Bees are essential to an abundant and thriving plant culture. We will be open source sharing our experience setting up and maintaining an apiary (also known as a bee yard) as part of One Community’s food infrastructure, open source botanical garden model, and global transformation methodology. This open source hub includes the following sections:
NOTE: THIS PAGE IS NOT CONSIDERED BY US TO BE A COMPLETE AND USABLE TUTORIAL UNTIL
WE FINISH OUR OWN CONSTRUCTION OF THIS COMPONENT, CONFIRM ALL THE DETAILS, AND ADD
TO THIS PAGE ALL THE RELATED VIDEOS, EXPERIENCE, AND OTHER UPDATES FROM THAT BUILD.
IN THE MEANTIME, YOU CAN HELP US COMPLETE IT ALL SOONER WITH THE FOLLOWING OPTIONS:
INPUT & FEEDBACK | JOIN OUR TEAM | HELP US BUY THE PROPERTY
One Community sees supporting bee populations and helping reverse their decline as an essential part of comprehensive stewardship for The Highest Good of All and our goals for establishing sustainable teacher/demonstration hubs. Also, our food infrastructure will grow to feed hundreds and sufficient pollinators are essential to supporting this. As part of our experience establishing our own apiary, we will open source our setup and maintenance details as part of our comprehensive blueprints for sustainability. We also use this page to link to other quality beekeeping resources we’ve found.
Our primary intentions for establishing an apiary include:
Before you fully engage the process of bee keeping, there are a number of things you need to do to prepare for their arrival. Understanding what is needed, how to prepare, local codes that may affect you, the best time to start, etc. are all important. We discuss these and more with the following sections:
Just like when you buy a common house pet, you have to learn how to take care of your bees. You need to know everything they need in order to maintain their health. You also need to know everything you should for your own happiness as their caretaker. With this in mind, here are some of the best resources we’ve found to prepare you for your beekeeping adventure.
Before beginning bee keeping in any residential area, be sure you know what the relevant laws, requirements, and regulations are. These laws can be local, county, and/or state laws. To learn them, you can contact your Local Beekeeping Association to speak with someone knowledgeable in your area or check directly with your township, county, and/or state/region.
Some areas don’t even allow beekeeping and other areas require a permit/license to be purchased. Here’s a list of possible regulations you’ll want to know about before setting up your first hive:
Selecting your apiary location is an important part of beekeeping. The location you choose can affect the health of your bees, convenience of harvesting your honey, and safety for anyone who wants to avoid interacting with them. Here are some important points to consider when selecting your apiary location:
Here’s a hive location and setup video (5 minutes long) with some additional points too:
Once your hive is all set up you can buy bees and start beekeeping. It’s best to do it in the spring, when bees are just starting to get busy, when there will be plenty of food around for the new colony to establish itself. You want to start them up as soon as the weather warms up so that they will have plenty of time to build up a strong hive.
It’s suggested that you buy all your apiary tools and equipment enough in advance to have time to familiarize yourself with everything and get it set up. Doing this in the fall will give you ample time and assure you are ready when your bees arrive, probably in early May, depending on the weather in your area.
Start with protective gear:
Here is our cost analysis for all of this equipment. You can click the picture or THIS LINK to visit the spreadsheet with the most current details:
Next, buy (or make) your woodenware (hive components). It is advisable to start with new equipment. Old equipment may harbor diseases such as American Foulbrood which could infect your new bees. Here’s what you’ll need:
Screened bottom boards give better ventilation and are helpful with mites. They look like this:
When the bees clean themselves and remove mites, they will fall straight through the hive and the screened bottom board. This is good because it keeps mites from piling up at the bottom of your hive and creating more work for you and your bees to clean and take care of. If you’d like to build your own, here is an image with measurements to assist you:
Solid bottom boards help keep your bees warmer during the cold winter months. Because they keep the bees warmer, you will find that it also encourages your bees to brood (reproduce) earlier and more in the spring. A solid bottom board can also be a solution to bees clumping/gathering under the hive. Some people also say that they have better results at treating mites with solid boards. This would be because there is nowhere for the mites to run. It also means that you have less of an area you need to treat for mites because they won’t fall under your hives.
If you live in a warmer climate with fire ants, solid bottom boards can help deter fire ants from gathering under your hive too. This is because the solid boards catch all of the hive debris and keep it from accumulating below the hive. This debris, if not cleaned up, will attract ants to your hives.
Here’s what a solid bottom board looks like:
The entrance reducer has two different sized openings and the wooden piece can be turned so that only one the openings is used at a time. The advantages of reducing the entrance are: 1) reduces the amount of area that needs to be protected by the guard bees, thus making their jobs easier 2) hive robbers and other invasive species have a harder time accessing the smaller entrance and 3) helping to control the ventilation and temperature in the hive.
That said, a larger entrance provides more ventilation and gives the bees more space to fly in and out. So you may want to remove it when the honey flow is highest and/or during hot and humid times.
Deep hive bodies usually house the majority of the colony’s brood, drones, and reserves of honey and pollen. The deep hive bodies are essentially boxes that contain frames of comb. For a Langstroth hive, you typically build two deep hive bodies to stack on top of each other, like a two-story condo. The bees use the lower deep as the nursery or brood chamber where they raise thousands of baby bees. They use the upper deep as the pantry or food chamber, where they store most of the honey and pollen for their use. The standard and common size for a deep hive body is: 19 7/8″ in length, 16 1/4″ wide and 9 5/8″ in height.
The honey supers come in different sizes, usually medium (5 ¾” high) or shallow (6 ⅝” high). It is recommended to use a medium or shallow size super for honey, instead of a deep, because honey is very heavy and the supers can be hard to lift when full.
If you are using a medium super for honey, you need 10 medium frames per box. If you are using a shallow super for honey, you need 10 shallow frames per box. The picture above shows a box with 10 frames. Inside the frame is the foundation and there are plenty of different foundation types. The most common are wired wax or plastic. Pick one type of foundation for the entire hive and stick with that to start out. Bees prefer wired wax over plastic, but many beekeepers prefer plastic due to its versatility and ability to stand up against wax moth devastation.
It should be telescopic and fit over the inner cover with sides that hang down over the top super. This provides maximum protection and reduces the risk of rain seeping into the top super. Plywood is most suitable. In colder climates, a 2” sheet of styrofoam can be sandwiched between thin sheets of plywood. While the overall thickness of the hive cover will increase somewhat, the hive cover will provide excellent insulation for the bees.
Here is our cost analysis for purchasing all these woodenware components and the bees. You can click the picture or THIS LINK to visit the spreadsheet with the most current details:
There are many types of bee breeds available. Do your research so you can choose the right bees for your situation. Popular breeds include Carniolan, Russian, Italian, Buckfast, and mixed breeds. Their temperament, honey production, overwintering, and ability to fight off diseases and mites will vary by breed. Order your bees as soon as the bee suppliers start taking orders to make sure you get the bees you want.
The easiest way to buy bees is to purchase them locally. Talk to people in your area to find yourself a well-respected beekeeper and purchase your bees from them. You can also talk to local beekeepers about where they get their bees so that you can make sure to get quality bees. Buying bees on the internet is another option, but just be aware that you will not be able to inspect the bees before purchase. This means you could get a weak or really new hive.
For the more adventurous, you can also catch a swarm of bees in the wild and introduce them to your hive. These are bees that have outgrown their previous hive and are looking for a new home. Keep in mind though that swarms can typically only be caught in the spring and it takes skill and patience to populate a hive this way.
When purchasing your bees, you will find there are two main options. Bees can be purchased in either packages or nucs (short for nucleus). Packages include thousands of worker bees and one queen bee. When purchased this way, the bees are ready to be put to work in the hive and the package should come with basic instructions for getting them established. The summary of this process is to:
Here is a video:
Nucs are considered small hives usually comprised of five frames. In this case, the queen and her workers are already established and she will be laying eggs. In addition to the queen, your hive will include workers, nurse bees, and drones. There is also stored honey and nectar in the nuc.
Once you have your colony in place, it is important to keep an eye on how healthy your bees are. The amount you need to inspect the hives will change seasonally. They take more work in the spring and summer. These are their most active months and you should plan to check the hive(s) at least weekly. During their less active months though, fall and throughout winter, they take much less work and checking on them monthly should be sufficient.
When you check them, check for any damage to the main structure first. Next, inspect the frames and make sure that there are no other types of insects in the hive. Also check that the honeycombs are being formed properly.
As your colony grows, you will need to add more frames so that the colony can continue to expand. When the existing frames are almost full, you should add another box on top of the original box. In most cases, this new box filled with frames will be used to store honey and the older, lower box will be used more for reproduction.
Most beekeepers will assemble pre-cut beehive equipment at some time. Others go farther by manufacturing their own equipment. In either case, it is important to use standard dimensions and assembly methods to ensure that the equipment will be interchangeable, strong, and durable.
The species of wood used to make a beehive can vary depending upon what is available in your area. Pine or cedar is usually recommended though, except for the top cover and floor of the bottom board which use ½” plywood. This is because plywood is less affected by changes in temperature and moisture.
All wood pieces must be flat. Small knots may be acceptable, provided they are not close to the edges or where handholds are to be cut. Box nails (1⅛” in.) are recommended for nailing supers, bottom boards, and covers.
The minimum thickness should not be less than ¾”. If you are using standard dimensional lumber, you can use 1×8 (¾” x 7¼”) for both shallow and medium super, and 1×12 ( ¾” x 11¼”) for the deep hive body.
Start cutting the boards to length. For fronts and backs, cut them slightly over 16 ¼”. For sides, cut slightly over 19 ⅞”.
Trim to exact size before assembling. Cut box joints on all the board ends. Rabbet joints are an acceptable alternative. You can find detailed instruction for box and rabbet joints on websites like this box joint tutorial from PopularWoodworking.com or this one from StartWoodworking.com.
Now that you have the joint cut and the boards cut to finished size, cut the ⅝” x ⅜” rabbet on the 16 ¼” boards, stopping just short of the box joint pin at each end. Chisel these square after the boards are assembled and note detail of the frame rest at left.
Pre-drill holes for nails in each pin.
Assemble boxes with glue and nail each pin with a 6d galvanized nail. Attach 1×2 handholds with screws and glue. Attach metal rabbets on the frame rest notch. Fill any holes and paint all exterior surfaces, both top and bottom edges, with primer and finish top coat.
For more detailed instructions, check out this article: “Building a Langstroth Beehive.”
Here is a short (6 min) apiary setup video:
Books we’d recommend from Amazon (paid links*):
*As an Amazon Associate, One Community earns from qualifying purchases.
A huge additional volume of open source information will be added to this page as we setup and maintain the One Community apiary infrastructure. We will also update the cost details with the exact numbers from our purchase. Open source resources that will be added to this page as we build include:
We consider an apiary as part of the one Community food infrastructure and our botanical garden model. Due to declining bee populations and the volume and diversity of food we will be growing (and teaching others to grow), we consider an apiary as an essential component of the our sustainable teacher/demonstration communities, villages, and cities model. Our goal is to open source and free-share as much information as possible about setting up and maintaining an apiary so we can help promote community-sponsored rebuilding of the bee population, produce honey and wax on the property, and maintain the necessary density of pollinators to support our food supply.
Q: What is One Community’s stance on pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides?
If it is not safe to eat, we will not be spraying it on our food.