how to start beekeeping

How to start beekeeping?

Beekeeping has had somewhat of a renaissance in recent years. Raising awareness around bees has led people to investigate and take up this fascinating hobby in droves.

As with all hobbies getting started can be a bit daunting and it often feels like there isn’t enough room in your brain to digest all the lessons, tips and advice you gather.

With that in mind, we created a simple guide on how to start beekeeping which gives you a structured approach to learning all the skills you need to keep happy, healthy bees!

Local beekeeping associations

Before you even consider buying a hive or any bees you should head over to your local beekeeping association to find out more about what the hobby entails.

A local beekeeping association is a group of like-minded people interested in keeping bees, who meet regularly to discuss their hobby. The members of the association can share their experiences, as well as ask questions or offer advice on things like how to get started with beekeeping.

The purpose of a local beekeeping association is to promote the hobby of beekeeping, as well as educate people about bees and their importance in our ecosystems. Joining your local association will give you access to others who have experienced learning how to keep bees first-hand, an invaluable resource at the start of your beekeeping journey.

If you’re unsure where your closest association is head over to the British Beekeepers Association which has a simple directory alongside lots of helpful information about managing bees and making honey.

Investigate what is required to start keeping bees

Just like most other hobbies, beekeeping comes with its own set of requirements if you want to partake. At the bare minimum, you’ll need a considerable amount of space to locate your hives, some specialised equipment and time to devote to tending and caring for your bees.

Caring for bees is a serious undertaking and shouldn’t be taken lightly so it’s really important you understand what to expect before you waste considerable amounts of time or money.

From a financial point of view, you can expect to spend anywhere from $800 or £650 for a basic tow hive set up but this cost can increase considerably if you opt for the more expensive beekeeping equipment and brands.

Try a beekeeping course

Beekeeping courses are the perfect intro to beekeeping. They let you carry out all of the activities a normal beekeeper would do without the need to invest in all of the equipment for yourself.

A beekeeping course consists of a lot more than just learning how to keep bees. It includes:

  • Learning the basics of bee biology, including its life cycle and anatomy.
  • Understanding how bees interact with their environment and each other, including their communication methods and social structure.
  • Learning about how to care for your bees, including how they gather food, make honey and raise young.
  • Learning how to select a hive location, design hives that are suitable for your climate and resources (including time), prepare them for winter, manage pests like mites or ants, and move your hives around if necessary.

Looking for gifts for a beekeeper or just someone who loves bees? Find out the 10 bee products we love here at Revive a Bee and how you can get your hands on them.

How do you identify the best location for your hives?

It’s a good question, and one you should ask yourself if you’re serious about beekeeping. Bees need a lot of things, a place to live, a source of food (nectar and pollen), and some protection from the elements. But if you don’t do your research, you could end up with a hive that’s too close to your neighbours or not near enough to the flowers that are critical to your hive’s success.

Here are some tips for finding the best location for your bee hives:

  1. Check out the local zoning laws before installing any bee hives on your property. In some areas, keeping bees is illegal without a permit or special permission from local authorities. You’ll want to make sure those rules don’t apply in your area before getting started!
  2. Find out what kind of plants are growing in your area by looking at an online map like Google Earth or using an app like iNaturalist on your phone or tablet device. The types of flowers that grow in an area can tell you whether it will be an ideal place for bees, the key here is to look for a wide choice of species with early and late blooming varieties.

Picking a beginner-friendly hive

There are a lot of different kinds of bee hives out there, and it can be hard to know which is best for beginners.

The most basic kind of beehive is called a Langstroth. This kind of beehive has frames where the queen lays eggs, honeycomb cells where honey is stored, and a place for the bees to enter and exit their home (the bottom board).

The frames are moved up or down based on how much honey is being stored in each section.

This kind of hive is also pretty easy to manage because it’s hard to get lost in there—it’s very organized! But… it can also be difficult if you’re not familiar with bees or beekeeping—you might accidentally hurt them by moving things around too much or touching things that should

If you’re just getting started with beekeeping and want to give it a try, we recommend starting with an open Top Bar Hive. These are easier to use than traditional Langstroth hives, which means that they’re also easier to get started with.

An open Top Bar Hive is basically a box that’s filled with frames made from wood, with an upper opening for bees to enter and exit the hive. The frames are held together by clips or nails—there’s no need for any kind of glue or screws. You can find instructions online or in books about how to build one yourself if you don’t want to buy one already made.

They’re also great because they allow easy access to the honeycomb inside; all you need to do is lift off the bars from each side and put them in your extractor bucket (which is essentially a large funnel that sits on top of a bucket). That way you get all of your honey without having to disturb any bees or disturb anything else in their nest!

Other beekeeping equipment you need

Now you’ve got your hive you’re all set to get the rest of the equipment you need. You can get started with a basic setup that includes the following:

  1. A smoker (to keep bees calm and to prevent them from stinging you when you check your hives)
  2. Smoker fuel (such as small twigs or other suitable smoker fuel)
  3. A beekeeper’s suit (to protect your body and your clothes from being stung by bees)
  4. Honey frames (to fit in the top of your hive)
  5. A bee brush (usually made of horse hair, pig hair, or synthetic material to gently remove bees from honeycomb when you’re harvesting)

Now you’ve got all the equipment sorted you’re ready to go ahead and get some bees to populate your hives.

Purchasing your bees

There are two main ways to go about this: you can either purchase a package of bees from a beekeeper or queen bee breeder, or you can buy a nuc (short for nucleus colony) from a beekeeper.

A package is an assortment of worker bees and a laying queen that has been shipped in a screened box with some food and a water source. These packages are generally available from late winter through early summer. To order one, contact local beekeepers or online retailers who sell them.

A nuc is an established colony of worker bees with their own queen that’s ready to produce new hives (you’ll need one for each new hive). These can be bought directly from local beekeepers or online retailers who sell them.

Caring for your bees

As a beekeeper, you are the caretaker for all of the colonies you manage. You are responsible for ensuring your bees are in good health and have access to everything they need to grow and thrive.

This will involve a variety of tasks that are too complex to discuss in this one article but by this stage, you should be well versed in things like smoking, overwintering and dealing with unwanted inhabitants like Varroa mites.

Now you’ve come to the end of our guide I recommend reinforcing everything you’ve learned with the short instructional video from EAS-certified Master Beekeeper, David Burns.

Beekeeping is a truly rewarding experience but it doesn’t come without its own set of challenges that can leave you feeling lost. Just don’t forget there are thousands of others just like you globally who are experiencing the same trials and tribulations that make beekeeping the fascinating hobby that it is today.

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