So you are interested in keeping bees!
Education before purchasing bees is as important as good instruction and mentoring after you have your first bees.
The VBA recommends this process as it encompasses decades worth of beekeeping experience and knowledge.
1. Start by reading about bees and beekeeping. Some suggested books are:
- The Backyard Beekeeper
- The Beekeeper's Handbook
- Hive Management by Roger Morse
- Hive Management by Richard Bonney
- Anything by Richard Taylor
- A Book of Bees by Sue Hubbell
- First Lessons in Beekeeping by Keith Delaplane
- Honeybee Democracy by Tom Seeley
- Natural Beekeeping: Modern Approached to Organic Apiculture by Ross Conrad
- Land of Milk and Honey by Bill Mares and Ross Conrad
3. Send for some bee supply catalogs and familiarize yourself with the equipment and supplies that they sell. Be aware that many of the gadgets sold are not needed for your first year of beekeeping. Some equipment suppliers:
- Dadant and Sons
- Mann Lake
- Walter Kelley Company
- Blue Sky Bee Supplyalter Kelley Company
- Lappe's Bee Supply
4. Take a beekeeping class and join your local club.
- Attend workshops at the Intervale and South Yard, and those hosted by local clubs. See the VBA website for a full list of workshop dates and locations.
- Local beekeeping clubs
- Participate in VBA Zoom educational sessions
5. Join the VBA and become a "mentee" by signing up with a mentor. Please be sure to read and understand the mentee requirements. If you are interested in becoming a mentor please register here. (Please note: Our Mentor program is available to VBA members. Login required.)
- Spend a season working with your mentor
- Attend the summer workshops
- Attend the VBA summer and Winter meetings and the local club meetings.
- Those who currently have bees or have bees on order will be given priority for a mentor ahead of those who do not have bees or have bees ordered.
- The 2019 mentoring program is working to expand the pool of mentors. In some cases, a VBA mentor may not be available due to a shortage of mentors or geographic incompatibility.
6. In fall or early winter, order your first bees.
7. Spend your winter building and prepping your equipment so it is ready for your bees in the spring when your bees are picked up.
8. In the spring (roughly around dandelion bloom) pick up your first bees and install in your prepared equipment.
- Register your bees with the State of Vermont and pay your apiary registration fee.
9. Continue your mentor relationship as you go through your first season with your own bees.
- Ask the questions you can't figure out and use your mentor as a resource to improve your beekeeping skills.
While there are many paths to becoming a beekeeper, we at the VBA believe this is the "Gold Standard" and will increase the chances of success over taking shortcuts.
Interested beekeepers can continue to improve their skills and progress towards meeting the requirements to take the Certified Beekeeper exam.