Have you ever considered becoming a beekeeper? There are many benefits to keeping bees, and it can be an interesting hobby. Bees help the environment by pollinating plants, which means they are essential for life on Earth!
Beekeeping is a complex and technical endeavour. Beekeeping is made easier if you join a local Beekeepers Association, where you will be assisted with advice, training, and assistance. Beekeeping is becoming more and more popular.
Many beginning gardeners and country folks are attracted to the health (and taste) benefits of natural honey, the soothing atmosphere of caring for your swarm, and the opportunity to do this work in an attractive environment.
This is a comprehensive guide for amateurs beekeepers, including what sort of hive to purchase, what equipment you’ll need, and how to gather that delicious honey…
Table of Contents
The benefits of beekeeping
Not only the honey harvest but helping to sustain an environment that is good for people and other animals. We all know the importance of bees as pollinators (which helps us produce food crops such as apples, oranges etc.), but did you also know they help trees survive because their combined weight supports branches that would otherwise break?
Another important benefit of beekeeping is knowledge: learning about how these amazing creatures live and work together will teach you a lot about nature and how it operates. You can then take this knowledge into your own garden where you’ll learn even more.
Beekeepers are typically very dedicated individuals who want to do what’s best for both themselves and others… so becoming one to help keep bees alive could be just right for you.
Where you can buy bees in the UK
Some BBKA local groups offer a try-before-you-buy plan, allowing you to borrow a hive and bees for a set period under the instruction of an experienced keeper. If everything goes well, you may buy the hive and bees – now happily established – from the association straight away if you like the process.
Check with your local beekeeping club to see whether there are any bees for sale or if they know of any bee auctions, which take place in May and June. Check out BeeCraft or other publications’ classified sections, or use a mail-order business like Thorne or National Bee Supplies.
Finally, be sure they’re gentle: bees have a wide range of temperaments, so it’s best to start with calm ones. Explain that you’re a novice and most breeders will locate you a simple colony.
Renting bees in the UK
If all this sounds a bit daunting, there is another solution. Renting bees can be an easier option than buying them – it also means you get to experience the beekeeping process without having to invest in your own hive or equipment straight away. It’s quite common for people who are renting their first set of colonies not to buy anything until they’re sure that beekeeping is something they want to continue with… so give it a try!
You may also promote your property through a community noticeboard or parish council newsletter. You can indicate your location on a map with Urban Bees and hopefully connect you with a local beekeeper if you live in the city or surrounding areas.
Contracts between local beekeepers and landowners are usually informal, while ‘rent’ is often a jar of honey for the hive each year. Keepers seek somewhere accessible by car, bright, protected, and with lots to forage nearby if the land isn’t suitable for beehives.
What equipment do you need as a beekeeper?
As a person starting out in the world of beekeeping, you’ll need some basic equipment and supplies:
The most important items are A hive (a standard Langstroth-style box is recommended), protective clothing and accessories such as gloves, veil or hat (all available from a local supplier or online).
Other necessary things include smoker fuel, smoker hooks for holding sticks with bellows attached; an entrance feeder which can be filled up when the honey bees arrive home before sunset; kennel boards for splitting boxes into smaller compartments; crown board/roofs for extra protection against heavy rain or cold weather conditions etc. You may also want to purchase a honey extractor if making your own golden nectar.
How to look after bees
The first thing to do is get the hive up and running. Place it in an open area, away from any trees or buildings (and don’t forget about your own house!)
Next, assemble equipment needed for inspections which will include a smoker with lit coal placed at the bottom of a thin metal container filled with wood shavings; lighter – use only when fuel has cooled down enough before moving on otherwise you could burn yourself or ignite materials nearby!
How to collect honey from your beehive
Honey is a type of liquid honey that worker bees produce. Honeybees store between 10kg and 30kg of honey in the hive during the winter, but they only require approximately 10kg to live.
The talent of the beekeeper is to know how much honey to take and, even more significantly, how much to leave for the colony to thrive. In August, you may collect your honey; by that time, most blooms will have opened. You should harvest around 18kg in a good summer.
How to produce beeswax
Beeswax is made from the glands of the honey bee. Bees produce it to form cells for rearing their young, and they use it in making new combs.
Building materials are almost all-natural products produced by plants or animals – worker bees have an amazing ability to convert nectar into wax so that you can harvest your own! It’s not too difficult either…
First, remove some old comb with a smoker filled with burning coals before melting the pieces over boiling water on low heat while stirring constantly until liquid wax appears.
You’ll then need to strain this material through muslin cloths but don’t worry if there are still impurities left after each process because these will be removed later when cleaning out frames thoroughly once cooled.