Gardens have become a hive of activity for a growing number of beekeepers in the past year and expert Scott Bevis says conditions are perfect to give it a go at home.
The owner of supplier Bee Australian at Rothwell has been keeping bees for about six years and loves the science of it, the art of beekeeping and producing his own honey.
There are a couple of things he wishes he knew when he was starting out, and has offered a few tips for residents wanting to keep bees at home.
The first step is to check with Council to see if you are permitted to have bee hives on your property. Visit moretonbay.qld.gov.au for information.
Then, you need to have your property assessed by a beekeeper who will determine if your yard and surrounds are suitable.
If the council and beekeeper give your property the green light, you then have to register with Biosecurity Queensland. If you are keeping native bees, it is not a requirement.
Scott then recommends connecting with a beekeeping store that can supply the goods and bees, and give you advice about honey bees.
“It’s not a set-and-forget. You do need to maintain them, so there are periodic hive inspections and splitting the hive occasionally - which is naturally what they do in the wild - and also taking some honey off them,” he says.
“If you leave too much there and they get too full, which is called honey-bound, then they can just pack up and leave because there’s no room left. It’s finding the nice balance of enough maintenance and too much maintenance just to keep them happy.”
He recommends connecting with a beekeeping association to source bees and work with a mentor who can share give you the hands-on experience which is essential.
“For people who don’t want to keep honey bees, but they want them in the area, planting bee-friendly flowers and plants is an important thing. The bees need food all-year round even though they do slow up in winter,” he says.
A basic beekeeping kit will set you back about $450-$500, which includes the hive and components, protective equipment, basic hand tools, smoker and package of bees.
“The most common thing I find with people wanting to get a bee hive, they think it’s a set-and-forget. They just go to a store, buy a bee hive box, get a few basic tools they think they need. Some people think that having all that set up in the garden will attract the bees. It doesn’t always work that way,” he says.
Scott says periodic inspection for pests and disease is vital.
So, what’s the tip he wishes he knew six years ago, when he was starting out?
“Probably maintenance of the hive. I thought it was a little bit less work involved. I wasn’t inspecting the hives enough, so I had a couple fail. Also, seasonal timing. It’s not a good idea to acquire a hive in winter because that’s when they’re at their slowest – they’re basically in hibernation.”
The ideal time is coming into spring when everything is starting to warm up and flower again and the bees get that urge to start increasing in numbers.
“As beekeepers, we do have a responsibility to look after the hive. You can get a lot of enjoyment out of bee keeping, not only for the production of honey for yourself but for others as well,” he says.
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