Show me the honey : Beekeeping Equipment

by Jack Gardener on September 9, 2009 · 5 comments

in Pet House

Imagine some freshly baked bread, lightly toasted and smothered in beautiful sweet honey………. Now imagine that you have collected the honey from your very own bees. Mmmmmmm .. Even better!

More and more people are taking on the challenge of beekeeping and reaping the benefits of their own homegrown produce.

An average bee colony will produce around 50 jars of honey per year.

This will vary depending on the size of the colony, the weather, the quantity and quality of the nectar near to your bees.


In order to get started there is some essential equipment every budding Beekeeper needs to purchase:

The Beesuit with veil – this enables you to get up close and personal with your bees.

Rubber Gloves and gauntlets – provide maximum confidence and safety for you whilst working with your bees.

Hive Tools – to open the hive and for lifting the frames.

Liquid smoke and bottle – essential for keeping bees calm when you are working with the hive.

Hive – a safe, well insulted and ventilated environment for your bees to flourish. The hive should be positioned next to a hedge or fence to protect the bees from wind and rain. It should be positioned so that your bees can fly in and out in a straight line. Bees are happy to fly up to 1 mile high so a hive can be kept on your roof terrace if living in town.

Check out your local area for beginner beekeeping courses. Many are now running nationwide as this hobby grows in popularity. A course will enable you to learn the basic skills including recognising the queen and assessing how well she is laying, and the amount of food your bees have stored. Knowledge and an understanding of how to begin this lifelong partnership with your bees will lead to the success of your colony and many yummy pots of honey!

When can I start keeping bees?

I recommend you start during months March to October. Bees hibernate in the winter so it is best to begin your colony in the spring or summer. If you do purchase an established colony in the winter do not open the hive to check on them as the cold will kill your little honey makers.

What if I get stung?

Your Bees will not want to sting you. They will only hurt you if they feel threatened or under attack. i.e. if a football hits the hive. Do bear this in mind if you have small children. Keeping bees is still OK with a young family you simply need to ensure that your hives are kept in a secluded or fenced off part of your garden. Do let your kids get involved, the art of beekeeping is fascinating and educational. Children’s beesuits can be purchased.

If either you or your child does get stung it should only hurt for 10 minutes or so. The area may swell slightly for up to 24 hours. A very small percentage of the population will suffer a more serious allergic reaction from a bee sting. If you see this happening contact the emergency services immediately.

Good luck and happy beekeeping!

Gardener Jack

About The Author

Jack Gardener has been gardening all his life, and is passionate about passing on his experience to the next generation of gardeners.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie Evans September 29, 2009 at 10:58 am

My husband & I learned the basics of bee-keeping 2 years ago at a local 'Bee School'. We now enjoy a not-very time consuming hobby, which results in vats of glorious golden honey every September. We are never short of a home-made gift for friends and family, have a lot of fun telling people about our unusual hobby, and are happy that we are doing a good turn for the environment, helping to pollinate local fruit trees, veg plants, and the neighbourhood flower beds.

Our honey bees are now safely bedded down for their winter months – although one point to make: Honey Bees don't hibernate (some wild bees do though) – they just stay inside, eating their honey & playing cards (probably). If they hibernated, they would have no need to make the Honey stores which feed them through the winter months. Since us humans steal most of their Honey from them every year, we have to make sure we feed them a steady stream of sugar water throughout the winter (which they actually prefer to Honey anyway!). And we do them another good turn by keeping them free from disease & making sure their house doesn't get any holes in. So I reckon we both get a good deal from the relationship!

I would recommend bee-keeping to nearly anyone. Stinging is a very rare occurance, hives are suitable for both city and rural houses, and Bees are much less time-consuming than a dog! They don't chew your slippers either!

Reply

Jack September 29, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Thanks, Stephanie, sage words :)

Reply

Brian April 26, 2010 at 10:41 pm

If I start a hive how long will it take before I can get honey from it?

Reply

Jack May 1, 2010 at 10:18 am

Hi Brian
If you have a new bee hive you should wait a year before taking your first honey harvest. Your colony of bees needs to build up strength in order to survive the first season. Plants offer nectar flows during spring and then during the autumn. The autumn flow begins in Spetember and generally lasts until the first frost. After the first year has gone most bee keepers like to wait until the autumn to take honey for the first time.

The best way to tell if your hive is ready for you to remove honey is to inspect the supers in the hive. When you can see that the supers have honey combs and are enclosed with caps of wax now is the time to begin extracting the honey. All you need to do is to take out the honey combs and get to the honey.

Good Luck

Garden Jack

Reply

Val @ BestBeekeeping July 29, 2010 at 11:27 am

Beekeeping really is a fantastic hobby. Bees are fascinating creatures, and no matter how many times you see it, you will never cease to be amazed at all the work they do – drawing out comb, gathering pollen and nectar, and of course making all that delicious honey!

I have put together a free 7 day beginner beekeeping ecourse, covering all the basics – if anyone is interested in just click my link.

Reply

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