10 beekeeping tips for beginners “Newbees”!
By Lorien Morgan-Furbear 17/2/2021
Over the next ten days we will be sharing daily tips for new beekeepers here on our website. We hope that they will be of use and help inspire you with your new bees or to take the leap into the exciting and addictive hobby.
Ceri has been working with bees for over 25 years and runs our business comprising of roughly 250 production colonies in the lower Teifi valley, West Wales. He breeds his own bees and favours the bees native to the area, the Welsh dark bee Apis Mellifera Mellifera to use in the apiaries, he also sells a few queens and nucs surplus to requirements each season. I asked him what tips he might give to enquiring new beekeepers or “Newbees”. The wonderful world of beekeeping is vast and as you learn, you find how much more there is to learn. This is not comprehensive just a few (hopefully) useful tips. It’s good to keep in mind that beekeepers do things in different ways and eventually you will find your own preferences and will have fun in finding them! Cardigan Bay Honey is our business and income, but Ceri still calls his work “playing with bees”.
Tip 1: Get informed
Join your local beekeeping association. Every county in Britain has an association, some with many branches. There are many benefits from being part of your local beekeeper’s association including having access to a wealth of experience, you can even ask someone to be a mentor. Perhaps offer a local beekeeper some help with taking their honey off at the end of season or be ‘smoker’ for the Spring checks. Being part of a likeminded group of people; hearing about the latest beekeeping equipment sales; buying second hand equipment to start out with will be very advantageous and save you a lot of money, you could upgrade to new equipment later if you decided to stick with it. Some groups lend out extractors or other bits of equipment that are only needed occasionally, as well as using bulk buy schemes to give members better deals. Associations offer lectures, films, and other learning opportunities such as beginner’s courses or specialised courses such a queen breeding. Image ‘Somerset Beekeepers Association’.
Read some great beekeeping books – we can recommend ‘Bees at the bottom of the garden’ by Alan Campion, ‘Guide to Bees and Honey’ by Ted Hooper and if you are into biology ‘The Buzz about Bees’ by Jurgen Tautz is a hugely informative book and has beautiful images throughout. Subscribe to a Beekeeping journal – we like ‘The Beekeepers Quarterly’ and ‘Beefarmer’ that comes as part of our membership to the Beefarmers association, these will give you up to date articles and studies in the field. You can also follow beekeepers on Instagram or youtube, many post pictures and videos throughout the season, there are fantastic resources on the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) website too and many benefits from becoming a member https://www.bbka.org.uk/