Keeping bees in the garden – best tips for budding beekeepers

Hobby beekeepers can harvest their own honey
The honey bee is one of the state-forming bees and has long been valued and used by humans as a farm animal.

The bee’s natural dwellings were once hollow tree trunks or sheltered rock niches. Nowadays, domesticated honeybees mostly live in artificial beehives. Experts also refer to such a stick as prey.

Beekeeping in the home garden is not only fun, it also has many advantages. The hard-working flying insects not only provide humans with valuable products such as honey and beeswax, but also serve as an important pollinator for flowering plants when they swarm out.

The honey bee – a life in the insect state

The Western honey bee is the only honey bee native to Central Europe, which is why it is often simply referred to as a bee or honey bee. Nevertheless, there are several types of bees worldwide and numerous sub-breeds with different characteristics and social structures.

The honey bee is – compared to the solitary wild bees – one of the state-forming flying insects. In summer, up to 60,000 animals can live in a colony of bees, the majority of which are female workers who are responsible for collecting nectar and pollen, defending the beehive and raising the larvae.

The stingless, male drones are only used in a targeted manner from early summer. Your job in the insect state is to mate with the queen. After the mating flight, the drones die, all survivors are driven out again by the workers in late summer, since the male animals are no longer needed as workers in the bee colony for the rest of the year.

The queen bee can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day, preserving the genetic diversity of the wild bee colonies. Before a new queen finally hatches, the bee colony divides: while half form the people around the new queen on the old floor, the other animals swarm out and found a new colony with the young queen.

For the construction of honeycombs, the bees have special wax glands on their belly rings. Here you can sweat out the required wax in small quantities. The larvae are then raised in the honeycomb and pollen is stored as a food source. The honey made by the bees from flower nectar can also be found here.

Keep bees in your own garden

A hobby beekeeper is always interested in providing his honeybees with a proper and species-appropriate dwelling. Because in addition to honey production for their own use, many people are enthusiastic about the well-being of hard-working animals and the preservation of nature that has been displaced by increasing urbanization. A settlement of bee colonies is therefore particularly desirable in industrial areas and large cities.

In this regard, special bees have been bred for a number of years, which due to their gentleness and laziness are ideal for keeping in private gardens and public parks. In addition, maintaining the vitality and expanding the resilience of the honeybees are set breeding goals.

Many private individuals are enthusiastic about beekeeping, around 80 percent of the beehives in Germany are owned by amateur beekeepers. Bees not only produce delicious honey, they also support and promote plant growth in the area.

Keeping bees means taking on great responsibility

Bees can be domesticated, but never tamed. You should always clarify the purchase of a large bee colony with your neighbors in advance and be aware that you are responsible for the well-being of several thousand living beings. Therefore, the planned beekeeping must also be registered with the local veterinary office.

Look for contact to experienced beekeepers in advance and get extensive advice.

The correct handling of bees

A bee colony can comprise up to 60,000 animals during the swarming period. Although the flying insects are considered to be peaceful and generally harmless, they can feel disturbed or even provoked by playing children or large crowds and defend their stick.

Even if the large insects are not an acute danger, many people are afraid of painful stings. However, bees only sting in extreme emergencies, because after a sting the hardworking workers have to die because their stings are torn out. In addition, compared to wasps, bees are peaceful vegetarians who have no interest in grilled food.

A sufficiently large garden with sufficient distance to the nearest neighbor is therefore a basic requirement for the safe keeping of honeybees.

However, you should keep in mind that bees can be domesticated but can never be tamed. Accordingly, one should always be aware of the responsibility and take specific safety precautions.

For example, the windows of the house should be equipped with fly screens so that none of your honeybees get lost in the living room. In addition, special protective clothing is an absolute must for every beekeeper, as bees may feel threatened when working on the beehive and stings cannot be excluded.

Honey extractors

If you have always wanted to produce your own honey, then this is the right place for you, because there are some important work steps to consider when producing honey.

We show you how to beekeepers, which safety precautions you have to take and which special equipment you need to make your own sweet gold.

Build beehive

The beehive serves as a dwelling and shelter for the hard-working insects: the people live and work here, the offspring are raised and the sweet honey is produced. Do not choose the wooden box for the stick too large and make the entry hole relatively small – this will create the perfect conditions for the construction of the honeycomb. In addition, the bee colony is so well protected against negative influences such as rain, cold or pests.

The structure of a beehive is easy to understand for every aspiring hobby beekeeper. It is usually a wooden box with a corresponding opening for the incoming bees. Thanks to a hinged lid, the beehive can be easily opened from above. Optionally, you can install a small window made of plexiglass, which offers interesting insights into bee life in the insect state.

The technical term for such an artificial beehive is prey. Beekeepers originally used braided beehives as a home for the flying insects, but the more practical magazine hives have prevailed. The magazines are special wooden frames that are inserted into the wooden box from above. The bees then build their beeswax honeycombs into these, which are used to store the honey stores and to raise the offspring.

You should find the material for building your beehive in every hardware store and assembling the beehive shouldn’t be a big challenge for a skilled handyman. In addition to the dwelling, you also need your own bee colony, as well as appropriate protective clothing, a honey extractor for honey harvesting and other beekeeping equipment such as the smoker for safe handling of the bee colony.

The costs should be calculated in advance so that nothing stands in the way of your new hobby.

Required material:

Wooden box with lid (box: approx. 1000x500x300 mm (LxWxH), lid: 500x400mm, ideally spruce wood, material thickness 25 mm)

2 wooden strips as support strips

2 hinges for the wooden lid

Center walls made of eco beeswax (pre-embossed wax plates)
Eight narrow wooden slats for the magazine production per central wall

Wood glaze (insect and environmentally friendly)

Wood glue


Hammer and nails

at will: plexiglass pane (as a viewing window in the lid) and matching hinges

Build a wooden box

If you want to build a wooden box yourself, you should orientate yourself to the dimensions 1000x500x300 mm (LxWxH) in order to guarantee an ideal life and work in the beehive. The lid should protrude at least ten centimeters to the front (500 × 400 mm) to protect the excursion hole from rain and direct sunlight.

The beehive’s excursion hole is located in the upper third of the wooden box and should be approx. 2 cm high and a few centimeters wide. A hole that is too large lets too much cold and more pests penetrate. Alternatively, the approach hole can also be sawn out at the bottom.

Attach the lid to the rear wall of the box with two hinges so that the beehive can be opened easily and the honeycombs removed.

Tip: If you additionally stabilize the bottom and the rear wall of the box with tension locks, the wood cannot loosen or even warp as much.

Use wood glue to glue the cut strips to the top inner edge of the box. Here, the pre-embossed wax plates are later hung in movable wooden frames, so plan a correspondingly large distance from the lid. Alternatively, you can also attach the carrier bars more stably with small nails, because the magazines can become very heavy with increasing amount of honey.

If you want to insert a window in the lid, saw out a suitable hole and insert the plexiglass correctly. Make sure there is sufficient protection against moisture. You should then sand the wooden cut-out on the edges and fasten it again with two hinges over the plexiglass to protect the stick from direct sunlight. Now you can look into the bee colony without opening the hive.

Finally, paint all outer surfaces of the wooden box with environmentally friendly wood glaze and note the drying time specified by the manufacturer. Thanks to the water-repellent effect of the glaze, your beehive can stay in the garden all year round.

Build honey room

The freedom of movement of the bees must not be restricted too much, so only a third of the interior should be used for honey production. The moveable magazines are ideally located in the back of the box, as far away from the excursion hole as possible.

To build the magazines, simply attach the preformed wax plate to four strips. Pay attention to the correct alignment of the honeycomb, the tips of the hexagons must point downwards.

Place the wax plate in the middle of the top bar so that you have enough leeway left and right to lift it up. Attach the wax plate all around to the wooden strips. Place one more strip on the bottom and then nail everything together so that the wax plate is framed on both sides at the top and bottom.

Warning: the plates are very sensitive and break quickly. Drill small holes in the wood to make nailing easier. The wax plate should never hover in the air, but should always be supported.

Hang the frames together with the wax plates as a blank in your bee box – they are simply placed on the previously attached strips at the upper inner edge and remain movable. Choose a sheltered location in the back of the garden and place the beehive on a small table or wooden pedestal.

Once a swarm of bees has moved in, the busy bees will start producing honey. Enjoy beekeeping in your own garden!

Building instructions for beekeepers

From a simple honeycomb box to comfortable beehives to a complete apiary. We have collected the most important building instructions with building plans for beekeepers. There are also instructions for hygiene (against Varroa infestation) and honey processing. To the construction plans for beekeepers.

More and more city beekeepers keep bees in the city

Urban beekeeping has been increasing nationwide for some years now: private individuals and companies, but also municipal institutions, are putting beehives in their gardens or on their roofs. “Beekeeping in the city is interesting because the biodiversity of plants there is now greater than in the open landscape,” says Peter Menke of the foundation “The Green City”. “We very much welcome this development because it helps to maintain green areas and species-rich areas in the urban environment and at the same time supports awareness of a healthy lifestyle.”

Beekeeping Laws

Legal information for amateur beekeepers who want to keep bees at home in the garden or in the city on the balcony.

Beekeeping on your own property

In principle, everyone can keep bees on their own property. However, there are restrictions: a building permit is often required for large, fixed beehives. If the development plan shows a general residential area, the building authorities can intervene if the beekeeping is excessive – possibly based on complaints from neighbors. Even a wooden frame with six beehives is regarded as a structure that corresponds to the peculiarities of the respective construction area.

The authority decides how many beehives will fit in the area. It matters whether beekeeping is considered customary in the area. If you want to get bees, you should therefore contact the building authorities beforehand.

When tenants want to keep bees

Other legal questions arise when it is not about beehives in your own garden, but about individual bee colonies on the balcony of a rented apartment. Bees are not small animals, because small animals are legally defined as animals that sit in a cage and do not leave their home. “In contrast, bee colonies swarm out and go looking for food. According to the judgment, keeping them on the balcony is no longer part of the contractual use of the rented apartment, ”said the lawyer. She advises: “Before buying a bee colony, interested parties should therefore get the landlord’s approval.”

In general, there is no general rule about the distance between the beehive and neighboring properties or public transport routes. Which building regulations are to be observed depends on the size of the beehive. We recommend a distance of at least five meters from the property boundary and the creation of hedges to influence the flight altitude. “If the hive beekeepers stay within the framework of what is customary and appropriate in the location of the bee colonies, the neighbors usually also have to endure the bees’ adverse effects – but only as long as they remain reasonable,” explains Michaela Rassat.

For the sake of good neighborliness, she recommends informing the neighbors in the immediate vicinity about the planned project. A jar of honey may later reconcile one or two of the neighbors with the new animal roommates. Important to know: bees are not as aggressive as the wasps, which are often annoying in summer. Bees only sting when they feel threatened. And: you are not interested in the sweet apple pie on the neighboring balcony table. Since bees do not like to fly from bright daylight into darkness, they rarely get lost in apartments.

If a swarm of bees causes damage: liability insurance

Soiled objects or medical expenses and compensation for pain after a bee sting: If bees cause damage, the beekeeper must also replace it. “It is worth taking a look at the private liability policy. In many cases, damage from beekeeping is covered, ”the lawyer advised. If not, an extension of the insurance coverage is recommended. Beekeepers who are members of an association are covered by the liability insurance of their beekeeping association.

How new beekeepers should prepare

If you want to keep bees, you have to register with the veterinary office of your community in accordance with the bee disease regulation. If certain contagious diseases occur in an animal population, beekeepers have a duty to report. In some federal states, beekeepers also have to register with the animal disease fund. Although training is not mandatory, those interested should acquire both extensive theoretical and practical knowledge before starting. Advice from the local beekeepers’ association is recommended. He is not only helpful in arranging bee colonies and accessories, but also advises beekeepers, for example, on finding a location or marketing honey. Beekeeping associations also organize training courses and weekend courses. A beekeeper sponsor can also be a great support, especially at the beginning: He is a mentor to the newcomers in the beginning.

If you are now enthusiastic and want to create your own bee colony, we recommend a practical and extensive reading where you can read everything again in detail.
The books are available from us as a set and offer much more important information about keeping bees and dealing with a bee colony.
We advise you to purchase these readings so that you are perfectly prepared for your new hobby.

Everything A Beginner Beekeeper Needs
To Start Producing Honey!

 The Best Hive Location
 Different Bee Species
 Hive Behavior
 Beekeeping Equipment
 And Much Much More! How to Inspect the Hive
 Spot Parasites and Diseases
 Seasonal Management
 Swarm Capturing
 How to Install a Colony

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