Acquiring Honey Bees
If you aren't allergic to honey bee stings then beekeeping is a way for people who don't have a lot of money and acres of land to take an active role in eco-friendly agriculture. The start-up expense of the average beehive is approximately $400 per hive. Once you have bought a beehive it can be kept in a remote corner of your backyard, it is not uncommon to see some suburban neighborhoods with a beehive in the yard. People living in large cities even keep beehives on roofs of high-rise apartment buildings. There's no wrong place to keep honeybees, but you must have the proper knowledge to care for your honeybees.
If you are thinking of starting a beehive the first thing you need to do is call your local state agriculture office. They will be able to tell you if you live in an area that restricts keeping honeybees or if you can keep honeybees at your home. Also, they will be able to give you the contact information of your state's beekeeping organizations, where you can become a registered beekeeper and attend local beekeeping meetings to network with other individual's.
The next thing you will need to do is select a site for your potential honeybee hive. Personally, I would put them in location that is semi-isolated from people. This will save you a lot of time later in case someone says something about your beehive.
Once you have selected a proper site for your beehive, you will need to go about acquiring the beekeeping equipment needed to successfully raise honeybees. Some of the beekeeping equipment you will need can be purchased used on Ebay or at other beekeeping stores. If you need further direction in finding and purchasing a beehive and other beekeeping equipment call your local state's agriculture office or the Federation of American Beekeeper's for more information.
Once your beehive is in place and you are satisfied that everything is in working order it's time to order your honeybees. The easiest way is to order honey bees is from an established apiary. You should plan on placing your bee order early in the winter months, most beekeeper's order their bees around January or February of each year. The apiaries will usually ship the honeybees in March or April. Most apiary's ship their honeybees via the U.S. postal service or some other major carrier such as Fedex or UPS.
When the honeybees arrive at the post office or shipping facility your mail carrier will call and ask that you come and pick up the honeybees. Very few mail carriers are comfortable driving a vehicle full of young agitated honeybees around. Plus, its better you go pick the bees up so that they don't sit around in a vehicle all-day if it's hot outside because they'll die.
When you pick up your honeybees they should be packaged in a special carrying case that is designed just for transporting honeybees. This package should be a wooden framed "house" that has a screen covering the outside. This type of packaging allows the air to circulate for the honeybees and keeps mail handlers, such as post office employees, from getting stung by the honeybees during handling.
When you receive your honeybees, do not be surprised if you see a few dead honeybees laying in the bottom of the package. Transporting honeybees is hard on them and some will die during the journey. However, don't fret the living honeybees should be clutching the sides of the container ready to produce honey for you.
As you inspect your fresh honeybee shipment you'll notice that one larger honeybee will be separated from the rest of the honeybees. This will be your queen bee. The rest of the honeybees in the container will make up the rest of your bee hives hierarchy consisting of worker bees and drones. Some apiaries ship the queen bee with a couple of worker honeybees.
Also, you should see that the shipping package is filled with a sugar solution. This sugar solution is what the honeybees eat on while they are traveling. Once you get your honeybees home provide them something sweet to drink. You do this by taking a spray bottle and covering the container with a very fine covering of water with a little nectar or a little sugar.