Info needed on how to start up in Beekeeping?

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paulusby 

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I live in Derry, N. Ireland. I am keen to get started in beekeeping so that I can have my own honey. Where do I start? Where can I buy the bees, hives and equipment. Is it an easy hobby to get into? how much honey can I expect from a hive?

Lots of questions, hope you all have the answers!

Paul
 

Monsieur Abeille 

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Hi Paul - having just got into it this year, can certainly recommend it is very rewarding.

This not the best time of year to start up as the bees will shortly be shutting down for winter. I would strongly recommend you use the coming months to get yourself on a course and read some books. There is a lot to learn, in fact I think its fair to say you will never stop learning.

Also find out where your local beekeeping association is and get attached to that.

Once youve learnt all about it, come spring you will be able to contact local suppliers of bees and equipment.

Good luck with it
 

Queens59 

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From what I read on here - re honey...bad year...nothing / good years...loads...!
 

drex 

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Started this year myself.

For me the courses from local association were essential. Theory course started in Feb, and in May we then went for practical tuition at the tutors apiary.

On the theory course we were given advice about equipment that is essential and that which would be good to have, and where to get it, and pros and cons of all that is available. Reading was recommended - Guide to bees and honey by Ted Hooper is the best for me.

The practical course was good to boost confidence and to really see if it was for me. I was even given a swarm through the class, and some have had second hand equipment.

It was suggested we start up slowly and build up our bees with our confidence, but as it happens I now have 3 colonies in my first season.

Making plenty of mistakes, which I can now usually recognise myself now ( unfortunately still usually after the event), but plenty of good advice on this forum, and on going support from tutor.

I am loving it.

Have fun, but first I suggest you arrange a taster, either with your local association or by volunteering to help a local beekeeper, as it can be costly, and you might find it is not what you thought nor to your tastes.
 

Rosti 

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I live in Derry, N. Ireland. I am keen to get started in beekeeping so that I can have my own honey. Where do I start? Where can I buy the bees, hives and equipment. Is it an easy hobby to get into? how much honey can I expect from a hive?

Lots of questions, hope you all have the answers!

Paul
Firstly welcome. I am stuck in a Spanish hotel on business so thanks for the opportunity to while away 10 mins!

Your first stop should be your local association, if only to make sure that you still have the enthusiasm to keep the little blighters after you've got up close to them. Once there you can also get first hand local knowledge and look into their training programs (usually a fee for new members but often results in your first colony!). Worth also getting stung to see how you react before you fork out for gear.
Don't spend a penny until you have confirmed you have a suitable site for them with sufficient distance from neighbours / general public to make it viable. There are several previous threads on this subject within this forum - try the search option for things like 'suitable site'; 'training' etc, also post in the 'mentor wanted section' of the forum
To take your questions in rough order.

Where do I start?
Your local association and a couple of good books for the winter. The bit you should also consider is when do I start?, too late for this year I would suggest so get your names on next years training course pronto

Where can I buy the bees?
Often if you do a course at your local BKA you'll get your own colony to take home as part of the price! Then various web advertised places along with a number on this forum. This years prices were high for nucs, possibly because of so much interest in taking up the hobby, avg £120 a nucleus colony perhaps. You can also try a bait hive (search it in threads here)

hives and equipment.
Chose or hive style first and what style of keeping you want to follow. Most are on Nationals I wld guess. You can do a lot worse than the budget starter pack from thornes which is a complete hive for about £115. Equip: Suit £50; various tools £30, smoker £20; couple of feeders £15; presents for your other half 'cause you re always with those damn bees' £priceless

Is it an easy hobby to get into?
Easy to get into harder to become really proficient, thats where the support of your local association / mentor comes in - and books. Manual of Beekeeping; Cramp and Bees & Honey; Hooper

how much honey can I expect from a hive?
Varies - of course. Say an average 3 supers (1 spring, 2 main flow) at 7.5Kg per super
 

garethbryson 

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Hi, I'm in Ballyronan(Just outside Cookstown) I just started this year. if you PM me i'll give you the number of the woman in Cullybackey thay taught our beginner course. She should be able to help you.

Gareth....
 

Midland Beek 

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I live in Derry, N. Ireland. I am keen to get started in beekeeping so that I can have my own honey. Where do I start? Where can I buy the bees, hives and equipment. Is it an easy hobby to get into? how much honey can I expect from a hive?

Lots of questions, hope you all have the answers!
Do you want us to keep your bees for you as well?
 

Arfermo 

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Ted Hooper's book "Guide to Bees and Honey" is tops for a newbie - amazingly easy read and gets the basics sorted. Amazon do it for about £8 when the normal retail is £12.99 - or that was the price last year!!

Arfermo
 

roymichaeldean 

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New Boy

Hi

I just went to a local Beekeepers Open day last Sunday....bought a hive which arrived yesterday from Modern Beekeeping...today i am painting the polycarbonate hive ( Langstroth )...tomorrow I am coating the frames..and by this weekend I should be ready........just need to find some bees...who want to come and live with me....

Why waste time......??

regards


Roy
 

susbees 

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Hi

...today i am painting the polycarbonate hive ( Langstroth )...

Why waste time......??
Firstly the hive will be HD polystyrene, the BeeHaus is polycarbonate and does not need painting. Shame, camouflage would be an improvement.

Second, an Open Day is a long way short of what will greet you when you open a grumpy hive of 50000 bees and can't find eggs and find a pile of capped queen cells and don't know what to do...

...then the amazingly patient people who know what they're doing on here (and I count myself only part way in this) will have to explain for the zillionth time whilst hoping you're not keeping it in your small, urban garden.
 

SteveJ 

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I frequently get people on the allotments where I keep my bees coming up to me and asking how to get started and I always say:

  • Go on a course.
  • Join the local association.
  • Get lots of advice.

A lot of people arn't aware of whats involved and think they can just buy a box of bees on the internet, put them in the garden and then turn a tap on the side of the box to get the honey.

When I started I was given the following advice.

If you want to make a small fortune from beekeeping, start with large one

SteveJ
 

Rosti 

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Look, they are only bees after all! They aren't even big, how hard can it be?

:reddevil:
 

barratt_sab 

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Hello Paul,

As a newcomer, I would echo some of the previous comments. It is really easy to spend a lot of money very quickly when you first start, without really knowing if beekeeping is for you (bearing in mind that bees are not even domesticated livestock, never mind pets).

We took the following approach:


1. We joined the local association
================================
You can visit apiaries and handle bees for only the cost of a veil and a pair of marigolds (and sometimes you can borrow these for nothing).
You can get an insight into the likely time, effort and money you’ll need to commit.
You can ask experts about where you are thinking of keeping bees – it may not be suitable.
If you decide it is for you, you have access to real live experts (and insurance).


2. We read plenty of books
================================
I can recommend reading all of:

Beekeeping for Dummies by Kim Flottum, and Howland Blackiston
Bees at the Bottom of the Garden by Alan Campion
Practical Beekeeping by Clive De Bruyn
A Practical Manual of Beekeeping by David Cramp
Guide to Bees & Honey by Ted Hooper

I’m sure your local library will be able to supply them – ours did. Reading these books will give you an idea of what is involved, and will show you some of the (many!) different opinions on the best way to do things. I have tried to rank them in increasing order of “technicality”.

Once you’ve gone through these, get hold of a copy of

At the hive entrance: Observation handbook by H Storch
If you are anything like us, you’ll spend hours sitting watching the bees, and this is an interesting set of conclusions about what the outside activity tells you about what might be happening inside. It is hard to get hold of, but you might be able to download a copy from the interweb. I wish I had found this earlier – it would have resulted in fewer panics!

If you decide to go ahead, I’d also recommend

The Beekeepers Field Guide by David Cramp
which is a good summary of a lot of information in a small, portable volume.

And if you want a sense of the complexity of what you’re taking on, read:

The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism by Jürgen Tautz et al


3. We went on a course with the local association
===============================================
Nothing beats hands-on tutorials; sometimes the book descriptions just don’t make any sense until you see it in real life.


4. We had a visit from an existing local beekeeper
================================================
He had a look at our garden, and talked to us about where we could put hives and where we shouldn’t.


5. We found some other new beekeepers in the area
================================================
This means that we are able to look at more than one hive each week. If you only have access to one hive, you cannot tell whether what you are seeing is normal or not. It also means you’ve got someone to talk to when things seem to be going wrong.


6. Then… we bought some hives and some bees
================================================
We probably paid more than we needed to for the hives, but that’s life.
We got one nuc from a local beekeeper (met through the association).
We got another nuc from a contact on this forum.



This sounds (and looks) like a long list, but it meant that we were able to see if it was really for us without spending a huge amount of money. For us, it was about a year from first thoughts to first bees.

If you feel put off by having to wait to get going, remember you could quite happily fill the rest of the summer handling bees on apiary visits with your local association, gaining experience that will be invaluable when you are standing (probably alone) at the side of your own hive full of bees for the first time.

Others would doubtless suggest a different route. My personal view is that you might consider taking the rest of this year to learn about beekeeping and to try out handling bees, and then start with a nuc next year.

Good luck

Stephen
 

madasafish 

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As a newbie this year,Barratt Sab says it all and I can add little.

Be aware that a number of books are availbale for free download from the internet - expecially the older ones. SO check first before you spend money.

I learned from hands on at North Staffs Beekeepers Aviaries. They were and are very patient with newcomers and taught me (and are still teaching me ) a great deal.

Learn to handle bees before you buy. It is essential - you may not like them or be allergic to stings.
Both are no gos..


And make sure if you do buy bees, you buy proven gentle ones. Take third party advice. I bought on the recommendation of a NSBKA member : she was 100% correct..

Remember : there is no alternative to practical experience...in beekeeping . It's rather like dealing with a pack of 7 years old kids whose moods alternate depending on the weather and what they had for breakfast and lots of things you know nothing about. Except bees have stings...

I have to say it's great fun.
 
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kazmcc 

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Look, they are only bees after all! They aren't even big, how hard can it be?

:reddevil:
lol, and remember...they are women ;)

Seriously, I am very new to this. I handled the bees for the first time yesterday, but I am part of a project and we are doing things a bit differently. The important thing is we have a very experienced bee keeper taking us through our first year at every step.

The people on this forum are great, I have learnt loads on here. They know what they are talking about and if they recommend waiting and learning first, then that's what you should do. I would recommend you stick around on this forum and read the various posts - that way you will get an idea of the complexities of what you are hoping to get into, from basic hygiene, to swarm control and queen rearing.

I hope you find it's for you, I was terrified of them until my first hive visit. I am so glad I did it, it has given me so much :)

See you around, hopefully

Karen
 

Mushy Bees 

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What about yees hey? (I lived in Derry once).

Before getting my bees I got myself stung to make sure I didn't have an allergy. I'd suggest doing this before throwing any money at what is turning out to be a fantastic but bloody expensive hobby!

Join an Association
Read the threads on this Forum
Ted Hooper
 

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