Bee products include obviously honey! Honey is used as a sweetener but did you also know that it is also used as an antibiotic, especially good for treating burns as well as for king's mead. Honey can be used as a preservative to extend the shelf life of uncooked meat, important in a post SHTF situation. And maybe most importantly honey and hard tack bread, made from honey, are the only food that has an unlimited shelf life assuming it is stored properly. Thats right. Stock pile honey now and it will be good to eat and use more than a 1000 years from now. Oh and lets not forget beeswax for candles and as a replacement for bullet wax when shoot bullets from a black powder rifle.
Propolis is another product you can get from your be hive. Propolis is a material bees make that they use for sealing up a bee hive. It is suppose to be good for relieving inflammation, ulcers, as well as strengthening the immune system and sucking on a piece is suppose to help with sore throat.
Lets Get Started
Before actually keeping the bees you will need two things. A bee suit and a bee hive for the bees. For the suit you can buy expensive bee keeping suits or simply make one yourself. All you need to do is cover your entire body from head to toe. Key points being to tape or tie closed areas where different garments overlap, such as where your glove meets your sleeve. A wide brimed hat with a piece of screen over the front will protect your face. The brim keeps the screen off of your face so you can't be stung through the screen. Alternatively you could use a diving mask and a skarf to breath though although this will be hotter and less comfortable.
OK now onto the bee hive itself. The most commonly used hive is called a Langstroth hive. Understand its design and then you can feel free to improvise with the materials you have handy. Bee hives are fairly simple really.
***You need to research your state laws on bee keeping***
A bee hive should be designed so that the top can be easily removed for easy access to the hive. The top can be any type of durable material that is drapped or set on top of the hive that won't blow off in a storm. Most people prefer to make the top out of wood. It can be hinged but it can be totally unconnected as well and only set on top maybe with bricks or stone on top to prevent wind or animals from moving it.
The main body of the hive will be a simple rectangle of wood boards. Two opposite sides will need to be slightly higher than the other two sides.
Next you will need pieces of wood 1.5 inches wide that will run across the body of the hive. These pieces are not nailed down but will simply sit on top running from one side to the other. They will basically make a roof for the hive body but that is not their purpose and they don't need to form a solid roof as much of the space can be open.
Attached (usually nailed) to the underside of these wood (roof slats) pieces are smaller wood pieces that aren't as wide. These ridges are what the bees will build their honeycomb structures on. In a Langstroth hive instead of these slats you have wooden forms like for a picture frame to be hung on the wall, that can be lifted in and out of the hive. Either will work, but the idea is simply to have something easily removed from the hive that the bees will build their honeycombs on. Applying some beeswax to the slats or top of the frame will encourage the bees to start their honeycombs there.
The bottom of the beehive can be made in a number of different ways. Ideally it is removable. This allows for cleaning. Things like dead bees will collect at the bottom of the hive. Cleaning will eventually be needed so easy removal makes that job quick and less disturbing for your bees.
The bottom can be made of screen material. This is preferred because it will allow parasites on the dead bees to fall to the ground instead of staying in the beehive to attack other bees.
OK that almost does it. But wait. There is no way for bees to get in or out of the hive yet. On one side and only one side of the hive you will need an entrance and exit. There should be a small lip that sticks out an inch or less for the bees to land on with a small 3/8 inch wide gap that allows them to enter and exit the hive. The entrance needs to be bigger for bigger colonies of bees. But you don't wont it big for new colonies. They must protect their hive from other bees and a bigger openning is harder for them to protect. So the entrance should be made for a large colony but can be partially covered until your bee numbers increase. Also partially cover and during the winter.
Basically that is the basics of what you must know to make a beehive. Exact dimensions and other additions such as a queen excluder were not mentioned. Adding options makes everything more complex and confusing and this is enough to get you started if you will use just a little bit of imagination.
Here is a detailed drawing with dimensions of how to cut and assemble your first simple beehive.
Getting Some Bees
Bees can be ordered online. A package of bees has up to 20,000 bees inside. Bees can be placed in the hive immediately.
If this is after the SHTF then bees can be collected naturally. You can get free bees when you find them swarming. A swarm happens whenever the queen bee leaves a colony with some of the worker bees following her to establish a new colony. Swarms normally last for only a day. Capturing a swarm for your hive when you come across a swarm require immediate action. Finding a swarm probably isn't going to happen every year so if you miss your chance it might be a long time before you find another.
To collect a swarm you will need protective clothing and a bucket with a lid. Something like a five gallon bucket works great. The lid should have a bunch of holes punched in to allow the bees air. Better is a screen. Lots of bees use lots of oxygen, you don't want to smother them.
Bees when swarming will form large bee balls as all the bees try to get as close to the queen as they can. Remember the queen will be in the center of the mass somewhere. Squash the queen and you are screwed. Use a brush or something to push the bee swarm into the bucket. Get as many of the bees as you can in the bucket and put the lid on.
You will not likely be able to get all of the bees. Collect as many as you can and then observe. If the bees outside the bucket begin to collect on the bucket then that means you have the queen inside the bucket. You can wait and collect more bees by letting the land on the bucket and then after a few minutes try to push those off the lid and into the bucket.
Now go to your hive and pour and shake the bees into your beehive. Replace the top on the beehive and you are done. They should begin work and you should have new comb being formed within a week.
More useful information you will need to know to
KEEP BEES SUCCESSFULLY
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