So, you’re thinking about keeping bees?
Whether you want 1 or 1000 hives, beekeeping can be a hugely rewarding hobby. Beehives take time; they need to be managed carefully, so before you get any hives, you should think about what you want to gain, and what you are willing to put in. It is also a good idea to gain practical experience, and your local beekeeping club is a great place to start. As well as giving you the opportunity to see what beekeeping is all about, you can also pick up handy tips from the experts. Most clubs hold regular meetings, which include current discussions and practical sessions to help new and old beekeepers alike.
Read, read, read
Buy or borrow a few good beekeeping books. Practical Beekeeping in New Zealand by Andrew Matheson and Murray Reid is a good book to start with. Exploring the Internet can also be a great resource, but be careful as there is some bad beekeeping advice out there.
Consider your equipment
It is important to consider the pros and cons of all options when it comes to deciding what equipment to buy, as it is a big investment and you’ll be living with your decisions for a long time. If you want your equipment to last it is worth paying a little more for better quality gear that will not fall apart or break.
No matter how careful you are, you are bound to get stung at least once in your beekeeping life. For most people the reaction shouldn’t be too severe, however, some people can have severe reactions, called Anaphylaxis. These should be treated seriously, with urgent medical attention. If you know that you or anyone around you may have a severe anaphylactic reaction to bee stings, then we recommend that an Epipen (adrenaline injection) is carried with you and that you are comfortable with dealing with this type of emergency.
Even if you intend to scale up your beekeeping operation, it’s a good idea to start out with two or three hives. Although you hopefully have some practical experience by this point, keeping your own bees is a new challenge, and keeping your hive numbers low will give you an idea of what it takes, and whether your location works. It’s helpful to have two or more hives for comparison and for equalizing winter stores and population for successful over-wintering.
Congratulations – you’ve started your beekeeping journey! Beekeeping is one of the most enjoyable and interesting endeavours you will ever encounter, but even seasoned beekeepers will tell you that it’s forever a work-in-progress. Do your best, keep learning, keep going, and have fun.