New Beekeeper Tips
10 things to consider before getting started
Join your local club
There are many local beekeeping clubs throughout Georgia that can be wonderful resources for new beekeepers. You can find the club nearest you, along with their contact information here. Local clubs generally meet once a month with informative speakers and an opportunity to network with beekeepers of all levels of experience that live near you. The connections you can make through your local club are invaluable as you begin your journey as a beekeeper.
Find a mentor
Beekeeping is one of those things that is best learned by getting your hands dirty in the process, so finding a mentor is the best way to prepare yourself for your own hives. Your local club is a great way to find one, but you might already have a beekeeping hero that has inspired your interest in the fascinating hobby. There are different philosophies in beekeeping, so make sure that your mentor’s practices feel comfortable to you.
Make sure your neighbors are ok with the idea
In Georgia, there are no laws against keeping bees in your yard, but if you live in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, there may be restrictions in place that must be considered. Even if you have no guidelines to consider, it is nice to talk to your neighbors before putting hives in place to ensure that they are on board. It will give you the opportunity to talk about the benefits for their yard and set up positive lines of communication in case problems arise.
Find a workshop or class to learn the basics
There are multiple workshops and certification programs available throughout the state that can give you intensive training over the course of a day or two. Find details about programs available here. (I know we discussed a listing somewhere on the new site, but I am not sure where to link that yet.) Be sure to add the spring and fall GBA conferences to your schedule, as well. There are many educational speakers as classes at both and the chance to network with beekeepers from all around the state.
Expect an investment of time and money
There is a funny joke that there is definitely money in beekeeping: In what you spend on bees, hives, tools, treatments, etc. The good news is there are different ways to source the equipment and bees for your initial investment in starting beehives, so it is possible to keep the money investment as frugal as you need. Your local club and mentor can help you with options in your area. However, the investment of time can be crucial to the success of your new hives. Planning ahead to give your hives the time they need will help prepare you to meet their needs.
Start with two hives instead of one
Starting with two hives can greatly increase your chances of success! Things can go wrong in a hive and having a second hive offers you sometimes critical backup for solving problems. If your queen fails in one hive, you can pull eggs from the other hive to give them the foundation for rearing a new one. If one hive is weak, you can strengthen it by pulling brood or honey and pollen supply from its stronger neighbor. These are just a few examples of how having two hives can help increase your rate of success as you begin your beekeeping journey.
Hives can fail, no matter how well you do
There are many hazards facing bees these days, so even the most experienced keepers can lose hives. Mites, beetles, pesticides and unusual weather trends are just a few of the struggles you may face when keeping bees. Keeping up with local concerns through your local club or mentor can help, but even the best beekeepers can lose a hive, so don’t feel discouraged if you do.
There are multiple answers to every question in beekeeping
There are various philosophies and traditions and innovations in beekeeping, so it is not unusual to hear varying answers to your questions. It is important to learn through research as well as experience and determine what works best for you. Trust your gut, and let your instincts guide you in which answers feel most helpful.
You will never know it all, you will always be learning
No matter how long you keep bees, there will always be new discoveries to enjoy with these fascinating creatures. The best experts know that they are always learning and there are always new insights from research that can help support the best success in beekeeping. If you are feeling like a novice on the front side, take comfort in knowing that we are all learning as we go.
Get ready to enjoy the benefits
There are a myriad of benefits in adding bees to your landscape, and most of them will show up long before your first honey harvest. You will likely wait until the second year with your beehives to harvest substantial honey, but you can enjoy the other benefits much sooner. Bees will help pollinate the flowers, trees, fruits and vegetables in your yard as soon as you welcome them to their new home, and the joy of getting to know them and their habits is invaluable.