It’s spring, and you or someone you know may be thinking about keeping bees for the first time. And with swarming season upon us, you may be lucky enough to have some bees drop into your own backyard. These will be in need of a new, permanent home.
Some familiarity with the ins and outs of keeping bees before you start is essential. However, DO NOT GET OVERWHELMED!
Yes, there is a lot of information out there, including here on The Buzz. But as long as you give some consideration to the following first, you can dive in and learn the rest as you go.
First Consider if Keeping Bees is Right for You
There’s really only one way to know for certain, but having some advance awareness of what it takes to be a beekeeper is worthwhile. Think about your own attitudes (e.g. willingness to learn new skills, patience, can you remain calm while handling bees?) and whether you have the time and financial resources to commit.
Figure Out the Legalities of Keeping Bees in Your Area
Before you invest money in a hive and related equipment, you should make sure you are legally allowed to keep hives in your area in the first place! There are two levels of government that set laws and requirements for beekeeping:
1. State Government – usually the Department of Agriculture or Department of Primary Industries.
2. Your Local Government Area’s Council.
You will need to meet requirements from BOTH of these.
Have a Plan to Build Skills and Get Support
One could easily get bogged down in research for months before they start their hive. If you’re someone who likes to plan ahead in detail, there are plenty of resources here and elsewhere online. But at some point you will need to get hands-on!
If you prefer to learn by doing, it’s still a really good idea to have a quick read of an authoritative resource like the Australian Beekeeping Guide first. This way you will have an idea of what knowledge and skills you need to build over time.
Teaching yourself to keep bees often proves to be the hard way to do it. Getting support from a mentor or group with a good amount of prior experience in your area will make a world of difference.
We hope this overview makes stepping into beekeeping a little less overwhelming. It’s important to consider all of the above, but from then on you really can dive right in to keeping bees. With the right set up and support you can learn the rest as you go.