If you are new to beekeeping and think you might like to keep bees we suggest you do one or more of the following, rather than leaping in at the deep end. If you are more interested in making things from honey, beeswax and other hive products then make contact. Members will be pleased to supply you with the raw materials and advice you need.
Attend an introductory beekeeping course taught by an experienced and knowledgable beekeeper – They are generally run during the Winter months. Look out for notices about courses – they do get fully subscribed quickly.
Join the local association – only £5 for non-beekeeping members of the Kent Beekeepers.
Attend winter meetings and learn about bees and beekeeping.
In the summer attend apiary meetings – time is given to assist new beekeepers & spare hats and veils are available.
Join one of our neighbourhood groups where you can take part with people near you and learn more.
Make contact and work with an experienced beekeeper near you to gain skills.
Read books, there are many available, often cheaper on the internet, so try to see them in a library first. Some of the better books are listed here:
- Alan Campion – Bees at the bottom of the Garden
- Clive De Bruyn – Practical Beekeeping
- Jeremy Evans – The Complete Guide to Beekeeping
- Teach Yourself Beekeeping – Adrian Waring
- Ted Hooper – Guide to bees and honey
In order to handle bees with confidence, sound protective garments are essential. Most beekeepers use either a smock or a full boiler suit with an integral hood and veil preferably white, or a light colour (because bees don’t like dark colours). There are several designs and prices available, again seek advice on which is best for you. Do not wear jersey materials particularly the trouser sort often worn by ladies, as bees get caught in them. Thirdly a pair of gloves. Most beekeepers use plastic gloves such as washing up gloves or disposable nitrile gloves.There are more hygienic for bees and with good feel, you are less likely to crush bees. We do not normally wear leather gloves. Footwear is usually a pair of wellies, to stop bees climbing up the inside of your trousers (yes, they do!)
When you are ready you can buy or make a hive. You will have had advice about which hive type to use and have seen and handled different types. Most people start with one hive in the first year and then add a second in the following year. This is normally the minimum to ensure that you can keep a live colony if one should die out during the winter or you should lose a queen. We will try to supply you with a nucleus (a small bee colony) or swarm but this is not always possible.