Getting Involved in Beekeeping
There are many different ways to get involved in beekeeping or supporting bees; from providing bee-friendly habitats, reducing insecticide use, providing space for bee hives and improving your knowledge of bees to ultimately becoming a beekeeper yourself. The Association provides all sorts of information, training and guidance and welcomes newcomers to its regular Local Group meetings.
Thanks to Phil Chandler of www.biobees.com for allowing extracts of his book “Balanced Beekeeping II: Managing the Top Bar Hive” to be used on this page.
Here are some of the ways you can get involved…
Create Natural Habitats
If you have space in your garden, let some of it go wild to create a safe haven for bees and other insects and small mammals. Gardens that are too tidy are not so wildlife-friendly.
Plant bee-friendly flowers
There are around 250 species of bees in the UK including bumble bees. All are suffering due, in part, to loss of the habitats they need to provide both food and shelter, but there are some simple things we can do to help put this right. Growing the right plants can make a huge difference to bees and other pollinators.
You can download our own list of bee-friendly plants here.
Stop using Insecticides
…especially for ‘cosmetic’ gardening.
There are better ways of controlling ‘pests’ – especially biological controls. Modern pesticides are extremely powerful and many are long-lasting and very toxic to bees and other insects.
Removing unnecessary pesticides from the environment is probably the single most important thing we can do to help save the bees.
Beware of hidden insecticides. Some garden and potting composts contain Imidacloprid. This is often referred-to as ‘vine weevil protection’ or similar, but it is toxic to all insects and all soil life including beneficial earthworms.
Create your own Bee-Friendly Zone
By avoiding insecticides and planting the right flowers you can create a Bee-Friendly Zone. This can be as small as a window-box or as large as a public park, or even a whole village, see the Friends of the Bees web site for more details.
Provide a Site for Bees
Providing space for beehives is a great way of helping people keep bees who otherwise wouldn’t have the space available to do so. If you, or perhaps your company, would be interested in hosting a hive (or more), please contact the Secretary via the contacts page.
Support your Local Beekeepers
Buy locally produced honey
Look-out for locally produced honey in the shops, particularly in the late summer and autumn. Many people believe that eating local honey can reduce the effects of hayfever and similar allergies. Buying local honey helps to support local beekeepers and, compared to most supermarket honeys, you’ll get a much more nutritious product and it’ll taste smashing.
See us at the Shows
We regularly have stands at shows throughout Wharfedale, usually starting with the Otley Show in May. Here, you can meet us, learn more about bees and buy honey and bee-friendly plants. Some of these are included in the calendar of events, others are usually arranged at shorter notice, so look out for us at your local show during the summer.
Attend our Local Groups
Because the Association’s membership is distributed over a wide area, local groups have been formed to make it easier for members to meet other beekeepers, swap advice, ask questions and occasionally enjoy a drink or two. These groups meet in Otley and Skipton on a regular basis and welcome non-members as well as members.
For more information please go to the Local Groups section on the Members page.
Learn to Keep Bees
The Association runs a beginners’ course every year. This is usually classroom-based but is followed up with practical sessions later in the year and each new beekeeper will have access to a more experienced mentor who can give them help and support as they need it. During the early summer we will, if possible, supply bees to all beginners.
For more information on beekeeper training, please visit the Learn about beekeeping page.