colony of bees on a tree

How Many Bees Are Needed to Start a Hive?

In order for you to start a honey-making business, you must first have to build a hive where bees will collect pollen and nectar and turn them into honey. For beginners, it is important for them to know how many bees they need to start a hive since they will have to first know how to take care of a small batch before purchasing more and more bees. The number of bees that you need to start a hive would depend on how you want to take care of the bees, and to help you decide, we are here to provide you with a guide on how to start a beehive with a small batch of bees.

How Many Bees Do You Need?

bees on a hive

The number of bees you need to start a hive can’t actually be counted since you would often have to buy bees in packages instead of purchasing them individually. For example, most stores in the United States would let you purchase 3-pound packages of bees, which means the total weight of the bees inside the package is 3 pounds. In addition, the number of bees inside is quite impossible to count, so there would be a package that has two or three fewer bees, while others would have more bees.

A package that weighs 3 pounds would typically have approximately 10,000 bees inside, so that number is typically perfect for starting one hive. However, a beekeeper must also keep in mind that you have to purchase bees that have different age groups since their age depends on what task they will do inside and outside the hive.

In addition to buying bees, you would also have to buy a queen bee separately, but sometimes, the queen bee that you bought may not be accepted by your hive, so picking the right queen bee is usually trial-and-error.

When Should You Buy Bees?

The perfect time to buy bees is normally in the late months of winter, so it would be either January or February. The reason as to why you would need to buy them late in the winter is that you want the bees to build or upgrade their hives when the spring season comes along, as it is during that time when bees will begin to get comfortable in their environment and surroundings.

By the time summer comes, that is when the bees will start to get busy collecting nectar and pollen for their food supply. It is during summertime and the early months of fall when you will collect the most honey out of the hive. So, all in all, the time to purchase bees depends on the season since bees follow a strict life cycle annually.

How Many Hives Do You Need?

beekeepers inspecting a brood frame

Most beginners would often assume that they would only need one hive to start beekeeping, but some experts will say that you need at least two or more hives in order to have a better start in the business.

But why would you need two or more as a beginner? The answer is that there may come a time that one hive may not survive until next year, and sometimes their death cannot be controlled, and this phenomenon is often called by professional as “natural death.” If a beginner beekeeper was not able to keep his or her one and only hive alive during the middle of the year, then he or she may not be able to continue the honey-making business since there will be no more bees that will produce them.

If the beginner beekeeper has two or more hives, then his or her business will continue even if one hive dies since there are one or more hives that are still surviving even during the fall or winter. However, the drawback to having multiple hives is that they are much harder to maintain compared to only taking care of one, so the beekeeper must be able to fully understand what it takes to keep the bees alive, especially during harsh weather conditions.

Furthermore, if one hive’s queen bee dies, then you can move a brood frame from another hive that contains eggs to the hive without a queen so that they will be able to raise a new queen bee. In addition, if one hive’s population is decreasing, you can move a batch of bees from another hive to the depleted hive to allow them to have more worker bees or drones.

Taking care of a hive or multiple hives is a grueling task, as you would have to constantly keep an eye on the bees’ movements and statuses to ensure that they have a healthy lifestyle, which would then allow them to produce more honey for your business. Despite being quite difficult, beekeeping is a truly rewarding experience that has more upsides than downsides.