Beekeeping 101: Staying Safe

Beekeeping Safety

Beekeeping is safe if you know what you’re doing, and you have the right gear. Information, practice, and safety gear can eliminate those nasty stings and even keep your bees happier.

1. Learn the Skills

Before you even buy your hive, make sure you have what it takes to raise bees. Meet up with local beekeepers and ask them about their experiences. Offer to help out or ask if you can visit their beekeeping operations. Get to know the gear, the methodology, and see if your nerve can handle all the buzzing and swarming bees. If you’re still determined to pursue the craft, then it’s time to get your supplies

2. Get the Gear

Before buying your bees, you need to have the gear. Veils and beekeeping gloves are a must, and a beekeeping suit offers excellent protection. If you don’t want to opt for a bee suit, make sure to wear light-colored and long-sleeved clothing. Nothing with fluff or wool; they can act like Velcro to a bee’s barbed feet, agitating it and getting you stung. Secure the ends of your pants inside your boots or tie them off with lengths of strings. You don’t want bees crawling up your legs, especially in the middle of an active swarm.

3. Choose the Location

Keep your hive away from people. It’s safer for your neighbors and safer for your bees. Make sure your hives are secure and locked down. A knocked down beehive is no pretty sight. Vehicle exhaust can be harmful or confusing to your bees, so keep them away from the roads and your car. Let the neighbors know that you’re keeping bees and be on the lookout for curious kids who might get into contact or even harm your bees.

4. Read the Mood

Learn to read your bees’ moods. Your bees can get agitated when it’s raining or during particularly hot and humid days. If you see that the hive is acting up – let them have the day and just come back tomorrow. Bees communicate through pheromones – meaning strong scents can rile them up. Scented shampoo, deodorants, perfume, and body odor can turn your docile bees aggressive. If you need to have work done, then you’ll need to use a smoker. Smoke puts bees in a calm state by masking pheromones that can signal alarm.

5. Prepare for the Stings

When you’re keeping bees, getting stung once in a while is unavoidable. Don’t panic, move to a safe location, and try to scrape off the stinger. Prying one off with your fingers can squeeze venom into your body, making it worse. Keep calamine, baking soda, and some antihistamine in stock for treating stings. As a precaution, store an Epipen or two in case of unforeseen emergencies.

Beekeeping is a fulfilling activity, whether it’s a pastime or an outright business. It comes with a few risks, but those are easily covered by having the right mindset, a little bit of training, and the right gear.

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