The trend of hobby home beekeeping has surged all over the world in the last few years, with more novice beekeepers discovering the joys and rewards of having an apiary in their own backyard.
Bees are amazing little creatures! Seventy-one common food crops rely on bees for pollination, as do the crops our livestock eat. Small birds, insects and mammals eat plants too. Bees are crucial to our planet and our collective food supply, and they require flowers for food, just as flowers need bees for pollination. It’s a symbiotic relationship we all rely on to survive.
Benefits of beekeeping as a hobby include:
- Enjoy creating a bee colony and watching it flourish
- Enjoy small-batch organic home-grown honey
- Create honey gifts for family, friends and neighbors
- Earn side income from bespoke honey sales
- Protect bees and the environment
- Enjoy a blooming garden at home
Most people would not know that having hives in your backyard is even a possibility! But with a bit of space, a little effort, and some commitment, you too can have fresh, home-grown honey to enjoy and share with your family and friends.
Bees fly and feed on nectar from flowers and there are many thousands of different species.
Before you set out to invest your time, money, and effort into beekeeping at home, there are a few things you need to know.
Is Backyard beekeeping Legal? Is it Safe?
Backyard beekeeping comes with some distinct responsibilities. It is a safe hobby, as long as you follow some specific guidelines.
- While exact legislation differs between different countries, and even the different states within countries,you should checkout whether home beekeepers must register and register their hives, where you live. This helps prevent the spread of diseases and pests that impact bee populations. It also enables the authorities to keep beekeepers informed on beekeeping bio security and offer them training to maintain minimum standards.
- You need to ensure that nobody in your home or among your close nearby neighbors suffers from a severe allergy to bee stings. If this is the case, it’s probably wiser that you don’t invest in hives at home, or that you find a better location for your bees.
- Your hives are your responsibility. You need to monitor them for signs of disease and report any issue to the authorities. It is also your responsibility to make sure your bees are not a nuisance to your neighbors.
- You are obligated to maintain records of your hive activity and provide them upon request to inspectors.
- Your hives must be easy to inspect with movable frames.
- You must check with relevant authorities if you wish to move your hives interstate.
How much time is required for beekeeping?
Beekeeping does require some time, but it is not as time-consuming as you might expect. After the initial significant time commitment for getting set up, beekeeping takes only a few hours per week for maintenance. Honey harvesting takes more time at the end of the season.
Home Beekeeping – Locating your Hives
A normal-sized back yard is usually enough to keep bees, though if your bees annoy your neighbors, you’re required by law to move the hive.
- Locate the hive as high as possible off the ground – even some rooftops are used for beekeeping in urban areas
- Choose a dry, sunny spot with a shade option in summer
- Choose a spot out of the wind and with a flight path that avoids footpaths, doors, open windows, and high traffic areas.
- Leave a shallow water supply for the bees near the hive
- Be aware bees are likely to attack in response to objects that are dark or furry (think bears, the honey bee’s greatest predator – this is why beekeeper suits are white!)
How much honey can you produce from one beehive?
You should be able to harvest honey within four to six months of introducing a colony of bees to a hive. The first honey bees make will be used to construct the waxy honeycomb. Thereafter, the normal harvest yield of honey averages 30kg per hive.
Keeping hives at home is a great hobby! Not only will you harvest your own honey, but your veggie garden, fruit trees, and even your flowers will reap the rewards of increased pollination by your bees for more sustainable living and beauty in your environment. Additionally, by participating in home beekeeping, you play an important role in helping protect Worlds bee populations.