225 magaine: Do’s and Don’ts of Backyard Beekeeping

Do’s and Don’ts of Backyard Beekeeping
By Jessica Weimer O’Connor
Editor’s note: O’Connor is the Audience Development Manager for 225, Business Report and inRegister. She and her husband Anthony have been urban beekeepers for two years.

DO:
1. Choose a good spot. Requirements in Baton Rouge include simple items like providing a water source and having a fence or hedge near the hive.Ideal locations face the rising sun, have partial shade during the day and are accessible but out of the way of high-traffic parts of your property.

2. Join the Capital Area Beekeepers Association. For $10 a year you’ll learn first-hand from seasoned experts. Go to meetings. Read the newsletter. Ask other members for advice.

3. Shop local. Cut costs by finding a local beekeeper selling old items or visit a hardware store with beekeeping equipment. Just make sure it is certified disease-free.

4. Research. There are different breeds and queens, and you have to start with a package ordered through CABA or a nucleus from a local beekeeper. Packages typically include three pounds of bees by weight plus a mated queen. A nucleus costs a little more and involves working with a beekeeper who will raise a starter colony complete with stores of honey, eggs and pollen in your hive.

DON’T:
1. Try to figure it all out online. There’s no substitute for a hands-on approach like touring an apiary or offering to help a veteran beekeeper work their hive.

2. Obsess over getting stung. Heavy gloves and a full beekeeping suit can create more problems than they prevent in the Louisiana heat. Odds are that you will get stung a few times, but unless you’re allergic—you checked for that, right?—it will be a short-lived pain.

3. Throw in the smoker too quickly. Most new beekeepers—myself included—don’t get everything right the first (or second) time. Learn from your mistakes, remember that not every problem could have been prevented and don’t give up.

As published in the August 2014 225 magazine article "Bee happy – The rise of urban beekeeping in Baton Rouge