Beginnings in beekeeping: how to do it?

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Beginnings in beekeeping: how to do it?

Starting in beekeeping is a reasoned process that cannot be improvised. These are the steps to follow before starting.


Timing

You don't start beekeeping overnight. There are several elements to take into consideration: training, location of the apiary, type of hive, finding your first colony, when to start, equipment ...

None of these elements can be overlooked and they must be understood in advance. It follows that before starting, each point must be considered separately.

Training

Being trained in beekeeping is essential. Some people will probably tell you that they trained themselves. I can guarantee you that this is the best way to get rid of beekeeping and risk setbacks and even accidents.

Good training is essential. But what are the ingredients of a good training:

First of all, training worthy of the name must be practical. A good theoretical part is of course essential, but it will be totally insufficient if it is not supplemented by practice with colonies. The ideal is to have a hive that belongs to you and in which your theoretical learning will be implemented under the supervision of an experienced beekeeper. 
Good training takes place at least over a year with one session every two weeks. If you are offered training over one or two weekends, beware. It's too short and you will receive too much information at once to understand it well.

An alternative to group training is to practice companionship. An experienced beekeeper explains beekeeping to you when visiting colonies. The theoretical part is less developed, but the practice is assured. The downside is learning only the beekeeper-trainer method and picking up his good but also his bad habits.

The apiary location

Finding a good place to set up your apiary is essential.

Having your beehives at home is obviously ideal. However, there are rules for setting up beehives. Find out in advance in your municipality or your department about the conditions of establishment.

Beyond the law, the place must also be suitable for keeping beehives:

  1. A favorable environment in terms of vegetation to ensure nectar and pollen resources for bees
  2. Avoid valley bottoms and damp places
  3. Examine the absence of a source of pollution near the location.
  4. It's strongly advised not to install your beehives near agricultural areas that are treated with pesticides. By foraging, the bees will bring these products back to the hive which will contaminate the whole colony in the short or medium term.

Type of hives

There are a lot of them, and each has its pros and cons. It is necessary to choose a type of hive adapted to its environment and to the objectives pursued. It is often best to approach beekeepers in the region and get them to talk about their hives. They will give you a lot of details based on their experience.

One last tip: whatever type of beehive you choose, be sure to standardize your equipment. A few millimeters of difference can cause problems in everyday practice.

First colony

Acquiring your first colony is always a great moment that you will never forget. There are many possibilities:

buy a colony. Simple, fast, but more and more expensive. Count around $150  for a colony on five frames with a queen from the previous year. Go to a good breeder. Sometimes it is difficult to find colonies in the spring and it is better to reserve.

Make a nucleus from one or more existing colonies. It is an effective method but which is not within the reach of a beginner. You have to get help from a beekeeper who agrees to divide a colony. Solidarity among beekeepers is not an empty word.

Harvest a swarm. Often recommended, I do not recommend this method for a beginner. On the one hand, you don't have the experience to recover a swarm. Then you do not know the quality or the sanitary state of the recovered colony.

Place trap hives. Also not recommended, because the method is random and moreover has the same drawbacks as the swarm harvest.

When to start

The ideal way to start the practice is to acquire your first colony in the spring in April or May. This means that you have to start training in September, prepare the apiary for winter and acquire one or two hives during winter. This will allow you to place your first colony there in the spring.

Basic equipment

Well let's start with the essential:

  • a beehive and its stand
  • a bee suit 
  • a frame lifter
  • a smoker
  • some frames
  • wax

Then the useful material. At first, you can share an extractor with friends before acquiring your own:

  • an extractor
  • an uncapping tank
  • a honey bucket with honey gate
  • a filter
  • an uncapping fork
If you arrived to this line that's mean that you're interested in beekeeping. To go further, I recommend that you read books on beekeeping. 
Share this article with your friends and practice beekeeping together!

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