Aspiring beekeepers

We have meetings on the 3rd Wednesday of each month during the winter and these are listed on the Home page of the website. Anyone interested in finding out more about bees would be more than welcome to attend these.

You will not have to join right away. We aim to run a beekeeping course for beginners in the spring. I would advise to attend any course before you get your bees. Once you get your bees you should become a paid up member of a local association and with this of the BBKA with the benefits and regular information.

But first you could buy a beekeeping book to get a background on what's involved.

Bees at the Bottom of the Garden by Alan Campion and Gay Hodgson seems to be a good guide.

Also
Teach Yourself Beekeeping by Adrian Waring
and
Guide to Bees and Honey by Ted Hooper are recommended.

If you decide to keep bees, then you won't normally be able to get them until May/June. In September the bees are starting to go into winter mode, and will stay closed up till the next spring. Which means that in the apiary there is not much going on, the bees will live through the winter on the honey stores collected during the past year.

You will need to buy some equipment before you get your bees. There are many different types of hives available and it is useful to have guidance before making purchases.

Acquisition of bees

BUY IN LATE SPRING. Bees raised in the year bought. There will be a young healthy queen. The hive should make up well during the first year with no risk of swarming. Hive examinations will be easier with a small colony initially

Local bees - adapted to local conditions are best.

Buying from a commercial supplier (Thornes or other or breeder recommended by association). This is not the cheapest option but they will be certified disease free and good quality bees and will be suitable for beginners.

Buying at auction. These will have been checked by a bee inspector prior to sale - but not the easiest option for a beginner.

Buying from local beekeeper. IN THIS CASE IT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO HAVE THEM CHECKED BY THE LOCAL BEE INSPECTOR OR AN INDEPENDENT BEEKEEPER EXPERIENCED IN DISEASE DETECTION.

EFB has been found in some hives this year (2012). It is readily spread from one hive to another by drones (they can, and do, fly into other hives and may end up miles from home.

Early (or mild) infection with EFB is difficult to spot, but can be treated and the bees saved, but if left to get established can mean the bees need to be destroyed.

The bee inspector will be happy to inspect hives. It is his job to ensure disease is not spread.