Beekeeping 101

There are many different philosophies and methods of beekeeping so for any aspiring beekeeper one of the first steps is some research to get familiar with how honey bees work and gain a basic understanding of their habits, needs, life cycles, diseases and other health issues. This knowledge will be built upon with practical experience however there are some essential questions to answer before embarking on the beekeeping path.

  • What kind of hives to use?
  • What type of bees are available in the area and who from?
  • How big is the available budget?
  • Which equipment to obtain and where from?
  • What style of beekeeping to aspire to?
  • Is there someone who can take the role of a mentor?
  • Where will the hives be installed?

Natural beekeeping which doesn’t use chemicals and allows the bees to create their hives with minimum intervention is the style of beekeeping that appeals most (see some links at the bottom of this post) and is in-line with the organic farming taking place at Chelsea Gardens. The bees were ordered last year (from Pierre Houle in Maxville) and a friend of the farm had already agreed to be a mentor for the year. The next steps were to organise hives and equipment on a very small budget so I took the opportunity to build Warré hives and only purchased a couple of items new (the essential hive tool and a jacket with integrated veil).
Note added post first season of beekeeping: In retrospect a smoker would have been useful!

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