Beginners Guide To Keeping Bees
Can I Keep Bees?
Yes – you don’t need a large amount of space and areas such as a suburban backyard, deck or roof are all possible. You only need to dedicate a small amount of time – approximately an hour a fortnight, and the bees will look after their own food and water.
Courses/Workshops and Clubs
Attending a course or workshop is highly recommended as an introduction to beekeeping and try to select one that contains as much practical knowledge as possible to get you started. Most areas will contain a beekeeping club which is a great resource of local specific information where hopefully you can find a bee mentor and even hire out equipment such as honey extractors which will minimise your start-up costs.
Once you’ve attended a course or workshop, you’ll be ready to purchase your beekeeping gear. First off is your hive or woodware. Your hive will consist of a base, a honey ‘super’, a brood box where bees develop, frames to fill your brood box and super and finally a lid. It is recommended that beginner beekeepers buy their hives pre-assembled and will need to be either painted or coated with wax for protection.
You will also need a smoker which is used to mask bee pheromones that signal a threat and therefore result in a calmer hive when you open the lid. It is recommended you buy a quality smoker as cheap knock offs will cause nothing but frustration. A hive tool is also essential and is a true multi-purpose tool for beekeeping, enabling you to lever frames and boxes apart, scrape wax and propolis off surfaces and raise frames out of the hive. In terms of protective gear you will need a bee suit with head/face protection , a pair of gloves, and rubber boots to protect your ankles and feet.
There are several options available to obtain bees, varying in the skill and funds required. The first and most difficult, but cost effective is obtaining a bee swarm. If you can convince a beekeeper from your local club to assist you, then a swarm may be a great option to get started. We will be covering swarm traps in a future article as this is not recommended for first time beekeepers. Another option is a bee package or nucleus hive(NUC for short), which you can purchase online and contains all the bees you need to get started and can transfer into your own hive – easy! The final option is a second hand hive which is the simplest method to become a beekeeper, however it is strongly advised that you have an experienced beekeeper with you to inspect the hive for disease or poorly conditioned equipment.