Support Us Button Widget

Keeping up with Madison’s beekeepers

Interested in beekeeping? There are plenty of local resources.

A view of honeybees on their hive.jpg

According to the USDA, bees of all sorts pollinate approximately 75% of the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the United States. | Photo by 608today

Madisonians, make a beeline to a new hobby: beekeeping. It’s good for the environment, and there’s honey. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

It makes a difference,” said Jeanne Hansen, a member of the Dane County Beekeepers Association, in her backyard with her hives abuzz, “and I love it.”

A beekeeper is in her backyard about to attend to her two hives in the background.JPG

Jeanne Hansen in her backyard with her bee hives. | Photo by 608today

Getting started

Complete an application form and submit $10 to obtain a City of Madison Beekeeping License, which must be renewed annually.

You should also brush up on the supplemental regulations to keep bees in the city.

Getting gear

Capital Bee Supply, in Columbus, has all the equipment one may need and is known for also supplying educational opportunities for first-time beekeepers.

“Starter kits generally run from $500 to $800,” Hansen said. “That might be a lot to start with. but it pays off. It’s like any other hobby, like golf, but you get beeswax for candles and honey that you could sell if you wanted.”

A kit generally consists of:

  • Hives — Hansen recommends getting two, in case one hive’s health is compromised
  • Smoker — smoke masks a bee’s alarm pheromones, thereby suppressing its defenses
  • Feeder pail — sugar water
  • Protective equipment — Why white? The darker the color, the more attractive something is to bees

You’ll also want bees.

A close up of some honey bees entering their hive.JPG

A queen bee can lay upwards of 2,000 eggs per day. | Photo by 608today

Getting help

Dane County Beekeepers Association
For hobbyists, professionals, and bee enthusiasts, an annual membership is $15. The organization is happy to answer any bee-related questions. The next monthly meeting is Tuesday, June 4 at the Pinney Library.

Wisconsin Honey Producers Association
The organization is a wide-ranging resource and offers information specific to new beekeepers.

“It’s wonderful,” Hansen said. “I began to pay attention more. Paid attention to the weather. Paid attention to growth. Paid attention to life more.”

More from 608today