NC Cooperative Extension

Introduction to Beekeeping

Beekeeping Introduction

A person who becomes a beekeeper today is fortunate. There's a large amount of
beekeeping information available to aid a beginner beekeeper.

A hundred years ago, beekeeping was in an unsettled condition. Some outstanding
leaders in the art of beekeeping were Rev. L.L. Langstrotch, A.I. Root, Charles
Dadant, and C.C. Miller. They were full of ideas and constantly testing these ideas to
determine which worked. Throughout the beekeeping industry, improvements in
practices were achieved almost totally by trial and error.

The questions during the fifty years from 1875 to 1925 were more numerous than
answers. Which kind of hive was best? What kind of equipment to use inside the
hive? The best type of honey extractor to use? These and other questions were
answered by the beekeeping leaders who lived during this period.

One thing that has stayed constant through the years – the product for which bees are
responsible – the reward of every beekeeper — honey — It is the same good, natural
food that it has always been.

Beekeeping methods can vary in different parts of some large states. This is true of
North Carolina with its coastal plain, the central Piedmont section, and the western
mountain section. The climate, honey plants, time of honey flows, bears in the east,
make a difference in beekeeping in these sections.

We think it is best to give the information on a month-by-month basis suggesting what
needs to be done each month. Beekeepers in our country, our state, and our county
are not single-minded in their methods of beekeeping. There is no one method or
principle that can be called perfect. What can be a success for one beekeeper, can
be a failure for another. Experience will teach beekeepers the best thing to do in
certain situations. The information given here is not guaranteed to be the only way to
do things.

In most North Carolina counties, beekeeping is mostly a hobby
proposition. The opportunity to become a "commercial beekeeper" does
not exist. We do not have the abundance of honey plants or the
intensity of honey flows that would make commercial beekeeping

There are two classes of people with bees – beehavers and beekeepers. A beehaver
gives his bees a home, a log "gum", a box hive, or poor quality standard equipment.
He only bothers with bees to take a small quantity of honey from them in the spring or

Beekeepers use good equipment, give the bees proper attention and care, process
their honey in the best way, and are constantly learning more about beekeeping.
These instructions are given mainly for beekeepers, and with the hope that some
beehavers will become beekeepers. Now let us take you month-by-month to see
some of the things that need to be done each month.

Beekeeping Calendar

This page was written by Reagan Ammons, County Extension Director
Created by Gail Lail March 12, 1999
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