I recently had someone ask me for help with finding her a few local beekeepers in her area. She wanted a source for local honey but was also interested in tending bees in her own backyard. She just didn’t know where to begin with the equipment, climate, local laws and everything else!
Local Beekeeping Association
The best way to find your local beekeepers is to get online, visit your favorite search engine and type in your zip code, county name, or city name and the phrase “beekeepers association” into the search. That will guide you to a group of people who are enthusiastic and willing to help you, and they live in your own neck of the woods. That was how I found the beekeepers association in Charlottesville, Virginia years ago, when I first decided to learn all about bees and honey.
Most beekeepers associations will periodically offer classes that give you with information about bees, hives, their maintenance, and all sorts of beekeeping knowledge. I learned so much more face to face with the people who had real hands-on experience than I had in the time researching alone on the internet! Not only is it priceless to have a mentor who can come and look at your hives with you, but the knowledge about tending bees that is specific to your area is absolutely invaluable. For example, do you know what is blooming and when? What are the native predators and threats to your hives?
Many beekeeper associations also work cooperatively to purchase the larger, more expensive supplies like honey extractors that the members can take turns using. Some also go in together to order their bees and equipment to save on shipping and convenience fees.
I just want honey, not bees!
Maybe you don’t want to keep your own bees, but you want to reach out to your local beekeepers so that you can find a local honey source. I found a website called “Local Honey Source,” but it needs a bit more information added. Maybe you can help?
I also asked a few friends about how they found their local beekeepers, and here’s what they said:
Carol J. Alexander (author of Homestead Cooking with Carol – Bountiful make-ahead Meals) suggested that you could reach out to your County extension office or visit your farmers market.
Erica Mueller of MomPrepares.com said that they also found their supplier at the farmer’s market, and also advised “You can also try beekeeping supply companies. I know we have Dadant here in town and the people who work there know the local beekeepers.” She has a post called, “Keeping Bees: A Honey of a Hobby.”
Angi Schneider of SchneiderPeeps.com is really tapped into her bee community – her son is a beekeeper who does bee removals! She says, “The vast majority of my son’s business comes from either word of mouth or our county extension office. Occasionally, from the feed store.”
Kelly Bisciotti (MusingsofaModernHippie.com) did a google search for local beekeepers and came upon her local beekeeper’s association website, as I suggested above. See? It works!
Homestead Lady has a post called “How to Prepare for Beekeeping” if you are ready to start making equipment lists and jumping on board with backyard hives!