Beekeeping for beginners – like any rewarding hobby, keeping bees requires some knowledge before you go ahead. Bees are wild and delicate creatures and need handling with respect and confidence. A little prior education is crucial to become a beekeeper, but you will be rewarded ten-fold with, not only, the true delights of keeping bees, but that fantastic excited feeling you get when you are learning something new.
Should you buy books or go on a course to learn beginning beekeeping?
Well, both is ideal, but I would start with a book, because that will give you a basic knowledge and be there as a reference when you have a query (and it’s a lot cheaper than a course!). Any course you go on, or beekeeper you hook up with as a mentor (another good start) will make far more sense if you have a basic knowledge to start with and you’ll get more out of it.
Discover Beekeeping 101 Beekeeping made Easy is a good, thorough foundation, written in an easily accessible style (believe me – some aren’t!). Nick Winters has a thorough knowledge of beekeeping and covers all the basics that will get you started. At first, you’ll probably read it through and absorb about half of it (if you are anything like me!). That first read through will give you a sense of what you will be dealing with but will seem all a bit theoretical without having any bees.
Once you have bees, I think you’ll find Discover Beekeeping 101 is an excellent beekeeping reference book. Inspecting your hive is like being a detective, looking for clues to tell you what is going on – Is the queen bee healthy and laying? Are there mites and how many? Do the bees have enough honey stores or do you need to feed them some sugar syrup? etc.. You will be able to use this beekeeping manual as a reference to find answers to questions like these and many more.
Discover Beekeeping 101 comes with loads of useful and free extra books – honey extraction, organic gardening and the nutritional benefits of honey. I do think you’ll find it really useful and money well spent. And if you read it and decide that beekeeping isn’t for you – then that’s money well saved! Hopefully you’ll go ahead and get yourself a hive of bees. I’m not through my first year with my bees yet, but already I have learnt so much and, believe me, nothing can prepare you for the truly innocent wonder of opening up a beehive for the first time and the sense of privilege you’ll feel at being part of these remarkable creatures’ lives.