We caught up with beekeeper Kurt Vollmer of Vollmer Apairy and he helped shed some light on the hobby.
DO’S & DON’TS
DON’T think you need a lot of land. In urban areas, you can put beehives on rooftops or terraces. Honeybees will travel up to 3 miles from the hive to find nectar and pollen.
DO check with your town hall, local zoning board or city government. Some communities are becoming more tolerant of beekeepers, but others may prohibit beekeeping or limit the number of hives you can have.
DON’T put it off. People often start thinking about beekeeping in spring, but fall is really the best time to commit and prepare.
DO order beekeeping equipment in fall or winter. It’s cheaper to get supplies like beehive boxes and frames unassembled, and then assemble them in the off season so you’re ready for spring.
DON’T worry too much about location. Honeybees can be kept just about anywhere. An ideal location would be a well-drained site that’s easily accessible to the beekeeper, partially shaded, close to a water source and protected from the wind.
DO your research. Countless books, videos and websites are available to help you get started. You may also find beekeeping courses at local universities or technical colleges.
Beekeepers can harvest 60 to 200 pounds of honey from each hive every year. Sweet!
The Cost of Beekeeping
You can expect to make an initial investment of around $300 to $500 on hive parts, protective clothing and tools. You will also have to order bees, which can cost $75 to $120. For the most part, these are one-time expenses.
“Beekeeping has afforded me an excuse to get outside and reconnect with nature. It’s relaxing to work with my bees—inspecting the hives and watching the honeybees go about their business. Beekeeping has also opened doors for me to learn about other activities that use honey or beeswax, like home brewing and making candles and soap.”
Do Your Part
Maybe you don’t want to be a beekeeper, but you can still be a honeybee advocate by providing pollinator-friendly plants. Many common weeds like dandelions and clover are beneficial. Asters and sunflowers also are favorites of honeybees and other pollinators. To find pollinator-friendly plants for your area, visit pollinator.org.
From a Pro
Kurt makes and sells honey and beeswax products at Vollmer Apiary in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, and is enrolled in the University of Florida’s Master Beekeeper Program. To learn more about his business, visit vollmerapiary.com.