If there's one thing I would recommend that you do before you start beekeeping, it's to find yourself a beekeeping buddy (or a few!) I tried three times to go into our hive myself before I admitted defeat and made a phonecall. Fear of bees is real! There's nothing more intimidating than approaching a hive and hearing the hum of thousands and thousands of bees that, let's face it, don't particularly want to be disturbed, to put you off lifting the lid and having a poke around. I realised I was going to need some help.
My beekeeping buddy is a wonderful lady and experienced beekeeper who lives in a neighbouring village. She has held my hand throughout my first year of beekeeping and has helped hugely in developing my confidence and knowledge as a beginner. I know that this is going to be a lifelong journey, there truly is so much to learn. I've realised that a bit like raising children, every beekeeper will have different techniques and have their own thoughts and opinions about how to look after bees. However, also like children, every hive is unique, so it's important to get to know your hive and become instinctive about what you feel is the right way to look after your bees.
When my buddy is next to me I'm so much calmer going into the hive. We look into the frames and she points out what's going on in each one. She's taught me how to identify the different types of bees, we have yet to spot the queen but we find evidence of her presence. We've identified eggs, and pollen, and I can now see the diffferent cappings on the cells and know what they mean. She helped me know when was the right time to take my first honey harvest, and let me borrow her spinner. Having her pass on her knowledge is a blessing and is something that I hope to do one day for another budding beekeeper.
As well as having her on board I've also started to meet an amazing community of beekeepers online, particularly through Instagram, who are willing to answer questions whenever they might pop up. I truely hope to visit some of them in person at some point and exchange stories!