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  • advice to a potential beekeeper

    Hello
    I retire in a few weeks and was thinking of starting beekeeping (Preston Lancs).

    When I look on the net all I see is courses for 80 or more.

    What I need is
    1) Someone to look at my garden and tell me if it's possible with my layout.
    2) A cheapo start !

    Perhaps I am too much of a scrooge for beekeeping.
    Thanks
    Jimmy
    Expect the worst in life and you will probably have under estimated!

  • #2
    Go along to a few of these meetings and have a chat with the members. Preston BKA diary

    Comment


    • #3
      I did an introductory course for 80 and it was incredibly good value. You owe it to your future bee pals to at least have some idea what you are doing!

      On the course, they did say that the initial outlay for suit, hives, bees, fondant etc would be around 700, so I think you have to be prepared to part with some cash...
      He-Pep!

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      • #4
        When we started, we let a beekeeper site a hive in the garden and we learnt from him how to manage it. We bought suits (white overalls with zipup fronts - cheap) and veils (for me, an old pith helmet with a cheap beekeeping veil over it). We also bought a smoker. After a year or so of "helping" the beekeeper, he gave us the hive and colony and we built 3 more hives to sit alongside it.

        You need to make friends with your local beekeeping association - they're the best ones to help start you off.

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        • #5
          Good advice from others on various things, so I'll mainly just address the issue of "is my garden OK for bees ?". Generally any space which is big enough for you to stand on will be able to accommodate a hive of bees - so even the tops of Cathedral roofs in a city have hives on some of them.

          The problem of where to keep bees relates more to "will my bees cause issues for people nearby ?" Bees fly out of their hive and then generally up and the reverse on landing, so if the hive is near ground level and people walk within say 10' of the front with no barrier between the entrance and them, sooner or later someone will get stung, and one sting sometimes leads to 2 or 3. So the edge of a large garden with no footpaths nearby is easy (that's my situation), but the smaller the garden and the more people around, the trickier it gets, unless you have a convenient flat-roofed building on which to put hives, in which case you can do more or less what you like as long as weight is not an issue.

          In terms of cost you can, and I have, do things relatively on the cheap by buying some second hand kit, making some of your own hive parts etc. - but knowledge is the most valuable part of this hobby and any time/money spent gaining that when you start out will more than pay for itself in the long run.

          PS to keep going for more than a year or so you should plan on having at least 2 hives at some stage.

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          • #6
            Another thing to think about is orientation and elevation - from what i understand, I think bees prefer a sheltered spot where the hive is warmed by morning sun, but not in direct sunlight all day, and anywhere lying in a frost pocket is not recommended. Overhanging trees are also best avoided.
            He-Pep!

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            • #7
              Thanks
              Might contact Preston BKA diary
              Also why do you need a suit.
              Would jeans tucked into your socks or bicycle clips not work ?
              Jimmy
              Expect the worst in life and you will probably have under estimated!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Jimmy View Post
                Thanks
                Might contact Preston BKA diary
                Also why do you need a suit.
                Would jeans tucked into your socks or bicycle clips not work ?
                Jimmy
                Yes, that would work, along with a colander sellotaped to your face.
                He-Pep!

                Comment


                • #9
                  In terms of location, don't let the bees flight path go over a line of washing, or you will not be very popular.
                  Bee-poo spattered washing does not win friends.
                  One of the things to learn before you have bees is confidence with handling them. The sight of 40,000 bees at once can be too much for some folk. Also, of course, whether you or any of your family are allergic to them.
                  You can tuck your jeans into your wellies but make sure your zip is fastened A suit gives you confidence that you are safe and won't find a bee crawling up your body when you need to concentrate on other things.
                  Confident, experienced beekeepers don't wear gloves - or shoes or anything much.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jimmy View Post
                    Thanks
                    Might contact Preston BKA diary
                    Also why do you need a suit.
                    Would jeans tucked into your socks or bicycle clips not work ?
                    Jimmy
                    You'll need boots or wellies - socks are not sting-proof. Also, when bees settle on something they will walk upwards, so you need to consider any gap where your jeans end and shirt/jumper etc begin. An all-in-one bee suit or a boiler suit with a zip is a good idea to begin with. It won't stop you feeling stings, but the bees can't get inside your clothing.
                    Last edited by mothhawk; 26-09-2018, 10:51 AM.
                    Endless wonder.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jimmy View Post
                      Thanks
                      Might contact Preston BKA diary
                      Also why do you need a suit.
                      Would jeans tucked into your socks or bicycle clips not work ?
                      Jimmy
                      I managed without a suit for several years but you are going to get stung if you are working on a hive with the sort of dress you describe - as long as you don't mind that you can manage. Some bees will sting you through a double layer of clothing - it can be a bit disconcerting with 1000's of them buzzing round you and one sting will set the others off via scent.

                      Best to try things out with a friendly neighboring beekeeper, if you really need to keep costs down, as its not everyone's cup of tea.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I definitely recommend attending at least a couple of local association meetings during the summer when most have Apiary days. You can borrow a suit from one of the members and just find out how you feel about being around 50,000 tetchy buzzing potentially stinging insects. Ask lots of questions and be prepared for some conflicting answers depending on how many beekeepers you speak to!

                        And here's a joke I heard (and like the best jokes, has more than an element of truth about it...):
                        Q - what's the difference between crack cocaine and beekeeping?
                        A - Eventually you die from crack and stop spending money.

                        Dwell simply ~ love richly

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have just finished giving a series of three 90 minute sessions (with another beekeeper) for aspiring beekeepers. Held at our Association Apiary, the sessions are for up to 10 people and we provide a jacket and veil and gloves. A short discussion on bee biology (drones, workers ,queens, eggs brood etc) then open up a couple of 5 frame nucs ( likely to be more docile than a full hive) - pass round comb so participants can see what bees and honey and combs look like.

                          Talk about handling bees, types of hives, costs, weights to be lifted with an emphasis on handling hive boxes and the need for a good spine - and when best to start/training etc.
                          Runs for about 100 minutes minutes with questions. No-one stung yet..
                          All free.

                          In addition aspiring beekeepers can come free to our weekly inspections at our apiary through the season. (How I learned my beekeeping).

                          I am mentoring two of prior participants who have started late this year..The joys...
                          Last edited by Madasafish; 02-10-2018, 03:01 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            ^Brilliant, Madasafish. That's a tremendous contribution to bee conservation and beekeeeper education. Congratulations and best wishes.
                            Living in north-east Spain, where the sun is too hot, the rain too torrential, the hail too big, the wind too windy and the snow too deep.

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