Here you can find helpful answers to some of the more common questions.
Even though beekeeping is an exciting and rewarding hobby it is not suited to everyone. To be a beekeeper you must be comfortable handling bees, not be put off at being occasionally stung, and also have somewhere to keep them. You should first contact your nearest association and ask if you can attend an apiary meeting – these usually run from April until September. There you will meet with like-minded members who share the same passion. It’s always worth reading up on beekeeping in advance so that you understand the terminology used. At a meeting you will typically encounter bees, look into hives, and generally observe how a beekeeper, and their bees, go about their business. You’ll be able to talk to other members and raise any issues you might have. First-hand experience alongside experienced beekeepers is the best way to learn.
1. A good reference book
2. Hive – with frames with foundation
3. Bees with laying queen
4. Bee suit and veil
5. Boots or wellingtons (bees like to crawl up)
6. Gloves – latex or washing-up are suitable
8. Hive tool
9. A feeder to feed your bee’s sugar syrup
10. A suitable site to locate your hive
The time you spend beekeeping varies throughout the year. During the winter there is almost nothing to do, except for maybe the occasionally look. Your busiest time will be the early summer when you should check your hive weekly to look for any problems and to add supers. This need take no longer than a few minutes when you get the hang of it.
If you want to get the best out of your new hobby it is wise to join a local association. Here you will be in touch with experienced beekeepers willing to share their extensive knowledge with you. You will also learn about any local problems and conditions effecting bees and what you can do about them.
Not in the UK.
You can start beekeeping at anytime, but as there is nothing much happening during the winter, an ideal time to start would be late summer. Start by first researching beekeeping, read as much as possible, joining your local association and attending their apiary meetings.
ake a look at our bee identification guide to see what it is.
Buy the best you can afford. As a newcomer to beekeeping you need to feel comfortable around bees. A good suit should give this security enabling you to fully enjoy this rewarding hobby. See links page
Ask your local association. They may have spare equipment that you can either loan or buy, but be wary of buying second-hand equipment, as this may harbour diseases which can lye dormant for many years. Some larger suppliers provide a mail order service. See links page
Talk to your local association in the first instance. You may find that they know of a beekeeper who is reducing the number of hives they have. They may also be willing to split a colony for you. Some beekeepers will capture a swarm, but doing this is not for the inexperienced. It can be done but as a beginner it is not something you should attempt yourself, better that this is left to an experienced beekeeper. There are problems with swarms, other than the obvious of capturing the bees, in that the swarm may be carrying disease with them. You can buy a ‘package’ of bees by mail order and have it delivered by post. If you are doing this then you should engage the services and experience of a seasoned beekeeper to install the nucleus, or Nuc as it’s more commonly called.
Yes, it’s not pleasant but inevitable. Some people may have an allergic reaction to being stung, but usually if you have been stung the skin swells up for just a short while. You will see that more experienced beekeepers do not wear gloves this is because they have become almost immune to stings.
At their peak, usually mid summer, the bees can exceed 35,000 but reduce to around 5,000 in the winter.
Yes. If you decide that’s where you want to keep your bees there are other factors to consider; the size of your garden, the location of the hive in the garden, and more importantly the consideration of your neighbours. Talk to your neighbours first and explain why you want to keep bees and how beneficial it would be to the environment and their garden.
You may start off with one colony but you should think about keeping two colonies by your second year. There are sensible reasons for doing this. If you should loose your single colony, you will have to start all over again. Having two colonies will enable you to compare them and spot any differences. It also gives you the opportunity, should the colonies be small, of combining them to make one strong colony to get them through the winter months.
If you join a local association it is likely that you will also become a member of the British Bee Keepers' Association (BBKA) where you are covered for third party risks and product liability.
Bees fly as far as three miles to forage for food, but they will tend to stay closer to the hive if there is sufficient food for their needs.
If you have one hive you can expect in a good season 25kg or more. More realistically you could expect about 10kg of surplus honey. Don’t strip the hive of all its honey – it’s food for the bees too.
It is wise to keep a record card of what you have seen and done when inspecting the hive. This will give you written evidence of your bees and how they are doing. You must also record any medical treatment that is administered. This is compulsory for a food-producing animal.
This form will help you to keep accurate records of your hive.
A short guide to identifying honeybees, bumblebees, wasps/hornets and hoverflies.
Become a member. Complete this form for year commencing 1st November 2019/2020.