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Tis the season. My inbox is flush with “amazing” deals. Unfortunately, many of the hard-sell marketers are heading straight for the wallet of the soon-to-be new beekeeper. I’ve watched wannabees, still unable to tell a honey bee from a cockroach, buying specialty hives, extractors, and vaporizers so they will be ready when their bees arrive.

The marketers are slick, many offering “free” courses with anywhere from a dozen to 150 lessons to help get you started. Of course, this is nothing new. I first complained about the “lesson plan” back in 2010 when I saw poorly structured tutorials, each designed to sell you one more thing.

How much stuff do you really need?

Okay, I’m not a minimalist. I find that tinkering with hive design, equipment, gadgets, and technology is enormously fun and educational. On the other hand, you can be a first-rate beekeeper without breaking the bank. No one should be guilted into buying something he can’t afford or doesn’t need. Your need for equipment will evolve as your hobby expands, but purchasing should not be rushed or haphazard.

And all those lessons? How discouraging! A hundred lessons on any subject would make me run. Instead, I recommend that beginners read two good books: one that covers basic beekeeping practices and one dedicated to honey bee biology. My recommendation for the basics is either Simple, Smart Beekeeping by Kirsten and Michael Traynor or The Beekeeper’s Handbook by Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile. If you are a visual learner, the full-color photos in the Traynor book could not be better. For honey bee biology, nothing comes close to Honey-Maker by Rosanna Mattingly. I refer to it constantly.

Read full article here: How should we train the newbees? — Honey Bee Suite