How To Get Started With Beekeeping - [Beginners Guide]
Keeping bees is a fun and rewarding hobby. It allows you to see the interdependence of life, experience the changing seasons in a new manner, and actively contribute to the health of your environment.
You'll learn many fascinating elements of bee behaviour as you come to know them. You'll start to notice small details like how they communicate with one another, how they build honeycomb, and which plants are in bloom throughout the year. There's also the added bonus of having tasty top-quality honey to share with your family and neighbours!
What do you need to know about bees?
A honeybee colony will have 30,000-50,000 bees on average, depending on size. The queen (who produces up to 1,500 eggs per day), worker bees who administer the hive, and drones, which are male bees who mate with queens from neighbouring colonies, all live in one society.
Understanding bee biology is critical for all novices, which is why Repasky requires first-timers to enrol in a beekeeping programme taught by an experienced, well-respected individual or group. You'll learn the fundamentals, such as proper terminology, equipment use, and how to manage bees seasonally.
Which beekeeping equipment do you require?
Woodenware: This is what makes up the beehive and includes the hive bottom, body, and top cover. It's best to start with two hives/colonies so you can compare them to see what's working—and what isn't. Often, beekeepers purchase one because it is expensive, they don't know what they're looking at, and they don't have anything to compare it against.
Protective veil and gloves: Inexperienced beekeepers should avoid stings at all costs. You don't want to be stung, distracted, and end up dropping a frame on the ground.
Smoker: This calms and distracts the bees while you operate within the hive.
Hive tool: This must-have, resembling an elongated paint scraper, helps you to effortlessly access the hive and shift frames around.
Bees: Once again, order enough for two colonies.
When Should You Begin Beekeeping?
When your honey bees arrive and are installed in a beehive, your first beekeeping season will take off in the spring. However, due to the first learning curve and the necessity to pre-order bees and equipment, beekeeping for beginners should begin no later than the fall, with the goal of managing your first beehives the following spring.
Locate an Appropriate Beehive Site
To begin beekeeping, you must first choose a suitable area for beehives. A few of beehives do not require a large amount of land. While food sources must be accessible, they do not have to be on your property. Honey bees will fly long distances to forage. Providing additional water nearby, on the other hand, is advantageous during times of drought or extreme heat.
Beehives should be placed towards east/southeast, level from side to side, and near water, nectar, and pollen supplies. They should also be easily accessible and have enough space to operate. Other factors to consider include midday shade, winter windbreaks, privacy from neighbours, efficient airflow, and water drainage.
The quantity of space required and the location of a beehive may be determined by beekeeping rules and regulations in your area, particularly in urban and suburban settings where neighbours may object.
Establish a Budget
Beginning beekeeping can be rather costly. The cost of your first year is determined by the many choices you choose. Your charges will vary depending on your situation and some decisions you make.
Select a Hive Type and Place Your Order
There are three types of hives to pick from:
- Langstroth hives
- Warré hives
- A horizontal hive like a Top Bar Hive, a Langstroth Long Hive, or a Layen's Hive.
Beginner beekeepers should start with Langstroth hives. They are the simplest hives to locate providers and guidance for.
Order Your Honey Bees Today! Bees can be purchased from trustworthy local beekeepers as well as online providers. Bee providers typically accept orders for the next spring beginning in December and January. Suppliers have restricted supply and only make them available on or around certain dates.
Get your bees on the earliest possible date that works for you. An early start for your hives aids your colony in storing food for the winter. Surviving winter with your colony may be the most important step in your first year of beekeeping. When purchasing honey bees, you have two main options: which "race" of bees to buy and whether you want them in a "bee package" or a "nuc."
Based on their genetic history, honey bees are classed as "races." Common bee species include Italian, Carniolan, Caucasian, and Russian bees. There are also hybrid bees, such as Saskatraz, that have been developed for specialised qualities such as Varroa resistance.
Choosing a type of bee can be difficult for newcomers. If possible, we recommend that you buy your first bees from a local beekeeper. Local bees are genetically adapted to your environment.
Honey bees are available in two basic forms:
A bee package is a box containing around 3 lbs. of bees (around 10,000 bees). The package contains a caged queen as well as a can of sugar syrup to feed the bees while they are travelling.
A nuc (pronounced "newk") is a nucleus colony that typically consists of a tiny hive box with five deep frames. The bees had been in the nuc for quite some time. The queen has been accepted, and the frames will most likely contain drawn comb, brood, pollen, and nectar. Nucs are more expensive than packages, but they are easier to set up in a hive.
Create Your Hive
Set up your hive before the bees arrive, especially if you purchased a bee package. You don't want your bees to be left alone for days while you get your act together. Depending on how many frames the bees have filled, you may have a little more leeway with a nuc. With only five frames in a nuc, they may be close to capacity and will want additional space shortly.
The amount of time required to set up your hive depends on what you purchased. It only takes a few minutes to put together fully assembled and painted boxes, as well as assembled frames and foundation. If, on the other hand, you purchased unassembled equipment, you will need time to put it together.
Set Up Your Bees In A Hive
If you followed our instructions, you ordered your bees in plenty of time to receive them after you set up your hive in early spring. Whether you purchased a bee package or a nuc, the way you put honey bees in the hive will differ. If your budget allows it, we recommend a nuc because it is much easier to install. Lift the frames with the bees on them and place them in your hive with your hive tool.
If there are any bees left in the nuc, shake them into the hive. Alternatively, put the nuc box in front of the hive and the bees will figure out where to go. Installing a bee package is a little more difficult. With a bee package, you place the caged queen in the hive and wait a few days for the colony to accept and release her. Shake the box to get other bees into the hive once the queen cage is in place.
What Are the Most Effective Beekeeping Techniques?
When first starting out in beekeeping, you should be aware of two extremely crucial beekeeping practises. These are beehive inspection and honeybee colony feeding.
Regular beehive inspections are necessary to ensure the health of your honeybee colony. Early detection of problems in the colony helps you to treat the issue before it overwhelms your honeybees. A beehive inspection checklist can help you make the most of every beehive inspection you perform.
Feeding the colony allows it to grow swiftly and survive adverse conditions such as winter. It is advised that a honeybee feeder be installed inside the beehive. It lessens the possibility of attracting bees from neighbouring colonies that turn out to be robber bees.
Continue Your Education in Beekeeping
You are now a beekeeper if you have honey bees in a hive. However, the ultimate goal is to become a successful beekeeper. Maintain your beekeeping education. Continue to learn by reading more books, watching more videos, exploring online material, and learning new things.
Take Care of Your Bee Colonies
Your job as a beekeeper is to manage and care for your livestock, the honey bees. As a new beekeeper, your primary goal should be to see your colonies through their first full year. To achieve that goal, you must actively maintain your hives.
Consider your health and safety
Most beekeepers are stung on occasion and develop immunity to stings over time! Some people have severe allergic reactions to bee stings, including some beekeepers who always carry an epipen in case they are stung.
If you maintain bees at home, you should think about your neighbours. You may want to discuss your intentions with them; they may protest, so it's best to double-check before spending all of your hard-earned money; but, they may be interested in being a beekeeper as well!
Oz Armour UK is the place to buy real beekeeping suits
As of 2016, the most popular brand in Australia, New Zealand, and the rest of the world is OZ ARMOUR Beekeeping Protective Gear. If you wear OZ Armor, you will be safe for many years to come.
To make sure you are comfortable, the fabric has been thoroughly tested to see if it can protect you from stings and let air through. This brand is proudly Australian because it was made by Australian beekeepers for Australians.
Through charitable donations, OZ ARMOUR helps pay for the education of children from poor families.
Starting a backyard beekeeping hobby requires advance planning. If you follow the techniques outlined in this article, you will limit the likelihood of unpleasant surprises, which can be discouraging to new beekeepers. If you can get your bees to survive the first year, you'll be able to taste your own, gathered honey before you know it!