Follow the 8 steps below to become a beekeeper
Step 1 – What does it take to become a beekeeper?
The best way to see if you are suited to the craft is to attend one of the Chelmsford Division’s ‘taster days’ led by a qualified beekeeper. This will give you the opportunity to experience and test your own reactions and feelings when faced with many bees. Most people find this initial interaction very enjoyable and come away buzzing with anticipation for the day when they will own their own hive. Note: if you are on medication, it is always wise to check with your doctor before taking up beekeeping.
Step 2 – Do I have enough space?
Many beekeepers successfully keep beehives in small gardens in and around Chelmsford without any difficulties. One of our members will be able to assess whether your garden is suitable for keeping bees. Considerations will include size, aspect, exposure to sun and wind, presence of animals, pets and children; along with boundary fencing, security and neighbours. You will need some space to store your beekeeping equipment. Most beekeepers end up with a ‘honey shed’.
Step 3 – Do I have enough time ?
In summertime, the bees will need your attention at least every 9 days (most beekeepers look at their bees for 2-3 hours, once a week) to prevent them from swarming and keep everything in good order. In autumn and winter the beekeeper is kept busy extracting, bottling, labelling and selling honey, as well as maintaining equipment and preparing it for next season.
Step 4- What should I read?
There are plenty of books on the market which will introduce you to some of the secrets of the honey bee. Amongst the best are ‘Bees and Honey’ by Ted Hooper and ‘Practical Beekeeping’ by Clive de Bruyn. You can also find a lot of information about bees and beekeeping on the web and YouTube. Any reading and research that you are able to do will help you to make the most of the theory and practical courses, which are an essential step on the way to becoming a successful beekeeper
Guide to Bees and honey by Ted Hooper purchase from amazon
Practical Beekeeping by Clive de Bruyn purchase from amazon
Step 5 – Join your Local Division of EBKA
By joining Chelmsford Division of the EBKA you will meet many experienced and supportive beekeepers. You will have access to meetings, demonstrations and practical events throughout the year. Membership will also give you the BBKA insurance cover.
Step 6 – Go on a course
We recommend that you attend both a theory and practical course before attempting to keep bees. Most divisions run courses at the beginning of each year.
Step 7 – Equipment needed
Whatever you do, don’t buy any equipment until you have completed both the theory and practical course. As a rough guide, these are the sorts of cost involved in beekeeping:
The basic equipment – This equipment will allow you to examine and manipulate bees: bee suit and hood (£40-£100) gloves (£10) wellington boots (£10) hive tool (£5) smoker (£15-£25)
The hive A new hive costs around £150-£300 (depending on type) to set up. You can buy second-hand equipment, but you should be very careful of its origin, to avoid risk of bee diseases.
Extracting and bottling your honey Extraction equipment will cost you a minimum of £250 if you buy new. In your first year you may prefer to hire the Divisional extractor. You will also need a supply of honey jars and labels that meet current UK food regulations.
Step 8 – Getting your bees
Good tempered local bees are a must for beginners and will cost upwards of £100 . We will be pleased to advise you when the time comes.