faq's

about

beekeeping

"Simple questions with simple answers"

In this section, we are compiling a list of the questions we are most frequently asked.  If your question or answer is not here, drop us a line and we will answer the question.

FAQ's about Beekeeping

Honey

How much honey can you get from a hive?


A single hive can produce a surplus of 60 lb (27 kg) or more in a good season. However, an average hive would be around 25 lb (11 kg) surplus. In a bad year, there may not be a surplus available and the bees may need feeding. A productive colony will make and use up to 140 lbs of honey during a year. Anything over this is the surplus that beekeepers will harvest for their own use. Bees fly about 55,000 miles to make just one pound of honey - that's 2.2 times around the world!




What is "raw" honey?


"Raw" honey is the honey that a beekeeper produces. A beekeeper only filters honey to remove any large particles of wax or other unwanted debris that may be in the extracted honey. This is why raw honey from a beekeeper may look a little cloudy at times and will crystallise over time. Neither is raw honey pasteurised to kill of the good bacteria. Heating honey to such temperatures is a practice used for commercial honey production to help prevent the honey from crystallising on the supermarket shelf and keep it looking clear and bright. Commercial honey from a supermarket is devoid of all the benefits that honey gives us.




Is honey good for summer allergy sufferers?


Honey has health benefits for almost everyone except the very young. Whilst there is no medical evidence to support honey helping to alleviate summer allergies, those with such allergies will often swear by the relief that honey has given them. But not just any honey ... this has to be "raw" honey from a local beekeeper as this honey will contain local pollens that give the honey its unique flavour and characteristics. Supermarket honey is devoid of pollen and other beneficial bacteria.




Does honey contain antioxidants?


Yes it does - and the darker the honey the higher the concentration of antioxidants. These are the good guys that help compat the "free radicals" we all have inside of us. The free radicals are largely responsible for diseases including atherosclerosis, cancer, inflammatory joint disease, asthma, diabetes, senile dementia and degenerative eye disease. They also effect the aging process and give us wrinkles as we get older. Antioxidants pair up with "free radicals" and help stop them doing nasty things to us.




Is honey good for your nerves?


Honey helps the brain produce more serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates your mood. As a result, honey helps relax your nerves.




Can honey cause anxiety?


Honey shouldn’t cause anxiety. If anything, it’s the opposite. Honey helps with the absorption of l-tryptophan in the brain, which leads to higher serotonin levels. As a result, honey can help reduce anxiety.




Is honey good for stress?


Honey is an excellent food choice for stress. It raises insulin levels which enables your brain to produce more of the feel-good neurotransmitters. And it helps you sleep too!




Is honey good for memory loss?


Honey can help against memory loss. It contains polyphenols which are natural antioxidants. They boost your brain blood flow, reduce cell death, and diminish inflammation.





Bees

Can I keep bees in my garden?


If you intend to keep bees in your garden, then you should consider your neighbours and any pets or children that may be around. Speak to your neighbours and reassure them that bees are not normally aggressive insects. The promise of a jar or two of fresh honey each year goes a long way! Perhaps you have some friends that have large gardens or a plot of land where you can keep them. Also try approaching your local council as they may have some areas of land that might be suitable. Allotments are usually good places for a colony of bees but wherever you put them - you will need permission to do so. Wherever you site your bees, they must not be close to a public footpath or right of way and should be kept out of "line of sight" from the public.




Where can I get a colony of bees from?


If you are already a member of a beekeeping association, then they will most likely be able to sell you a nucleus colony from their association apiary. If not, then other members may have nucleus colonies they can sell. Nucleus colonies (known as "nucs") can also be purchased online from reputable suppliers but check with your association before buying. Bait hives can also be setup to attract swarms during the swarming season in May, June and July. If you are fortunate enough to capture a swarm, then these are free but may need some treatment for potential diseases or parasitic mites.




What is a "nuc" or a "nucleus colony"?


Nuc is simply our shortened version of the word "nucleus". A nuc colony is a small colony of bees in a special small box that can hold just 5 or 6 frames of bees. Nuc boxes are often used for starting up a new colony and for colonies that are too small to placed into a full hive.




Are there any specific laws about keeping bees?


The short answer is no, unless you're keeping bees on an allotment when a tenancy agreement may impose restrictions. Otherwise, the only applicable laws are "creating nuisance to neighbours" and "acting in breach of a general duty of care". You also need to be aware that certain diseases that can effect the health of honeybees are notifiable by law in the same way that foot and mouth disease is for cattle.




I have bees in my birdbox. Can you remove them?


The short answer is "No". Honeybees do not use a birdbox to set up a home as there are simply far too many of them to fit into a birdbox - typically 30,000 in a swarm. The bees in this image are the Tree bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) and beekeepers aren't allowed to touch bumblebees - only honeybees. Best thing to do is wait until evening when all the bees are in, and then stuff a rag into the entrance. Get someone to take the box down and move it to a quite part of the garden. The following day, quickly remove the rag and stand well clear. The bees will re-orientate to their new position. There's usually only a couple of hundred of these bees in your birdbox and they will all perish towards the end of summer.





Associations

Why should I join a Beekeeping Association?


Apart from providing Public Liability Insurance through the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA), local associations have much to offer to beekeepers and almost all of them provide some form of course for Beginners. All associations have their own association apiary at which practical sessions takes place. These sessions can be anything from "Master Classes" to "Taster Sessions". Associations often have a busy calendar of events during the year and also meet during the winter months when guest speakers are invited to give talks on relevant subjects. Associations are also an important source of help and advice from their experienced beekeepers. Some associations will appoint a mentor to a new beekeeper as your first source of help and guidance. The route to more advanced training and beekeeping qualifications is also through your local association.




How do I find my nearset Beekeeping Association?


The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) has a very informative website that provides current information and guidance on a wide range of beekeeping topics. Their website has a facility to help you locate your nearest association secretary and you can access this facility here.





General

How much does it cost to become a beekeeper?


A flat-pack hive will set you back around £150 and bees for the hive are about the same price. Then you need your bee suit, gloves, smoker and hive tool – that’s another £100'ish. Many suppliers offer deals on Starter Packs that are worth looking at. And of course, there is your subscription fee for joining an association – typically around £32 p.a. But the costs are spread out; joining an association comes first - then it may be months before you buy your protective clothing and then months before you get a hive and some bees. You may also be fortunate enough to attract a swarm of honeybees free of charge!




Is beekeeping a suitable pastime for a woman?


Most certainly - beekeeping is a pastime for all ages and genders and there are many females who undertake beekeeping on their own. A lot of them are very highly skilled and qualified beekeepers.




Where can I learn about beekeeping?


Your local association will normally run Beginners Courses at least once each year that are designed for people wishing to learn more about bees or become a beekeeper. Check out their website or contact them for details of their courses. You can find your nearest beekeeping association here.




How much time does beekeeping take up?


As much or as little as you have available. Some beekeepers will adopt the "leave them alone and let them get on with it" approach. But this is regarded as not being responsible for your bees and managing them properly. Generally, an inspection once a week between April and August is all that is normally required - and that might only take you a few minutes if you only have one or two colonies. And for 6 months of the year we don't do anything with them from around September to the following March - we just make sure they have enough food to see them through the Winter months.





Swarms

Do beekeepers remove swarms?


Yes - providing the swarm is of honeybees, is easily accessible and within a safe working height. However, if they are not honeybees or the insects are within the fabric of a building, beekeepers cannot usually help. Check our swarming page here for more information.




Do beekeepers charge to remove a swarm?


No not usually - this is a free service offered by beekeepers. But the beekeeper can ask for reasonable travel expenses to cover any of their "out of pocket" expenses. Check with your beekeeper when you make contact.





Membership

Can a junior join the association?


A junior under the age of 18 most certainly can join the association and we encourage this. However, we wouldn't advise it for juniors under the age of 9. Furthermore, a junior would require a parent or guardian to be with them at all times. Parents usually become Social Members of the association and that entitles them to attend all of our meetings and events. They can even come into the apiary if they have a beesuit! Our Beginners Courses sometimes have a special concession for a junior provided that a parent or guardian is on the course.




When does membership start?


You can become a member of our association at any time of your choosing. However, irrespective of when you become a member, all annual membership subscriptions are renewable in October of each year. If you haven't renewed your subscription by the end of October, you membership will have lapsed and your personal details will be deleted.





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