Looking for a relaxing pastime activity? Why not try beekeeping?
Beekeeping is wonderful, enjoyable, and rewarding. For any budding gardener, beekeeping is quite satisfying. The health benefits and taste of honey itself should motivate you to start beekeeping.
What’s more, bees are good for the garden. Did you know bees pollinate over 80% of flowering plants on earth? A single colony can pollinate over 300 million flowers a day. You can imagine the benefits the bees will add to your garden.
For amateur beekeepers, the activity can be daunting when you don’t know where to start. What kind of hives do you get? Where do you set the hives?
In this post, I’ll guide you on the basics of beekeeping.
Beginner Beekeeping – Where to Start
You need to know where to start if it’s your first time keeping bees. Where do you keep the bees?
Bees don’t need a lot of space. But you need plenty of flowers for the bees to forage.
The first thing for anyone looking to start beekeeping is to attend a course. You need to attend beekeeping and learn all the basics of beekeeping.
Search for a reliable course that lasts at least 16-20 hours. Attending a course will help you network with other beekeepers.
You can also search for a local beekeeping branch. The branch will have enough information on beekeeping in your local area. Learning and connecting with fellow beekeepers can help you learn and avoid costly mistakes from the start.
Find a Place to Keep the Bees
What place are you going to keep the bees? Do you have some unused farmland? Bees can do pretty well in the following areas:
- Unused farmland
- In your garden
- Rooftop gardens
- Suburban allotments
- Nearby apiaries
As indicated earlier, bees don’t need a lot of space. But you’ll need a lot of flowers for them to forage on.
Work out your budget and time available for beekeeping
You need a budget, as beekeeping does incur some costs. How much are you going to spend on hives and frames? Set a budget for the hives, frames, clothing, basic tools, feeder, and first bee nucleus.
Once you have the budget ready, check the available time you have for looking after the hives. Depending on the number of hives you’ll set up, you need enough time to care for each of them.
A single bee hive requires at least 30 minutes a week. Can you spare 30 minutes a week? If you have more hives, then you need to be sure you have enough time.
Equipment needed for beekeeping
With a beekeeping course done and a place to keep the bees located, it’s time you get the equipment.
Before you get the bees (which I’ll talk about shortly), make sure every piece of equipment is in place. Below is a list of essential beekeeping equipment:
- A hive
- Hive frames featuring a wax foundation
- A single-piece bee suit
- Gloves and boots for protection
- A smoker which helps calm the bees
- A hive tool for inspecting the bees
- A feeder when giving bees extra nourishment
- A nucleus or a ‘nuc’ of bees which is a small honey bee colony
You need to have all the equipment in place and working. As for protection, consider a single-piece suit, with gloves and boots. Most bee supplies come with a starter which includes a hive and the necessary clothing.
Obtain the bees
You need your first starter or bee nucleus to start your first beehive. You need to know where to buy the bees. Consider buying your bees from local groups.
Some groups allow you to borrow and keep the hives for a short period as you monitor and decide whether to keep them permanently. They also provide an experienced supervisor within the period of monitoring.
Check local groups that offer bees for sale or rental. Since you’re a beginner, ask for easy colonies that are easy to rear.
Consider health and safety
If you’re keeping bees at home, then you need to consider your safety and those of your neighbors. Most beekeepers get stung and become immune to swelling over time. But a few can develop a severe reaction.
Consider having some epipen in case you’re stung. Talk with your neighbors about your plans and let them know you’re into beekeeping. Discuss your plans and advise them on necessary safety measures.
Understand your purpose for keeping the bees
Why are you keeping the bees in the first place? Make sure you know the purpose.
Most people keep bees for honey and wax. But you can also keep bees for biodiversity and the environment. I’ve already mentioned the importance of bees in your garden.
You can also keep bees as a hobby. It’s an entertaining exercise that will keep you happy and engaged.