Beekeeping is an attractive prospect for a lot of people that want to create their own honey at home. The Apiculture market continues to grow as honey and beeswax become a more appealing part of healthcare and beauty products. There is also the fun of being able to raise bees and create honey for personal consumption right in your own backyard. This romantic notion can lead to some rushed decision to buy a hive, buy some bees, and see what happens.
However, it is this “see that happens” mentality that can be dangerous for first-time beekeepers. A lack of dedication and understanding can cause problems down the line. There are lots of beekeeping mistakes that new beekeepers will make. Here, you will learn about the three biggest issues to avoid.
There are three big mistakes that people make when they decide to start beekeeping.
- They don’t take any classes to educate themselves.
- They don’t buy local bees.
- They don’t treat the hive for pests.
The first issue is that they don’t educate themselves on the subject. Online courses are a brilliant way to get the best information and guidance to help you avoid problems and get the most from your experience. Then some don’t look into the potential of local bees. Setting up a hive with a locally sourced colony is not only better for your honey-producing potential, but it is better for the bees and the local beekeeping community more widely. Finally, there is the issue of pest control. Lots of newcomers to the world of beekeeping don’t take the time to understand precisely what it takes to protect their colony from pests and harm. Pest control and protection are essential because the worst-case scenario is widespread death and the destruction of your entire colony.
Making the right choices when setting up your new hive is essential for long-term success. The more prepared you are to create the ideal set-up with the right bees and to take good care of it, the better your long-term prospects. So, let’s look at those three beekeeping mistakes in more detail.
Mistake 1: New beekeepers don’t always take the time to learn about the craft.
Beekeeping isn’t a casual hobby that you can just pick up and put down whenever you feel like it. You need to commit to putting in the work to provide the best environment for your bees, create a productive source of honey, and to handle everything that comes with this venture. Along the way, this could also lead to a need to know more about business ventures and other environmental factors. There is also the fact that there is a strong sense of heritage and community to beekeeping. With all this in mind, education is essential.
Take part in online beekeeping classes to get a better education.
Online beekeeping courses are a great way to learn about the subject from the comfort of your own home. These courses will provide access to all the best information on the subject through a theoretical approach. This is often a great way to get a feel for the subject before you actually commit to getting any bees or a hive. If the course piques your interest and you want to pursue that, you can then look into alternative courses and practical solutions to learn more. Also, affordable online solutions are great for those that need to fit their studies around other commitments.
Some sites, such as thebeekeeper.org have courses that cover introductory information at great rates. These beginner beekeeping courses should provide a good overview to get you started on this new venture. This includes information on how to set up the beehive and maintain it for the good of the colony. You should also learn about bee health and management, such as pest control and feeding, as well as how to source and use the right equipment. This includes appropriate beekeeping gear and how to use a smoker.
Alternatively, you could join a local beekeeping club to learn directly from others in your area.
Practical courses via local beekeeping clubs are a much better way to get a more well-rounded education on beekeeping. Theoretical courses are great as a taster but you won’t know how you truly feel about being around bees and handling honey until you are out there with them. Some of the best local beekeeping clubs will provide beginner beekeeping courses to share their knowledge. Over a few months, you will learn how to set up a hive, look after the bees, collect the honey, and create the perfect set-up. The hands-on experience is brilliant and you get the chance to ask questions in ways that you can’t with online courses.
Local clubs also help to build the social and community side of beekeeping with that focus on heritage.
The other benefit of dealing with a local beekeeper for your education is that you get to support your local community. This is a big part of the beekeeping industry, as you will see below when we talk about local bees. There are people in your area that have a passion for apiculture and are incredibly knowledgeable about all things related to bees. They have learned how to create happy, healthy colonies that can thrive in your area. They will also have their fair share of stories to tell about their mistakes and disasters. It is vital that this older generation passes on this knowledge and their skills to the next generation.
Mistake 2: New beekeepers don’t always buy local bees.
When you get your bees locally, it is a great way to be sure of getting bees that can handle your local environment. Bees raised in the local area from good stock are tough enough to handle the temperature and weather in your area. They aren’t going to get sick and die because it gets too cold. Local bees are also well suited to the different sources of pollen in your area. If they thrive in other local hives by finding plentiful resources, and in turn use that to create large quantities of honey in their hive, there is a good chance that they will be able to do the same for you.
Of course, this is all a lot easier for them if you provide good access to the different trees and plants that they like. Do your research about the habits of honey bees in your area and think about where you can place your hive to take advantage of that. Or, you could make a point of growing specific crops before you get your bees. At the same time, you need to be sure that the local environment can handle the bees. Non-native species brought into the country could prove to be dangerous for another species and harm the ecosystem.
Another benefit of getting local bees is that you are supporting a local industry.
Successful beekeepers in your area may be more than happy to encourage others to take on the hobby and sell them a package of bees. Those that take courses with local beekeepers may have an inroad there. You get to expand this local community of beekeepers and share in something.
Then there is the fact that ordering bees from local beekeepers has to be better for the bees’ welfare.
You might see listings online for a premium stock of highly-productive bees that are easy to keep, all for a fair price plus shipping from their country of origin. But, put yourself in the position of the bees undergoing that journey. Are they going to be trapped in unsuitable conditions and stressful situations for far too long? You don’t have to worry about this with local bees, especially if you can drive to your local seller and pick up the bees personally.
Also, consider the possibility of attracting a local swarm.
While we’re on the subject of getting local bees rather than bees from other countries, there is another way to get a hive full of local bees. Once a hive exceeds its capacity, a queen will leave with a swarm and leave the remainder to raise another queen and restart that colony. This is how populations expand across local ecosystems. That homeless swarm needs to find somewhere new to live and your empty hive could be the perfect residence for them. This is a brilliant way to help local populations expand and to take advantage of local honey. The downside here is that there is no guarantee of anyone moving in and the queen might not have brought the healthiest stock with her.
Mistake 3: New beekeepers don’t always appreciate the importance of pest control.
All beekeepers must appreciate the role of the hive as the secure home of their colony of bees. Just as you would take care to protect your own home from infestation from pests, diseases, or any other invasion, you need to do the same for your bees. This means understanding all the potential risks to bee health and to the integrity of the hive. This is another reason why education across the whole subject is so vital. Ignorance about common threats could prove dangerous if beginner beekeepers don’t see warning signs or know how to make a difference.
Knowing how to deal with an infestation can save colonies from disaster.
Unfortunately, there are lots of diseases and parasites that can have massively detrimental effects on the health and well-being of a colony. Beekeepers that don’t spot the signs of ill health and don’t employ effective pest control could see wide-spread problems. At their best, outbreaks of mite infestations or diseases could lower productivity with bees unable to venture out of the hive. At their worst, dangerous diseases could lead to a need to destroy the whole colony to prevent it from spreading to other hives.
Watching out for destructive parasites that might destroy the hive.
It isn’t just the health and welfare of the bees that you need to worry about. Other infestations can cause damage to the structure of the hive. A weakness in the hive makes it unsafe for the bees and unsuitable for effective honey production. Moth larvae could be to blame here, as adults lay their eggs in these secure environments. Ants and termites are also common pests and could cause chaos in these structures. Termites, in particular, can rip through wooden structures, destroying hives. It is important to have a good understanding of what pests are present in your area and how to handle them in a manner that won’t harm your bees. Again, this is where education from local sources is so helpful.
Being aware of other creatures that might want to get into the hive and eat the honey or bees.
Finally, it helps to be aware of other threats to the hive from creatures that may see it as a source of food. Some predatory species may decide to try and find a way in and prey upon the bees themselves. Others may be more interested in the honey, especially if food is scarce and they see it as an easy route to a high-energy snack. When possible, make sure that the only creatures that can get into your hive are your bees. That means no holes that are big enough for small rodents and no easy way for anything to climb up there.
Get started in beekeeping the right way
It is important to understand just how much work and commitment goes into beekeeping.
Dedication is essential if you decide to get a hive and some bees. You can’t take the easy route and jump into a fun, short-term hobby without educating yourself, understanding the risks, or bringing in the right bees and equipment. The more effort you put into this from the start, with the best beginner beekeeping courses, preparation, and local knowledge, the easier it will be to avoid these common beekeeping mistakes. Take advantage of the resources in your area, understand all you can about bee management and care, and make sure to source your bees locally.