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Can you keep bees?

Keeping bees is a fantastically rewarding hobby - but how do you know if you can? There are several things to consider...

Keeping bees requires small amounts of regular time with the bees. You typically have to spend around half an hour per week with a hive. You can do this at the weekend or, if the weather is still good, when you return from work. Most beekeepers would like to spend more time with their bees rather than less, as beekeeping is highly addictive. Unlike keeping other animals, the bees mostly look after themselves and will not notice if you go on holiday. In all, you might spend 20-30 hours over the course of a year with the bees.

Bees can be kept anywhere from country orchards to urban gardens to small city balconies. It is a common misconception that you need a large garden or countryside nearby. Although this can make siting your bees easier, urban gardens are arguably better. Nectar and pollen can be gathered from a wide variety of plants. This means that there is often a constant source of food throughout the summer and a lack of harmful pesticides.

You might be worried what you neighbours will think. If you have a large garden, it is possible that your neighbours will not know you have bees. However, if space is tight, you need to carefully plan the beehive site and ensure you purchase bees that are good tempered (i.e. buy you bees from a reputable supplier). The beehive should be located in such a way that the entrance of the hive does not point into a footpath or busy area of the garden.

Beekeeping requires a few pieces of essential equipment including clothing, tools and (obviously) a hive. These are covered later in the guide.

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Gwendoline, 1 October 2021

I have a lovely garden for bees and had a lot of bumble and honey bees visit this year. I wonder is it possible to keep a Beehive and pay someone else to tend it, or can they just be left to fend for themselves.

Paul, 15 August 2021

Hi I’ve been reading up for sometime now about bee keeping and it’s something I would really like to do and since I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma 2019 Dec and had covid-19 in March 2020 where I’m suffering from what they call long covid some 15months on, I’m very limited as in what I can do which I am more determined to have my own bee hive one for the love of bees and also tasty Honey ???? which I have every day, now I live in a cul de sac where have bungalow which is on its own as we are in corner and some size garden but do have neighbour closer at back and has dog as I have two small, after I said to my Neighbour she had concerns but I shouldn’t have to suffer anymore for wanting to have something I would one enjoy as hobbie etc, I’ve looked at many videos on YouTube to please could someone help me out how to go about and as I live far from a keeper would I need training. Kind regards Paul ???? ???? ????

Teresa, 28 May 2020

We have recently moved house & a neighbour (3 doors away) has bees, Whilst I do not object to this, the bees do swarm. They come over our garden as well as next door, & we have to run for cover & close all windows. Is this allowed in gardens? My grandson will not come to visit as is afraid they will sting.

An Omleteer, 18 May 2020

My neighbour has two bee hives which is not a problem but he has taken to spraying the hives with his hosepipe which makes the bees angry and leave the hives and come over the fence in our garden and we can’t sit out as they swarm. We have been stung by them even just walking to the house to get away from them. Is this something you have to do when looking after bees ? I find it strange to do this as I said make them angry.

Mike, 12 January 2020

I belong to a Bowling Club in North Wales and wonder what to do with the nicely maintain area surrounding a busy bowling green which is grassed with shrubs and some very large old trees, the whole club is surrounded by older houses with fair sized gardens. The area is located within a small town and is situated just at the base of rolling hills and wooded areas. The club is used on a daily basis during the season from March until November with many visitors seated and watching the games from the surrounding seated areas. Any thoughts or advice on the pros and cons might be helpful. Mike