Can you keep bees?

Keeping bees is a fantastically rewarding hobby - but how do you know if you can? There are several things to consider...

Keeping bees requires small amounts of regular time with the bees. You typically have to spend around half an hour per week with a hive. You can do this at the weekend or, if the weather is still good, when you return from work. Most beekeepers would like to spend more time with their bees rather than less, as beekeeping is highly addictive. Unlike keeping other animals, the bees mostly look after themselves and will not notice if you go on holiday. In all, you might spend 20-30 hours over the course of a year with the bees.

Bees can be kept anywhere from country orchards to urban gardens to small city balconies. It is a common misconception that you need a large garden or countryside nearby. Although this can make siting your bees easier, urban gardens are arguably better. Nectar and pollen can be gathered from a wide variety of plants. This means that there is often a constant source of food throughout the summer and a lack of harmful pesticides.

You might be worried what you neighbours will think. If you have a large garden, it is possible that your neighbours will not know you have bees. However, if space is tight, you need to carefully plan the beehive site and ensure you purchase bees that are good tempered (i.e. buy you bees from a reputable supplier). The beehive should be located in such a way that the entrance of the hive does not point into a footpath or busy area of the garden.

Beekeeping requires a few pieces of essential equipment including clothing, tools and (obviously) a hive. These are covered later in the guide.

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Tammy, 19 May 2018

Brand new to beekeeper here on the Big Island. Make sure you get a good husband and I seem to have problems getting that thing started..Educate yourself on starting husband I spend to much time tryin to get it going

Tracey, 6 February 2018

I'm a little scared to take the plunge just yet. I will go a visit a fellow allotment holder to see how he looks after his bees. My garden is north west facing, and the back of the garden is a resoviour. I'm a little worried as I have two small dogs and not sure if its ideal to have them around the bees. I've been keen to do this for a few years and have said every Spring this will be the year I make the big jump. FInger's crossed this will be a good year.

Ebeehq, 10 December 2017

If only people were aware how easy it is to keep bees, you need a solid Bee Hive, bee safety equipment and suitable knowledge on beekeeping. Then you're good to go!

Malachy, 15 January 2017

I would like to start bee keeping, and would like to know if the hive needs to point north south or east ,west. The wall that I would like to put the hive by is north facing and in the shade. My garden is large and open with a magnolia tree to large ponds

Ian, 18 August 2016

I would love to have bees in my South London garden. Not for the honey, but because I notice that I see less and less bees each year. Also for pollination of fruits, etc. Is this possible? I have poor mobility, but, as I said, I would just enjoy knowing I was doing something for the environment and for these wonderful animals.

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