There are many different types of Beekeepers. There are those that keep one or two hives in their back garden providing enough honey for consumption by family and friends, there are those that have access to a bit of land or an allotment and want to help the bee population by managing 3, 4 or half a dozen hives and providing pollinators to help the environment, whilst at the same time harvesting honey for sale as a supplement to their income and, then, there are those who want to go in for a commercial operation producing honey, beeswax and propolis in significant quantities. Whichever type of Beekeeper you wish to become, there are one or two basic essentials.
Firstly, learn whatever you can about honeybees and beekeeping. Much information can be gleaned from books and the Internet but WCBKA would recommend that, as a minimum, you attend a beginners’ beekeeping course. There are a variety of these courses in different locations throughout the country and details of the course which is held in conjunction with the Duchy College, Rosewarne can be found on the Courses page. The Association also runs ‘Introduction to Beekeeping’ courses from our apiary near Marazion. These practical courses are held on five evenings on consecutive weeks in spring/early summer. (See Diary page for further details).
Secondly, join a suitable Beekeepers Association. There are beekeeper associations across the UK and we would recommend that you join your local Association. Most Associations are affiliated to the British Beekeepers Association, which is an umbrella body representing the local Associations at a national level. The WCBKA holds regular meetings throughout the year, publishes a monthly newsletter (called An Hes – The Swarm). Experienced members of the Association guide newer beekeepers through the first stages of becoming a competent beekeeper. Details of the different levels of membership, how to become a member and membership fees are available on our Membership page. Remember, you don’t need to have bees before you can become a member. In fact, we would thoroughly recommend that you join your local Association before you think of obtaining a colony of bees.
Next, you will need some equipment. You will need some PPE (Personal Protection Equipment). You will need a hive and some tools. Only then, will you need some bees. PPE would comprise a bee suit (with hood/veil), some gloves and some protective footwear. Bee suits are commercially available in different sizes, styles and colours. There is a variety of styles of hives, but the most common used in the UK (especially for beginners) are the BS National and the WBC hives. Necessary tools would include a smoker and a hive tool (a flat metal, bladed tool used for prising open the components of the hive).
Finally, you will need some bees. It is highly recommended that you obtain your bees locally. This is where being a member of a local Beekeepers Association becomes important! Established members of the Association will be able to advise you how to obtain good quality, healthy bees which are well adapted to the local environment.