Beekeeping is one of the best hobbies you can take up. It counts as doing a good deed for the environment, because bee populations are diminishing and we need to do more to protect them. It will help your garden flourish by pollinating your flowers and fruit trees. Of course, it will also provide you with fresh and organic honey with many health benefits.
Although beekeeping can seem a bit scary at first, anyone can do it with the right mindset — provided you are not allergic to bees!
Of course, beekeeping is not a walk in the park, but a complex craft that requires many skills. But once you start the journey towards becoming a fully-fledged beekeeper, you will find that it is also incredibly rewarding.
What is it like to start beekeeping?
For most beekeepers, working with bees is a beloved hobby instead of a livelihood. Only very few people make their living with bees.
If you are dreaming of becoming a professional beekeeper, that is a possibility, but you can also just take it up as a fun amateur hobby.
Most beekeepers have just a few colonies and harvest only a little bit of honey they may either sell or keep for their own enjoyment. When you are just getting started, it is definitely best to keep it small-scale and just get to really know your bees.
Once you have more experience, skills and confidence, you might want to increase the scope of your bee farm and even make it a business. However, it is perfectly fine to just maintain a couple of hives in your backgarden.
Join a club or take a beekeeping course
Joining a beekeepers’ club means you will have access to the experience and resources of more seasoned beekeepers in your area. Many beekeeping clubs also organise regular meetups, events and even beekeeping courses for their members.
You can also take a beekeeping course to quickly build up your skills. There are many beekeeping courses ranging from online courses to weekend-long intensive courses. Find out what the options are in your area and get a head start in beekeeping!
Of course, a beekeeper also needs the appropriate equipment.
First of all, you need to have a home for your bees. There are various types of hives and hive designs. In recent times, more ‘natural’ types of hive such as Warré have become more prevalent.
Research which type of hive seems the most right for you. Hives can be bought or even built on hive-building courses. In addition to the hive, you will need hive accessories and other items like feeders.
Other important supplies include a veiled bee suit, hygienic cloves, a smoker to aide in calming the bees, and a hive tool to move frames with. There are a wide variety of suppliers to help you research and buy the right equipment.
Where do I get the bees?
Naturally, you will also need some bees. If you have joined a beekeepers’ association, you may be able to buy bees locally from another beekeeper. You may also be able to get a swarm from a local beekeeper who does swarm-collecting.
The most common way to get started is by acquiring a ‘nuc’ or a 5- or 6-frame nucleys of honey bees with a queen and all other vital components. These can be bought early in the season.
It is better to buy locally-bred bees than imported queens. Bees should be bought from reputable bee breeders. Do local research by asking other beekeepers to recommend you a good source of bees.