7 Steps to Owning Your Own Beehive!
So you've bought a Greenwood Farm beehive? Sounds Great! But its not something you can just set and forget. As professional Beekeepers, we show you the 7 steps to maintaining a healthy and happy beehive.
1 INSTALL YOUR HIVE IN SPRING
The best time to start your hive is in spring. It should be warm enough for the bees to be active, for trees to have pollen on them and for nectar to flow so the bees can lick it up. Setting up your hive involves a little planning.
You'll need a location - somewhere in dappled shade, but with plenty of sunny spots. Full sun in Queensland summer (like last year) can be a nightmare for little bees and extra precautions need to be taken.
1: You'll need to make sure that the bees are not in the path of where you walk to hang out the washing or the kids playing! Out of the way, but not to far you cant check on them weekly.
2: You'll need to inform your neighbours - not everyone will love your bees as much as you. As a courtesy, inform your neighbours if they live close. They might just be allergic....... and its only decent to let them know, just in case they need to take precautions..... The promise of honey may sweeten the proposition!
3: You'll need to make a water source - a bird bath filled with little rocks is perfect... bees need a LOT of water.
4: You'll need to look at registering your apiary. If you're a new beekeeper you'll need to register as a Bio-security Entity with Bio security Queensland head to:
Start to order your bees in Winter. Beekeepers love to and have to be organised! Its best to buy or order a your hive/bees from a Registered beekeeper - like Greenwood Farm. Its our business to make sure the bees you buy are already healthy, happy and ready to go. We DO NOT recommend catching a swarm for your first bee experience.... even we get daunted at the prospect of catching swarms to use in our hives.
2 FIND A MENTOR
Its great to to your research, and we thoroughly recommend you do this, but sometimes, a mentor can let you observe or look at their hives, so you can learn, take a phone call when you're not sure what to do, or if you have a problem and you're just not sure what to do. If you're a member of a beekeeping club, there will be mentors galore. Just pick one! Attending bee classes is another.
Greenwood Farm have regular beginners, intermediate and advanced beekeeping classes, so you to get practical experience and a feel for beekeeping.
3 HOW MANY HIVES
Bees are living things.... and while we do our best to keep them happy and healthy, sometimes they die...... or sometimes they just up and leave, especially in Spring. So its best to start with a single nucleus or one full hive.
If you're buying for your orchard or market garden sometimes 2 hives are needed. Bees like to have close neighbours. They can smell the individual pheromone of the queen, and wont accidentally fly into someone else's home! If you are having more then one hive, its best to leave 1 - 2 metres between each hive you own.
Cost is another factor. Each hive can cost up to $650, so it can get expensive if you want more than one!
4 STARTER KITS OR INDIVIDUAL EQUIPMENT
There's quite a lot of equipment involved in beekeeping! We wont lie to you... it can get expensive... but know this, it will last forever!
Your first year of beekeeping is an expensive one. You'll have to buy everything you need. The second, third and subsequent years, will see you just topping up your supplies of things like foundation, frames, and even new Queens!
When you're new, the temptation is to buy second hand items. We strongly recommend that you DONT do this. Beehives can get infected with diseases, pests and bacteria which could spread throughout your whole hive and even colony. This is devastating! Please buy equipment from a recommended supplier or someone you trust who's bio-security is top notch!
A good way to save a lot of money is to build your own hives. If you're a bit handy with a saw and drill, you can talk to beekeepers and find out how to do this. Sure, its more work, but we love to build our own hives from scratch!
5 WHAT TYPE OF HIVE
There are two types of hive.
Langstroth and a Top Bar Hive.
Greenwood Farm have both! Each one has its own benefits and drawbacks,
but ultimately, its up to you.
We believe the best option for beginners is the Langstroth. - You're more likely to find a mentor, find equipment and you'll find a lot more research and written material for this type of hive.
Are they easier? Not necessarily.... especially if you have trouble lifting heavy things. A full hive complete with a super of Summer honey can weigh up to 80kgs! In this case, a top bar hive - a more natural alternative can be a better option for you. Unfortunately, you'll have to crush each frame of wax to extract your honey... we prefer not to do that!
6 WHAT TYPE OF BEES
In Australia, there are two types of commercial bees available. The Caucasian (or European Honey) Bee and the Italian Bee. We have both on the farm. We breed our Queens to be gentle and workable, and there are advantages to both. Who wants to work with a grumpy hive...not us!
7 TAKE SOME CLASSES
So you've got your hive....... great to sit there and think what a great job you're doing for the environment! What will you do then the hive grows, when it rains for weeks on end, or when it swarms from lack of attention.
With each hive we sell, we thoroughly recommend to attend one of our Bee Basics Courses. You get practical hands on experience and a wealth of information on Bees, The Colony and how the hive operates. There are also intermediate and advanced classes that can help you as your colony grows! Its beyond important that our customers know how to care for and manage their bees and hives and you 'll enjoy it all the more for knowing what a great job you're doing!
Classes are held regularly on the farm... head to our social media pages or join as a subscriber to know when the next class is!
So as you can see, there are many things to consider when contemplating having a beehive at your house. With the proper preparation, you could be having your own honey before you know it.
We love being mentors for new beekeepers, as the species depends on us to further them. We strongly encourage you to give it a crack...... We're right behind you! For more information on our classes, bees or hives, check out our bee pages, or give us a call on 0413 101 582.
Until next time..... Happy Farming!