Read, read and read more.
If you're a bit apprehensive about keeping bees then you're not alone. After all, bees sting, so the first step is to pluck up a bit of courage!
Before you get all abuzz, we recommend that you read lots. The Internet is full of good information on beekeeping. Make sure that you understand the life-cylce of the bee and that you have some understanding of the life-cycle of the varroa mite as well. Be aware of other diseases, in particular the devastating effect that American Foulbrood can have on bees in your area.
To get the bees into your garden, make sure that you purchase bees from a reputable and registered beekeeper. If we have swarms available then you can buy them here. Don't take a chance though. Get your hive inspected for diseases before you purchase. You could inadvertantly infect a whole suburb with an infected beehive.
A few startup tips.
Getting stung is part of the deal. The sting hurts, but only in the first few seconds. If you leave it alone then it will soon be forgotten. Don't scratch! It makes it worse.
In spite of the protection they offer, I recommend that you wear gloves only at the very beginning. Ditch them as soon as you've got some confidence. You will hurt less bees that way and I actually think that you get stung less.
Don't scratch, it makes it worse!
You can't use enough patience. My first rule when dealing with bees is to use time, a veil and the smoker. I came to regreat times where I did things in a hurry or thought I could quickly open a hive without bothering with a smoker. Trust me, it's not worth it. A sting in the face will leave you looking like Quasimodo with a sunburn.
Give honey to your neighbours.
It's unlikely that you'll be able to keep your apiary activities a secret from your neighbours. I remember that the first time they saw me in a suit and veil, they grabbed their kids by the hand and dragged them inside. It's difficult to explain that bees aren't a threat if you're kitted out to the max and looking at them through a sive. I kit up at the beehive where the neighbours can't see me so that I don't alarm anyone.
The biggest issue though may not be the threat of getting stung, but rather the bee poo on the BMW.
Don't underestimate the widespread waxy deposits that bees leave on cars. Be prepared to manage the reaction of your neighbours and get to know other beekeepers in your neighbourhood. I'm not saying that you should shift blame for the mess onto them, but who's to say that your bees are the only ones that poo.
What does the law say?
Hooray to the Auckland Council; they actually encourage beekeeping. However, if your bees are too close to the neighbours or they are a nuicence then they can act. Ensure that you follow the rules and be mindful of your neighbours.