The graceful, quiet and absorbing art of beekeeping has fascinated man for thousands of years. A long time ago, we changed our perspective. We used to be "honey grabbers", perfectly willing to completely destroy a beehive to get to the honey.
Then we turned the corner and realized that bees didn't need to be "expendable". Instead, someone had the idea we could somehow access honey without having to start again each time. Suddenly there was an interest in the keeping of bees.
Some bright spark decided to call this beekeeping!
Today many commercial beekeepers are at the other end of the spectrum. The benefits we see from bees are evident in a commercial context, so we use bees as a utility, of sorts, bringing them in to work their pollinating magic. It's science, nature, commerce and finance all rolled into one industry.
These two perspectives - bees as disposable honey machines and bees as a utility - have similarities. Yet there's space for someone else.
This is someone who has a deep appreciation for what bees do for us, a fascination for how they live their lives and how they collaborate. This person enjoys the craft of selecting, setting up and tending to a beehive. And there is a sense of being closer to nature with every hive inspection and, yes, every jar of honey. All this and an appreciation of the local benefits experienced through the magic dance of pollination.
This person is the hobbyist beekeeper.
A course like ours can help build fundamental knowledge of bees and beekeeping. There are many wonderful books on beekeeping too.
Yet the only true, effective way to learn and enjoy beekeeping is.... to just do it.
So in this final element of our course, we provide a simple path for taking what you have learned via and actually making it real.
First, just tell yourself that this is finally the year you will become a beekeeper. Although we have covered lots of ground in our course, starting up really isn't that difficult.
Here is a whistle stop tour of some of the more important things you should consider to kick things off.
Know your bees
Get to know how bees live their lives.
Decide whether natural beekeeping is for you.
Find a location
Check out your garden as a suitable location.
In the city? Perhaps that's not a problem - there's always urban beekeeping!
Don't forget to consider the neighbors.
Still not sure? Consider looking after a beehive on someone else's land.
Join with others
Join a beekeeping club. Ask questions, borrow equipment and enjoy good company.
Don't wait for the spring - if you are looking for a package of bees, get your order in early!
If you can't find a package, consider a nuc.
If you are a new beekeeper, wait till another day to capture a swarm.
Decide on your beehive(s)
Not sure which type of hive to buy?
Want plenty of honey? Consider a Langstroth.
Like the way nature does things? Think Warre.
Don't fancy lugging around heavy boxes of honey? A Top Bar hive may be right for you.
Like pine? Absolutely and it works well - but make sure you understand the benefits of cedar.
One beehive? Two is better.
Purchase clothing and equipment
Whatever you do - wear a veil!
Want to be well-covered but also want convenience? Choose a jacket and veil.
Want an easy way to kick off the whole shebang? Check out Starter Kits.
Install your beehive and bees
What is your choice of bees - Italian, Russian, something else?
Don't forget that you might need to feed your bees.
Keep them healthy
Know the important threats to bees.
And with that your journey starts and so does the real learning....
Have fun and good luck!