How much does it cost to set up a hive with
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
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
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.
Do I need planning permission?
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Will bees cause a nuisance
to my neighbours?
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
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
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 relaxing.
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.
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Are there any other useful hive products?
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
What type of bees are the best?
British ones, of course! Buy them locally or from Furness Beekeepers
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