Making honey yourself is not only trendy, it is also good for protecting the bees. Utopia shows you what you need for beekeeping and where you can learn it.
A mysterious bee die-off has been going on for at least a decade - entire bee colonies are dying, stocks are declining worldwide. This is caused by parasites such as the varroa mite , certain pesticides and agricultural monocultures, which severely limit the habitat and food diversity of bees.
Where you can bee: garden, balcony and on the roof
Beekeeping is relatively easy to do in your own garden. If you don't have anyone available, you can also keep bees on the balcony and even on the roof of a house. In principle, you can keep bees wherever pets are allowed. However, the legal situation is not clear, since wild animals are usually not mentioned in leases.
The bees usually find enough food in the city: Green spaces, city parks and balcony plants often offer a greater variety of food than the bees would have available in the country. In general, you should of course coordinate with the neighbors, the household or the homeowner.
Learning to beekeepers: Before you start
Now beekeeping sounds a bit adventurous at first and it also requires commitment, knowledge and time - but it is definitely doable. According to the German Beekeeping Association (DIB), around 80 percent of all German beekeepers practice beekeeping as a hobby. Nevertheless, you should think carefully beforehand whether you dare to take responsibility for the bees. Because even if the time investment is not huge, their survival depends on you all year round.
The costs vary depending on the club and whether you are a member or not. It is best to contact a local beekeeping association directly, you can find out more here. Also highly recommended: Many clubs offer the possibility of being looked after by a godparent in beekeeping all year round.
Learning to beekeepers: The perfect home for your bees
Before you buy a colony of bees, you should definitely have a suitable dwelling. A wooden box is usually sufficient: it should be at least one meter long, half a meter wide and about 20 cm high. On the front side it has a small gap that serves as an entrance hole.
The interior is divided into a brood area and a honey room. The former is the central habitat of the bees. The honey room is in the back of the box. Pre-embossed wax plates ("middle walls") are attached here, which make it easier to harvest the honey later.
The bee box is built in such a way that it can be flexibly attached to the balcony, on the roof or in the garden with various brackets. Inside there are frames to insert, which are particularly suitable for natural honeycomb construction. It is also available with a viewing window so that you can easily observe what the bees are doing inside.
Where to get a bee colony from
Ideally, you can get the swarm from a local beekeeping association or from individual beekeepers in your area. Obtaining it regionally is more ecological and less stressful for the bees, as there are no long transport routes.
We recommend preferring a so-called “natural swarm” to an “artificial swarm”. This arises naturally and its bees are stronger and more active: the bees create a new queen on their own, while the old one moves on with part of the colony.
You are most likely to get natural swarms from organic beekeepers or those who prefer a natural attitude.
You should expect so much effort, time and money when beekeeping
Costs: With bee box, brackets, beekeeping equipment, bee swarm and the running costs for beekeeping, the costs are roughly 1,000 euros . But sometimes it can be more or sometimes less. The costs vary and always depend on various factors: how many people you keep, which equipment is sufficient for you and which housing you choose.
Time required: Less the time you spend on a beekeeping course, buying the bees and the bee box, Stadtbienen eV estimates about 20 hours a year .
Utopia says: Keeping bees yourself is fun and has a few great side effects: You are helping to save the bees and at the same time you are producing your own honey. However, we want to make it very clear that you should not just try beekeeping on a whim. Bees are animals and very important for humans - careless hobby beekeepers harm the bees more than they help them. If you want to help bees - both honey and wild bees - without any effort, then plant bee-friendly flowers , herbs and shrubs so that they have enough food.