dusting of pesticides going on but truth is,it’s prolly more to do with my care.The 1st batch didn’t make it through the winter,there were about 25 bees all huddled together & dead,the rest were all gone? Yr.later, the next ones made it till warm weather,then swarmed. Hoping this year will be better since the bee venture can run into some real money.
    Thanks again for sharing with us all your experiences & nice recipes.

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