This is gonna be a big topic, but I wished I’d known more before I started, so here is my attempt at helping others…
- Learn all you can, but form your own opinions
- Decide what type of beekeeper you want to be
- Start with a nuc, not a package
- Give the bees a natural habit
- You can’t train bees
You can’t possibly know enough
If a topic interests me, I learn about it, so I thought I had it solved when it came to beekeeping. Read a few books, take a class, and I’d be done. I’ve taken care of dogs and cats at various times in my life, so bees seemed pretty straightforward. Lesson learned – no beekeeper ever knows it all, and it’s one of the things that makes the hobby enjoyable. So get ready to learn, and keep on learning. Beeks (shorthand for a beekeeper) love to talk about bees, so if you want to learn about beekeeping, ask a beek, and make sure to take notes as they tend to share – a lot.
If you don’t know where to take a class, look for a local beekeeping association or check with the local gardening clubs. It’s a small world out there, and gardeners know beeks – it’s a symbiotic relationship.
If you’re looking for books, I can recommend The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping, a well-written practical primer despite its name. When you want to overload yourself at a more advanced level, The Practical Beekeeper, written by beekeeping guru Micheal Bush, is an excellent source but a long read. Besides those two, hundreds of other books on beekeeping expound a slightly different theory.
Decide what type of beekeeper you want to be
There is an old beek expression, “If you ask a question of 10 different beekeepers, you’ll get 11 different answers”.