How Do I Start Beekeeping?
Many people want to start this fascinating hobby but the biggest question is “How Do I Start Beekeeping?”
A hobby that involves looking after any animal should not be entered into without a lot of thought and it is important to gain some knowledge before you begin. This will make sure that you really believe it is for you and also you can dedicate the time required to looking after the bees.
Surely Bees Just Look After Themselves
Contrary to common belief bees do not look after themselves and just buying a hive of bees and leaving it at the bottom of the garden will do more harm than good for the bee population.
You do not need to harvest the honey unless you want to but it is a nice benefit of keeping bees and there are few things better than your own honey still warm from the hive.
So, Where Do I Learn To Be A Beekeeper?
First consider why you want to keep bees. Is it just for the pleasure of looking after this fascinating animal? Is it for the honey and other products of the hive or is it because you have heard that bee populations are in decline and you want to help save the world? A simple way to start with the basics is our e-book 101 Questions available here https://www.cotswoldbees.co.uk/product/pdf-book-101-questions-a-beekeeper-should-ask/
How Do I Find A Beginner Beekeeping Course?
The first thing to do before you go any further with your plans is to go on a beekeeping course. This will enable you to decide if it really is for you. When choosing a course make sure that it is one where you actually get to handle bees. The theory is important but some people find that whilst they find the whole beekeeping world fascinating when they actually get to experience 50,000 insects in one place beekeeping is not for them.
Finding a course where you will actually handle the bees will mean that in the UK your course will be sometime between the beginning of April and the end of August. Courses tend to get booked up very quickly and if you want to book on one of our day or two day courses click on this link. http://www.cotswoldbees.co.uk/courses
If you are unsure if you really want to go ahead then book on the one day course – you can always book day 2 later. If you have already decided that beekeeping is for you then go ahead directly to the two day course.
Where Can I Keep My Bees?
The next thing to consider is where you will keep your bees. Hopefully this will have been covered on your course. There are no specific laws in the UK relating to where you can keep bees and so all you need to worry about here is common sense. If you live in a flat with no garden or only have a tiny space then you are going to need to find somewhere away from home to keep your bees. This is not usually a problem as there are many people ho want bees on there land but don’t want to keep them themselves. Your local beekeeping association will often be able to help here.
What Beekeeping Equipment Will I Need To Start Beekeeping?
Having found your site the next thing to do is actually acquire the equipment you need and of course some bees. The minimum you will need is as follows:
A hive – we recommend National or WBC – you decide if you want it in kit form or fully assembled.
A hive tool
A feeder and
Gloves – new washing up gloves are far better than the thick gauntlets you can buy and so much cheaper.
If you want to buy your equipment from us then follow this link
When Is A Good Time To Start Beekeeping?
In the UK the beekeeping season runs roughly from the middle of April to the end of September. The later in the season you get your bees the more difficult you will find it. We recommend starting no later than the end of June. This way you will have time to learn and also time to get your bees ready for the winter. You may even get some surplus honey in your first year. What a bonus!
If you can the best thing to do is start in April or May.
Where Do I Get My Bees?
Finally, the great moment when you actually acquire your bees. There are various ways of getting hold of bees and they have advantages and disadvantages.
You may get offered a swarm. The great advantage here is that they should be free and this is a considerable saving. The disadvantage is that you do not know their temperament, how old the queen is and most important if they are free of disease.
The alternative is to buy from a reputable breeder. Here the main disadvantage is cost. However, you should get a nucleus of bees that is of good temper, with a young queen and from disease free stock. The nucleus should also come with the correct balance of old and young bees together with brood at all stages and a balance of honey and pollen for feed.
If you want to order a nucleus of bees from us please click here https://www.cotswoldbees.co.uk/beekeeping-equipment/ Please note we do not deliver bees (you need to collect).
How Much Time Does Beekeeping Take?
During the inspection season (approximately April to August in the UK) you will need to inspect your have every seven to ten days.
Each hive will take about twenty minutes to inspect. If you are going on a two week holiday then that will be ok but if you are away for more than two weeks you need someone else to help you.
Hopefully you will also need to set aside time twice a year to extract your honey crop and most hobby beekeepers find that this can be completed in a day. You should allow some extra time if you are going to put your honey into jars and stick on labels.
As you can see beekeeping is not a massively time consuming hobby.
What Happens If I Decide Beekeeping Is Not For Me After I Have My Bees?
The great thing about beekeeping is that there is a large community of beekeepers. If you are a member of your local association then there will almost certainly be someone who will buy your bees and equipment from you.
If you do decide to stop beekeeping it is really important that the bees get a new home and are not just left at the bottom of the garden or in some field as they may become diseased and spread that throughout the area.
I Think I Want To Go Ahead But I Would Like To Speak To Someone First
Fine, drop us an email using the contact us form on this site and we will get back to you.
Good luck and welcome to this fantastic hobby.