The Beekeeper


Many members of the general public are frightened of bees.  It cannot be stressed too strongly therefore, that beekeepers must manage their bees without causing problems or fear to other people.

There are four maxims:

1. The colonies should be sited carefully.

2. The bees should be so docile that in decent weather during a honey flow, you can walk amongst the hives without any fear of being stung.

3. They should be manipulated only when they are unlikely to upset neighbours.

4. Be certain you are competent to manage your bees safely and effectively.

If, in spite of your precautions, the neighbours do complain of being stung then, unfortunately, the onus is entirely on the beekeeper to mitigate the nuisance.

Managing your bees properly

One of the best aids in this direction is to take the BBKA Basic Assessment.  Simply preparing for it will be a great help and as it is entirely practical and conversational it is designed to suit all styles of learning.  Beekeepers in your association are always happy to give guidance and help as your experience grows.  Your local Secretary or Education Officer will be happy to discuss.

You should keep records showing why you last went to your bees, how they behaved and their current condition. With such information, you are able to decide what may need to be done when you go next time.

The bees you keep should be of a docile strain. There are two tests that you can apply to your own bees to know how docile they are.

1. In decent weather and during a honey flow you should be able to walk amongst the hives without fear of being stung.

2. You should be able to manage your bees on the majority of occasions without the use of gloves.  Do try it.

If you are not able to do either of these things then it is likely that your bees are insufficiently quiet to be close to neighbours or the general public. They should be re-queened with a docile strain of bee as soon as possible, and removed to another site away from people. If uncertain, discuss this with fellow association beekeepers.

Talking to your neighbours about the bees and showing them how docile they are, particularly when swarming, will help their understanding. Gifts of honey or comb will probably be much appreciated. However, if selling your honey a number of requirements must be observed.

A reminder:


Colour code Year end digit

Blue                                        0 & 5

Grey or White                      1 & 6

Yellow                                    2 & 7

Red                                         3 & 8

Green                                     4 & 9