People who are new to beekeeping often ask what the best time of the year to start beekeeping is.
While we’d like to say that the perfect time to start is now, there is a bit more that needs to be taken into consideration.
This post will address some of the timing factors that new beekeepers should consider before taking the plunge into beekeeping.
A lot of what is covered here will vary based on your location and climate, but on the whole, most points should apply broadly.
What is the best time of year to start beekeeping?
Spring is generally considered to be the best time of year to start beekeeping. This is due to environmental factors being most suited to purchasing and raising a new colony of bees.
In most regions, Spring is when a lot of plants come into bloom and there is an abundance of flowers for bees to forage upon.
This abundance of nectar flow and pollen to collect means that bees are able to raise more bees to boost their population.
Bee populations tend to dwindle over Winter as they rely on their stored honey to eat, and as such, they reduce numbers in order to for the colony survive.
When Spring comes around and there is honey to harvest, the bees increase their numbers with the queen laying more eggs. This boost in numbers allows the bees to capitalise on the honey flow and have more hands-on-deck in order to maximise their honey reserves.
Combine the abundance of nectar sources with the skies clearing and warmer daytime temps of Spring as well as the days getting longer, and it really is a great time of the year to be a bee!
Why should I start beekeeping in Spring?
Spring is a great time to start beekeeping because that is when beekeepers split their hives, and have new beehives for sale.
When looking to buy a beehive you can either buy an 8 or 10 frame full sized hive, or buy a smaller 4 to 6 frame nucleus colony. These small hives are normally from a much larger established beehive that a beekeeper has split in order to make a new hive to sell.
A new hive will come with several frames of brood (baby bees waiting to be born), some pollen stores and honey. This new hive will include a whole bunch of bees (thousands) and a freshly mated queen.
It is important to buy your colony of bees from a reputable seller as this should ensure the quality and health of the bees, their amount of stores (honey, pollen, brood) and the productivity and genetics of the queen bee.
Spring also happens to be a great time of the year for raising and mating new queens. This is because there is usually an abundance of drones at this time for the virgin queens to mate with.
If you don’t want to have to buy bees, you could always try to catch your own!
When is the best time of year to catch a swarm of bees?
Spring is the best time of year to catch a swarm of bees. The climatic conditions in Spring are suited to bees boosting numbers and deciding to swarm.
When you think about what swarming actually is, it makes perfect sense that Spring is a good time to start beekeeping.
Swarming is essentially the bees way of reproducing and populating other areas, so it makes sense that we as beekeepers follow their lead with this timing!
You can find out in this article why bees swarm if you’d like to know more about why they do this.
Swarms of bees like this are a common sight in Spring.
Can I start beekeeping at any time of the year?
While Spring is the best time of the year to start beekeeping, you can actually start beekeeping at other times of the year, just you will have to be more careful and considered in your approach to establishing the colony.
Depending on your climatic and floral conditions, raising a new hive ‘out of season’ may be quite difficult. In order to grow and be successful, beehives are reliant on food sources and good weather to get out and forage.
If starting a hive in poor weather or when there is no food available for them, it may be necessary to feed your bees.
There are certain methods of feeding and even different recipes for feeding your bees, and you should familiarise yourself with these if your new hive is struggling. The different ratios of sugar to water for feeding bees can be read about in this article; feeding time.
Spring is an ideal time of the year to start beekeeping. This is because the climatic and floral conditions tend to support the raising of a new bee colony.
Not only this, but it is also the best time of the year to purchase a new hive from an established beekeeper, and also your best chance to catch a wild swarm as well.
If you decide to start beekeeping at another time of the year, just do your research and familiarise yourself with what work needs to be done to help them out in case they struggle.
We hope this article has been helpful. Feel free to comment and ask any questions you have below, or to explore our other articles which may help you out as well.
Good luck, and all the best with your beekeeping adventures!