Are you ready to accept Bees into your life?

Are you a beekeeper in waiting? Have you ever wondered about the mysterious equipment and rituals associated with beekeeping?

You could be a link in the chain of beekeeping practice dating back 10,000 years. Bees and honey have been with us throughout history, they feature in our earliest traditions. Honey is the same food that our ancestors consumed, even before the discovery of cooked food. The taste of honey is something that we share with the Romans and even earlier with prehistoric people. A spoonful of clover honey tastes the same as it did a million years ago. There are hieroglyphs from the ancient Egyptians depicting beekeeping and cave paintings showing neolithic people harvesting wild honey. It has changed a lot since then, we have bred much calmer bees and designed better PPE (personal protection equipment). We also have a better understanding of bee behaviour thanks to innumerable beekeepers, researchers, scientists and hobbyists.

We rely on bees for pollination more than ever, but they are under threat and harder to keep alive thanks to introduced diseases, predators, pesticides, habitat change and more uncertain weather patterns. It may seem daunting, but like any worthwhile endeavour it is a journey which can be mastered by anyone who is interested and has overcome their irrational fear of thousands of venomous insects.

 What sort of person becomes a beekeeper?

  • A man in need of a hobby - recently retired with a bit of time on his hands and would still like a bit of responsibility
  • A person who wants peace & solitude -after donning your veil and lighting your smoker, your focus goes to your bees and your cares fade for an hour or two.
  • Engineer/tinkerer - beekeeping seems to attract retired engineers, perhaps it’s their precision or the methodical behaviour of the bees.
  • Woodworker - hiveware can be bought fully assembled, but it is so satisfying assembling and painting your own. After a while designing and building your own “perfect hive”
  • Lifestyle Blocker - you got the chickens and a goat but aren’t quite ready for a donkey. Bees are the obvious next step, after all they will be pollinating all your plants
  • Herbalist – anyone who understands the benefits of the plants around us will love the properties of propolis, pollen and honey
  • Gardener - with all the care you put into your garden, one thing that you can’t really control is pollination, unless you keep bees. You’ll get to spend even more time in the garden and think of all the honey.
  • Home cook/preserver - mead, foods preserved in honey, liqueurs
  • Craft maker – candles, soaps, cosmetics, food wraps; there are so many things to be made from honey, propolis and beeswax
  • Club/shared interest - beekeepers LOVE to share their knowledge and talk about bees. Join a Local Beeclub and meet like-minded people
  • Naturalist - lover of nature and New Zealand flora & fauna. Learning more about the natural world we see every day. It’s true that honey bees are “farmed”, but they do help us to become more attuned to nature and be part of the cycle of life outside
  • Artist – batik, encaustic and decoupage are mediums that use beeswax. Imagine expressing yourself through art with handmade materials.

There are several local bee clubs that can help you on your journey; they usually offer classes, mentoring, advice, and loan equipment.

Auckland Beekeepers Club;

Rodney Beekeepers Club;

Franklin Beekeepers Club;

Kumeu Beekeepers Club;

Warkworth beekeepers Club; Warkworth Beekeepers Society Inc. on Facebook

For a more in-depth classes, you can learn fees-free with Land Based Training; the Level 3 Apiculture course is on two Saturdays a month throughout the beekeeping season from August to May

Ken Brown is President of Auckland Beekeepers Club and Tutor at Land Based Training

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