Get Started with Honey Bees

baby bobby bee

So you want to know how to get started with honey bees?

  • You have probably heard that honeybees are an endangered species and need our help.
  • As it is that time of year, you have probably been to a country show and seen a bunch of people in funny white suits with a cut down of a hive and were fascinated about what the honey bees were doing inside it.
  • You have seen a TV program that was telling you that the world’s bees were in danger of being wiped out by dangerous chemicals and they need our help.
  • You received an email from a environmental charity asking you to do something to help our bees from planting wild flower seeds in your garden to taking part in a country wide bee count.
  • Or you have a friend who is always talking about their bees and how passionate they are about them and you have started to wonder what this bee thing is all about.

However, before you jump in with all  your enthusiasm what you need to ask yourself is:

Do I know if I am allergic to bee stings?

People know that bees sting because that is the first thing they get told.   What they don’t get told is that bees only sting if they feel threatened or afraid, which 98% of the time they are not, and are the most lovable, friendly insects imaginable.

However, that odd 2% of the time they will have a go at you!Bee Sting

If you are allergic to the contents of the sting you are either:

  • going to come away with either a mild swelling that itches for a couple of days or,
  • a trip to your local hospital’s A&E department as you have gone into a anaphylactic shock.

If the latter you should seriously think again about keeping bees.

baby bobby bee

Am I ready to start keeping bees?

You need somewhere to keep your bees, No, I don’t mean a hive.  I am thinking about space for a hive and type of location.

Siting  your bee hive, Where?

If its going to be in your back garden you have to make sure that they are far enough away as not to cause your neighbours any grief or, that there are no local ordinances stopping you from keeping bees.

If you have a farmer as a friend he will most probably welcome you with open arms so long as he knows that there will be no crop spraying anywhere round your hive.  Also, nowhere near public footpaths or bridleways.

The hive should be placed on a level piece of ground which is free of weeds.  Most of the hives I have listed are provided with a stand but ideally, you can raise them up even further onto blocks to avoid too much bending which will save the old back and will keep the floor of the hive dry.

Protect the hive from wind but avoid putting it under overhanging trees as to avoid moisture and rain from dripping onto the hive.

I have my hive facing in an easterly direction so that the early morning sun can start to warm up the hive and get the ladies up and out foraging.Hive Site

If you have them in your garden place the hive near a fence to force them to fly upwards to avoid a flight path that crosses your neighbour’s garden.

Take your time in choosing the site carefully so as to avoid having to move the hive later on as its in the wrong place.   This doesn’t mean you can’t move the hive at all but if you do it has to be done 3 feet at a time.

If you are still reading this chances are that you know where you are going to put your hive and you are still interested in giving it a go.   Here are a few things you need to get organised:

baby bobby bee

Ordering your honey bees

That’s funny I hear you say, why get bees when I don’t have a hive to put them in?

The simple answer,  is bee farms only have bees at certain times of the year and no matter when you think that you want to start you won’t get any bees until January of the following year.

You need to start looking online for suppliers and make contact with them and find out what kind of honeybees they sell.  More importantly, what kind of temperament do the bees have.

BeesMy advice is go for a bee with a mild temperament and doesn’t mind being handled by a clumsy beginner.   The last thing you need when starting out is to have a colony of bees that are going to attack you as soon as you get anywhere near the hive.   

When you order them you will be getting a Nucleus (Nuc) of bees.  This consists of 5 frames of healthy brood and food, Queen bee and a good amount of bees (between 10 and 15,000) give or take a few.   The majority will be worker bees (female) and a few Drones (males) thrown in for good measure.

My bees are Buckfast Bees and they are renowned for being docile, easily managed and tend not to swarm.

baby bobby bee

Beekeeping EquipmentBeekeeping Equipment

Ok, you have got your bees ordered and you know when you will have to collect them.   NOW, you can think about getting the equipment that you will need.

This is a list of everything that you will need to get started and what they are used for.

Provided you have a hive and equipment you are now ready to start your new hobby of beekeeping when your bees arrive.

 

baby bobby bee

Feedback

If you have found this information useful to you please leave a comment at the bottom of the page.

If you have any questions please email me at the address in my Contacts Page.

baby bobby bee

18 thoughts on “Get Started with Honey Bees

  1. Manasir

    Thanks for this article, I can find only few articles providing tips and tricks on bee keeping and found yours more interesting and nformarive. I always wanted to started this in a small scale reason being I’m not aware of much information needed to start it. Your article and your site is gonna be the blue print for my bee keeping practice. Keep well and keep writing, Mana

    1. admin

      Hi Mana, Thanks for the feedback and I only had the knowledge that I gained from school which wasn’t much and a long time ago. Apart
      from a couple of courses most of my knowledge has come from the internet, experience, making mistakes and asking others. I am
      pleased you found the page informative.

      All the best,

      Geoff

  2. This was a very interesting read since one day I’m planning on having a big garden and bees as well. Awesome tips that I will definitelly keep in mind for the future.

    1. admin

      Hi Ingrida, thanks for the feedback, keep in contact and let me know if you need to know anything else about beekeeping.

      Geoff

  3. Awesome post, my actually took some classes about how to make honey with bees however she didnt have the time to do it yet because it takes a lot of time. I really enjoyed reading your article, I will be waiting for the next one!

    1. admin

      Hi Javiera, thanks for the feedback as it is much appreciated. Keep watching this space as the next installment will be
      arriving very soon.

      Geoff

  4. Furkan

    My friend recently asked my help for helping about their honey bees. But I never considered allergy thing. I am even allergic to walnuts and I really don’t want to find out whether I am allergic to honey bees or not while I am helping my friend. I hope hospital near me has suitable tests for it.

    1. Hi Furkan, thanks for the comment as it is much appreciated. The best thing to do when around anything that stings and you are not sure how you are going to react is to have a friend with you. Also, make sure either one of you is carrying a mobile phone or you have access to a nearby phone. Should you get stung and go into shock your friend can quickly summon medical help. However, the best thing is not to get stung in the first place. What most people do when an insect comes buzzing round them is to flap at it with their hands. This gets them really annoyed and is the reason they then go into attack mode and sting. For a honeybee this is fatal as when the bee flies off it leaves the sting and some of its body behind so it eventually dies. The best thing to do is to remain calm and slowly walk away from the insect and get under some cover. If you are interested in finding out if you are allergic or not to a sting you could go to your doctors and ask them to run an allergy test on you for hystemine which is the main chemical that is in the sting. Whenever, I get stung as I only get a mild reaction I take a hay fever tablet which of course contains an anti-hystemine and within a day or so the reaction as gone.

      I hope you found the post informative and thanks again for stopping by.

      Geoff

  5. This is some great information!!! My husband uses honey in his coffee every morning and being able to go out and get some from our backyard would be great. Honey is so much healthier for you than regular sugar plus bees are so important to our ecosystem. Like you said they are not out to sting you unless they are irritated or threatened. It’s so neat to listen to them buzzing and watching them drink nectar from a flower.

    Thank you for this information

    1. Hi Nan, thanks for your comment as it is much appreciated. You wouldn’t exactly be able to run out to the garden in your dressing gown and slippers and grab some honey from a hive for breakfast lol, well you might just be able to do that if you had a flow hive except you would still have to get donned up in a bee suit. Honey is only available in the hive twice a year and then, if you are a responsible bee keeper you would only take a little depending on how much is in the hive. The honey in the hive, which we all like of course, is the bees food and if you take too much they end up starving and you then have a dead colony on your hands. What you could do instead is grab a jar of honey out of the cupboard for breakfast. The jar you would have filled either in June after the spring nectar flow or September after the summer nectar flow. What you should find is that they should both have a unique flavour as there are different flowers in bloom at these two seasons. Without honeybees our breakfast tables would be almost empty of food.

      I hope you found the post informative.

      Geoff

  6. Well, it’s an excellent idea to have bees and honey in your yard, besides its organic honey, it’s a plus, but what can I do with my kids to lose the fear of the bees we have in our back yard?

    1. Hi Jairo, thanks for the feedback as it is much appreciated. All you can do with kids is educate them about what is living around them. There are many species of bees around the world not just honey bees. For honey bees it is only the workers and the Queen that sting but you won’t come into contact with a Queen unless you go inside a hive or, you come upon a ball of bees on a tree or wall that have just swarmed. Talking of bees swarming, it looks scary to see all these bees buzzing around but that is when they are most docile because before swarming they gorge themselves on food and, like you after a big meal all they want to do is rest, and they are just settle down when the Queen decides its time to move. It takes all their time flying never mind stinging as well. Then there are the big fat bumble bees. I suppose they do look scary to kids but they are great big balls of fluff. However, they will only tolerate being poked for a little while. If they have had enough of you they will start raising their middle legs in the air, one leg is a warning, two legs is warning that you better back off. This is only posturing but after a two leg warning you better back off buddy!! The main thing to teach kids is that bees will only sting if they become scared, they feel trapped or they think their food supply is in danger of being taken away and one sure way to get them agitated is to start flapping at them with great big paddles called hands, that is when they are likely to sting you. Instead of doing that if they stay calm, a tall order when you have a bee buzzing around you, but if you can and then walk away and get under cover of a tree or something, more than likely the bee will go away but make sure you are not walking towards what the bee is trying to protect.

      Thanks for your interest and I hope this helps.

      Geoff

  7. Great information on hive placement with respect to the sun warmth and moisture. I never knew the details that would go into this key variable. I have had a fear of bees ever since a few run ins as a child but realize the importance of Honey Bees to an ecosystem and I look forward to learning more.

    Thank you for the information.

    1. Hi Jeff, thanks for your feedback as it is much appreciated. There is a lot to take in about bees and beekeeping which is why the content of my site is growing all the time.

      Thanks,

      Geoff

  8. I love natural honey especially the honeycomb. In Florida the demand is HUGE for raw honey. You did a great job at describing and clarifying the bee world as well as a complete list of must haves. However klutzes like me need some DOS and DON’TS in handling them……highly unlikely I ever will I’m too clumsy!!!!!:(

    PS do you take orders???

    1. Hi Lisa, thanks for the comments as they are much appreciated. Not sure what you mean about ‘natural’ honey as all honey is natural and cannot be made by any other means than honey bees. Eating honey from the honeycomb is the best but its not in very big demand in the UK, probably we don’t like getting our fingers sticky lol. I have already been thinking along the lines of what you suggest but not given too much thought about how to approach it yet. The new review page on the starter kit is linked to the Amazon UK site so not sure if I would still get commission if you swapped to Amazon.com.

      Thanks,

      Geoff

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