Beekeeping For Beginners

Bees are vital for the planet’s ecosystem and over 80% of crops grown for human consumption rely on bees and other insects for pollination. Despite the vital role they play, we know that honeybee populations are declining at an alarming rate. There are many reasons for this decline including an increased use of pesticides, disease and habitat loss. One way to help local bee populations is by setting up your own hive in your garden.

Keeping bees in your garden is a very rewarding hobby but it does require a lot of commitment and isn’t a pastime you should jump into without doing your research.

What equipment will I need?

While you don’t necessarily need to have a large garden to keep bees, you will need some specialist equipment. The first consideration is the hive itself. There are a variety of shapes and sizes available online. The next priority is protective clothing – again this can be bought online and is vital for protecting you from stings. Other equipment such as smokers – which help to calm the bees when you open up the hive, and devices for catching and marking the queen bee are also available.

Is it safe?

Although there will always be a risk of stings for a beekeeper, the chances of getting stung can be kept to a minimum by taking the correct precautions. This includes wearing protective clothing and following best practices when approaching the hive and handling the bees. Using a smoker helps because smoke masks alarm pheromones that are released by guard bees, injured during a beekeeper’s inspection. The smoke creates an opportunity for the beekeeper to open the beehive and work while the colony’s defensive response is interrupted.

To minimise the risk of stings, ensure the entrance to the hive doesn’t face a busy part of your garden – for example areas where children might play. And if your garden is next to a public footpath, ensure the entrance to the hive doesn’t point in this direction.

If you, or any members of your family, including pets, are allergic to bee stings, it’s obviously advisable not to take beekeeping up as a hobby!

Where to get bees

Of course, you won’t get very far in your new life as a beekeeper without any bees. The good news is that bees are not as hard to come by as you might think. Contact your local branch of a beekeeping organisation that may be able to provide you with an established colony.


If you want to be a successful beekeeper, you’ll need to think about the plants and flowers in your garden and, if necessary, introduce new ones that are rich in pollen.

Don’t go it alone

Perhaps the best advice for beginner beekeepers is to seek as much help and advice as possible. Beekeeping is an incredibly rewarding hobby but can be daunting when you first start. Perhaps join with friends to share the workload or seek out a local beekeeping course to help you get started.

Easier options

If you love the idea of helping honeybees but don’t want the commitment of owning your own hive, you can adopt a hive. Internet research would guide you to the best possible sources.