Many people ask me how to start beekeeping. It’s certainly a hobby which people find fascinating. When I go to collect a swarm or an established honeybee colony, invariably the householder, neighbors and their children want to watch and take photos which is great because the more people who understand a little about bees the better!

Geoff in a beesuit looking very bearded Collecting a swarm sometimes entails the hi-tech solution of a cardboard box. The swarm is shaken into the cardboard box or bucket, if possible, then emptied in front of a beekeeping hive box. The bees are attached to the dark cavity of the box, entering quite quickly. A number of worker bees position themselves outside, head down, tail up, their Nasonov pheromone gland open, fanning the pheromone outwards to signal the whereabouts of the hive entrance.

I always encourage people to do this when beginning beekeeping, although it’s a little nerve racking being observed doing something like this, I think it’s important that the more people who learn about the incredible honeybee, the better it is for them and for the bees. Without becoming too lyrical, it’s as if there is something almost mystical in the idea of keeping something so ‘dangerous’ as honeybees.

Of course it isn’t really dangerous to keep bees, but precautions must be take to limit the effect of those sharp stings on you and your neighbors. I get many calls and emails from people with questions. I try whenever possible to answer those questions. I do this free of charge, although any donations by PayPal are always very welcome.

For beekeeping supply, a great place to start is The Back Yard Hive, they supply some excellent products for beginners, specializing in the Top Bar Hive. I’ve found that some people want more practical, hands-on experience. You can benefit from over 20 years of experience and learn how to start beekeeping.

Perhaps you have honeybees on your property in the form of a swarm, or an established colony in a shed. If you would prefer to remove them yourself under my guidance I’d be happy to do that. You do the work, I just supervise, hold the ladder and help you get to grips with the basics. I can’t teach you everything, only the bees themselves can do that, and they’ll take a very long time to do that.

You will need some basic equipment, a hive with roof and floor, containing frames, a smoker, a hive tool, bee brush and bee suit. I’m happy to supply these or you can get them mail order from many different places.

I strongly suggest you read a number of books such as Beekeeping for Dummies, it’s a good idea to get several different views about how to start beekeeping. I like to own a few books for reference purposes, library books are sometimes hopelessly out of date.

Bees at the hive entrance, having just been shaken in front, they are fanning a pheromone from their Nasonov gland to gather all the flying bees inside.

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