Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get started in beekeeping? The best place to start is by joining a local beekeeping club and taking a begining beekeeping course BEFORE getting your bees. This will help you guage when is the best time to get started given your specific lifestyle.
What is the startup cost? Cost can vary depending on where supplies are purchased. A rough estimate on a "beginners" package could range between $500-$700. Joining a local club and talking with experienced beekeepers can help you choose what and where to purchase supplies.
How much room do I need? The UF/IFAS Extension (link at bottome of page) in Gainesville publishes the Best Management Practices for home beekeepers. Florida regulates the number of hives (colonies) allowed on non-agricultural land. Refer to the Florida regulations for specific details. All Florida beekeepers are required by law to register their hives (colonies) with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS - link at bottom of page). All city and county beekeeping requirements are suborned by the State of Florida.
Where do I get my bees?... There are a couple of options for purchasing bees; package or nucleus. A package of bees would be purchased and shipped to you, while a nucleus would be purchased from a local bee supplier. A nucleus is the preferred way as they do not undergo the stress of shipping. A list of suppliers can be found on our Supplies and Services page.
Where do I get equipment? There are many sources for supplies ranging from online to local suppliers. Most new beekeepers will compare pricing and purchase from the source that meets their budget. A list of suppliers can be found on our Supplys & Services page.
Do I need to feed my bees? It's always a great idea to provide native flowers (link below) for all pollinators to feed from. They all play a vital role in the environment. However, honey bees will forage up to 5 miles for a food source. There will also be times of the year when natural food sources are scarce, so you will need to supplement your bees with an artificial food source like sugar water.
Is beekeeping safe? As with any activity, beekeeping is perfectly safe as long as you have the right gear and training. Always be mindful of humans and domestic animals that may share the same space as your hives.
What is "registering my bees"? In Florida, registration is required of honeybee colonies. The annual registration fees are as little and $10.00 to register up to five colonies of bees. All fees go to support a very excellent inspection program than is managed and staffed by highly experience beekeepers and it is a very simple process. You can start the registration process at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (link below). The state bee inspector for northeast Florida is Rob Horsburgh and he can be reached by phone at 352-258-1579 or by email at Robert Horsburgh@FreshFromFlorida.com. Rob is a long time beekeeper with a wealth of knowledge he is willing to share. He can help you through the entire registration and inspection process with a single phone call.
I have a "swarm" in my yard. First, let’s see if it is a “swarm” or an established colony. A swarm is a clump of bees that has left a hive and is looking for a new home. Approximately half of the hive remains and half leaves – that’s how they reproduce. A swarm will only stay in place for a day or two at most before they leave to the new home that the scout bees have found. A swarm is very passive since they have no home to defend. Just leave them alone and the swarm will be gone in a day or two, and they won’t bother anyone in the mean time. If the bees have been there for at least several days, then chances are that they have decided that this is their new home. Unless they are bothering you or there is some other reason that they need to be removed (such as someone with a severe bee sting allergy), then just leave them alone and enjoy the increased garden produce and abundance of flowers that bee pollination gives. If they really need to be relocated, some beekeepers will be willing to remove the bees for you. Florida law allows registered beekeepers to remove bees without a pest control license under certain conditions. There are commercial bee removal services for those cases where it is impractical for a hobby beekeeper to do the job. If you need to have bees removed, here is the information that you’ll need to provide in order to determine how the job is done: 1) Location – The address where the bees are located. 2) Situation – Are they in a tree, in a shed or other building, in a hole (such as a water valve box), inside or outside, how high up in the air, and any other information tot determine what equipment will be needed. 3) Time – How long have they been there (a couple days, months, don’t know)? 4) Surrounding area – Are there people or animals that could be at risk if the bees become agitated and aggressive?