My son is developing a passion for bees. Last summer, he started asking me questions about how people keep hives of bees, and at about the same time, he started capturing bees with his bare hands. He captured bumblebees, as well as the wild honeybees still living somewhere near our land. He didn’t get stung once.
Now that spring is here, the bees are out again, on warm days at least, and my son is capturing bees again. I’ve told him not to do it, that honeybees can’t survive on their own, and need to find flowers for food on their own, instead of being given cut flowers. Still, every time he goes outside, I catch him hovering near the flowers, looking for bees.
So, we’ve had a talk, and we’ve agreed that instead of him catching bees, we’ll try to maintain a beehive. This is not something we’ve done before, and so I have a lot to learn about what I need to do.
I’m not worried about resources for the bees. I’m in a place where there are plenty of flowering plants for bees to forage on. I don’t use pesticides anywhere on my 4-acre lot, and neither do my neighbors.
What I want to have a realistic understanding about to start with is cost. I’ve come across a document from the Illinois State Beekeepers Association that summarizes startup costs, giving an estimate of 300 dollars for one beehive and 430 dollars for two beehives. That document was based on information from 1999, however, and I’m presuming that inflation would increase the cost to something like 500 dollars for one beehive and 750 dollars for two beehives. The document talks about a beehive eventually paying for itself, but I have to say that, as a pair of beginners, I’m not expecting that any time soon for my son and I.
I’m looking for some expert opinion – is that estimate about right? What are common, yet often unexpected, sources of additional expense?
More generally, what are the most reliable information resources and sources of startup equipment for where I live – in Upstate New York?