With the current surge of interest in bees and concern about their survival, many people are seeking to become beekeepers.
The invention of the Flow Hive has stimulated interest, but has to some extent created an impression that beekeeping is simpler than it really is.
The truth is that this wonderful innovation, the first real change in beehives since the Langstroth hive patented in 1852, relates only to the harvesting of honey from the hive, and as yet, is applicable mainly to the amateur with a hive or two in the backyard.
The bees beneath the Flow Hive component still have to be looked after, to be checked for health and disease.
This demands that the newcomer to beekeeping has a lot of learning to do, and learning involves more than gaining book knowledge.
It is just as important, and more difficult, to develop confidence in handling bees and this is best achieved by joining an organisation like the Amateur Beekeeping Association of NSW.
The association was founded on Sydney's North Shore in 1954 by a retired army officer with a colourful record of service at Gallipoli, in France and in India, Colonel Guy Harris Pulling.
His name is perpetuated as the name of an annual competition between branches of the association at its annual general meeting.
From a modest, but sound beginning, membership has grown to more than 1,000 in 20 clubs spread from Bega to the Far North Coast.
All branches welcome beginners and provide personal hands-on training.
There are two important rules about beekeeping:
- You are never too old to learn; and
- If you work with bees you will get stung, even while wearing protection.
Most Amateur Beekeeping Association of NSW clubs offer structured beginner courses.
It is now very easy to find a club near you. Visit www.beekeepers.asn and click on ‘Find a Club’. Having found a branch of the ABA, you will also find a warm welcome.
There is also information on the website to help educate budding beekeepers.
One topic covered is biosecurity with a number of good resources available for both individual beekeepers and clubs alike.
- Jim Wright is a life member of the Hunter Valley branch of the Amateur Beekeepers' Association of NSW.