The Bees knees


Beekeeping is a very rewarding pursuit and is gaining in popularity. Almost every day, I have someone ask me how they can get a hive or how to get into beekeeping. There are a few different answers to this question, as becoming a beekeeper, or beek as beekeepers are often called, is as easy as buying a hive of bees, then hey presto you are a beek. 

A hive of bees on its own will usually look after itself most of the time but not all of the time. It will need maintenance and care. A certain amount of knowledge and equipment is necessary for this maintenance or, alternately, you can have an arrangement with a beekeeper to look after the hive for you for an arranged share of the honey from the said hive, but you do need to be sure he or she will do as they say they will.

It is not unusual for me to get a call from someone asking if I can come and check on a hive of bees they bought a long time ago, with the promise that the beekeeper will manage it for them only to be never seen again.

In my opinion, the best way to get into bee keeping is to start at the beginning with a nuke box, so called because it forms the nucleus of a hive. A nuke box is usually made from cor-flute, ‘election sign material,’ which is surprisingly hardy, and several of my nuke boxes have had multiple hives of bees through them over time.

All you need to start your beekeeping hobby is the nuke, a stand to put it on, and a reliable beek to guide you from there. ‘There is the clue,’ a reliable beekeeper, who will help you become used to bees and help you learn, or alternatively, look after the hive for you and keep the majority of the honey for their help.

Every person whom I have seen begin this journey has become enthusiastic and enthralled with the wonderful life of bees. 

The nuke box is almost always a five-frame box with a few thousand bees and, of course, must include a laying queen. It needs to be on a stand in the same place where you want the hive to be. Having a nuke allows the beginner beek to get used to bees and overcome that natural fear. If you take the plunge into beekeeping, you will, I am sure, spend lots of pleasurable time watching your bees leave the hive to forage, only to return bringing back pollen, nectar, sap, or whatever the hive needs at that time. 

The bees will live happily in the nuke for three weeks to three months or even longer, depending on the available food, and the bees themselves. When the number of bees has increased sufficiently, it will be time to transfer to an eight or ten frame box to become a real beehive.

You will need, if you manage the hive yourself, a hive tool, a smoker, a bee brush, a brood box, and a honey super with frames and a veil for yourself. If you make an arrangement with the beek you bought the nuke from, all you will need to start is a place to put the bees then, at a later date, two boxes, a brood box and honey super plus frames; it depends on the arrangement you make.  I recommend you have a veil so you can have a closer look at the bees if and when you wish to.    

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