The Ultimate Beeginner’s Guide to Aussie Backyard Beekeeping (2019)

responsible backyard beekeeping

Aussies love their backyards, and understandably many of us are asking “How do I get started with backyard beekeeping?”

Anyone with a bit of space in their backyard can get into beekeeping.

With the introduction of the Flow Hive, there is no need to purchase expensive honey extraction equipment.

Hobby beekeepers, with a little effort, can have their fresh honey for family and friends.

Backyard veggie gardens will benefit from increased pollination resulting in more sustainable living.  

However. Backyard beekeeping comes with quite a few responsibilities.  

Ensuring that you have ticked all the boxes before you start will mean you don’t have a run-in with the neighbours or the authorities.

Mt. Coramba Apiculture has put together this list of the most commonly asked questions about responsible backyard beekeeping.

We hope that you find it useful in starting out on your beekeeping adventure.


Is backyard beekeeping safe?

Yes.  Provided you follow a few tried and tested guidelines.

Hobby beekeeping in suburban backyards has been a thing long before it became trendy.

Anyone can reap the benefits of backyard beekeeping with a little common sense and planning.

Bees can and do sting.

If someone in your family or a near neighbour suffers from severe allergic reactions to bee venom or is anaphylactic, it would be wise to give backyard beekeeping a miss or find a more suitable location.

s backyard beekeeping safe

Backyard beekeeping is safe provided you follow a few simple rules.

What essential equipment will I need for backyard beekeeping?

Here’s a list of the necessary backyard beekeeping tools of the trade.

Beekeeper’s smoker

A beekeeper’s smoker is a definite must for any urban beekeeper.  A few puffs of smoke before opening your hive and during the inspection ensures that your bees remain calm and manageable. The cost of smokers varies from $50.00 to over $100.00.  We prefer the fantastic Australian made Beeco smokers.

beekeeper's smoker

A well lit, beekeepers smoker

Protective Clothing

Some sort of basic protective clothing is essential, particularly for beginners to ensure that backyard beekeeping is safe.  A sting to the face hurts, and it can be easily avoided by wearing a beekeeper’s veil.  Styles of beekeeper’s veils vary from a soft veil that fits over a broad-brimmed hat and drapes over your shoulders to a full overalls type bee suit.  I prefer a half jacket with an attached veil combined with long pants and enclosed footwear.

Prices vary widely from $20.00 for a soft veil to around $400.00 for a full overall suit.

beekeepers wearing veils

A beekeeper’s veil is essential


Most beekeepers have a set of gloves to prevent stings to the hands.  Gloves are not necessary.  You may choose not to wear gloves as you gain more experience. Ensure that you purchase beekeeper’s gloves made from thin goatskin leather.  Your gloves should have a snug fit so that you can feel what you are doing.  Don’t be tempted to buy thick welding gloves from a hardware store.  Bees hate dark coloured gloves mainly if they are suede or rough finish. Some beekeepers prefer to use tight-fitting rubber gloves as the bees have difficulty stinging through them.

Beekeeper’s gloves vary in price from $30.00 to $60.00.

leather beekeeper's gloves

Leather beekeeping gloves should fit snugly.

Hive tool

A hive tool is essential.  Bees tend to stick everything in the hive together with wax and propolis.  A hive tool is needed to help prise frames from the boxes and to scrape wax and propolis from surfaces where it is not wanted.  The two common types in use in Australia are the Australian hive tool (sometimes called a “J” hook) and the American hive tool.  We recommend the Australian hive tool.

Prices for hive tools are generally around the $20.00 range.

beekeeper's hive tools

American (top) and Australian hive tools.

What about the beehive itself?

There are a few different types of beehives on the market today.

Visit any online forum where beekeepers gather, and you will hear about top bar hives, Warre hives, Perone hives, long bench hives, commercial hives, beehaus hives, poly hives and of course Flow-hives.

For the beginner. You can’t go past the tried and tested Langstroth hive.  Langstroth hives are by far the most popular beehives used by Australian beekeepers.  They are easily purchased and are simple to assemble.  With the right management, bees will do well in them anywhere in Australia.

A Langstroth hive consists of a few standard-essential components:

Bottom board

The bottom board forms the base of the colony.  In its purest form, it is a flat piece of board with two cleats attached underneath to keep the hive off the ground.  The hive bodies (supers) sit on 10mm risers along three sides of the board.  The gap created on the open fourth side form the entrance for the bees.  Some bottom boards are ventilated to assist with airflow in the hive.  It is also increasingly common for bottom boards to have small hive beetle traps incorporated into them.

Prices range from $20.00 for a basic bottom board up to $85.00 for screened models.


For some strange reason, beekeepers call hive bodies or boxes supers. You should budget for three full depth supers per hive.

To complicate things Langstroth hives come in two sizes:

  • Eight frames and
  • Ten frames.

Eight frame hives are lighter and more comfortable to lift.  A 10 frame super full of honey can weigh up to 50 kilograms so if you think they will be a challenge go for the eight frame boxes.

Supers also come in different depths which further complicates the decision.  In Australia the super depths are:

  • Full-depth
  • WSP
  • Ideal and
  • Half depth

For backyard beekeeping beginners we recommend purchasing eight frame full depth supers.  Supers can be bought fully assembled and painted, or they can be easily assembled from scratch with a few basic tools.

You can purchase eight frame, unassembled supers for around $25.00 each.


The lid sits on top of the hive and makes everything waterproof.  The most common form of beehive lid in use in Australia is the migratory lid.  Air vents are commonly fitted in the lids to assist with ventilation of the hive, particularly in hotter parts of Australia.

You can purchase Migratory lids for around $20.00 to $30.00 unassembled.


Frames hold the honeycomb inside the supers.  They are carefully designed to ensure that the correct bee space is maintained throughout the hive.  Bee space is the gaps in the colony that bees don’t fill with comb or propolis.  If you forget to replace the correct number of frames or don’t position the frames correctly, the bees will build burr comb to fill the space. The subsequent mess can make frame removal and inspection of the hive difficult.

We recommend that novice beekeepers start with wired frames with foundation.  Foundation is a wax sheet that fits into the frame and gives the bees a straight framework to build on.

Frames can be purchased fully assembled with wire and foundation, or you can choose to assemble them yourself.

Costs vary depending on whether you put the frames together your self or if you purchase them fully assembled.  Fully assembled, wired and waxed frames can cost up to $7.00 each.

Queen Excluder

The queen excluder is a plastic or metal barrier that confines the queen to the brood box.  The excluder ensures that the honey supers remain free from brood which in turn makes harvesting honey a more straightforward process.  Some beekeepers prefer not to use them.  It is a personal choice, and there are perceived advantages and disadvantages either way.

You can purchase metal queen excluders for about $16.00.

Do you want to read more about queen excluders? Take a look at our blog Queen Excluder Pros & Cons.

Well maintained backyard beehives.

Well maintained backyard beehives.

Where can I purchase backyard beekeeping supplies?

The best method to obtain beekeeping supplies when you are beginning is to purchase new equipment from one of the many beekeeping equipment suppliers in Australia.

Purchasing used equipment may seem like great value at the time. However, there is a high risk of transferring disease into your backyard apiary.  If the deal is too good to pass up make sure that you get everything irradiated before using it.

A company called Steritech irradiates beekeeping equipment in Australia.  Steritech has facilities in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

Here is a list of links to beekeeping equipment suppliers by state:

New South Wales

Coffs Beekeeping Supplies 23 Hawke Drive Woolgoolga NSW 2456

Valley Beekeeping Supplies  70 Whitbread Street Taree 2430 ph (02) 6552 8809

Tamworth Beekeeping Supplies   397 Armidale Road Tamworth 2340 ph 0427617794

The Urban Beehive   Unit 21/19 McCauley St, Matraville NSW 2036 ph (02) 9232 5600

Hornsby Beekeeping Supplies  63A Hunter Lane Hornsby 2077 ph (02) 9477 5569

Pender Beekeeping Supplies  72 Munibung Rd, Cardiff 2285 ph (02) 4956 6166

Australian Honeybee   Unit 4/62 Dacre Street Mitchell Australian Capital Territory 2911 ph 0426756161

Lockwood Beekeeping Supplies   2319 Mitchell Highway Vittoria 2799 ph 0477 460 642

Bindaree Bee Supplies 18 East Street, Barton Highway Murrumbateman 2582 ph (02) 62268866

Lyson Beekeeping Supplies Australia  18B Industrial Avenue Mudgee NSW 2850

Ekrotek  31 Gerty Street Blayney NSW 2799

Beekeeping Gear (Oz Armour) Building A, 2 Factory Street Granville NSW 2142

Wellbees 16 Keona Circuit Coffs Harbour NSW 2450. ph (02) 6691 8102 mob 0420 799 372

Hunter Valley Apiaries  PO Box 180 Kurri Kurri 2327 ph (02) 49304950


Quality Beekeeping Supplies 4b/ 10 Ji-jaws St Sumner 4074 ph (07) 3376 5404

Beekeeping Gear (Oz Armour) 5/13 Logandowns Drive, Meadowbrook QLD 4131

Burnett Beekeeping Supplies 806 River Road, Kingaroy  4610 ph 0427 946 614

John L. Guilfoyle   3474 Cunningham Highway Mutdapilly 4307 ph (07) 32799750

Dalrymple View Apiary Supplies  65 Forde Street Allora 4362 ph 0448717051

Apiary Cots PO Box 5 Mt. Nebo Road, Mt Nebo 4520 (07) 32898181


Bec’s Beehive Beekeeping Supplies 45 Trumpington Grove, Kallista 3791  ph 0409 850 735

Redpath’s Beekeeping Supplies 193 Como Parade E, Parkdale 3195  ph (03) 9587 5950

Nuplas Pty Ltd   2 Westbrook Road, Swan Hill  3585 ph (03) 50 329 199

Bob’s Beekeeping Supplies  54 Gills Rd, Watsons Creek, Victoria 3097  ph (03) 9719 7590

Whirrakee Woodware   38 Drive-in Ct, Maryborough  3465  ph (03) 54614661

Beeplas Australia (Max Cane Apiaries) 9 McGibbony Crt, Ararat 3377 ph (03) 53522995

South Australia

Adelaide Beekeeping Supplies   286 Military Rd, Semaphore Park  5019 ph 0438 367 591

Hiveworks 4/27 Ellemsea Cct, Lonsdale 5160

SA Beekeeping Supplies  2 Gawler River Road, Lewiston 5501 ph (08) 83809695

Western Australia

Bee2Bee Beekeeping Supplies Unit 3, 16 Peel Road O’Connor  WA  6163 0437 902 749


Beekeeping Supplies  87 Brooker Avenue Hobart 7000 ph (03) 6234 5703

New Horizons at Coffs Harbour can supply high quality beehive frames

Wellbees at Coffs Harbour can supply high-quality beehive frames

How do I get my bees?

Sourcing good quality bees can be challenging.

There are a few methods of obtaining bees including;


Catching a swarm is a relatively simple process providing it is close to the ground and easily accessible.

Let your local council know that you are interested in collecting swarms and they may let you know when the public reports them.

Alternatively, you can register with swarm collection websites such as the Amateur Beekeepers Australia or Swarmpatrol.

Swarm collection can be dangerous mainly if you are climbing ladders to access them.  Don’t be frightened to say no.  No swarm is worth a broken neck.

A decent-sized swarm will build up into an established hive very quickly.  It may be wise to replace the queen when convenient as the genetics are unknown.

The risk of disease accompanying a swarm is relatively low provided that they are placed onto frames with foundation.

Swarms are essentially free bees.


Packages of bees consist of up to a couple of kilos of worker bees, a mated queen in a cage and a can of sugar syrup in a wooden and mesh cage.

They are installed into a hive in a similar way to a swarm by shaking the bees onto frames of foundation and then adding the queen in her cage to be released in a few days.

Packages require feeding with sugar syrup to get them established, so there is a bit of work getting them installed.  Once again the risk of transmitting disease is reduced due to the absence of comb or honey.

Packages tend to average out at the $165.00 mark depending on the numbers purchased.

Nucleus Hives (Nucs)

A nucleus hive is a small established beehive that generally consists of 4 to 5 frames of bees.  You should get a combination of honey, pollen and brood along with 4000 to 8000 worker bees and a young, laying queen.  Some nucleus hive producers supply a corflute box with the nuc while others place them into your equipment.

A strong nucleus hive can quickly expand into an eight or ten frame hive reasonably soon because they already have frames established with all stages of brood.

The risk of disease transmission is more significant because you are being supplied with combs, honey and brood.  Always check the hive for any signs of disease before accepting it.

Nucleus hives can be purchased for about $165.00.  The price can vary depending on the number obtained and the number of frames.

Nucleus hives are established hives ready to expand.

Nucleus hives are established hives ready to expand.

Established Hives

Established beehives can be found for sale at times.  It is relatively common for beekeepers to have excess hives and many of them are advertised for sale on online sites such as Gumtree or beekeeping related Facebook sites.

Buyer beware.  Check the bees thoroughly before purchase.  Make sure the bees are disease-free, and the hardware (the hive) is in excellent condition.

If you are new to beekeeping take a more experienced beekeeper with you to help you with the inspection.

Prices vary however you would expect to pay from $200.00 up depending on whether it is single or double.

Remember you will have to transport it from the site where it is to your backyard apiary so the costs can mount up.

established beehives for sale on gumtree

Beehives can be found for sale on Gumtree

How much does it cost to start keeping bees?

Costs will vary depending on where you source your beekeeping equipment.  The items listed below are what would be considered the bare basics to start backyard beekeeping. (Prices checked January 2019.)

The Beehive. (eight frames, full depth)
  • Three supers $70.00
  • One lid $33.00
  • One bottom board $33.00
  • Frames 24 (fully assembled wired and waxed) $168.00
  • One queen excluder $16.00

Total  $320.00

Protective Gear.
  • Hood and smock $200.00
  • Gloves $30.00

Total $230.00

Beekeeping Tools
  • Smoker $80.00
  • Hive tool $25.00

Total $105.00

  • Four frame nucleus hive or a package $165.00

Total $165.00

Honey Extraction
  • Good quality three frame manual extractors cost about $450.00
  • Honey knife $50.00

Total $500.00

Total $1320.00

So as you can see the costs can mount up without much effort. Lower prices can be found if you are willing to do your research and of course, you can spend much more if you want to.

I only have one hive.  Do I still have to register my beehives?


Beehive registration is a requirement in every state and territory in Australia.  They are no exceptions for backyard beekeepers or people with just one hive.

Registration is crucial.  In the event of an exotic disease outbreak, state regulatory authorities need to know where hives are and how to contact the owners.

Fees vary from state to state.  Except for NSW and WA registration is free depending on hive numbers.

Don’t forget to display your registration number on your hives.

A summary and relevant links are provided below.


Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Non-commercial beekeeping is free.

Registration is valid for three years.

You must display your hive identification number on the front of the hive in block letters and figures at least 25 mm in height.

New South Wales

New South Wales Department of Primary Industries

The cost to register as a recreational beekeeper is $60.00.  There is a concession rate of  $40.00.  You must identify every brood box with your registration number.


Agriculture Victoria

There are no charges for registration when a person keeps at least one hive but not more than five colonies and registers online using the DEDJTR website.

In all other cases, a fee applies for registration as follows:

  • Where a person keeps at least one hive but not more than five colonies and does not register online but registers and pays using a paper application form – $30.00.
  • where a person keeps at least six hives but not more than 50 colonies -$30.00
South Australia

Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA)

Registration fees and hive contributions are based on the number of hives you keep.

Fees for keeping 1 to 4 hives:

  • No charge for registrations and renewals.
  • No charge for hive contributions.

Fees for keeping five hives or more:

  • A $41.75 annual registration payment.
  • A hive contribution of $1 per hive.

You must brand all hives must with a three-letter hive identification code issued when you first register as a beekeeper.  Each character of the code must be 30 millimetres in height.

Western Australia

Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development

Beekeepers are required to be registered.  You must mark each hive with the owner’s designated identifier.

The cost is $75.00 for three years


ACT Government.  Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate – Environment.

Beehive registration in the ACT is free.

You must clearly, and permanently display the beekeeper’s registration number on an outside wall of the brood box of each beehive.

Northern Territory

Northern Territory Government

Registration is free.   You must also apply for Property Identification Code (PIC)


Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment 

Registration in Tasmania is free for up to 5 hives.

Five to twenty hives cost $25.00

beehive registration number

Beehive registration is compulsory Australia wide.

How many hives can I keep in my urban backyard?

This is where common sense comes into play.

If you live in a unit block in suburbia and you place a couple of hives on your 4 m2 balcony, you will not be popular with the neighbours or the body corporate.

At the very least you should have a 400mblock with enough space to site your hives appropriately.

Check with your local council to make sure that backyard beekeeping is allowed on your property before you spend hundreds of dollars on beekeeping equipment.

Some councils may prohibit backyard beekeeping in urban areas however this is becoming less common.

As a general rule of thumb, the following hive densities for backyard beekeeping is acceptable.

  • up to 400 m2            0 hives
  • 400 – 1000 m2          2 hives
  • 1000 – 2000 m2       5 hives
  • 2000 0 4000 m2     10 hives
  • >4000 m2                    check with your local council if you are urban zoned

Two to three hives are more than enough to provide honey for a family and all of your new friends.

In fact, it is wise to have more than one hive as it helps to be able to observe the variability between bee colonies.

A weak failing hive may not always be apparent to a beginner if you can’t compare it to a stronger, better performing hive.

Resources from your strong hive such as frames of brood or honey can be borrowed to help a struggling colony.

backyard beekeeping

Three hives are ideal for most backyards

Should I tell my neighbours about my bees?

Advising your neighbours can pose a real dilemma for urban beekeepers.

You certainly don’t need their permission.

A well-positioned and responsibly maintained backyard apiary can go relatively unnoticed, and the neighbours may never realise that your hives are just over the fence.

Free honey provided to your immediate neighbours can help when breaking the happy news to them that they have a hundred thousand or so stinging insects nearby.

In reality, it is better to discuss your intentions with your neighbours before starting.

Prepare to explain the benefits of backyard beekeeping to the environment mainly if they are gardeners and assure them that you will be a responsible backyard beekeeper.

The onus is on you at all times to be responsible and not allow your bees to become a nuisance in any way.

No person has to tolerate being stung by angry bees or continually removing dead bees from a swimming pool or spa so that you can indulge in your hobby.

Don’t forget free honey can soothe the grumpiest neighbour so be generous.

How can I be a responsible backyard beekeeper?

These are our tried and true tips for responsible backyard beekeeping:

Location, Location, Location.

The location of your hives is essential for many reasons.

  • Choose a sunny location preferably facing north or northeast.
  • Full sunlight is beneficial for bees.
  • Hives that get the early morning sun start flying and foraging earlier.
  • The warmth from the sunlight keeps the hive warm and dry.
  • If you are in an arid or tropical part of Australia, some shade may be beneficial in the hottest part of the day.
  • Position your beehives so that they don’t fly through areas where people are active.
  • Always try to site hives where they can’t be seen by the public.
  • Be careful of placing bees too close to entertaining or barbecue areas near your house.  Lights will attract bees at night resulting in people getting buzzed by bees or stung.
  • Hedges, fences or shade cloth barriers can be used to force bees to fly high over the heads of people when entering and exiting the hive.
  • Two to four-metre high barriers are ideal.
well located backyard beehives

Well located backyard beehives behind a high hedge.

Provide a reliable source of water.
  • Water is essential for bees.
  • They use it to regulate the temperature and humidity of the hive.
  • Bees use water to dilute honey when they consume it.
  • Large healthy hives may consume up to one litre of water on a sweltering day.
  • Failing to provide water for your bees will cause them to find it elsewhere.  That may be from your neighbour’s swimming pool, spa or pet’s water bowls.
  • Water should be made available in your backyard.
  • Some conventional methods of providing water include :
    • birdbaths – make sure they have a safe place to land to prevent drowning, e.g. rocks or corks,
    • a slowly dripping tap onto a porous surface such as stones or timber
    • automatic pet or chicken waterers
    • an entrance feeder at the front of the hive filled with water
  • Ensure that you set your water source up before getting your bees.
  • Once they get used to using a water point away from your property they are unlikely to use another location.
water provided for bees

Water provided for a backyard beehive

Maintain a mild strain of bees.
  • When setting up a backyard apiary, your priority should be quiet bees.
  • Bees are consistently selected for docility by queen bee breeders so that hives can be worked without the beekeeper getting stung.
  • If you allow your bees to re-queen themselves year after year, they will tend to regress and be more prone to sting when the hives are opened.
  • You will not be popular with your family or your neighbours if they get stung every time you open the hive & your dog will disappear when you wear your bee suit.
  • Requeen every year with a gentle strain of bee. Italian and Carniolan strains of honeybees both have a reputation for being docile.
  • Buy from a reputable queen bee breeder
a docile queen bee

Regularly requeen with a docile queen.

Manage your hives to minimise swarming.
  • One sure-fire way to freak your neighbours out is to allow your backyard beehive to swarm.
  • Swarming occurs from the start of spring into the early summer months. The primary cause is the bees running out of space to expand in the hive.
  • Thousands of bees swirling and roaring in the air may be impressive for beekeepers however it can be frightening for people who are not familiar with the behaviour of bees.
  • A significant portion of the beehive leaves with the queen to look for a new home.
  • Swarming decreases the strength of the hive and they don’t always requeen themselves.
  • You must ensure that there is enough space in the hive for the brood nest to expand.
  • Making space may involve adding extra supers or lifting frames of sealed brood above the excluder and replacing them with new frames.
  • Check out our recent blog “Beehive spring Management (5 tips for healthy honeybees)” for more tips on how to minimise swarming.
  • Regular requeening can also reduce the incidence of swarming.
  • Try to be a non-adversarial beekeeper.  Take a look at our blog Bee Stings and How to Avoid Them.
a swarm of bees

Responsible beekeepers manage their hives to minimise swarming.

Prevent robbing.
  • During periods when there is little or, no nectar flow bees are prone to robbing honey from nearby weak hives.
  • Robbing not only leads to the weakening or loss of the robbed hive, but it is also one of the primary vectors for the spread of American Foulbrood.
  • If bees show signs of robbing while you are working backyard hives cease what you are doing and close the hives up.  It may be necessary to reduce the size of the hive entrance for a few days.
  • Never leave honey exposed in the open.  This includes combs, capping and extracting equipment.  It is not cool to let your bees clean up your extractor after it has been used and post the video online.  Exposing honey for bees to rob is illegal in every state of Australia.
  • Robbing will attract thousands of bees from every nearby beehive in the area, and this has the potential to upset your neighbours.
Monitor for disease.
  • All backyard beekeepers must become familiar with the appearance of the common brood diseases.  The main ones to be aware of are:
  • You must regularly open your hive and inspect the brood frames.  At least three to four times every year.
  • Any backyard beekeeper who is ignorant of the common brood diseases of honeybees is letting down every fellow beekeeper in the area.
  • If you notice something unusual in your hive that you are not sure about you should seek help from a more experienced beekeeper.
  • You will also find a lot of online resources that will assist you.
chalk brood disease of honeybees

Mummified larvae at the entrance of a beehive is a sign of chalkbrood

Use a smoker.
  • Smoke has a calming effect on bees.
  • A few puffs of smoke at the entrance of the hive before opening it as well as a few puffs under the lid when it is removed should be enough for a docile, easy to manage beehive.
  • Don’t forget to use a bit of smoke if you are mowing or using a grass trimmer near the hives as this type of machinery tends to irritate bees.
  • Lighting a beekeeper’s smoker is a crucial skill that needs to be mastered by every backyard beekeeper.
Inspect your bees in good weather conditions.
  • The ideal time to inspect your backyard bees is on a warm, dry and sunny day.
  • Unfortunately, not every day is like that.
  • It is best to avoid inspecting your beehives in the following conditions:
    • Cold, wet and rainy days,
    • When high humidity is present,
    • Scorching days,
    • Very windy days,
    • At night.
  • It is also very unwise to light a smoker on a day when a total fire ban has been declared.
Loss of interest.
  • Many people who take up hobbies over time lose interest in them, and backyard beekeeping is no exception.
  • If you decide that backyard beekeeping is no longer for you, we suggest you find a new home for your bees.
  • You should either sell your hives or give them to another beekeeper rather than letting them deteriorate and create a nuisance.

Any other tips for responsible backyard beekeeping?

We’ve saved the best backyard beekeeping tips for last.

Read a beekeeping book.

Books are an excellent source of information for backyard beekeepers.

There have been some tremendous Australian beekeeping books published in the last few years.  Not a lot of changes regarding backyard beekeeping for beginners.  The information in the books is in general peer-reviewed and accurate.

Mt. Coramba Apiculture has put together a list of beekeeping books.

We specifically recommend these two fantastic Australian beekeeping books:

beekeeping books

Beekeeping books are a reliable source of information for backyard beekeepers.

Join a beekeeping club.

Beekeeping clubs are a goldmine of information for backyard beekeepers.

Organisations like the Amateur Beekeepers Australia have numerous clubs and branches that meet regularly to support and encourage backyard beekeepers.  Take a look at our vast list of Australian beekeeping associations.

beekeeping clubs

Joining a beekeeping club like the Amateur Beekeepers Association of NSW is a great way to learn.

Do a beekeeping course.

One of the best ways to get started on your backyard beekeeping journey is to complete a beginner beekeeping course.  Do some checking before you part with your money and ensure that your instructor has sufficient beekeeping experience to train.

Mt. Coramba Apiculture delivers beekeeping courses and workshops for beginners to advanced.  Our sessions are practical and super flexible.

There are many beekeeping courses run by beekeepers that are just as good for example Beekeeping Basics is a small beekeeper training business based in Armidale, NSW.  The owner Allan Thomas is an experienced beekeeper and a former high school agriculture teacher. Always look for trainers that offer a good background in beekeeping and appropriate training skills.

backyard beekeeping course

Allan Thomas from Beekeeping Basics delivering a beekeeping basics course.

Ask for help.

Another great way to get information about how to start backyard beekeeping is to reach out to other more experienced beekeepers.

It’s best to find someone local who can look through your hives with you when you get stuck.  Beekeepers are a generous lot, and they love passing on their knowledge mainly when you are prepared to listen and learn.

We also regularly blog about beekeeping topics.  Take a look at our news section for the helpful article  “Why won’t my bees fill my Flow frames? Pro tips for Flow hive success.


A word of warning.  Beware of the keyboard warriors on the multitude of beekeeping related Facebook sites.    Make sure that you get a good grounding of factual information from reliable sources.  You can’t be sure that the faceless person advising you from your computer screen knows what they are talking about. It is always better to get your advice from a face to face interaction with a real person.  There is nothing like the real thing.

Are you looking for more information?  Have a look at this excellent article from Flowers Across Sydney.  Beekeeping in Australia.  The Definitive Guide for Absolute Beginners.

About the Author

The owner of Mt. Coramba Apiculture, Glenn Locke, has had the beekeeping urge since the early 1980s as a 14-year-old teenager.

The Warwick (QLD) high school agriculture department had a few beehives and beekeeping was taught as a subject.  Glenn’s agriculture teacher Jim Caird let him have a nucleus hive, and the addiction started.

The move to the mid-north coast of NSW and particularly the beautiful Orara Valley means that Glenn now has the space to commence beekeeping again. Glenn has managed beehives in the Orara Valley since 2009..

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10 responses to “The Ultimate Beeginner’s Guide to Aussie Backyard Beekeeping (2019)”

  1. Kerrie A says:

    Thanks for the great info. I’m about to go halves in a hybrid flow-hive (very slowly – we’re doing our homework). Iwas wondering if a hive needed a shelter. I’ve seen some but not sure if I’m gold-plating or not.

    Thanks, again.


    • cp-admin says:

      Hello Kerrie, Thanks for contacting me. Your flow hive will do well in full sun. There is no need to build a shelter. Just follow the instructions in the Flowhive manual in relation to how to paint or treat the Flowhive boxes. Best wishes, Glenn Locke

  2. Eric says:

    Hi Glenn. Very informative. I am thinking of starting in beekeeping and looking at flow hive bundle deal which has the 10frame brood box. Heard that in Vic, common to have 8 frames. What are your thoughts? Cheers Eric

    • cp-admin says:

      Hello Eric, Thanks for reading my blog & contacting me about Flowhives. Eight frame gear is definitely more prevalent in the southern parts of Australia & I would recommend that you go that way. Best wishes, Glenn Locke.

  3. Thank you for the useful information. I’ve bought and assembled a hybrid flowhive and wanted to know how best to site it and get started – now I know!

  4. Haidee says:

    What breeds of bees can be used in Australian beekeeping? (for a school agriculture project)

  5. Maree says:

    Excellent advice & extremely helpful. Thank you Glenn. One questions & one recommendation.
    Will back yard bees naturally re queen & sort that out since they are a community & manage this themselves much more effectively than humans? I’m aware there are more pros than cons but wonder if there is any place for this type management as a good strategy. Our hives have been destroyed by small hive beetles in the last five years & after another ‘off’ we started bee-keeping again in last in 2019 with a swarm that we helped collect in town. This is an angry lot of bees & I wonder if their anger helps control these beetles. What is “best practise”?
    We’ve had a hive or two on & off for 30yrs. First off happened due to severe bee allergy development with epipen on hand. Over time this person’s allergy settled to now mild so we introduced hives again. Now a moderate/severe allergy has developed in one of the next generation & for us bee-keeping is a family affair. Knowing about this allergy this family member helped in a closed shed with extracting from the frames last weekend but got one sting near the end. We’d taken prescribed antihistamines to the shed & had a flexipak in a nearby freezer. Having someone helping in the shed able to get this person to breathe slowly, sit down & help them to the house was essential. Next step is discussing with our GP & getting an epipen. I wonder if it’s worth including something about bee sensitivity/allergies on another blog as you provide excellent, clear, well flowing information Glenn.

    • cp-admin says:

      Hello Maree, thanks for your interest. The best practice is to requeen your hives regularly with gentle, disease-resistant queens. There is no evidence that defensive bees help to control small hive beetle. I’m sorry I don’t plan to provide medical advice in any of my articles apart from avoiding bees if you have any sort of reaction.

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