How do I get started?The first place to start is by educating yourself.
- Review our guidelines for responsible beekeeping.
- Buy a few books (or check them out from the library) and read them. Learn about the lifecycle of the bees and the beekeepers role in that lifecycle.
- Gather information from reputable resource on the web.
- Start coming to Guild meetings.
- Take a class.
- Accompany another beekeeper on a hive inspection or two.
When should I start?New beekeepers in Santa Cruz should almost always start with their first colonies in the spring, usually in March or April. This is when there is plenty of forage available for the bees and the colonies are building up their population. It is also when packages are available for purchase and when swarms happen (which can be captured). You should start in the spring to give your new colonies a chance to build up sufficient stores to survive their first winter. If you start too late in the year, they will not be able to store enough food to make it through the first winter. Before you get your first colony, you should already be well into your self-education and also have your equipment purchased and set up. Consequently, you should start doing these things at least several months before March or April. At a minimum, you should start reading and attending Guild meetings around the first of the year.
Where should I put my hive(s)?Hive placement is probably one of the most important decisions a beekeeper will make. As a responsible beekeeper, you’ll want to consider what is best for your bees and your community. The following factors are all important:
- Sun and wind exposure.
- Water availability.
- Screening and the bees’ flight path.
- Proximity of neighbors and public areas.
- City of Santa Cruz (search for “Bees”)
- City of Scotts Valley
- County of Santa Cruz
- City of Watsonville (search for “Bees”)