Getting Started

Do not at first, rush out and but expensive equipment and bees. Rather, come along to our Beginners Course or Branch Apiary meetings which during the summer are held at the Cockington Apiary.

The first meeting is on the 6th April 2013 and to which all newcomers are welcome. We have protective clothing for your use. When you are ready, we can sell you some bees


If buying second-hand gear make sure that it is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before use, to minimise the spread of disease.
The essentials to start off with :

Protective suit with a good veil
Gloves (‘Marigolds’ will do to start with)

Once you have your own bees then you will need

  • Smoker
  • Hive tool
  • New frames and foundation

Understanding the choice of a suitable hive is confusing to start with. The popular types in the UK are the ‘National’ and the ‘Commercial’. Both have the same external measurements – 460mm square, however the ‘National’ has smaller frames and brood area and is thus lighter but does not hold so many bees.

Setting up your apiary

Points to consider:

Seek the advice of the Association on suitable sites
Discuss the pros and cons of an out-apiary and an in-apiary
Some neighbours may welcome bees, others might be terrified. Point out that bees might ‘spot’ cars and washing if the hive is close by.

Always site hives so as not to interfere with your neighbours
Site you apiary on level ground with easy access
Also consider

  • Early sun to warm the hives
  • Summer shade in warm areas
  • Not close to another beekeeper
  • Room to ‘work’ your colonies

It is preferable, during the first year, to work with another beekeeper and certainly to attend the branch’s beekeeping afternoons at the Apiary. After a time you will know if beekeeping is for you before wasting money.

New beekeepers should start with a nucleus in the spring and gain confidence as the colony grows. After the first season, consider having at least two colonies, as problems can be more easily rectified with resources from another colony.