Beekeeping can be an income-producing venture by providing pollination services to orchards and farmers, or by harvesting and selling honey and other products such as royal jelly, beeswax, and pollen.
To get started in beekeeping, you will need some basic equipment including a hive, protective gear, some bees, equipment to handle the honey, and other gear. Some beekeepers make their own hives, but you can readily purchase them and assemble the hives yourself. If you purchase equipment, make sure it has been inspected and certified to be free of disease and mites.
Beekeepers need to be aware of the laws related to their livelihood. In many states, bee hives must be inspected annually for disease and infestations. Also, it is important to find out about the pesticide use and pesticide notification laws in your state. You should frequently inspect your own hives for disease or pests.
Beginning Beekeeping for Kentuckians (PDF)
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
Apiculture, or beekeeping, requires a knowledge of bee biology and society. This publication gives a brief overview while also providing you information on basic beekeeping equipment (with illustrations). A discussion of how to get bees and basic beekeeping operations is also given. Seasonal management activities and enemies of bees is also covered.
Enterprise Budget: Beekeeping (PDF)
Iowa State University Extension
Revenue producing products from beekeeping include honey, beeswax, royal jelly, pollen, and pollination services. This publication discusses the potential returns of beekeeping, the capital needed for startup, labor and managerial input required, and the years to develop production expertise, marketing expertise, and years to financial break-even point.
This publication discusses various aspects of beekeeping or apiculture, including state inspection programs, beginning basics, income sources and budgets, insurance, Africanized bees, organic certification, and various bee pests and diseases. Information on educational and training opportunities and further resources are also discussed.
Beekeeping Basics (PDF)
Penn State Cooperative Extension
This 102-page publication covers in detail the topics of the colony and its organization, beekeeping equipment, starting with bees, colony management, managing maladies, honey production and processing, pollination, handling beeswax and pollen trapping, and floral sources. The appendix includes best management practices, apiary and inspection services of the mid-atlantic, chemicals approved for use in honey bee colonies, sources of information, and beekeeping supply companies.
Beekeeping in Tennessee (PDF)
University of Tennessee Extension
This extensive publication will provide you the information necessary to determine if beekeeping is a good fit for you. It provides a detailed list of sources of beekeeping information. This publication covers the topics of beekeeping basics, what to do when stung, locating an apiary, bee biology and behavior, races of bees, beekeeping protective gear, hardware and tools, wooden equipment, working with a colony, inspecting a colony, starting your colony, queen marking, requeening, moving a colony, removing surplus honey, how to overwinter a bee colony, pests of honey bees, and seasonal management.
Protecting Honey Bees from Pesticides (PDF)
Honey bees are attracted to plants that produce nectar and/or pollen and to bodies of water. Communication between beekeepers, growers, and pesticide applicators are key. Bees forage up to 3 miles from their hive, so beekeepers in that area should be notified of pesticide application. This publication discusses ways to reduce the harm to honey bees from pesticide use on agricultural crops.
Beekeeping and Honey Production (PDF)
University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service
This publication provides a market description and market outlook forecast for beekeeping (apiculture) and honey production. It also covers production and economic considerations with details on startup costs and years to recoup these costs.
Preparing a Business Plan: Beekeepr Example (PDF)
Province of British COlumbia, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food
While this is an older publication (1999), it does provide an early example of a business plan for a beekeeping operation.
Planning and purchasing your beehive
So you’re ready to start your first hive! Congratulations! There’s a world of wonder awaiting you! And also a decent amount of planning. Starting a hive isn’t the work of a weekend, and it can’t be started just any time of the year. But don’t be daunted! As long as you have a sense of what to do when, the work is really pretty minimal.