Beekeeping is a fascinating and rewarding hobby, helping one of our most important pollinators and perhaps giving you the opportunity of eating your own honey.
A vast new world awaits you in the study of the bees themselves, their role in the environment and the working of the hive.
Honeybees have evolved alongside flowering plants over millions of years, long before man walked the Earth.
In learning about the flowers that honeybees visit, you will find the countryside takes on a new look.
Bees fulfil a vital function in the food chain by pollinating fruit and seed crops, and the honey they produce provides them - and us - with a nutritious food.
How to get started
Contact your local Association either by using the local library or the British Beekeeping Associationís web site
navigating to the "find a local association" page. In our county the over-arching Hampshire Beekeepers Association (HBA) has 13 affiliated Local Associations, covering all areas of Hampshire.
The Romsey and District Beekeepersí Association is typical and was founded in 1920 to foster interest in the craft of beekeeping.
It also aims to represent the interest of beekeepers in the area of the lower Test Valley south from Broughton and Stockbridge, eastwards to Chandlers Ford and Ampfield and westwards to Landford,
Wellow and Ower. Today the Association has around 80 members from all walks of life and with one exception are all hobbyists operating from one to twenty colonies.
In the summer the Association holds meetings in membersí apiaries whilst during the winter months they meet monthly in Romsey for a programme of varied and interesting speakers.
Everyone is welcome at all meetings irrespective of beekeeping experience.
In September our Honey Show is held at the Romsey Show
The rewards are many and keep on coming but the downsides are -
- you will get stung - bees are not naturally aggressive but they will occasionally take exception to your interference. The BBKA website has useful and important Advice about Stings
- it is not a guaranteed income stream - purchase of equipment can be expensive and it takes time and patience to produce honey. Second hand equipment can reduce the cost but MUST be sterilised to prevent the spread of pathogens
- one hive is often not enough - you will start with one hive but will probably find you want (at least) one more
- bees need space - siting a hive in your garden can work if you have enough space; otherwise you will need to find an "out apiary" such as on farm land
- bees need time - especially in spring and early summer when they will need extra care if you are to avoid losing them through lack of attention to their needs
Your local association is always eager to give advice or practical help to novice beekeepers.