How easy is it to keep bees?
Bees don't take too much looking after. You don't have to clean them out, take them for walks or feed them every day. One or two hives can take around an hour of work a week between April and October. Hives need looking at every 7 to 8 days during the Summer, making it an ideal weekend interest. The basic techniques of beekeeping are easy to learn and you don't need technical or scientific knowledge.
Do I need a big garden?
Bees will fly up to 3 miles to reach flowers, so if you live in the town they will fly over your neighbours gardens and into the surrounding area. What is important is not necessarily a big garden but you do need to have high fences or hedges around your beehives. Bees will fly up over the fences and stay high until they reach the flowers. This will keep them above head height and away from neighbours. You don't want to spoil your neighbours enjoyment of their garden and area, so don't site your hives near patios, favourite sunbathing spots, children's playgrounds or anywhere that people will congregate. Always get advice about siting hives before you get bees.
How much honey could I get?
A hive at the bottom of your garden could produce 30 to 90 lbs of honey a year. This depends on the weather, the amount of flowers in the area and how you look after your bees. If you move hives around to where the flowers are (called migratory beekeeping) then you can increase your crop of honey. We typically move beehives to oil seed rape and the heather.
Do you get stung a lot?
The short answer is not if you can help it! It is important to wear protective clothing and learn how to handle bees calmly and gently to avoid provoking stinging. All beekeepers get stung from time to time. You have to get used to it.
How much does it cost to get started?
Beehives and beekeeping equipment can be expensive if you buy everything new and at once. Most people begin by buying secondhand and only get the essentials to start with. It is possible to get started with a couple of empty hives, smoker, protective veil etc for around one hundred pounds. Many beginners pick up bargains at local auctions to enable them to get started. Bees themselves can often be bought from beekeepers wanting to cut down on colonies.
For further information you may like to read the following article First Steps in Beekeeping by clicking on the following link
Why do bees swarm?
Honeybee colonies swarm as a means of reproduction. Swarms usually appear in May or June. They happen when hives get full of bees, the weather is fine and there is a good supply of honey coming in. The bees decide that they want to swarm, make a new queen and then the old queen with around half of the flying bees leaves the hive. This is a swarm which will fly around the immediate vicinity before temporarily settling in a clump nearby. 'Scout' bees will then leave the swarm and search for a permanent place to live. Once they have found a good location the swarm will fly off to settle in their new home. Finding ways of controlling the swarming urge is ones of the main things a beekeeper has to do in the spring and early summer.