Not long after the episode at the flower show I found myself guest of Mendip Beekeepers at one of their open apiary meetings,feeling somewhat nervous I have to admit.Standing amongst the parked cars,watching that which was at first sight,something more akin to a space walk than what I’d expected.I’d all but made up my mind to call it a day when ,”We do look a bit strange don’t we,it does take a bit of getting used to,come on,I’ll help you into a suit,” It was the voice of a lady who has since become my friend,and everybody elses it has to be said,Liz.And there I was,a part of the space walk and I have to say,from that day to this it has just got better and better,although it has to be said I all but faltered,when Liz suggested that I should go and get stung.but as usual it was sound advice,advice I have since repeated to other beginners,however I couldn’t help the first thoughts that came to mind namely,”does she really want to see a grown man cry”
My advice to anyone contemplating becoming a beekeeper,find and join your local beekeeping society,You can usually join as an associate member for a very modest sum which will entitle you to attend open apiary meetings and the like.Then,if you decide you want to progress you can take it from there.I would suggest you then consider membership of the BBKA and subscribing to one of the many beekeeping periodicals.I personally take Bee-Craft but as I said,there are several to chose from.
So,having decided to join the beekeeping fraternity,what next.Well,I would suggest the most important decision next is where are you going to keep your bees.I am very fortunate in this regard having access to a small meadow.The meadow is about three acres in size and my apiary is sited well away from the road and any other pedestrian activity.It is important that wherever you do site your bees that they don’t become a target for vandals or thieves and neither are they a nuisance to neighbours or footpath users.I kept a hive in my back garden,modest by any standards,with neighbours on three sides for the best part two years with no problems,in fact I know from conversations at a later date,that two of them weren’t even aware of their presence,but I was fortunate to be enclosed with fairly substantial hedges.The obvious importance of this is that it forces the bees when leaving the hive to climb in order to clear the shrubbery so keeping them from bothering anybody.
Next,make it known at your next Society meeting that you’re in the market for a colony or two of bees.I’d be very suprised if in a very short time,you’re not a fully fledged,if not extremely nervous,beekeeper.That was how I got started,thanks again to my friend Liz.You can of course buy through one of the many advert’s from bee sellers but as with anything bought from strangers,they will be something of an unknown quantity,so try your friends first and keep it in the family,as it were.Having attended your society meetings you will have decided what you need as far as equipment goes and a lot of this can be obtained from other club members at quite modest cost and more often than that,gratefully,in my experience,free gratis.
The next important decision relates to which type of hive from the many which are available.My advice is to be guided by your society.The main advantage of several members using the same type of hive is you are able to help each other.For instance,If one of you needs some extra brood or a frame with a queen cell,or what ever,it is a simple matter to do a swap.So there you are,up and running.If your bees bring you as much enjoyment as mine do,you’ll be a happy man,or lady.The only question that you’ll be left with is,”whyever didn’t I do this years ago”.Good luck.
GARDEN HIVE-CAT ON GUARD!