In Arizona, autumn or fall, primarily around September or October is the best time to start beekeeping if you want a strong spring hive. Although generally, spring is the ideal time to start beekeeping in the United States, but there is a broad range of climates that might influence this decision. Being a southern state, Arizona can remain warm to hot year round, therefore your preparation for the spring must be done much earlier, most likely starting in autumn.

In addition, if you have lived in Arizona for quite some time, then you probably know that temperatures can trample down into the ’40s at night, and have been known to even get as low as the ’20s on rare occasions. December and January can also bring most of the rainfall, and as a prospective beekeeper, you should aim to start keeping bees before or when the cold or rainy season ends and flowers start to bloom.

With these severe colds and moist nights in Arizona, your bees can be at risk of dying from the cold, even if it doesn’t freeze. Once the heat the bees produce to sustain their ideal living condition causes the moisture level to rise in the hive, it reaches the cold hive top and all the moisture on top melts and condenses.

At this point, this condensed water then “rains” down into the hive making it a cold, wet environment that can finish off your colony. This and many more tend to often be a sad surprise to new beekeepers, but can be prevented by seeking knowledge from experts.

When looking to become a beekeeper in Arizona, note that your primary objective is to start and maintain a strong, healthy hive. This also entails hives that have 5-6 frames of bees per box, solid brood patterns, and 4-5 frames of food per box. In the fall, it may be advisable to collect frames from your strongest hives and put them to your weak hives to help stimulate growth. That’s one benefit of having more than one hive.

How to Start Beekeeping in Arizona in 2021

Becoming a beekeeper is indeed very exciting, but you have to understand that it takes hard work! Just like any other job, beekeeping can take up to 40 hours of your time each week. However, if you take care of your hive and your honey bees, then you can expect 40-60 pounds of honey within the second year. To start beekeeping in Arizona, here are 7 simple steps to take.

  1. Read About Beekeeping

It is imperative you start first with learning how to take care of bees and every other thing they need to sustain a healthy life. It takes much more than just bees to start beekeeping. Note that it requires extensive education and understanding than actual hands-on work. You will also have to ensure you have adequate space and that the platform you plan on placing your hive on is level.

Also take your time to find a mentor or someone who has years of beekeeping experience under their belt, just in case you need guidance. Also, note there are beginner classes for beekeeping and/or books to help boost your knowledge about beekeeping. Regardless of how anxious you are to jump into protective gear and begin breeding bees, you are expected to understand the intricacies of beekeeping even before purchasing your first hive.

  1. Check with Family, Neighbours, and the Law

It is recommended you check with your family and anyone else (including pets!) living in the same household just to be certain no one or yourself has a severe allergic reaction to bee stings. It is also advisable to check and confirm with neighbors that they too are not allergic to bee stings.

If not, at least give them a forewarning as to what your plans are and the exact place you intend to place your hive. You will also have to check for local ordinances within your town or city. Each city or town in Arizona has its own code that regulates backyard beekeeping.

For instance, Phoenix has minimum lot-size requirements and the hive is expected to be more than 5 feet from the property boundary line. Other Valley cities expect your home or lot to be zoned for agriculture to keep hives, so it is imperative for prospective beekeepers to contact their local government.

  1. Understand your Reason for Beekeeping

It is vital that you understand your intentions and reason for beekeeping and choose a beehive that aligns with those reasons. Try not to feel limited, note that you can pick more than one! Have it in mind there are various beehive plans available,but here are the top reasons why most people start beekeeping.

  • A hive for gardening: Note that the major reason for breeding bees is to pollinate your flowers and create a flourishing garden.
  • A hive for observing: A good number of people have and breed bees just to observe their movement and study the behavior of bees.
  • A hive for harvesting: For some, the main reason for beekeeping is to harvest natural honey and/or beeswax.

Once you understand your needs, you are on your way to getting the necessary equipment!

  1. Purchase a Beekeeping Starter Kit

The best and easiest way to start beekeeping is to purchase a starter kit. Note that this is a good place to start since as a novice beekeeper you don’t know if you like a hobby until you try it! Note that the more you find yourself enjoying and learning the process of beekeeping, the easier it will become to realize the needed changes you need to make to your beehive equipment.

Have it in mind that these starter kits come with equipment that can last years if well maintained. However, to make your journey a little easier, here is a list of the basic equipment you can find in a beekeeping starter kit.

  • The Basic Beekeeping Equipment
  • Hive tool
  • Smoker
  • Frames and foundation
  • Feeders
  • Bee hive components (Hive body, Hive stand, Queen excluder, Inner/Outer cover, Honey supers)
  1. Choose a Suitable Site

Choosing the site for your apiary is not something you have to do in a hurry. You will have to know your hive’s surrounding flowers, mainly because they can affect the flavor of the honey and can help improve the production of honey.

Also, ensure that their sources of fresh water are easily accessible. It must not come from a nearby lake or creek; you can always have fresh water available by keeping tubs or large bowls of water within their traveling distance. Also, note that bees love plenty of sunshine! Primarily, sunshine makes it easy for them to find the queen and see eggs within the hive.

Also, ensure there is solid fencing between the hives and property lines. You wouldn’t want just anyone to trespass, especially children. In addition, do not forget to breed only the amount of bees your acreage can hold. It is advisable to have no more than four beehives on a quarter acre or less.

  1. Choose a Honey Bee

Have it in mind there are different varieties of bees and each has its pros and cons. This is one of the big decisions you have to make and you have to ensure you select the right type of bee for you. Owing to that, you may have to take some time to read about the pros and cons of potential bee types you are interested in.

Understand if want the popular Italian bees which produce a substantial amount of nectar in a short amount of time, or if you prefer Caucasian bees which are known to be the gentlest of most bee colonies out there. There are a handful of different bee races, so ensure to do your research and ask around a bit.

  1. Get Started

Once you have installed your package of bees into your new hive, you can then take a day or two to relax. After all, you deserve it! Experts in beekeepers always suggest you re-open the beehive in two to three days after installing your bees.

Carefully check to make sure the queen bee has successfully left the cage and is released into your hive. In Arizona, it is imperative you do this during the beginning stages of Beekeeping. Also, don’t forget to feed, feed, and feed your bees some more.

Conclusion

Keeping bees take time, but it does not necessarily cost too much to get started. Have it in mind that local beekeeping clubs can help you find new or used gear to start out with and it won’t necessarily run more than a couple of hundred dollars.

Indeed, being part of a beekeeping community is very important, and it is imperative to attend meetings and take part in conversations. Consider joining the Arizona Backyard Beekeepers Facebook page or whatever community you live in.

Joy Nwokoro