Beekeeping (apiculture) is the art and science of maintenance of honey bee colonies.  Beekeepers, who are also called apirists – api is the Latin word for bee – generally keep honey bees to collect honey or pollinate gardens or crops. Beekeepers also collect other bee-generated products like beeswax, propolis, pollen, and royal jelly.

There is strong evidence that people of have beekeeping for thousands of years, and even right now there are many, many benefits to keeping your own bees.

Picture of a man looking at a bee board. Message says 2015 live bee orders end March 1. Visit your local D&B Supply store to order bees.

2015 Live Bee Orders End March 1, 2015

There is still time to order live bees from your local D&B Supply store in Oregon or Idaho. Take a look at the D&B Supply locations page to find a store near you.

D&B Supply Beekeeping 101 Class

Modern Beekeeping

Movable Frame Hives

In the United States, the Langstroth hive is commonly used. The Langstroth was the first successful top-opened hive with movable frames, and other designs of hive have been based on it. The Langstroth hive was, however, a descendant of Jan Dzierzon’s Polish hive designs. In the United Kingdom, the most common type of hive is the British National Hive, which can hold Hoffman, British Standard or popular Manley frames, but it is not unusual to see some other sorts of hive (Smith, Commercial and WBC, rarely Langstroth). Straw skeps, bee gums, and unframed box hives are now unlawful in most US states, as the comb and brood cannot be inspected for diseases. However, straw skeps are still used for collecting swarms by hobbyists in the UK, before moving them into standard hives. Source Wikipedia.

Top-bar Hives

A growing number of amateur beekeepers are adopting various top-bar hives similar to the type commonly found in Africa. Top bar hives were originally used as a traditional beekeeping method in Greece and Vietnam. These hives have no frames and the honey-filled comb is not returned after extraction, as it is in the Langstroth hive. Because of this, the production of honey is likely to be somewhat less than that of a Langstroth hive. Top bar hives are mostly kept by people who are more interested in having bees in their garden than in honey production. Source Wikipedia

Protective clothing

Beekeepers often wear protective clothing to protect themselves from stings. While knowledge of the bees is the first line of defense, most beekeepers also wear some protective clothing. Novice beekeepers usually wear gloves and a hooded suit or hat and veil. Experienced beekeepers sometimes elect not to use gloves because they inhibit delicate manipulations. The face and neck are the most important areas to protect, so most beekeepers wear at least a veil.

Defensive bees are attracted to the breath, and a sting on the face can lead to much more pain and swelling than a sting elsewhere, while a sting on a bare hand can usually be quickly removed by fingernail scrape to reduce the amount of venom injected. The protective clothing is generally light colored (but not colorful) and of a smooth material. This provides the maximum differentiation from the colony’s natural predators. Stingers left in clothing fabric continue to pump out an alarm pheromone that attracts aggressive action and further stinging attacks. Washing suits regularly, and rinsing gloved hands in vinegar minimizes attraction. Source Wikipedia.


Smoke is the beekeeper’s third line of defense. Most beekeepers use a “smoker”—a device designed to generate smoke from the incomplete combustion of various fuels. Smoke calms bees; it initiates a feeding response in anticipation of possible hive abandonment due to fire. Smoke also masks alarm pheromones released by guard bees or when bees are squashed in an inspection. The ensuing confusion creates an opportunity for the beekeeper to open the hive and work without triggering a defensive reaction. In addition, when a bee consumes honey the bee’s abdomen distends, supposedly making it difficult to make the necessary flexes to sting, though this has not been tested scientifically.

Smoke is of questionable use with a swarm, because swarms do not have honey stores to feed on in response. Usually smoke is not needed, since swarms tend to be less defensive, as they have no stores to defend, and a fresh swarm has fed well from the hive.

Many types of fuel can be used in a smoker as long as it is natural and not contaminated with harmful substances. These fuels include hessian, twine, burlap, pine needles, corrugated cardboard, and mostly rotten or punky wood. Indian beekeepers, especially in Kerala, often use coconut fibers as they are readily available, safe, and of negligible expense. Some beekeeping supply sources also sell commercial fuels like pulped paper and compressed cotton, or even aerosol cans of smoke. Other beekeepers use sumac as fuel because it ejects lots of smoke and doesn’t have an odor. Some beekeepers are using “liquid smoke” as a safer, more convenient alternative. It is a water-based solution that is sprayed onto the bees from a plastic spray bottle. Torpor may also be induced by the introduction of chilled air into the hive – while chilled carbon dioxide may have harmful long-term effects.

 Beekeeping Resources