How To Keep Bees

5 bee hives in a line by a wall on a grassy lawn

Want to know how to keep bees? Certainly, the number of people wanting to try their hand at beekeeping has increased significantly in recent years.

Before you take the plunge, here are a few points to consider:

side view of a bee hive

What type of beekeeper do you want to be?

Ask yourself this question, because it will have an impact on the equipment you buy and even the kind treatments you will use in your bee hive (synthetic or natural).

Do you want to be an organic beekeeper?

Are you keen to help bees or maximise honey yield?

Do you wish to build your own bee hive?

Do you need to save money?

Are you in favour of traditional or natural beekeeping? Read more on my page Beginning Beekeeping. 

Do you live in a town or city?  If so, there are particular considerations - see Urban Beekeeping.

beekeeping super being held by a beekeeper with honey bees

What Sort Of Equipment Will You Need?

Many people, during their research about how to keep bees, can easily be put off by the cost of equipment. But the cost of equipment and supplies can largely be determined by the kind of beekeeper you want to be - for example, whether you would lke your bees to build their own comb to their own preferred size or not.

Also, not all equipment is strictly necessary, and there are ways to save money without detriment to the bees. You can spend a lot of cash, or you can build your own bee hive and learn how to start beekeeping the natural way. See these links:

Beekeeping Tips from other beekeepers - which include thoughts and ideas for making your own items, as well as some general How To Keep Bees advice.
Beekeeping Equipment
Top Supering or Bottom Supering
Beekeeping Business Plan
Jars and Labels - selling your honey
Natural Beekeeping
Bee Hive Buying Tips
Buying Used Beekeeping Equipment
Bee Hive Plans.

Also, you can read more about the different types of honey bee hives available to buy, and some general information about bee hive design.

Guarding Against Pests And Diseases

One of the biggest problems is undoubtedly Varroa which can very quickly decimate colonies of honey bees. There are natural and chemical methods of control. Learn more about Varroa mite, Also it is useful to read and understand the difference between Colony Collapse Disorder and "normal" winter mortality.

Apis mellifera on Oregano (Marjoram).Apis mellifera on Oregano (Marjoram).

Acquiring Your Bees

You may be given a swarm to help you establish your first honey bee hive. Alternatively, you may need to purchase them from specialist breeders. Read more on my page Honey Bees For Sale.

Availability Of Flowers And Water

Apis mellifera on green alkanet.Apis mellifera on green alkanet.

Honey bees need an ample supply of available foraging opportunities through the seasons, but especially in spring and summer.

Check out these lists of Bee-friendly Plants. Is there an abundance of nectar and pollen rich flowers available to your bees, and are pesticides in wide spread use in your area?

Read more about this issue on my page: Honey Bee Deaths And Pesticides. How will you ensure a supply of clean water that will not simply dry out? They can of course take from puddles and ponds, a bird bath or water tray.

Further Information About How To Keep Bees

There is a lot of information available on the internet about how to keep bees. Check out these short demonstration beekeeping videos (some can be a little slow to download or appear on the page, for which I apologise!). There are a number of very good beekeeping books available too.

It's a good idea to connect with a group of like-minded individuals who will be able to offer their advice. For example, there is an excellent (international) forum devoted to natural beekeeping (, and there are many information websites. See these beekeeping links.
For some general reading, see Beekeeping Articles and for definitions of some general beekeeping terms, see Beekeeping Dictionary.

If you decide to go ahead, then good luck!

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