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Are you an aspiring beekeeper?

Getting into beekeeping and apiculture, what you'll need and what you'll need to know and where to find it all

11 February 2021

A guest post by Janice Murphy

There’s a lot of buzz around bees these days.

More and more people are wanting a hive or two in their garden, especially since the Varroa mite has virtually wiped out the wild hives in New Zealand.

There are loads of ways to help the bees – you can plant bee-friendly flowering plants and trees, avoid spraying toxins and pesticides when bees are around, get rid of wasp nests, or even partake in the noble art of beekeeping.

If you’re looking to get started with beekeeping, here’s a few quick pointers:

  • Do your research and pick up a copy of Practical Beekeeping in New Zealand by Andrew Matheson and Murray Reid. No amount of advice on the internet will prepare you for New Zealand conditions as well as this book.
  • Check out your local bee club. Bee clubs give you the chance to look in on a hive, handle some bees and find out if beekeeping is right for you. Here, you can also meet some experienced beekeepers and mentors to help you on your journey.
  • Head on over to the NZ Bees website where beekeepers from commercial to hobbyist share information, ask questions and tell stories.
  • Book a beekeeping course. These courses can range from basic to advanced courses and will often include hive building and, in some of the longer courses, a full season of hands-on beekeeping.
  • Get yourself some good, protective gear. Bee stings hurt and even mild-mannered hives can get a wee bit grumpy. A veil and strong leather gloves are a must for a beginner, but a full bee suit is always better.
  • Have an experienced beekeeper check any hives you buy for disease and general condition.
  • When buying hives, consider using a sale and purchase agreement that covers the disease status of your hives.

If you you’re not sure about keeping bees, many places will allow you to hire a hive for your property.

The hive owner does all the beekeeping and you get to keep some of the honey!

Rules and regulations

Bees leaving the hive can sometimes make a mess of the washing, the windows or a lovely, clean car.

To ensure the neighbours are happy, make sure you’re aware of your bees’ flight path and the placement of their hives

Check in with your local council to make sure you are allowed a hive in the site you want. Most councils are fine with residential use barring a few exceptions.

In New Zealand, it’s a legal requirement for beekeepers to register themselves and their apiaries .

For further information on beekeeping, check out the National Beekeepers’ Association of New Zealand website.

Trade Me would like to add that once you've successfully made some honey - you might want to sell it on Trade Me, here's how! Please also note that beekeepers need to include their registration number when listing hives on site.

A big thanks to Janice for this post!

Creative Commons image used courtesy Umberto Salvagnin on Flickr.