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Beekeeping inherently comes with many questions… and many opinions! In fact, ask two beekeepers the same question and you’ll probably receive no fewer the five opinions. Here we attempt to stick to the facts so you can find answers to some of the frequently asked questions.

When is the next club meeting?
The Capital Region Beekeepers Association meets on the second Thursday of every month. See our Events Calendar for more information on the club’s general meetings.

 

Bees are nesting on my property. How can I remove them?
This could be honeybees, but it may also be wasps or even bumble bees. If you suspect a swarm has chosen your property as their new home, consider calling the swarm line: 250-900-5787.

 

What happens during the beginner's beekeepers corner?
Come and see! The 30 minutes prior to every meeting covers the basic questions new beekeepers typically have throughout the year, like

 

Is there a cost to join the club?
Yes. Joining our club costs $30 (per family). This cost goes towards funding the club business throughout the year. Also, some services are available to members only, like access to the outyards during fireweed season and an online subscription to the Bee Culture Magazine.

 

I want bees on my property. Does the club offer such a service?
People who want hives on their property do so for a number of reasons:

  • They may be interested in beekeeping but want to see it in action on their premises before taking the plunge;
  • They want to wake up in the morning and feel good about doing something for nature;
  • They may have crops that rely on pollination from bees;
  • They’re awesome people…

The club doesn’t offer this as a service, but we keep a list of people who want to hives on their properties. Contact us if you want your name added. If you are already on the list and want your details removed, follow the same procedure.

 

Where can I take a beekeeping course?
Courses are typically offered around the beginning of the beekeeping season. These include

 

Does the club offer meetings specifically for new beekeepers?
We welcome beekeepers with varying levels of experience at our club meetings. In particular, every General Meeting starts (at 6:30pm) with a session dedicated to new beekeepers in what we call The beginners’ corner. Topics discussed here change every month in order to address the seasonal requirements new beekeepers typically ask about or need to address.

 

Where can I get bees?
Early-season bee packages are available from some retail stores or commercial beekeepers within the club. Start by looking through our buy-and-sell section.

 

When should I get bees?
Bee packages and queens become available some time in spring (March to April). For those interested in an early start to the season, this is a good option. This, however, may not be local bees. Local bees are more commonly available in the form of nucs later in the year (June to July). While this later start seems like a downside, a nuc provides a complete (small) hive with frames to boot.

 

What's the startup cost for a new beekeeper?
This varies greatly on what you plan to do and is probably one of the greatest obstacles to overcome. However, it is just one of the many things to consider as a new beekeeper. Here are some price ranges and descriptions:

  • Course: $200-$250
  • Hive equipment: $200-$400
  • Bees: $150-$250
  • Beekeeping equipment: $100-$200

With the above in mind, the startup cost could be a couple hundred dollars, or up to $1,000+. Perhaps consider going into the prospect of beekeeping with a partner and share the cost (and responsibility!). If all goes well during the first year, you could split your own hive in year two.

 

Where can I get beekeeping equipment?
Some members make equipment and arrangements can be made at the general meetings. Others visit local stores within the Greater Victoria area. For more information, see our buy and sell page.

 

I'm interested in getting bees. Is there someone I can apprentice with and learn before committing?
Sure thing! That’s probably the best way to get to know what it takes to be a beekeeper. The investment at start-up is quite substantial, so the commitment is usually long term. Having someone that you can look over their shoulder and learn is a good way to learn the ins-and-outs.

Local groups of beekeepers often host field days where they inspect hives, discuss issues and manage solutions. Field days are a great way to introduce yourself to bees and the beekeeping community. See our events calendar for dates when these field days may occur.

 

Can I help out and volunteer at a fall fair?
If you’ve been part of the club for a year or have some experience with keeping bees, volunteering at a fall fair is a fun way to interact with other non-beekeepers about your adventures. Depending on the fair, there may even be an observation hive that you can use to start your discussions with the eager visitors to the CRBA booth.

More information around possible volunteering sessions/slots is usually circulated in late summer, closer to the fairs.

 

Who can I contact to give a talk at my local organisation?

Contact the club and give some detail about the location, the time and the audience.

 

When will the next Derek and Heinz Show air?
This special treat occurs includes discussion around frames and what to do with them when? Which frames? Well, the ones you just pulled out of winter storage and smell like they came from a wine cellar. Come to the next meeting to find out…

 

 

I want to build my own hive equipment. Where can I find plans?
The most common hive setup used by hobbyist and commercial beekeepers would be the Langstroth design. BeeSource has a number of component designs that could get you started.

 

How much should I charge for my honey?
Don’t use Costco as a gauge for the price. Instead, charge what you think it’s worth! I’m sure you’ll have much more appreciation for a jar of honey after a season of beekeeping!

At the end of every beekeeping season, the CRBA does an informal poll of its members who soled honey. Prices have ranged from $7/lb to well over $10/lb. Yes, per pound, because honey is commonly measured by weight.

 

How much honey can I expect from my bee hive in a year?
Good question! …next one?

Over the years it has been found that our west-coast climate provides quite a diverse array of honey harvesting success stories. For starters, don’t expect any honey during your first year of beekeeping. It’s just natural that the first year is fully dedicated to colony build-up. This includes building out frames of foundation, establishing a laying pattern for the queen and harvesting of sufficient stores (if possible) for the winter. There’s typically very little excess honey during the first year. Accept it.

Subsequent years could provide honey once there’s sufficient rain before the spring flowers start emerging. A per-hive honey harvest could range from a couple of jars to 200+lbs! The upper range here will most likely occur when all the stars align, there’s sufficient rain and sunshine during the spring, minimal dearth periods and you allow for natural forage deep into fall for fireweed at the outyards.

 

Where can I find a mentor? And what should I expect from one?
Mentor is a very broad term and, perhaps as a consequence, has some very broad interpretations and expectations. For some, a mentor is someone that is there at the push of a button to answer questions like “What is this?”, “Why do they do that?” or “What should I do now?”. For others, it’s merely someone that provides support when all other resources have been exhausted.

Instead of focusing on an individual that you have on speed-dial, consider forming part of a local group of beekeepers that can share discussions through hands-on experiences. Join their field days, ask the questions there and learn that way. The reliance on a mentor may be what you want – one-on-one interaction – but it may not be available to everyone. If you can find a mentor, great. If you can’t, join a local group and ask your questions.

The club doesn’t offer mentorship per se, but some people be interested in playing such a role to a select few. Come to the club meetings and start the discussion.

 

What is the outyard?
The outyard is a special place in the mountains by Jordan River where the bees local to Greater Victoria take a well-deserved summer holiday… well, actually, it’s where local beekeepers send their bees to take part in summer school!

Once the last blackberries have exchanged their blossoms for berries, forage for bees drastically decrease. However, the outyards sit amidst some vast clear-cut forests high in the mountain trails just north of Jordan River – here, to be exact – where we have negotiated a summer school for the bees. It’s outfitted with barbed, electrified fencing and picturesque views.

Bring with you some water and company, but leave your smokers at home!

Beekeeping at the CRBA outyards in Jordan River