To buy a beginner's kit and a nucleus of bees from an agent will cost from £350.00
to £600.00. Frequently Furness Beekeepers have second hand equipment at a fraction
of new prices and bees for sale to help beginners on their way.
What type of hive is the best?
The most popular hive in the United Kingdom is the National hive. This is a square
hive, not very pretty but practical.
The cottage garden traditional hive is the WBC. If you want a couple of hives in
your garden and want them to look good, go for the WBC. Don't be put off by some
beekeepers who will say they're impractical. Yes, they are awkward to move to a field
of rape or a heather covered mountain, but if you want to stay with a small-scale
hobby, you probably won't want to move them.
Our advice would be to start with preferably a National or WBC if you wish.
What are beehives made of?
Hives are all made from red cedar, deal or pine. Cedar wood contains natural oils,
which help preserve the wood and insect attack. Deal and Pine are less expensive
and can be treated with the correct preservative. Polystyrene hives are also available
and used by many commercial beekeepers.
Do I need a big garden?
No. Of course, if you live in the countryside with a large garden, you have an ideal
location. However, beehives can be found on numerous roofs and balconies in big cities.
With the parks and small town gardens packed with plants, there is excellent forage
for bees in built up areas.
Do the hive entrances have to face one way?
Ideally they should be faced either south-east, south or south-west. On level ground.
Ensure they do not face directly onto a footpath or road because people walking by
may get stung.
Will the bees help my plants?
Yes, they will pollinate your fruit trees and soft fruit and the crops will be bigger,
better, tastier and more regularly shaped.
Possibly; make sure you site the hives so that the bees will not fly out of the hive
and straight across your neighbour's garden. Bees do have cleansing flights and are
prone to "doing their business" over the neighbours washing line. Try to chat to
your neighbours about the interesting hobby, encourage them to put on your spare
veil and look into your hive and make sure they are well supplied with honey.
Where can I learn the basics of beekeeping?
The best way is to join a beginner' s course. Furness Beekeepers run courses at their
apiary on Saturday mornings. More information on the web site
What else do I need to start?
A hive tool, a smoker, a feeder, a veil and a pair of gloves.
Will I get stung?
You can't call yourself a beekeeper until you've been stung! Treat the bees gently,
don't flap your arms about or look in the hive if the weather is not suitable. Always
wear the correct protective clothing.
Do I need lots of time to look after bees properly?
No. In the summer months, you need to look into the hive once a week. In the winter,
you just need to check they have food, perhaps once a month. However, if you're stressed
after a hard day's work, sit and watch the hive entrance, it's very therapeutic and
How do I get the honey out of the hive and into the jars?
First you need to get the bees out of the super which is full of honey - there are
quite a few ways to do this. The most common is to use two bee escapes (a one-way
valve) in a board. The bees can go down but not come back up into the super. Remove
the super to a bee tight clean room. Carefully remove the cappings, put the frames
into an extractor (you can usually borrow one for the first year) and spin out the
honey. Strain it and leave it to settle. Then put it into the jars and label it.
Yes. Beeswax can be made into candles, polish and cosmetics. It is also used in a
million different ways.
Can I sell honey?
Yes. Put up a sign at your front gate or take some jars to work with you. There is
a big demand for local honey.
Do they need feeding in the winter?
Yes. You should check the hives every two or three weeks. If they feel light put
on some fondant sugar.
Are there many diseases and pests to treat?
Like all pets and domestic animals, there are few problems to watch out for. You
must make sure that the inside of the hive is kept clean and, probably twice a year,
you'll need to treat your bees against the varroa mite.
What type of bees are the best?
British ones, of course! Buy them locally or from Furness Beekeepers own apiary.