The Washington Post

Tips on beekeeping

A western bumble bee, Bombus occidentalis, is seen in this undated U.S. Department of Agriculture photo. (Reuters)

Here are some thoughts from a beekeeper (me) on beekeeping.

Beekeeping is a somewhat demanding hobby. The bees must be checked regularly to see that the colony is thriving and making honey. The enterprise also requires some money — the cost of hives, frames, equipment, a bee suit and the bees themselves can add up to several hundred dollars. But to be invited into their world is richly rewarding, even if the price is also a sting or two.

My favorite book on beekeeping is “The Beekeepers Handbook,” by Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile.

Local beekeeping clubs hold courses for beginners in late winter and early spring. This is in advance of the time you start a new colony. Registration is typically in December, though it may be earlier: Contact course registrants early because classes fill up quickly. Here are some links to local clubs:

●DC Beekeepers Alliance:

●Beekeepers Association of Northern Virginia:

●Prince William Regional Beekeepers Association:

●Loudoun Beekeepers Association:

●Montgomery County Beekeepers:

●The Bowie-Upper Marlboro Beekeepers Association:

●Howard County Beekeepers:

●Anne Arundel Beekeepers Association:

Laws governing beekeeping vary by jurisdiction. They dictate such matters as lot size, hive numbers and locations and other requirements. In Fairfax County, for example, residents can keep up to four hives on lots smaller than 10,000 square feet. The D.C. Council recently passed a law making it legal to keep bees in the District. The previous law was ambiguous.

Adrian Higgins

Adrian Higgins has been writing about the intersection of gardening and life for more than 25 years, and joined the Post in 1994. He is the author of several books, including the "Washington Post Garden Book" and "Chanticleer, a Pleasure Garden."

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