Where can the beginner beekeeper get the skills training they need?
Just getting started in beekeeping and don’t know where to get the training and support you need? Or perhaps you are just overwhelmed by the breadth of information out there.
Here are some tips for finding the help and information you need. You don’t need to go it alone. You can learn a lot beekeeping techniques hands on, ‘by doing’, but it’s worth drawing on existing knowledge and expertise to get a head start.
1. Join a local beekeeping association or group in your community
There are many beekeeping community groups and associations across Australia, some specifically aimed at novices and backyard beekeepers. They will usually run short courses or workshops to help get you started.
This is probably the most rewarding and accessible way to learn backyard beekeeping skills. It’s also a great way to meet people with common interests.
Bee2Bee will also be launching a Bee Buddy Group soon, meeting at the Cottesloe Hotel monthly on a Tuesday evening. Sign up to our mailing list here to be notified!
2. Turn to Your Local Beekeeping Supplier
Ian at Bee2Bee is always here to have a chat and give advice to our customers. If you have specific questions give him a call! Supporting new beekeepers on their journey is all part of good customer service, and you shouldn’t expect less from your supplier.
We also recommend reading the other posts in our Beginner Beekeeping series right here on The Buzz, focused on the things you need to consider when getting started. We’ll also be adding posts to our Beekeeping Techniques section over time.
3. Resources on your relevant State Government Department’s website
TAKE NOTE: These resources are usually very comprehensive. Pace yourself, you don’t want to go into information overload!
If you are going to read about anything on your state government department website, read about the specific legal requirements for keeping bees in your area. We have written a summary of the legalities of keeping bees here, with links to relevant state resources, to help ease you in.
Once you are up to date with these requirements then you can dive into the other quality materials, as you need to. You DO NOT have to read all the comprehensive beekeeping literature before you start. Many of these resources are most valuable when you read them alongside hands-on training.
4. Find a Mentor
By joining a local beekeeping association or group you should come across many experienced and passionate beekeepers. If you feel you’d benefit from some one-on-one guidance then you may want to find a mentor. Some of these groups may have mentorship programs running, or you can ask someone yourself. Depending on the level of support required and your relationship, mentorship may require a fee.
Additionally, Aussie Apiarists Online has a list of mentors available in many Australian states.
5. Join local beekeeping groups or pages on social media
There is no shortage of beekeeping groups and pages on Facebook! There are too many regional and state-based groups in Australia to list here, and most are active every day. There are also very large and active international beekeeping groups, usually originating in the USA.
We recommend joining a couple of groups closer to home. Simply search “Beekeeping Perth” or “Beekeeping NSW” etc. in the Facebook search bar, and click on the ‘Groups’ and ‘Pages’ tabs at the top the page of results.
Spend some time on these pages or groups first if you can. Is it just a lot of pretty pictures of bees? Or are beginners asking good questions and getting legitimate answers from experienced beekeepers? If you’re not sure, or you can’t preview the group because it’s private, you can always join for a little while to see if it is helpful.
If you’re familiar with social news aggregation service Reddit then there is a large subReddit on Beekeeping, but this is an international group. At this point in time, an Australian Beekeeping subReddit doesn’t appear to be established.
Today’s post is directed mostly at the absolute beginner backyard beekeeper. Mind you, this is how many a beekeeping business starts out! One thing is for certain though, you don’t want to go dive head first into a large scale operation without successfully keeping a couple of hives for at least one or two seasons.
If you’re thinking about scaling up or interested in beekeeping as a business, stay tuned for our next post, coming up on The Buzz – Beekeeping as a Business: Knowledge and Training for Professional Beekeepers.