Why beginners should join a beekeeping club
5 reasons to find your local beekeeping buddies
Beekeeping isn’t something you get right away. Like any hobby, it takes trial and error to find out what works and what doesn’t. Newbie beekeepers can spend hours checking their hives, examining larvae and trying to work out where their queen has got to. It’s lonely work.
That’s why, if you’re a beginner beekeeper, it’s smart to find support wherever you can. You might have your partner or family to help with the grunt work, but you also need to talk to people who have beekeeping experience. Reading information on the internet and joining forums and Facebook groups can only take you so far – eventually, you’re going to need more concrete support. That’s where beekeeping clubs come in.
You might not know it, but there’s probably a beekeeping club near you. These groups let local beekeepers share resources and information, give them a chance to chat about their hives and trade ideas, and often have demonstrations or training sessions for newer beekeepers to learn new skills. If you’re starting out as a beekeeper, they’re an invaluable resource.
Here’s what you get when you join your local beekeeping club:
1: Local knowledge
Reading about beekeeping on the internet or in books is all well and good, but it won’t give you specific information about your local area. Where can you find a local bee supplier? Who is the best person to call if you need a swarm captured? Are there bylaws or zoning issues that might affect your hives? Which local farmers use pesticides? Your bee club will know.
Being able to chat to beekeepers in your area should also help you work out what to expect from your hive throughout the year – local climates can vary, which can affect plants and bees as well.
Even better, if you have an issue with your hives, you’ll also be able to seek advice from someone with knowledge of local conditions.
2: Ongoing education
No matter how long you’ve been beekeeping, you can always learn more. Local bee clubs often provide training sessions and demonstrations to help new – and old – beekeepers build their skill-sets. You might see a range of different hives being used, find out how to identify signs of disease, or observe honey being harvested. Many bee clubs regularly bring in outside experts to speak about interesting and relevant topics – from organic beekeeping, to making candles, to dealing with infestations.
Bee clubs are a great way to get hold of extra resources to help with your beekeeping. Many clubs will have a collection of books and materials available to borrow – and you never know, some of that information might not be available online.
You may also be able to borrow, buy, or swap bee gear through your club. Many hobby clubs have larger pieces of equipment, like honey extractors and wax melters, available to hire or borrow, so you don’t have to invest thousands when you’re just starting out. Other members may have second-hand equipment or gear to sell as well, but make sure the members are reputable and experienced with pests & diseases to ensure the gear is disease-free.
4: Supporting your industry
Joining a bee club isn’t just about what benefits you. It’s also about supporting beekeeping as a whole. Bees are essential to our ecosystem and agriculture, so it’s important to have people on their side. By getting involved, helping novice beekeepers, and trading advice with others in your area, you’ll be helping increase the number of beekeepers in Australia, and maintaining positive beekeeping practices in your area. Many bee clubs also act as lobby groups, petitioning local and state government bodies to protect bees and beekeeping practices.
5: Meeting your mentor
A beekeeping mentor is priceless when you’re just starting out. Although talking to other beekeepers at the club is helpful, that can’t compare to having an experienced keeper look at your hives with you. Don’t go to your first bee club meeting solely to find a mentor, but do keep an ear out for someone with experience who might be willing to help you. Some bee clubs will pair would-be mentors with newbie keepers, so ask around if you’re unsure.
Get advice, make friends
Whether you’re a new beekeeper or an old hand, belonging to a beekeeping club is bound to benefit you. There’s nothing like advice, commiseration, and sharing opinions with others in the same situation – if nothing else, you’ll feel less lonely in your work. If you can find a mentor, borrow pricey equipment, and upgrade your beekeeping skills at the same time, all the better.
Keen to learn more about beekeeping in Australia?Check out more articles from Ecrotek here.