Before you begin ...
Starting and Keeping Bees in Michigan
In the State of Michigan, Apiary laws are found under MCL/Act 412 of 1976.
The MSU Extension has a wealth of information on keeping bees in Michigan, which is also available in a 2016 Downloadable document, "Starting and Keeping Bees in Michigan: Rules and Regulations".
For Urban Beekeepers, see our Urban Beekeeping Section
What Every Aspiring Beekeeper Should Know
For anyone considering keeping bees, it's quite a responsibility and undertaking. First, you need to realize it's not cheap!
Perhaps Spring is in the air, and you're stressing to find bees and equipment. Stop. Breathe. Give us a moment to help you realize there's no reason to stress out over it, or need to rush into this undertaking. First, beekeeping is a connection with Nature that brings solace and peace. It should never be rushed or an harried experience. If you want to feel the sting of that worker early, rush and bring your chaos into the organized flow and activities of a beeyard. We guarantee you'll be stung early in your experience.
If you're like us, we tried to shave expenses by making as much of the equipment as we could. However, that can be disasterous if you're not paying attention to certain measurements such as "bee-space" and standardized equipment.
You're obviously going about this in the right way ... by conducting some research on the topic, first. Our experience has been, in 2014 we wanted bees but weren't prepared. So we spent the rest of that year reading everything we could get our hands on, or find online. We decided which philosophy we would follow, and then began building and acquiring all the necessary equipment. AND ... we attended meetings and events at the Holland Beekeepers Association through that first year.
There's a saying, "First year is for wax production, Second year produce bees, Third year prooduces honey."
When the 2014 season orders were going in for package bees, we were ready. We ordered two 3 lb packages for our first two hives. Spring 2015 - our first beekeeping year. We were glad to have taken the time because everything we encountered, we were aware and prepared to handle.
Our first year, we lost both of our hives to Varroa.
2015, we bought three packages and added another hive. One package the queen did not survive, and we ended up with a queenless hive (laying worker is a major issue). We attempted requeening, but eventually, the queenless hive collapsed. However, our Warre' hive was thriving and swarmed, landing in a nearby pine tree. We were able to capture the swarm and add them to the beeyard.
2016 was a much better year for overwintering. The winter was milder, and all three hives survived. Local nucs were not readily available, so this year (2017) we purchased two more packages and added two more hives - for a total of five.