Getting Started – Things That Can Go Wrong

Things That Can Go Wrong

As with farming or raising livestock, there are pests and diseases that can affect your hive’s health. Researchers are learning more about bee health every day. Please invest some time in studying about bee health and treatment options. Always follow approved treatment techniques for you and your bee’s health and safety. 

See here for more information about Hive Health.


Hives attract ants, particularly if you are feeding your bees syrup.


  • Use hive stands that have physical barriers like grease cups.
  • Terro ant bait – nontoxic to humans and bees can’t get into the bait stations.


You will have varroa mites. A large mite population is very detrimental to bee larvae. There are many different options for controlling mites, with varying levels of effort and toxicity.

Not Treating

Some folks choose not to treat, leaving the bees to manage on their own and develop resistance through natural selection. Perhaps a noble goal in the long run, but odds are your hive will be severely impacted by a growing mite infestation, leading it to develop other diseases, and spreading mites and other pathogens to other bees in the neighborhood. If you choose not to treat, you might want to at least monitor the mite levels using periodic bee washes or sugar shakes, and keep an eye out for signs of other issues (deformed wings, dead gooey, stinky larva, etc).


The following is a list of some of the common treatments. For your health and safety, it is critical that you follow approved application methods and use proper PPE – e.g. for OAV, you will need to wear a chemical vapor respirator, eye, and hand protection, etc.

As with any pest control, it is best to use a minimal amount of multiple control methods to minimize the development of resistance. See Integrated Pest Management for more info.

Getting Started – Schedule


As Soon as Possible

  • Talk to your neighbors!! It’s scary and tough, but it’s important to get your neighbors on board in advance.
  • Read beginner books.
  • Take our classes.
  • Get your hive ready – fully assembled and painted.
  • Locate and set up your hive on the hive stand. Bees need water – think about where they will drink. If you provide a good water source, they won’t be inclined to fly over to your neighbor’s pool or fountains.
  • Study/rehearse the bee installation method (package or nuc).


  • Get ready.
  • Get all your stuff, and place the hive on your sturdy hive stand.
  • Test drive your gear and the smoker.
  • Arrange for a mentor if you want help with installing your bees.
  • Order your package / nuc(s).


  • Get a package or nuc and install into the hive.
  • Start feeding.


  • Hive inspections


  • Adding more room using “supers”.
  • Harvesting honey.

Getting Started – Working With Your Bees

Working With Your Bees

Bees are hardwired to dislike and attack bears and other furry creatures that tend to raid their hives for honey. So, don’t dress like a bear:

  • Wear light or white-colored clothing. Do not wear dark clothing, including sunglasses, around your bees.
  • Furry or fuzzy dark clothing is even worse.

When you open your hive, you are upsetting and stressing your bees. Before opening the hive, pause for a moment and rehearse what you’re about to do:

  • Have all the necessary tools and gear organized nearby.
  • Try to minimize the time you have the hive open.
  • If you are taking things apart (frames and/or hive bodies), where are you going to put them.
  • Go slow, and try not to bang or knock things about.

When Stung

You will get stung.

If you start feeling physically ill or unsteady, get help! Get away from the hives and find someone to sit with you for a bit. If you start having any severe reactions, call 911!

Honey bees communicate with each other through smells (pheromones). When a bee stings, it release a pheromone that messages its hive-mates: “there is a problem, and you should rally and defend the hive”. So, to not get stung repeatedly, you should:

  • Mask or eliminate the alarm pheromone smell ASAP – step back from the hive and smoke the area around the sting with your smoker, or rub some dirt on the area – anything to eliminate that odor (smells like bananas).
  • Remove the stinger ASAP. Do not pinch it and pull it out – doing so tends to push all the venom into your body. It is much better to scrape it out with a credit card or something similar (hive tool might work, but be careful of its sharp edge).

If you are careful, and wear the proper PPE around your hives, you shouldn’t get stung often, but don’t assume you will avoid it completely. If your hive is in your garden, wear light colored clothing and a veil when gardening.

Getting Started

Reasons to NOT get bees

  • You will get stung
  • Expense (see below for an example budget)
  • Requires a time commitment, especially when the weather is good
  • Physical
  • Messy
  • Migratory hives
  • Disappointment - despite best, most knowledgeable efforts, hive sometimes perish

Reasons to get bees

There are many great reasons to consider becoming a beekeeper, including:

  • Pollination
  • Help honeybees
  • Honey
  • Sustainability
  • Interesting hobby
  • Connect with the environment
  • Challenging
  • Bragging rights - it’s a pretty cool hobby

Becoming a Beekeeper

If you wish to have bees on your property, but are not sure you want to tend them yourself, please reach out to GBA and see if anyone in the club would like to manage a hive for you. 

If you'd like to work with bees, but cannot or do not wish to have hives in your yard, the Adopt A Hive program might be the ticket. Please contact Steve Mink at for more information.

So, you want to become a beekeeper:

  • Bees are typically delivered in the spring, usually in March or April. If you are getting a “package”, you must install it as soon as you get it, so your hive needs to be ready, you have the required equipment (particularly a suit!), and your brain has some basic information.
  • If you’re getting a “nuc”, you have a little more wiggle room on the hive, but you will still need a suit and tools. Best to install the nuc ASAP.

Next Steps


  • Start with 2 hives.
  • Be prepared. Have your hives and gear ready for receiving your first bees.
  • Join GBA.
  • GBA wants to support you. Reach out to the club and to members for help and advice. Members will be willing to come to check out your hives with you.

Click here to view or download a PDF of "Getting Started".