Beekeeping for beginners

by Flow Hive 6 min read

If you’re thinking about becoming a beekeeper, there are some factors you’ll want to consider. Beekeeping is a wonderful hobby that allows you to connect with nature in a unique way. Getting to know the workings of a honey bee colony is endlessly fascinating. Plus, tasting the honey produced by your own bees is a special experience.

Flow Hives have made harvesting easier than ever, inspiring thousands to take up beekeeping. Good preparation is key to having a successful and enjoyable start to your beekeeping adventure. 

  • What do I need to start beekeeping?
  • How many beehives should a beginner start with?
  • How much does it cost to start keeping bees?
  • How many bees do you need to start beekeeping?
  • How to get started beekeeping
  • Best bees for beginners
  • What equipment do I need to keep bees?
  • What do you need to keep bees?
  • Best time to start beekeeping
  • Best beekeeping course for beginners

  • Flow Hive honey 

    What do I need to start beekeeping?

    To begin your beekeeping journey, you’ll need a few essential ingredients: some basic beekeeping knowledge, a beehive, protective equipment, bees, a hive tool, and a smoker. With a starter bundle from Flow Hive, you can get everything you need (except the bees) at a special discount price.

    Beehive components and equipment


    A Flow Hive is a special type of beehive that contains Flow Frames, which allow you to harvest honey directly from the hive. This revolutionary invention takes the hassle out of harvesting honey and has inspired thousands of new beekeepers around the globe.

     

    How many beehives should a beginner start with?

    Many beekeepers get started with a single beehive, but there are several advantages to starting with at least two hives:

    • Faster learning
    • Better chance of honey harvests
    • Extra resources and options
    • Swarm control

    It’s a good idea to start with a small number of hives, as beginning with too many could be overwhelming. You might want to stick with one or two hives, or gradually build up as your knowledge and passion for beekeeping grows. Bee colonies naturally reproduce through swarming, which provides an opportunity to either start a new hive or share the colony with another beekeeper. 

    How much does it cost to start keeping bees?

    The price of getting started as a beekeeper can vary and depends on location, the type of hive you buy, where you get your bees from, and whether you purchase equipment such as a honey extractor. Because the Flow Hive allows you to harvest honey directly from the hive, there’s no need to purchase additional extracting equipment.

    Flow Hives are available in a range of models to suit different budgets, from the premium Flow Hive 2+ to the economic Flow Hive Hybrid. It’s also possible to buy the Flow Frames separately and add them to an existing beehive.

    How many bees do you need to start beekeeping?

    A fully developed honey bee colony contains about 20,000 - 60,000 bees. The most common ways to start a new colony are through a nucleus colony (known as a “nuc”), a package of bees, or splitting a hive. All of these contain around 10,000 bees on average.

    The queen is the most important bee in the colony. A mated queen is required for the colony to grow and survive, and she can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day. Most of these will develop into female worker bees, and the rest will be males, known as drones. 

    How to get started beekeeping

    • Check your local regulations – See if there are any restrictions on keeping bees in your area. It’s a good idea to connect with other beekeepers in your area to find out about this.
    • Get a starter bundle from Flow Hive – This beginner beekeeper kit contains the equipment you need to harvest honey directly from the hive. Safety gear and a sweet saving are included.

    Best bees for beginners

    Beekeepers choose varieties of honey bees based on characteristics like productivity, temperament, disease resistance and climate suitability. The queen bee’s genetics will determine the characteristics of the entire colony. Certain breeds, such as Italian and Carniolan, are known for their gentle temperament and are therefore often recommended for beginners.

    Depending on where you get your bees from, you may not have the option to choose a particular breed of bee. Many honey bees will be a mixture of different breeds. The most important thing is that you get bees that are healthy, not aggressive and adapted to your local conditions.

    What equipment do I need to start beekeeping?

    Protective Clothing

    You need to wear protective clothing when working with bees. Bee suits are usually white, as bees react badly to darker colours. Your bee suit should fit comfortably over your clothes, and allow for a good range of motion.  

    Full beekeeping suit
    • Beekeeping suit with pockets, elastic cuffs and wristbands. There should be no spaces where bees can enter under the fabric.
    • A beekeeping hat or hood with a veil should provide a clear range of vision, and the mesh should not sit against your skin. 
    • Beekeeping gloves should be strong and pliable to allow for dexterity when handling equipment.
    • All Flow bee suits include these essential features.
    • Boots that cover your ankle, use the stirrups and thumb loops if your suit has them.

    Download our free guide to beekeeping safety here

    Apiary tools

    • Hive tool – also known as a J-tool, is used to clean, scrape, lever and lift the various parts of your hive. 
    • Smoker – a tool that helps to keep bees calm during inspections. It is used to blow cool smoke that masks the bees’ alarm pheromone.

    • Other accessories – a hive tool and smoker are essential, while other useful accessories include: bee brush, entrance reducer, hive stand, logbook and a honey extractor (unless you have a Flow Hive, where no extractor is necessary). 

    Beehive components

    Most beehives are based on the Langstroth design and consist of the following components:

    • Base – where the hive entrance is situated. 
    • Brood box – usually the bottom box of a hive, where the queen lives and lays eggs. Contains 8 or 10 removable brood frames, on which the bees build comb to raise new bees and store honey and pollen. 
    • Queen excluder – a grille between the brood box and honey super that allows worker bees to pass through, but prevents the queen from entering the honey super. 

      • Honey super – where bees store nectar and then turn it into honey. Contains the Flow Frames in a Flow Hive, and regular wooden frames in a traditional hive.
      • Inner cover and roof.

      What do you need to keep bees?

      Aside from safety equipment, a beehive and bees, there are a few extra requirements to keeping bees.

      • Somewhere to put your hive - This may be a backyard, rooftop, balcony or a rural location. Flow Hives require very little space; the bees need a clear space at the front of the hive to enter and exit. You will need enough room to access the back of the hive for harvesting and hive inspections.
      • Time - Although honey bees generally look after themselves, beekeeping does require some time investment. You’ll need to inspect your bees to make sure they’re healthy. 
      • License - In most areas, you don’t need a license to keep bees, but it’s always best to check your local regulations first. Registering your beehives is often a requirement.
      • Knowledge and passion - Caring for bees is an inspiring pastime and an incredible learning journey. It’s a great way to connect with nature and experience how the changing seasons affect your bees’ behavior. Harvesting honey from your backyard enables you to experience the wonderful range of flavors created from the plants in your neighborhood.

      Best time to start beekeeping

      In most temperate regions, spring is the best time to get started beekeeping. This is when honey bees tend to expand their numbers to take advantage of the blooming season. Colonies start to swarm and beekeepers split their hives - making colonies available for new beekeepers. Depending on your location and weather, the right conditions might not occur until early summer. In other regions like the tropics, bees are active all year round and you can start a new colony at any time.

      Winter is a good time to prepare for beekeeping. Do research, purchase equipment and connect with other beekeepers. There is often a waiting list for new colonies, so it helps to put an order in early if you’re planning to get bees in the spring. 

      Best beekeeping course for beginners

      For a step-by-step guide to beekeeping - check out TheBeekeeper.org. This online beekeeping course covers everything you need to know and features world experts in beekeeping. Learn in your own time with high-quality videos so you can feel confident looking after your bees.

       

      Not sure if keeping bees is right for you? Got more questions?

      Our friendly support team is here to help.

       

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