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.
We at the VBA recommend this process:
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
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:
4. Take a beekeeping class and join your local club.
- Spend a season working with your mentor
- Attend the summer workshops
- Attend the VBA summer meeting and 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 2018 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.