Monday, September 26, 2011


You would like to know how to start beekeeping and what better way than to ask an expert. I interviewed an expert in the art of keeping bees and backyard beekeeping to help you on your way. Geoff is also an expert in bee removal; he does this in a way to keep our bees? safe which is admiral as the consequences of missing bees would have a catastrophic impact on all our lives.

How to start beekeeping is one of the questions I am asked most as I?m sure you experience too. Geoff, would you recommend as I do seeking out a mentor to learn as much as you can?

Absolutely! One of the things I always recommend to a newbie when asked how to start beekeeping is to join a local bee club if there is one, and perhaps start one if there isn't. The problems with that is whenever you ask a group of beekeepers their option, you'll almost certainly get more opinions than there are beekeepers.

However as long as you can sift through all the advice, it really is a great source of knowledge. If you can find a mentor with whom you can work, you'll get a much better perspective than you ever will from a book.

Beekeepers are usually proud to pass on their ideas to anyone who will listen. The vast majority of beekeepers will be more than happy to help anyone who is starting out.

A lot of people interested in this subject ?How to start Beekeeping? are worried about making mistakes. What do you consider the most often made mistakes for beginners in beekeeping and things they should avoid?

Strangely the one thing which springs to mind might not seem like a mistake at all. It is something I encounter quite often, and I was guilty myself. It is the belief that for some reason the time is not right to start keeping bees. I often hear something like, "I'll do it next year." or "When I retire." or "When we move to somewhere more suitable."

If anyone is considering beekeeping, the right time to start is, 'now!'. Knowing what I know now I would have started keeping bees a number of years before I actually did. I lived somewhere I thought was unsuitable, but now I know there are solutions for almost all obstacles.

You may have read that New York City recently lifted the ban on keeping bees in the city. All those beekeepers who had for years, been keeping bees on roof tops and who knows where, are able to be more open about their activities and no longer fear the retribution of the bee police. Even people in the heart of New York City can keep bees, so why can't you?

Geoff, how did you start keeping bees and what drove you into this business? Keeping bees is a passion for you; this shines through with your excellent website. You have also become an expert bee removal specialist.

I had been a hobby beekeeper both in England and California for quite a number of years. I was a contract database programmer, the contract ended, and it was 'bee season'.

I really didn't want to continue working for someone else, even if I could find another highly paid job which seemed doubtful, so I thought, "Why not do the bee removal thing?? The thing which got me into the bee removal business was, like so many of life's situations, a combination of circumstances.

What were the main problems you experienced when getting started and how did you overcome them?

There were two problems. One was, "What do I do with the bees I remove?", I'm still working on that one. The other was how do I find people who will pay me to have bees removed?

I fell back on my programming skills and built a website with which I was able to generate enough inquiries to keep me busy. Without going into the technicalities, the initial website was quite a lot of trouble and wasn't something I was especially proud, but it did the job.

It wasn't long before I saw the potential to take it further. I'm fast approaching the point where I might concentrate much more on the website, and possibly other websites, and return the beekeeping to being a hobby.

One thing that worries a lot of people when they ask how to start beekeeping is the never ending stories about Colony Collapse Disorder. Do you have any thoughts on the possible causes of Colony Collapse Disorder?

I get asked this a lot. I think it's almost certainly a combination of factors, one of which might not be a problem, but take all together cause the problem. The usual suspects are, mono-culture agriculture, viruses, the Varroa mite and pesticides.

The biggest factor may prove to be Neonicotinoid pesticides. These are frighteningly persistent in plants and have been shown, despite pesticide manufacturers canceling studies, to cause a host of effects on honeybees which might well account for this phenomenon. These pesticides have been banned in Europe and many other parts of the world, but are still used in the U.S.

Honey bees are fascinating we both agree but what is it about them that fascinates you the most? I believe those who are interested in how to start beekeeping will become extremely fascinated also.

Managing something as wild as a colony of bees in such a way that they produce a surplus of beeswax, Propolis, royal jelly and of course honey for the beekeeper amazes me. I have said many times that bees still continue to surprise me; they are 'supposed' to do, or not do many different things.

Far too often I have said 'Oh, bees never do that." or "Bees will always do...." I've learned not to say that anymore, they've made a fool out of me much too often.

The most fascinating thing for me about beekeeping is without a doubt swarming. Seeing a swarm of bees flying in the air, not as the cartons would have you believe, in a defined purposeful cloud like a flock of birds, but like 20,000 individual bees flying in random directions, slowly drifting as a whole.

Once they decide to alight on a branch, a cluster about the size of a football quickly forms, building until there are almost no bees flying and a big mass of bees weighing down the branch.

Collecting a swarm is definitely my favorite part of keeping bees. In its simplest form I shake the cluster off the branch into a box or bucket and dump them on a ramp in front of a hive which I've set up.

You really have to see it to believe it, in fact even having seen it many, many times I'm still not sure I believe it. Maybe you should go to Bees on the Net and watch it for yourself.

Thank you so much for this interview Geoff, ?How to start Beekeeping? from your perspective will help spur many others on in the exciting world of keeping bees. It just goes without saying that backyard beekeeping is one of the most rewarding hobbies around.

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