Backyard Beekeeping the Natural Way
10 Tips for Beginners

Become a sponge

Start reading, start listening, start watching!

Knowing what is out there and keeping up to date with best practice will make sure your efforts are rewarded. Luckily there are some great blogs, videos, ebooks and websites to help you. Here are some of my favourite natural beekeeping resources.

Bee a Networker

Get out there! Search and join natural beekeeping groups/clubs. Find natural beekeepers near you and get in touch. Let them know you are keen to get started and offer your assistance in exchange for some first hand experience.

There is no substitute for enthusiasm!

Choose the right hive

There are many beehives to choose from. Research is key!

Find the beehive which not only suits your needs but also the needs of the bees. Important factors to consider are: location, climate, type of bees, access to flowering plants. I have been experimenting with different hives for years. The result of this hive-obsession is that over 90% of my hives are now Kenyan Top Bar Beehives!

Build your own hive

If you have access to tools and some basic know-how, I believe the best way to get a beehive is to build it yourself. Build your hive during winter so that it is ready for Spring and the swarming season!

If you don’t have access to tools or lack experience, contact your local Wood Working Workshop or Men’s Shed and see if they would be interested in assisting you to build one. Materials are easily found, however, it is important to make sure the timber is free from chemicals. Our own hives are made from sustainably sourced bee friendly timber.

Check out the $10 ‘palette’ hive here

Catch a Swarm

When you have a beehive ready, the next step is finding some bees to move in! The two ‘natural’ methods are, catching a swarm manually, or setting up a swarm trap to catch the bees for you. I recommend wearing a veil or a bee suit when catching swarms.

Read more about catching a swarm here.

Get Planting

Whether you have a hive set up yet or not, it is a great idea to start planting flowers for the bees.

Just like us, bees need a good quality and diverse range of food to survive. By planting organic seeds and bulbs well before you acquire your bees, you can help your bees thrive. 

Check out the Bee Friendly Planting Guide!

Create a ‘Flowering’ Diary

Knowing where and when flowering occurs and the yearly activities of your bees will make for a happy hive. Knowing what is about to flower is important as it helps you decide what hive management tasks to attend to. Start identifying different flowering trees/plants and recording their flowering durations & cycles in a flowering diary. Check out an example of my diary.

Tap into the hive

Think of a hive of bees as one organism (bee-ing), where each bee represents a single cell in that organism. Modern science describes the bee colony as a superorganism and the more you connect with the organism that inhabits your hive the deeper your relationship will become. Spend time watching and enjoying your bees. Take notes of any interesting behaviours, preferences and activities.

Take a course

Courses are a great way to become informed and get first hand experience with bees. There are many people/organisations offering beekeeping courses, the key is to find one that suits you. Conventional beekeeping courses train you in commercial practices. The questions you need to ask yourself are: Do you want to become a commercial beekeeper, placing an emphasis on honey production? Or are you wishing to keep bees on a backyard scale with an emphasis on the health and happiness of your bees?

See upcoming Natural Beekeeping courses

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