Do I need a course before starting?

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N5776 

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Hi everyone,

Im keen to start beekeeping, but there aren’t many courses because of COVID restriction....i would value some advice as to whether reading and researching is enough to get started or if i should really go on a course? I’m based near Stafford and there seem to be courses, just not running.
There is so much information about what to buy and conflicting information as to what to buy to start, I’m keen to see if second hand available and also thought a course might be good to help establish some links....

Any advice or pointers gratefully received.

Martin
 

Curly green finger's 

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Hi everyone,

Im keen to start beekeeping, but there aren’t many courses because of COVID restriction....i would value some advice as to whether reading and researching is enough to get started or if i should really go on a course? I’m based near Stafford and there seem to be courses, just not running.
There is so much information about what to buy and conflicting information as to what to buy to start, I’m keen to see if second hand available and also thought a course might be good to help establish some links....

Any advice or pointers gratefully received.

Martin
Hi Martin you don't need to do a course but some practical experience would help.
If I was you I would join your local association and see if some one local can give you some practical lessons show you the ropes. Or even be a mentor.
Read books, watch videos and follow some good beekeepers on the Web.

Saying that I mentor 2 familys via WhatsApp and they have no prior experience, which in its self isn't easy but I'm always on the end of the phone.
If it wasn't for covid they would of had more practical but hey ho!.

Most associations are running zoom meetings which is worth thinking about.
Good luck and welcome.
 

victor meldrew 

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My standard reply to such Questions is get a feel for bees . Courses are ideal . Bide your time . If possible find a reputable bee keeper and offer to help him . This way before spending a penny on equipment you will establish whether you are psychologically and physically suited to beekeeping.
approach your entry into the craft with caution, it will make the difference between a trauma and the start of a lifelong enjoyable passion ,
 

N5776 

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Thank you both for your both for your replies....it makes a lot of sense to join a local association...and hopefully get a feel for things. As Victor M points out I may regret an over zealous start....I just need to curb my enthusiasm to ensure I make sensible choices.

thank you again

Martin
 

toffa987 

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N5776 

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Thank you, I’ve done that and sent my local club an email to see if they have any lectures/zoom meets I can attend.

martin
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Here are a few YouTube links for some good Beekeeping Channels. There are way more than these but these are a few of my favourites.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3mjpM6Av4bxbxps_Gh5YPw - Like this one, loads of good videos.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-xczyljpDKuM00-45OUrvg - This ones quite good - follows a story.

- This one is to a direct video.
I would steer well clear of all of those to be honest, firstly they're American so their beekeeping methods are different to ours and to be honest, youtube in general is not a good place to start to learn beekeeping, There are some sites which are pretty good and I'll let others on here guide you towards them.
the same with books there are good, bad and quite a few triflingly mediocre.as a start get 'Bees at the bottom of my garden' by Alan Campion just to get a 'feel' for the craft then a slightly more technical but beginner orientated book - The Haynes Beekeeping manual, there are loads of others but these will do for a start
 

toffa987 

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I would steer well clear of all of those to be honest, firstly they're American so their beekeeping methods are different to ours and to be honest, youtube in general is not a good place to start to learn beekeeping, There are some sites which are pretty good and I'll let others on here guide you towards them.
the same with books there are good, bad and quite a few triflingly mediocre.as a start get 'Bees at the bottom of my garden' by Alan Campion just to get a 'feel' for the craft then a slightly more technical but beginner orientated book - The Haynes Beekeeping manual, there are loads of others but these will do for a start


You're right. Good point.
 

Erichalfbee 

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Thank you, I’ve done that and sent my local club an email to see if they have any lectures/zoom meets I can attend.

martin
Add this to your list. It’s a very good blog and quite extensive
The Welsh beekeeping association has a decent archive of colony management too. WBKA Document Library – Welsh Beekeepers' Association
 

Gilberdyke John 

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Hi everyone,

Im keen to start beekeeping, but there aren’t many courses because of COVID restriction....i would value some advice as to whether reading and researching is enough to get started or if i should really go on a course? I’m based near Stafford and there seem to be courses, just not running.
There is so much information about what to buy and conflicting information as to what to buy to start, I’m keen to see if second hand available and also thought a course might be good to help establish some links....

Any advice or pointers gratefully received.

Martin
Many beekeeping associations are setting up zoom training courses which will start soon. Barkston Ash Beekeeping Association has a website (currently being modified but you should be able to view most of it) which should help to get a feel for things. Their training is free to paid up members but I can't speak for others.
 

pargyle 

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Hi everyone,

Im keen to start beekeeping, but there aren’t many courses because of COVID restriction....i would value some advice as to whether reading and researching is enough to get started or if i should really go on a course? I’m based near Stafford and there seem to be courses, just not running.
There is so much information about what to buy and conflicting information as to what to buy to start, I’m keen to see if second hand available and also thought a course might be good to help establish some links....

Any advice or pointers gratefully received.

Martin
The bottom line is:

Yes, a course can help but even the association courses vary in quality and content - I found it was helpful to spend some time reading some beebooks beforehand - as JBM said - Bees at the Bottom of the Garden and the Haynes Manual are good entry points and will give you a grounding in the language and terminology - it will also give you enough knowledge to know what questions you need to ask.

Some time with the bees is critical - it is an expensive hobby in the early stages, quite an investment is required and you would not be the first person to find after a year or two that it's too much of a commitment or even having got your bees been ovecome by the the realisation of dealing with tens of thousands of stinging insects. I'm not discouraging you .. just find a way to get hands on with some bees.

If you start without some idea of the type and style of bee equipment that suits you personally you can end up with kit that you find you don't like .. try as many styles and type before you invest, Changing from one hive format to another is expensive and mismatched kit is very frustrating.

Lastly, second hand kit is a lottery ... beekeepers are a frugal lot - if they are selling it then it is either useless or no longer of use to them - determining which category this falls into needs an experienced eye. I know a new beekeeper who bought 6 new brood boxes for a bargain price .. the seller did not specify what type of boxes - they were beautifully made by someone ... unfortunately the national frames he bought separately would not fit in the boxes, the boxes were too small for ANY standard frames. There is a risk if you don't know where the kit has come from and what it's history is .. bee diseases and pathogens can remain in the hive when a colony has died out - to reappear when the boxes are re-populated. There can be bargains where a beekeeper is giving up but unless you are very lucky don't expect cheap .. it's a competitive market place so bargains are hard to find. You can save some money by DIY - buy in the complicated bits and if you are at all handy and have a few basic tools, make the simple bits.

New kit in the sales is often good value but, until you have some knowledge, you won't know what to look for. If you can find a local bee buddy or mentor to get alongside it will help you in making the decisions - more so if you can lend a hand for a season, save up and have a plan.

Lots to think about .. perhaps a year of getting to grips with the craft, reading, learning, watching in the present situation with Covid is no bad idea.

Good luck, if you like it - you will be drawn in - and it becomes compulsive.
 

Swn58 

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As with most things, it's a matter of knowing what questions to ask. It may be easier to get a couple of books that you can dip into when such questions pops up? I have a copy of the Collins Beekeeping Bible and am very lucky to have a copy of Ted Hooper's Guide to Bees and Honey.
The more you learn, the more questions you will have. You will create your own ever increasing circle of knowledge, but with even more questions. This will be never ending, in regard to beekeeping. Some find this fascinating, annoying and even too much to handle. Welcome and never forget, Insanity is just around the corner! :willy_nilly:
 
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Philrob 

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As a relative newbie myself (just completing my 2nd year) my suggestions are:
  • You have to experience the inside of an active hive before you start. On my beginners' course, a couple of people decided it wasn't for them after the first week (others quickly took their place)
  • Join the local association, they may well be able to lend you a suit (my association had suits for the beginners). The association may also find someone you can 'assist' when they do their first inspections in the spring. Our local association shop also has equipment at sensible prices (they pass on the savings from bulk purchases).
  • Via the association you might be able to 'host' a hive for a season by hosting the 'out apiary' of a fellow member - I started beekeeping following our local mole catcher using our paddock for a couple of hives - then I went on a beginners course.
  • Watch the Norfolk Honey beginners videos on YouTube they give a good understanding of the basics for UK (not American) bees.
  • If you do go-ahead to keep your own hives - get good clothing - you have to be confident that you are 'safe' when working with bees (I have had a couple of bad reactions to stings so know I have to be careful).
  • Keep records, it is a pain but if you don't you will regret it.
  • The fruit trees in our garden were transformed the year the mole man put his hives in - clearly there hadn't been enough pollinators in the area - keeping bees (even as an out apiary) is a good thing to do.
Beekeeping is a marathon, not a sprint, unfortunately despite all the books and videos, it takes first-hand experience to learn the art. Have fun.
 

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