Building your very own beekeeping effort is a wonderful way to connect with your inner carpenter, nature-lover, and sweet tooth for organic honey. In desiring your personal hive, you are in good company. According to the USDA, the number of bee colonies cared for by human beekeepers was, as of 2014, the highest it’s been in 20 years. The reason is sweet - - the average American consumes approximately 1.3 pounds of honey every year.

Establishing that first hive requires care, learning beekeeping basics, acquiring beekeeping tools, and performing initial labors of love, and ongoing maintenance. Beware the romantic notion that beekeeping is light work; heed the reality that it is gratifying and satisfying. Volumes exist on undertaking home beekeeping; the below beginner steps take the sting out of getting underway and filling those jars with organic honey.

The Best Bees. The best bees are those without stingers, yes? Well, not quite, but there are many ways to choose the friendliest bees. All honey bees are liable to sting if they feel endangered. However, there are bee breeds that are more laid-back than others. Still, any beekeeper must be ready for potential stings. This is where quality beekeeping gloves and apparel come in. Beekeeping suits are available at many price points and while you may not require the Cadillac of beekeeper suits, an investment in well-guarded protection is a good one. As for the bees themselves, there are a number of species and “races.” The U.S. is home to only one honey producing species (apis mellifera), but there are various  “races” of honey bees (italians, carniolans, russians, etc). These races interbreed and this results in a healthier mix of genetics.

The Beehive. Creating your beekeeping hives will require at least some basic carpentry skills. Left to their own devices, bees have a tendency to build their nests in curious places. Providing your bees with a proper home in a suitable location that works both for you and them takes some planning. Starting with a user-friendly book, taking precise measurements, and following directions to the letter should get you off on the right foot. A quality hive-building book will also provide important information on the types of wood and other materials that will work best and save you issues down the road.

Beekeeping is a fast-growing hobby in many parts of the world. One honey bee produces one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its entire lifetime. This means it’s critical to learn and utilize the best ways to keep your hive healthy so you can make use of as much raw organic honey as possible. From there, safe and healthy beekeeping will keep your tea sweet for years to come.