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The Beekeepers' Year

Keeping Bees

It is possible with beekeeping as it is with many other hobbies to read books on the subject, purchase equipment and work happily ever after. However, although it is possible, it is not to be recommended. The best piece of advice for anyone wishing to take up beekeeping as a hobby is to contact local beekeepers and their association and gain from them the theoretical and practical knowledge required for this very interesting hobby. Not only will this ensure that you will be as safe as possible in your apiary, but that you will save spending money on unnecessary items.

The following items are the basics that you will require should you wish to set up your own apiary:

    A full size bee suit with zip or Velcro fastening, although not a necessity, is very desirable. The veil can be attached or detachable. This together with a good pair of beekeeping gloves and wellington boots should ensure that bees are kept on the outside where they can do less harm.


    A smoker is used to control and, in some little way, calm the bees. A small waft of smoke aimed into the entrance of the hive prior to opening it tends to cause the bees to eat honey from their supplies and makes them more placid to work with. The smoker can be fuelled with various items such as Hessian sacking, moss, pines cones, etc. These items tend to produce a cool smoke which is found to be less harmful to the bees.

    The hive tool is used to help separate frames within the hive with the minimum of force and is also used to clean the frames of brace comb or propolis.


  • HIVE
    There are a number of different types of hives on the market but the most common is the modified national. This has been developed over the years and is readily available from beekeeping suppliers (see links) either complete or as parts for assembly if you are to build your own. The normal hive consists of a floor which is approximately 450mm x 450mm and is best positioned on a stand approximately 225mm or more from ground level. FOR MORE IMAGES SEE THE GALLERY. A brood chamber, containing eleven frames of comb is placed on top of the floor. This is where all the young bees are reared. A queen excluder is placed on top of the brood chamber and prevents the queen from getting access to the frames above this. A shallow super with eleven frames is placed above the queen excluder and this is where the bees are, hopefully, going to store honey. A crown board is then placed on top and this has several uses:

    • Heat retention

    • Stops bees from building brace comb under the roof

    • Is used as a clearer board when taking honey supers from the hive

    A hive roof is placed on top of the crown board ensuring that the hive is watertight.

  • BEES
    Suppliers of beekeeping equipment can provide a stock of honeybees during the season. This is conveyed in a small nucleus box with 5 or six frames of bees together with a laying queen. The frames are placed within the hive and should be the start of a good colony which will build up during the season.

The foregoing items are the basics required for beekeeping but during the season other equipment is beneficial to try and prevent the colony from swarming and to keep them in good health. We will from time to time be including various articles on this site on different aspects of keeping bees, but would urge anyone interested in beekeeping to seek out guidance and help from their local beekeeping association. This information can be obtained from the Scottish Beekeepers Association.

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