So we are into a new decade, and what better time to start Beekeeping? There are lots of reasons to start beekeeping now. Beekeeping is fascinating. It is a great way to get back in touch with nature, and a great way to get away from the stresses and strains of everyday life. If you have a garden, bees are the best pollinators there are, and you’ll see a real difference in your plants and flowers. Bees are under threat right now and really could use some help. And of course, all that delicious honey.
If you are thinking of starting beekeeping in spring or summer 2010, then the time to do something about it is now – by May or June it will really be too late for this year. Although you’ll probably not get your bees until then, you do need to put in a bit of groundwork now.
Bees can be difficult to source. This is partly because of the decline in bee numbers (mainly caused by colony collapse disorder), and partly because beekeeping is becoming more popular. Supply is down, demand is up, so you have to get in quick. If you are buying packaged bees, they will most likely be delivered in April or May. To be sure to get them before they are sold out, you need to get your order in now.
Nucleus hives will usually be available a bit later (May or June) but will also be scarce, so again if you want a nuc get your order in now. If you are hoping to get a swarm from your local beekeeping association, it will be first come first served – get your name onto the list right away.
While you are waiting for your bees, use the time to get ready for their arrival. Choose a spot for your beehive. You do not need a lot of space, but you do want somewhere that is reasonably dry, sheltered, and undisturbed. Once bees get accustomed to their new home, they will follow the same flight path as they travel to and from the hive. Position your hive so that their path does not interfere with people (especially your neighbors).
Do lots of reading about beekeeping – Beekeeping Made Easy is a good starter guide, and there are many other beekeeping books to choose from. Decide which type of beehive you want to use. If you are going to build you own hive (which is less expensive and great way to learn about the different parts of the hive), get the plans and materials and assemble it in good time. Learn about the equipment you will need, and buy the essentials.
If there is one, join the local beekeeping association or group, and take a beginner beekeeping class. Beekeepers are generally very generous with their time and will happily share their knowledge with others interested in beekeeping – you will really benefit from their experience.
During the first few weeks after your bees arrive, the support of more experienced beekeepers will be especially welcome. Bees, like all living creatures, can behave in unexpected ways and you will undoubtedly encounter some problems.
But ask any beekeeper, the rewards of beekeeping outweigh these hundredfold.