BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Looking for a new hobby? Explore beekeeping!

If you are a homeowner that loves the outdoors and is looking for a way to make a positive impact on the environment, then beekeeping may be right up your alley!

Beehives offer numerous benefits for the environment and produce sweet honey that can be used in the kitchen. Bees are vital in pollinating gardens, helping flowers grow, and helping trees and crops with their production.

By having and maintaining a beehive, everything else in your garden will flourish.

But, before you harvest any honey, there are some questions you need to ask yourself before making this investment:

  • Do you have the right equipment?
  • Do you have access to sunlight and water?
  • Do you or your neighbors use pesticides that could harm the hive?

James Wilson is a beekeeping expert for Virginia Tech and Virginia Cooperative Extension. Wilson works with growers, gardeners, naturalists, beekeepers, educators, and the community. Here are a few tips from Wilson to help homeowners start and tend to their own personal beehives:

  • If you’re reading this, you’re already in a great place to start– learning about bee behavior and beehive necessities is an important factor in keeping your bees happy and healthy.
  • You can purchase an introductory kit online, which will come stocked with hive components and personal protective equipment. While they may be a little pricy, it is the gift that keeps on giving.
  • Ensure your beehive is in an area with early morning sunlight, windbreaks, good air and water drainage, and nearby forage and water sources.
  • Once your beehive is properly installed, continue to learn from local, regional, and state beekeeper associations that cover topics on bees and bee products.

If you’re looking to get your own beehive started, don’t be intimidated, but the process should be taken seriously to succeed.

“If you are interested in serious pollination benefits and a sweet taste of honey as a payoff, honeybees are a great place to get started. Being a beekeeper requires optimism that you and your bees can succeed, stubbornness to work through the challenges, and some realism to know that you will at times need to make some tough decisions about your bees,” said Wilson. “The rewards often do pay off, but they may not come as soon as you think.”