Want to become a Beekeeper?
Beekeeping for the Beginner.
Beekeeping can be an exciting and certainly a rewarding hobby, but before you start you need to be sure it is the right hobby for you. There is more to it than just getting a hive and putting it into the backyard.
Considerations before you begin.
The following are a list of things to consider before you begin your Beekeeping journey and will hopefully save you some time, money and inconvenience.
Check with your Council. All Local Council Authorities within Queensland have limits on how many animals can be kept on your property, including bee hives. Before you start beekeeping your should check with your local Council on what the limits are for the size of your block of land. Not all Councils allow beekeeping, so it is wise to check before you put a dozen hives on your apartment balcony. South Burnett Regional Council (SBRC) residents can follow this link: SBRC animals allowed on property. If you have nearby neighbours, advise them of your intention to keep bees and maybe offer them a jar of honey from your harvest to keep them on side.
Get Registered. All beekeepers in Queensland are required to register with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF). This is to ensure that DAF has a clear understanding of the number of hives in each region if an outbreak of pests or disease occurs, The Registerable Biosecurity Entity (RBE) application can be found at: RBE Application. There is no registration fee for amateur beekeepers. Once you have registered, Biosecurity Queensland will provide you with a Hive Identification Number (HIN). This HIN is unique to you and should be displayed in block letters on the front of all of your hives.
Join a Club. You may not want to be a highly social member of the beekeeping community, but there are a few things that can be difficult (if not impossible) unless you know a few other beekeepers. Most Clubs have Members who are more than happy to ‘Mentor” you throughout your beekeeping journey or at least until you are confident in your own abilities. Membership fees are modest; with Barambah Beekeeping Association Inc fees set at $20 per year for a Single Member or $30 a year for a family.
Site preparation work. Before you get your bees you need to do a bit of preparation.
- It doesn’t matter if you are on a farm of a normal house block, you need somewhere safe where your bees are not going to be a nuisance to others. Local authorities take a dim view of beekeepers that are inconsiderate to others.
- Your hive site should ideally be away from prying eyes. If possible try to situate your hives where they are not easily seen by passers by. Never in a suburban front yard for example.
- Provide a water source within 500m of the hive. Wet gravel, sand beds, concrete pond edges or floating waterweeds can be used.
- Consider the bee’s flight path when they exit and enter the hive. Are they flying in your property or next door? Something as simple as placing a trellis with shade-cloth or a high solid fence facing the hive entrance can solve such issues as the bees will rise above the obstacle and consequently peoples heads to enter and exit the hive.
- Also think about the prevailing wind and sun. Bees don’t really like the wind so avoid having it blow into the hive entrance, if possible.
- Bees like to be warm, but not too warm. Again if possible, have the hive entrance face the morning sun. It will get them up early and out foraging particularly in the cooler months.
- Buy (or build) a stand for your hives as in Queensland, cane toads like to dine on bees. Lifting the hive at least 30 cm or so off the ground helps avoid this and, as a bonus, saves your back when working with them.
- Take your time to select a good location as it can be difficult to move the hive once it is in position. Bees can get lost if you move the hive within a small area without due care (see our page on How to Move a Hive).
Tools and equipment you will need. Now that you have selected the ideal site, you will need some basic equipment. As a minimum you will need:
- A bee suit and gloves
- A smoker
- A hive tool
- A bee brush
- Most importantly a hive ready to accept the bees.
This basic equipment will allow you to inspect and manage your hive. There is more equipment you will need further down the track. Most Beekeeping Clubs have all the equipment needed to extract the honey when it is ready, which they lend to their members, saving a substantial amount of money. Another reason you should join a Club.