First Time Beekeeping with Kim Flottum

Episode 6
Sustainability Book Chat

First Time Beekeeping

It seems like keeping bees should be the easiest thing in the world, but I have learned personally that there is a lot more to it than you might expect. If you have been thinking about getting started with bees, we are talking about some of the unexpected things that every beginner needs to consider before buying their first hive.

Author and beekeeper Kim Flottum is sharing some of the wisdom from his latest book, First Time Beekeeping: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Beekeeping.

Did you know that if you don’t provide water for your bees they might spend way too much time in your neighbor’s swimming pool or the dog’s water dish? Kim shares tricks for providing water for bees, as well as things to consider before placing your hive. And who knew that skunks love to eat bees?

In this episode, Kim shares tons of wisdom from decades of beekeeping. Don’t have a yard? No problem! Kim talks about keeping bees on the roof of your house, as well as things to consider before placing a hive on a high-rise building.

In our conversation, Kim also provides tips on buying bees, using a smoker, and keeping bees without using chemicals.

I really wish Kim’s book would have been available before we tried bees the first time. The book contains lots of photos! In addition to all of the things we talked about in this episode, the book also has sections on diseases and pests, as well as details on harvesting honey.

 


 
Kim Flottum’s other books:

  • The Backyard Beekeeper, 4th Edition: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden
  • The Backyard Beekeeper’s Honey Handbook: A Guide to Creating, Harvesting, and Baking with Natural Honeys (Backyard Series)
  • In Business with Bees: How to Expand, Sell, and Market Honeybee Products and Services Including Pollination, Bees and Queens, Beeswax, Honey, and More

These are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something after clicking on a link, Thrifty Homesteader will make a small percentage while you still pay exactly the same amount as you otherwise would. This is one way that we are able to continue to provide free content for everyone. Thanks for your support!

Learn more about Kim Flottum online at:

 

 

Listen right here by clicking on the player above, or on your favorite platform:

apple podcast player first time beekeeping spotify podcast player_sustainability book chat_first time beekeeping google podcast player_sustainability book chat_first time beekeeping listen notes podcast player_sustainability book chat_first time beekeeping Iheart radio podcast player_sustainability book chat_first time beekeeping

 

More about bees and beekeeping:

First Time Beekeeping – Transcript

Deborah Niemann 0:04
Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever size your living space, you can do more than you think to lead a greener lifestyle. In the “Sustainability Book Chat,” we are talking to authors and experts about all the different ways that achieving sustainability is within your reach.

Deborah Niemann 0:28
Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s episode. I am really excited to be joined today by Kim Flottum, and we are going to be talking about his newest book, First Time Beekeeping: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Beekeeping. Welcome to the show today!

Kim Flottum 0:47
Well, it’s nice to be here. Thank you.

Deborah Niemann 0:50
I’m really excited about this, because bees are definitely one of those things that we tried. I love the idea of keeping bees. But right now, our hives are completely empty, because our last group died. So, I’m always looking for more information on this, and it’s kind of always in the back of my head, like, “Oh, maybe we’ll try again.” So, one of the first things that I think people need to consider when they’re thinking about getting bees is—and this was a huge surprise to me before we got our bees the first time—is that bees need a source of water. It’s just not something I ever thought about, you know? Like, obviously all living things need water. But, we’re very lucky in that we have a pond on our farm, and so we just put the beehives right next to it so they could get as much as they want. But not everyone has that. So, how exactly do you provide water for bees?

Kim Flottum 1:46
Well, bees—as you said—bees need water. And there is a dedicated number of foragers out there looking for water. They use it to cool the hive; they use it to dissolve the honey. So, they need a constant source of water. And they will find it. You have a pond, you’re lucky. But if you have bees, and you have neighbors who have an air conditioner in the summer, who have a dog dish outside, who have a swimming pool, if they have kids that play with, you know, water toys—all of those are sources of water for bees, and bees will find every one of them. So what you’d have to do is, you have to train them to a particular water source. If you just put a bowl of water out by the beehive, they may or may not find it. What you want to do is you want to give that water a little bit of scent so that when they find it, they’ll smell the scent, they’ll find the water, they’ll pick some up, they’ll take it back to the hive. And they say, “Girls, here’s what water smells like. This is where you go to get it.” And then they won’t go to the neighbor’s dog dish or swimming pool or any of those places.

Kim Flottum 2:50
A good product to use to scent water is a product called Honey B Healthy, and it’s a combination of several essential oils. And what I do with my bees is, I have a small child’s swimming pool out by my beehive with some rocks and floating logs and things in it. And I just keep that bottle of Honey B Healthy floating in that pool all summer long. And every once in a while, when it rains and it fills up, I’ll go add a little bit more so that it always smells like Honey B Healthy. It’s a very pleasant odor, and you just don’t need hardly any in there at all. I can’t smell it when I’m walking next to it—that’s how light it is. But the bees can smell it. And that will train them to your swimming pool and keep them away from your neighbors.

Deborah Niemann 3:32
Wow, that is a really great tip. And that is a really good segue into the next thing I was going to ask you about, and that is that people need to think carefully about where to put their hive. What are the things that they need to take into consideration when deciding where to put their hive?

top bar hive
There are several types of beehives available to choose from. This is a topbar hive.

Kim Flottum 3:52
Well, the first thing you have to know is, is it legal to keep bees where you live? And there’s a lot of places where it’s not.

Deborah Niemann 3:59
Ooh, good point.

Kim Flottum 3:59
So, you know, check with the local authorities. You know, if there’s a bee club in your town or your county, those people will know. And that’s actually a good thing to do even before you start is find a local bee club, join it, and go to the meetings. That way you’ll be introduced to all of the local issues that are going on and be able to meet some of the people that you may end up calling for help later on. So, when you’re looking for a place to put a hive, the things to think about are flight pattern. And, when a bee leaves the hive, she’s going to take off just like an airplane. Which way is she going to go? Well, you can kind of direct which way she’s going to go by putting her facing a field and away from your house; or putting a fence right in front of the front door, so when she leaves she has to go up 6 feet, and then when she flies she’ll be over your head; not aiming her at your neighbors. You don’t want to do that. This fence can be, you know, a regular wooden structure, or you can plant hedges, you can put them next to, like, the side of a shed, something like that, so that when they leave, they’re going into airspace that isn’t frequented by humans. If you’ve got kids in the backyard playing baseball or softball or swimming or whatever, you don’t want bees and kids getting mixed up together, so you want them to go the other direction. So, find a spot in your yard that will allow you to aim your bees away from people, away from your home, away from your neighbors, and you will solve a lot of problems before you ever get your bees.

Deborah Niemann 5:34
Okay, that is a lot of really great advice there that I think most people would not even think about before they get them, because moving a hive is really not the easiest thing. You can wind up with lost bees, if you try to do that.

Kim Flottum 5:50
Well, yes, that is exactly true. Once your bees are established in a location in your yard, if you pick that hive up and move it, say, from the front yard to the backyard, or—if you’ve got a big backyard—to the other side of the yard, the bees that are going to leave tomorrow morning are going to fly out, and they know where home is, so they’re going to come back and, “Where’s my home? I don’t see it. It isn’t here.” And what they’ll do is they’ll just circle around looking for home, because they’re basically lost. Now, they’ll probably find it eventually, but you’ve got a time in there when they’re not finding it. And again, you don’t want lost bees wandering around your yard. If you find out that you have to move your bees—something’s come up, a new neighbor moved in, tied their dog up right next to the property line, something like that—you can move a beehive a couple of feet a day, or every two days, and when they come back, they’ll see it. They’ll come back to where it wasn’t, but they’ll see where it is now, and they won’t become lost. But you can’t move it, you know, 50 yards away in one day; you’ve got a couple, three feet, four feet, maybe, but give them the benefit of the doubt of being able to find home. You trained them where it was; now you got to train them where it’s going to be.

Deborah Niemann 7:06
Right. That’s a really great tip. One of the things that I thought was interesting, too, is that you have a section in the book called “Extreme Urban Beekeeping.” And that is for people who may not even have a backyard and may be thinking that they can’t even have bees, and like, maybe they’re listening to this and thinking, “Oh, well, I’m listening to this because in five years, I’m going to buy a place in the country, and I’m going to have bees.” But, you talk about how people can have bees in the middle of the city, even if they don’t have a yard.

Kim Flottum 7:37
Yes. It’s becoming quite common, actually, to have bees up on your roof. And if the building you’re in is structured carefully, you may even have them on a balcony, if you don’t have a balcony right next door to you. But up on the roof, there’s a lot of things you have to do different than if you have them in a backyard. You have to worry about heat. If your roof is 20 stories off the ground, you’re going to have a lot of trouble with the wind—bees not being able to get back to their home just because the wind up there. Water certainly becomes an issue. You have to have water up there all the time. And you probably should have some sort of way to block the wind from the front of your hive. So, if you can put, or you have some structure to this upper part of the roof that aims your bees so that when they come in, they’re not fighting the wind every time, getting blown off the landing board, or something like that. But yes, you can keep bees in the middle of the city. And there’s a lot of people in New York who keep bees.

Deborah Niemann 8:34
That sounds so cool! I’ve seen that in a documentary, but it just didn’t seem like something that most people would think of. So, that’s really a great tip.

Deborah Niemann 8:45
One of the things that kind of surprised me… I had not heard this before. Luckily, even though we live in the middle of nowhere, we really do not have a problem with skunks. In 19 years, our dog got sprayed once, and that’s—as far as I know—the only time we’ve had a skunk issue. So, I learned from your book that skunks love bees.

Kim Flottum 9:08
I think it goes past “love bees.” They’re a delicacy in their diet. And here’s how a skunk will operate. Generally, a female skunk with a couple of kits will take them out, and she’s teaching them how to forage for food, what to forage for, and where to look for it. And if there happens to be a beehive in her forage area, how skunks will capture bees is—they do this at night. They’re not out there during the day when there’s a lot of bees on the landing board and flying in and out. They do it at night, when nobody’s on the landing board. And she will reach up and she’ll scratch that landing board. Scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch scratch. And of course, bees are curious, and there are guards in there that are destined to protect those bees in the hive. So, a guard will come up, or two or three, you know, looking for what’s making that scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch noise. And with her other hand, she will slap them; she’ll crush them. And then she eats them. And if your hive isn’t protected—and there are things you can do to stop this—she will sit there all night long, and a skunk family can kill a beehive, probably in the course of a month.

Deborah Niemann 10:19
Wow.

Kim Flottum 10:20
Yes. Here’s what you can do: Raise that beehive up to the point where she can’t scratch that landing board—and that’s only a couple of feet off the ground. You should have your beehive on a hive stand of some kind, anyway, to keep the bottom from getting wet. If you’re in much of the South U.S., snakes like the undersides of beehives, so a good high stand is a couple of cinder blocks and then some, you know, fence posts or four-by-fours or something like that. And, I’ll just wander here a little bit and tell you a trick about hive stands. You see a lot of hive stands that will hold one hive only; they’re up off the ground high enough. But, when you take that top box off the hive, you’ve got to put it way down on the ground, and then you have to lift it way back up on top of that hive. If you make a hive stand that’s big enough for three hives, and only put two on it, when you take that top box off, you don’t have to go way down to the ground; you just have to go to the hive stand. So you save yourself a lot of grief over the course of the season. But you need to get your bees off the ground to get rid of skunks and to watch out for snakes and damp ground. It’s just all around a good thing to have.

Deborah Niemann 11:35
Wow, that is a really great tip. I never would have thought of that. So, once people have decided where they’re going to put their hive, they buy their hive, then do you have some tips on buying bees? Like, is it better to get a package of bees or a nuc? And tell us, also, what those words mean for people who may not know.

Kim Flottum 11:56
Well, there are several ways you can buy bees. If you join that club that’s, you know, meeting downtown once a month, you may find a beekeeper there who will sell you a complete hive ready to go. Those, you know, it’s a box or two full of bees, and it’s got everything you need to become a beekeeper, and you’re a beekeeper right now. You can buy bees in something called a “nucleus colony,” and that’s a small colony—most colonies have either 10 frames or 8 frames inside of them. That’s essentially the furniture inside it the bees live on. And you can buy a small… It’s like a starter home or a full-sized home. This would be the starter home. And then, you take that home, and you put it into your full-sized equipment. The way to start bees with the least amount of help for them is to buy what’s called a “package” of bees. And that’s essentially a plastic or screened-in wood box that has 3 pounds of bees and a queen. Three pounds of bees is about 20,000 bees. And you will go someplace and get that package; you may have to get it through the mail. If you can go get it, do it, because post office people really don’t like handling honeybee packages.

bees in boxes called a package
To start keeping bees, you need to get some bees. One way is to get them in what’s called a package, about 20,000 bees in one of these boxes will start a colony for you.

Deborah Niemann 13:13
That’s understandable.

Kim Flottum 13:16
So, you will go to some local supplier and pick up your 3-pound package. And when you do that, I suggest that you bring some sort of screen material, unless you’ve got a pickup and you can put it in the back. But, if you have to put it in the backseat of a car, invariably there’s a loose bee or two on the outside of that package. And having a bee buzzing around you, and you’re driving 60 miles an hour on the freeway, is not something that you want to approach. So, you’ll get this package of bees, and you’ll bring them home, and you’ll install them in your equipment. When you start with new equipment, they have no furniture, essentially. So they’re going to have to build all their own furniture—the honeycomb that’s inside a beehive. They’re gonna have to produce all of that, and that takes food, lots and lots and lots of food. More food than they’ll be able to harvest and gather and forage for early in the spring when you get this package, so you’re going to have to feed them a sugar syrup solution for maybe as much as a month, depending on where you live. The second biggest problem bees have is a continual source of good food. So, you want to make sure that that doesn’t become a problem with your bees. So, you’ve always got food in that hive, and you keep it on that hive until they won’t take it three times. And you’ll see a variety of ways to feed bees on the market at the bee supply store that you go to. There’s a bottle you can put in front, there’s a bottle you can put on top, and there’s a bottle you can put inside a beehive that contains sugar syrup. And I pretty much always suggest that you get the bottle that you put on top, because you can enclose that in a box, and that keeps other bees from coming over for a free lunch.

Kim Flottum 15:01
So, let me back up a half a step here, if I may: Before you get these bees, and before you buy this equipment, I suggested that you go to your local bee club. Talk to the people there, and find out if there’s a local bee supply company. Or if there’s not, if you have to do mail order. If you have to do mail order, which mail-order company do they recommend? There are several out there, they’re all good, but they’re all a little bit different. And a little bit of difference can be a big problem for you, because the parts don’t fit. So, if you get it from supplier A, and then you want to get some more, and you get it from Supplier B, parts may not fit, and then you’ve got a problem. So, before you start, take a look at the suppliers and then get some advice from somebody who can tell you, “Here’s a good supplier. They’re reliable. They’re, you know, moderately inexpensive. And, you can count on them.”

Deborah Niemann 15:59
Okay, that is really good to know. You have so many practical tips that you can tell you’ve been doing this for a long time.

Deborah Niemann 16:07
Another thing that I think a lot of beginners may be curious about—and not sure if you’re being nice to the bees or what—and that is the idea of, like, using a smoker when you are working with the bees or you’re around the bees. Can you talk a little bit about, like, the concept behind using a smoker, and when you might need it?

Kim Flottum 16:28
Everything in a bee’s world is smell. All of their communication is smell. And the queen talks to the workers that are taking care of her; the workers talk to each other; everybody talks to the drones; and drones talk to everybody. The foragers tell the bees inside where to go; the bees inside tell the foragers to get more food, because “We’re running low”—everything is smell. Different pheromones. Primarily, what smoke does is it interferes with that smelling sequence that’s going on inside and outside the hive. It’s like unplugging your phone. Suddenly, you can’t talk to anybody. And when you open a hive—or when you’re even standing by a hive, but when you open a hive primarily—what happens is that there’s a group of bees whose sole job is to protect the hive. They’re defensive bees, and these bees are at the front door. If there is a leak in your hive someplace, you’ve got a hole in one of the boards, there’s going to be defending bees at that hole. And there’s defending bees right on the top. And the minute you take that hive cover off, those bees at the top start producing something called an “alarm pheromone.” And that alarm pheromone tells every bee in that hive that, “Wake up people! Something’s going on here that you need to pay attention to.” And if you continue to take that top off, the more and more alarm pheromone is going to be, and then suddenly what that alarm pheromone does is it triggers these defensive bees to begin stinging to protect their home.

Kim Flottum 18:04
So, the best way to open a hive is very carefully just barely lift the cover, and put a couple of small puffs of smoke in it, and then close it again. Let that smoke drift through the hive. And now you’re turning off everybody’s communication system. Let’s do it again—add a couple more puffs, and you’re getting more smoke. You don’t need much smoke. But you need a little in there. And if you get it in there before you take the top off, nobody’s gonna know you’re there. And that’s almost the case; you take that top off and nobody notices. Then, when you take the top off, and there’s an outside cover and an inner cover, you take the inner cover off, and you do that same thing again—you put a couple puffs of smoke under the inner cover. After four—no, three or four minutes—you can take the inner cover off, and almost no defensive bees will bother you. You’ve shut down the communication system, and you are pretty much free to roam and do pretty much whatever you want.

Kim Flottum 19:01
Here’s what happens, though. As that smoke wafts through the hive, it’s gonna leave. Some of its going to go up, some of its gonna sink down, and pretty soon you hit this critical zone where there’s not enough smoke to mask the alarm pheromone. And some of these bees will start producing alarm pheromone again. And what you’ll see—this is one of the neatest things you’ll see in a beehive—is lots and lots and lots and lots of bees will come up from the frames, and they’ll be peeking out at you, and you’ll look in the gap between frames, and there’ll be 100 bees between each frame. And they’re just checking you out. “What’s going on? What’s the noise? What’s going on?”

Deborah Niemann 19:42
Wow!

Kim Flottum 19:42
That’s when you put a couple more puffs of smoke on there, and then they’ll go down. “Nothing’s going on here. I can’t tell anything.” And they’ll go back down, leave you alone. So, you don’t have to use a lot of smoke. You just need to use a little bit of smoke at the right time.

Deborah Niemann 19:57
Wow, that is really fascinating. How interesting! So, it sounds like you’ve helped a lot of beginning beekeepers through the years. And I always like to ask: What are some of the most common mistakes that you see beginners making?

Kim Flottum 20:14
Ah. Well, for people who haven’t watched other beekeepers, it’s being gentle and slow. My biggest problem is I’m never gentle enough and slow enough; I’m always in too much of a hurry. I’ve got to get done, because I got two more hives to look at, and I got to get to work, or I’ve got to get someplace—but gentle and slow. Everything you do. Like, we just talked about smoking the hive, gentle and slow. You know, you don’t want to be banging frames. You’ve got a tool that you use to help pry apart some of the parts of a hive; you do it gentle and slow. And, if you’re making noise, if you’re rocking the hive, if you’re slamming the cover, if you’re banging frames, the vibrations will set off defensive bees, let alone the noise. So, if you think you can do what you need to do in a beehive in 10 minutes, plan on 20. Because, gentle and slow. That’s probably the best advice I can give to somebody beginning is, when you’re working your hive, you’re going to want to have a plan before you ever go out there. What am I going to be doing when I go out there? What, I’m looking for the queen? I’m seeing how much honey there is? I’m seeing how much comb they’ve built? I’m seeing if I need to add a box? What’s your plan when you go out there? Know what you’re doing before you leave the house. Then you’ll know how to start, what to look for, and how to finish. If you go out there just to look—and that’s a perfectly acceptable activity is to go out there just to look. And in fact, most beginners probably don’t go out and look enough, because they don’t want to bother the bees. But if you’re not looking, you’re not finding out what they’re doing. If something’s going wrong, you can fix it before it gets worse. If you need more room, you can add it before they run out of room. Those sorts of things. Have a plan before you go out there, and then gentle and slow.

Deborah Niemann 22:17
I think that’s really great advice. And a good observation, too, that a lot of beginners don’t check the hive often enough. I know that’s a problem that we had. And you’re right, because you’re thinking like, “Oh, I don’t want to bother them,” and also just that bees just seem like they should be so self-sufficient. Like, it doesn’t seem like they should need us to be keeping an eye on them. It seems like, “Oh, they know what to do.” So that actually leads me into the next question I was gonna ask you, and that is how challenging is it to have a chemical-free hive or organic hive?

Kim Flottum 22:51
About 20 years ago, an invasive pest came to the U.S. that started invading beehives, and it’s not a pest that bees are genetically prepared to defend against. And that pest, it’s a mite, it’s an external mite that lives on the bees and feeds on both adult bees and baby bees in the cell. And our bees just don’t get it. It’s like an invasive weed in your cornfield. It isn’t susceptible to herbicide; it isn’t susceptible to plowing; it just keeps growing and growing and growing, and nothing that you have as a farmer has prepared you to deal with this invasive weed. But it came from Asia, and over there they’ve been putting up with it for two thousand million years, and they know exactly how to control it because they’ve learned how to control it. They know what’s good for it, and it has natural enemies in Asia, where it doesn’t have natural enemies in America. And that’s the problem that we have with the varroa mite.

Kim Flottum 23:50
The varroa mite has no natural enemies in our country. And it has no way to defend itself against this varroa mite, and that’s where the beekeeper steps in. And you are asking if there are… Just like any form of agriculture, there are ways to tackle that weed that are very, very toxic—toxic to the weed, toxic to the corn plant, toxic to the soil microorganisms that are living there—all the way to going out and pulling it out by hand, which doesn’t hurt anything but the weed that’s in the cornfield. And there’s a lot of things that are in-between there. Basically, what you’re looking at is something called “integrated pest management.” And what you want to be able to do is use the least toxic method to get the best control you can. This is all of the things that attack bees, but primarily varroa mite.

Kim Flottum 24:42
A way—a very nontoxic way—to help control varroa mite is adding no chemicals to a hive at all. And varroa mites like drone brood better than they like the worker brood, because drones are in their cells being babies a few days longer than workers are, and that gives a varroa mite a few days more to raise its young. She will enter a cell just before the bees cover it up, and then the bee inside begins to spin its cocoon and pupate, and in 12 days she will emerge from that cell as a full-fledged adult worker bee. The varroa mite goes in just before they cover her up, and she lays eggs in that cell, and she lays a male and a female egg, another female egg, and another female egg. And the male and the females mate inside that cell, and they feed on that baby bee inside that cell. With drones, she can lay three or four eggs. With workers, she can raise maybe two. Maybe. A nontoxic way to control these mites is to wait until all of those drone cells on a particular frame are capped and then remove that frame. And with it, you’re removing all of the mites that are in those cells. Now, you can produce frames in a hive that are all drones, which is a good way to do this, because the bees want all drones. The bees need a male population, and if you give them a place to put drone cells in a hive, they’ll use it. They’ll just go, “Hey, we’re home. Drones, fill up this frame.” And once they’re all capped, you will take that frame out, and you will freeze it, you will feed it to your chickens, you will cut the comb out anyway you can, but you will remove all of the mites that are in those cells from the hive. No poison at all goes in there. That gets most of them. But it doesn’t get all of them. And the ones that are left are going to cause a problem.

Kim Flottum 26:48
So, there are other ways to control the mites in a beehive. Probably the next least toxic is something called HopGuard, and it’s a compound made from hops. And it is totally nontoxic to bees but toxic to mites—but these are the mites that are not in the cells but are wandering around on bees—and the stuff rubs off on them and it kills most of them. But not all of them. You still got some left. So, if you’re trapping drone brood and you’re using HopGuard, you’re still going to have some mites.

Kim Flottum 27:21
Yes, the mite population gets out of control, and there are a lot of ways that you need to learn how to count the mites in your hive. You can count the mites in your hive, literally. Once you hit a threshold of how many mites per 100 bees, then you’ve got to make a decision of “What do I do next?” And there are some compounds that are, again, not toxic to bees but toxic to mites, and these are organic acids. Formic acid is the least toxic and the strongest chemical I will put in a hive. It doesn’t hurt bees, and it kills mites, and it will kill mites that are not in the cell but are on bees outside of the cells, just in the hive itself. But it doesn’t hurt bees, and it doesn’t contaminate the wax, and it doesn’t contaminate the honey that can be in the hive at the same time. After that, you start using pretty hardcore chemicals, things that will contaminate wax, things that will contaminate or harm bees, things that will contaminate honey. And then we’re way past where you just said about raising bees organically.

Deborah Niemann 28:32
This has been so interesting, and we barely touched the surface of what this book includes. I wanted to also say, too, it’s full of lots of beautiful photos. You have step-by-step photos showing you how to put bees into the hive when you first bring them home. You’ve got a really nice section on diseases and pests, which might surprise a lot of people who, you know, were like me before I ever had bees, thinking like, “Well, they don’t get sick. They don’t have pests.” Like, it’s so strange to think that bees have pests, but I’ve seen photos of, like, the varroa mites on them, and it’s really sad. And then your book also has a lot of details on exactly how to harvest the honey and everything. It looks like it’s really, like, the book for somebody to get if they are brand-new. And I would say even if… You know, it was really helpful for me. Like, we had bees for a couple of years, and there was a lot of really good information in there for me as well. So.

beeyard
Having a few colonies in the backyard makes a terrific hobby for the whole family.

Kim Flottum 29:35
Let me, if I can, just explain a couple of things. One is, this book was designed for the people who are—like you are—thinking about keeping bees, “What do I need to know?” Another book that I published some time ago called Backyard Beekeeping is, “How do I do it?” And that’s got the in-detail details on how to do all the things that you mentioned. This book will tell you what you’re going to need to be doing and, you know, getting bees and taking care of them and harvesting honey. So, that kind of gives you a feel for all of the tasks involved in having bees—not so much how to do them, but what’s involved once you get them. And I found out after Backyard Beekeeping, the main question I get when I give a talk is “How do I know I want to keep bees? What do I have to know to know I want to keep bees?” And that’s where this book came from.

Deborah Niemann 30:27
Oh, yeah, I can see that. Do you have a website, or where can people find you online?

Kim Flottum 30:34
I work with several people, and we do two podcasts. One of them is called “Beekeeping Today Podcast,” and you can find that on any of the podcast platforms. And it’s done with a friend, Jeff Ott. And he and I interview bee researchers, bee scientists, commercial beekeepers, honey packers—anybody in the industry that is affecting what we do. And then, we have another one with a friend named Jim Tew. And when I was editor of Bee Culture magazine, he was one of my writers for 33 years. And our podcast we do is “Honeybee Obscura.” That’s everything honeybee. And these are short, 10 to 15 minutes. The other ones are closer to 45. But these are short, and for 10 or 15 minutes we’ll pick some random topic about bees or beekeeping—and think of sitting down at a meeting over lunch and having two people talk. That’s what we’re doing. We’re just talking bees.

honey in different colors and flavors
Honey comes in many different colors and flavors, depending on the plants the bees gathered their nectar from.

Deborah Niemann 31:29
That sounds awesome! Well, thank you so much. This has been a lot of fun. And I’m sure a lot of people will find it helpful.

Kim Flottum 31:37
Well, I hope so. And, if you’ve got further questions, you can go to our podcast page, and there’s a place there where you can ask more questions. So, either one of them has that place, and thank you for the invitation! This has been fun.

Deborah Niemann 31:50
You’re welcome, and good luck with your book.

Deborah Niemann 31:54
And that’s it for today’s episode. You can find show notes at ThriftyHomesteader.com/BookChat, as well as a transcript. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. You can also find Thrifty Homesteader on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. See you next week on “Sustainability Book Chat.”

This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something after clicking on a link, Thrifty Homesteader will make a small percentage while you still pay exactly the same amount as you otherwise would. This is one way that we are able to continue to provide free content for everyone. Thanks for your support!

 

An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Beekeeping

Subscribe to my weekly newsletter!

My weekly newsletter includes recipes and articles on homesteading, raising livestock, health, and gardening.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Leave a Comment

Join me online