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Getting started in beekeeping

Building your beehive

First you'll need to place it on a stand that keeps it off the ground and allows some ventilation underneath. Make sure your stand is level. You can use all kinds of things to build your stand - many people use concrete blocks, treated wood or even pallets.

Next, you'll need to assemble your hive. The bottom board comes with your Brookfield Beehives kit and is topped with the hive boxes. The first of these will be your brood box. This box will contain both frames (that come with your beehive kit) and foundation (wax - available separately). This box where the bees will live, the queen bee will lay eggs and the brood will be raised.

The next box is your honey super where the honey is stored.

The design of your Brookfield Beehives hive is based on the very popular Langstroth hive design that around 75% of beekeepers prefer for its practicality and ease of use. Each hive box fits 10 slim frames into it leaving just the right amount of space between and around each frame for the bees to move around.

Why do I need to wire a beehive frame?

The frames in a Langstroth beehive are usually reinforced with wire because this makes it possible to extract your honey in centrifuge honey extractors. We have a range of these extractors where you place your combs in the radial arms and spin the honey out of the comb.

By reinforcing the frames (and consequently the combs) with wire, it means you can put the empty frames and combs back into the beehive for reuse. By allowing your bees to reuse their comb, you get a good increase in productivity from your hive.

Wiring your frames is not difficult and the easiest way to learn how to do something is to watch someone else doing it. Why not check out this video on YouTube to see a step by step approach to wiring a frame.

How much time is involved in keeping bees?

Although you can't just pop a couple of beehives in your backyard and leave them unattended, beekeeping isn't enormously time-consuming and brings you some great rewards.

As well the satisfaction of being able to harvest your own honey, you can also enjoy knowing that you're helping your local environment by supporting bee populations. Without bees and their work in pollination, plant life would decline with catastrophic effects for all of us.

Once you have invested the time in assembling your hives and installing your bees, you'll find they are pretty independent and look after themselves most of the time. You just have to commit to checking on them every couple of weeks during spring and summer. You'll need to look out for any problems or diseases and deal with them if they arise.

You will also need to invest a little extra time during swarming season to ensure they don't become an issue for your neighbours.

Where can I get bees from?

The best time to obtain bees is in Spring or early summer as this is the time of year that the colonies propagate and swarm.

If you get your bees later in the summer you will just need to ensure that they have enough food stored for the winter and you might need to feed them to make sure.

There are a few ways you can get bees:

- from a beekeeper club or association (you can see if they are able to provide a swarm)

- from other beekeepers or retiring beekeepers who are selling colonies

- from catching a swarm