Thinking about starting your own backyard beehive? 80% of new beekeepers quit after the first two years. So, why do so many call it quits and what does it take to succeed? Read this article to find out how to avoid becoming part of the statistic!
In my opinion, the main reason new beekeepers quit is because they don’t seek out the resources they need to succeed. Many beginners have the misconception that beekeeping will be easy because it doesn’t require a huge time investment. While it is true that maintaining a couple of backyard beehives takes only about an hour a month, new beekeepers should expect to spend many more hours learning about what they should actually be doing in the single hour.
So, what resources should a new beekeeper look for?
Books are an excellent place to start. Don’t rely on a single book though, make sure you pick up a couple so that you can get an understanding of different methods. There’s never just one way to do something in beekeeping. When choosing a book, consider where the author lives. The success or failure of beekeeping practices could vary based on regional conditions such as weather, temperature range and local pests. You may also want to find out what style of beekeeping the author prefers. Are they using the same hive as you? Are they practicing natural beekeeping or conventional? Are they teaching hobbyist beekeeping or commercial beekeeping? My favorites: The Practical Beekeeper by Michael Bush & Top Bar Beekeeping by Les Crowder.
Local groups & mentors are the single best resource for a new beekeeper. A mentor will not only give you support and confidence, they will teach you things specific to your region that you probably cannot find in a book. I do, however, recommend that you read a book before you attend a group meeting or approach someone about mentoring you. In a group meeting, you will have a much better understanding of what people are talking about if you have done a little research first. If you are approaching a potential mentor, having a basic understanding of beekeeping will show that you are serious about learning and that will make you a much more attractive pupil. I can’t say how many times I have been approached by a new beekeeper in need of help and they couldn’t even articulate what their question or problem was because they hadn’t done any research! If you are in the San Diego, California area, get in touch with me, as I offer private mentoring and group beekeeping classes. Contact me at 619-921-8189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Documentaries, YouTube and other video format teaching platforms are an excellent way to get information. Want to know how to catch a swarm? Watch a YouTube video. Some things you just have to see to understand. My favorites: Documentary: “Tales From The Hive”, a Nova special, YouTube user: OutofaBlueSky.
Blogs, social media accounts, podcasts & forums are great interactive learning tools for beginners. You can often ask questions and get answers from several different beekeepers. Following a beekeeping themed social media account or blog is also a good way to infuse a daily or weekly dose of beekeeping knowledge into your life. It makes the steep learning curve a little less painful. You may also want to search hashtags on Instagram to help you find helpful accounts. Some of my most used hashtags include: #queenspotting, #beekeepingtips, #backyardbeekeeping, #naturalbeekeeping and #beek. My favorites: Blog: Honey Bee Suite, Social Media: Check out my Instagram feed & Facebook page some of my favorite accounts Instgram: @green_bee-honey, Facebook: Historical Honeybee Articles – Beekeeping History, Podcast: “Bees and Such” by Jennings Apiaries, Forum: www.Beesource.com.