Have you thought about beekeeping at home but are unsure where to start? This blog will outline how and what you need to get started (and trust us, it’s easier than you think!).
Laws and regulations
Before purchasing your hive, you must become familiar with beekeeping laws and regulations in your state or territory. Bees in Victoria, Australia, must be kept per the following:
- Livestock Disease Control Act 1994
- Livestock Diseased Control Regulations 2017
- Apiary Code of Practice 2011
Per the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994, anyone who owns at least one hive of bees must register as a beekeeper with the department using the BeeMAX beekeeper registration and surveillance database. If you live outside Victoria, please ensure you familiarise yourself with your state or territory’s laws and regulations.
If this is your first-time beekeeping, we strongly urge you to work with a mentor who is an expert in the field or complete a course that provides you with the essential education required for your hive to thrive. We recommend Flow’s online beekeeping course. We’re currently undertaking the course in-house, and we’re finding the information to be highly beneficial and educational. They also offer a free trial to decide if it’s the right course for you.
Purchasing your hives and bees
Several beehives are available on the market, but if you’re a beginner, we recommend considering a hive like the Flow Hive. Flow Hives have been designed with backyard beekeeping in mind and simplify the process for beginners (have a look at Flow’s starter bundle).
Once your hive has arrived and is assembled, you will need to buy bees. For beginners, the easiest way is to purchase a small colony known as a ‘nucleus colony’ from a reputable bee supplier. It’s best to do this in September and October. The colony is transferred into your hive and will slowly build up to form a larger, more substantial colony.
Where to put your hive
Hives will thrive best when placed in a sunny, sheltered spot. You’ll also need to ensure that the hive has access to a good water supply and it is close to the hive’s location. On a warm day, a strong colony of bees could use up to a litre of water, so it’s important to maintain this supply – the bees will need your assistance to do this! To prevent bees from drowning, place floating materials in your water source to act as a haven for the bees. Items such as corks and sticks are a good solution.
If you’re beekeeping in an urban area, you must be mindful of your neighbours and surroundings. The bee hive location should not be in a position that may present as an issue for your neighbours. The Apiary Code of Practice 2011 provides clear guidelines for this.
Clothing and tools you’ll need
You MUST wear protective clothing when beekeeping. It’s best for this clothing to be smooth and light-coloured as bees don’t like dark or woolly materials. Protective clothing you’ll need includes:
- Beekeeping hat
- Beekeeping veil (you may be able to purchase a hat that comes with a veil)
- Beekeeping suit and gloves
- Boots that cover your ankles
- Hive tool (to help separate your boxes and lift frames)
- A smoker (to subdue bees before opening a hive and while your hive is open)
Check out Flow’s website to see the variety of clothing and tools on offer.
Remember, beekeeping takes a lot of time and patience. It’s essential to familiarise yourself with the codes and regulations, as well as undertaking a course to equip yourself with the knowledge required to make a hive thrive.
But the rewards are plentiful for beekeepers – not only will you get to enjoy delicious honey straight from your hive, but you’ll also be attracting vital pollinators to your local area which will in turn benefit your neighbours as plant life will thrive. You can read more about how bees pollinate flowers to reproduce plants here.