Beekeeping is a great pastime for beginners and a fun way to improve your garden. It also provides a range of other benefits, including exercise and stress relief.
There are many beekeeping courses available, which can help you learn the skills and get started on a rewarding hobby. However, it’s important to find a good source of information and advice first.
Buying a beehive
The beehive is the heart of beekeeping and provides honeybees with a safe place to store their food reserves and raise the constant supply of young needed to keep colonies healthy.
Beehives come in all shapes and sizes, but the most common is the Langstroth hive. Invented in 1852, it is still the standard worldwide for both professional and hobbyist beekeepers.
A typical Langstroth hive has two deep boxes, two shallow super boxes, frames, foundations and a telescoping top cover. These are shipped unassembled to protect them from damage, but they are easily assembled once you have your bees.
If you are a new beekeeper, a great starter kit is the BuildaBeehive Gold Standard. It comes with two brood boxes and a super box, which is something that you can’t always get when you buy a super box separately.
The hive is made from pine and can be painted or treated to make it last longer. It also comes with all the tools that you will need to start beekeeping, including a hive tool and smoker.
Choosing a supplier
A good supplier will have a wide range of equipment that meets your needs. They can also help you get started with beekeeping by offering educational videos and in-person classes.
A reputable supplier should have a number of satisfied customers who can vouch for their quality and customer service. You should speak to these contacts and ask for case studies or testimonials.
Choosing the right supplier is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a beekeeper. It’s not enough to choose a supplier on price – reliability and speed of delivery are equally important.
It’s also important to decide whether you want a package or nuc or if you want wild swarms. Purchasing packages and nucs is more expensive than trapping a wild swarm, but you’ll get more bees, including queens.
If you choose to buy a package or nuc, order as early in the year as possible. This will give you time to set up your hive and ensure that the bees are well cared for during transport.
Hive inspections are essential for beekeepers to keep an eye on their colonies. They allow you to check the condition of your bees and help you find any signs of disease or pest infestation.
Inspecting a beehive doesn’t have to be a daunting task, especially for beginners. With a little practice, the techniques used for hive inspections will become second nature, and you’ll be able to get an idea of the health of your colony in no time.
The key is to make sure you’re prepared for your hive inspections by wearing the correct beekeeping gear. This includes a complete bee suit, gloves, veil, smoker and hive tool.
Using smoke can also help you to calm the bees when they get agitated during your inspections. Just be careful not to blow too much smoke into the hive.
Swarm control is the process of managing swarms of bees that leave a colony to find a new home. This usually involves removing them from their existing nest location or capturing the swarm and transferring it to another location.
There are several different methods for swarm control, some of which mimic the natural swarming process. These methods can be effective but they are often time consuming and require additional equipment.
The most common swarm control method is to split the hive. This is done by moving the queen out of the hive and separating the brood from the swarm cells.
The queen is then requeened with a virgin queen from the same colony. This allows the original colony to continue producing honey, whilst ensuring that a new queen will be selected in due course.