– take a beginner’s course
Your local division will be able to help you with this. Theory courses normally run outside of the summer months, while practical courses are normally held in early summer. Contact your local division to find a course near you.
Read a book
Reading a book will give you some insight into what is involved in keeping honey bees as well as the equipment required and may help you decide if this is for you. Popular books include the following:
Bees at the Bottom of the Garden by Alan Campion is a wonderful introduction to the world of the honey bee and explains all aspects of its life cycle, how it forages and what goes on inside the hive.
Practical Beekeeping by Clive de Bruyn and Guide to Bees and Honey by the late Ted Hooper MBE are considered by beekeepers to be the essential reading of those wishing to pursue apiculture, or beekeeping. Both luminaries of the global beekeeping community, they also both honed their skills as members of the EBKA.
Contact your local beekeepers association
Some local divisions will be able to arrange an ‘introduction day’ or ‘taster session’ for you, with a qualified bee keeper. This will give you an idea of what to expect when opening a hive and how it feels to work with bees. You can then find out details from your local division or ask one of the beekeepers at any event where the EBKA has a stand.
Join your local beekeepers association
The most important step you can take in your journey into this exciting craft is to join your local division. This will give you access to training, research materials, equipment but most importantly you can gain experience in a safe and enjoyable environment.
Consider where to keep your hives
In the garden? Is there some land nearby where you can site your hives?
In a beginner’s course you will learn the best places to site your hives and how to set up your apiary so as not to present any danger to the public or to yourself.
Obtaining basic equipment
There are some basic pieces of equipment you will need, these include:
|Bee suit||£40 – 100|
|Gloves||£2 – 25|
|Smoker||£15 – 35|
|Hive Tool||£4 – 9|
|Hive||£120 – 300|
Remember when buying a hive, you will also need frames and wax foundation. You could also consider making your own hive using plans from the BBKA. There are other things you will need as your operation grows, or to make life easier.
Obtaining your bees
It is important that your bees are disease free and good tempered. Your local division will be able to help with advice of reputable breeders in your area.
A honey extractor is a most useful piece of equipment – it is used to remove the honey from the comb at the end of the season. An extractor can be purchased for anything between £100 to +£500 but you may be able to borrow one from your division.
Here are a couple of resources a reader has supplied: