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What are honeybees?
Honeybees are any species of honey collecting bee. Generally that means the species Apis Mellifera which is the common commercial honeybee and by far the most common for backyard beekeeping. There are many lines and breeds of honeybees, with unique traits such as calmness, brood size, winter survivability, varroa mite resistance, and honey collection. The most common of these is the Italian Honeybee, but carniolans and even russians are gaining in popularity.
Is beekeeping hard?
It can be! A few backyard hives requires a couple of hours of inspecting every few weeks if your new. An experienced beekeeper can perform a full inspection in just a few minutes and can manage hundreds of hives.
How do I get started?
The first step is to buy a high quality hive and some bees from a reliable source like us, the Boston Bee Company! Then reach out to a local bee club, find some Facebook groups, and checkout youtube videos and books about beekeeping. Like any hobby there's a million ways to keep bees, but it's best to find one method that works for you and follow it until you get some experience.
Why Should I get 2 hives?
Most beekeepers recommend having at least 2 hives, and no more than 5 if you're a beginner. The reasoning is, with a couple of beehives you can compare and if one doesn't seem to be doing well, you're much more likely to notice because one will be booming and one wont. You'll also be able to take some brood from one hive to boost the other, which can solve a lot of problems. It also increases your chances that at least 1 hive will survive the winter. Having at least 1 hive in the spring allows you to "split" your hive into a few new hives, saving you from buying package bees every year if you choose to grow.
Are honeybees going extinct?
No, thankfully the common honeybee is not currently endangered. But commercial apiaries are facing huge obstacles from die-offs. The reasons are unclear, but research appears to show a number of forces impacting the bees. Increased pesticide use, damage from varroa mites - an invasive parasite, small hive beetle- another invasive pest, and climate change.
On average honeybee hives have shockingly low survivability >50%. While they aren't endangered yet, there are certainly signs of an impending disaster.