"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Be the Bee: Backyard Beekeeping Basics: Simple Living Ideas


backyard beekeeping
My daughter & husband tending to the bees.
Why do we need more honey bees?
Due to Colony Collapse Disorder in the United States alone, more than 25 percent of the managed honey bee population has disappeared since 1990.*
What’s Causing Colony Collapse Disorder:
Researchers think it may be caused by a number of interwoven factors:
n Global warming: which has caused flowers to bloom earlier or later than usual. When pollinators come out of hibernation, the flowers that provide the food they need to start the season have already bloomed.*
n Pesticide use on farms: Some toxic pesticides meant to kill pests can harm the honey bees needed for pollination. Many pesticides banned by other countries because they harm bees are still available in the United States.*
n Habitat loss: brought about by development, abandoned farms, growing crops without leaving habitat for wildlife, and growing gardens with flowers that are not friendly to pollinators.
n Parasites: such as harmful mites.
inside beehive
Inside one of our hives.
Bees Keep Our Economy Humming:
More than $15 billion a year in U.S. crops are pollinated by bees, including apples, berries, cantaloupes, cucumbers, alfalfa, and almonds. U.S. honey bees also produce about $150 million in honey annually. But fewer bees means the economy takes a hit. 
beekeeping
Checking on honey production.

The benefits of Backyard Beekeeping:

Why it is OK to take honey from bees? Bees naturally make extra honey. We harvest honey from them in the Spring after the first nectar flow starts. The honey we take is what they didn’t use over the Winter.

The honey you harvest is organic. Most honey you buy in the grocery store is filled with pesticides. A lot of it is so filtered all the good stuff: pollen etc has been taken out of it. It is barely honey. Much of it comes from China and it may not even be honey at all!

Eating natural honey can help: allergies and arthritis. 

Your vegetable and flower gardens will benefit from the bee pollination.
You can make beeswax candles from the comb. They burn longer and are better natural deodorizers than petroleum based candles. 
You can make money. When we get our production going we plan on selling our honey and candles locally and over the internet for a fair profit.
How to Decide if Bee Keeping is for You? 
Does anyone in your family have an allergy to bees? Then don’t bee keep. Everyone in my family has been stung at least once, and if you are allergic it could be life threatening.
Is beekeeping permitted in your town? Make sure you check out your zoning laws. Every city and town has different restrictions on keeping beehives.
Do talk to your neighbors before you get bees? Do your neighbors spray pesticides or do you use them? They may have fears or allergies. If they are gardeners emphasize the benefits to their yard plants. A promise of a a little honey and some beeswax candles might be helpful too.
top bar hive
Top Bar Hive decorated by my daughter.
You have decided to become a Backyard Beekeeper now what?
What kind of hive to build? We have Top Bar Hives which I highly recommend. They are an ingenious design that require less work tending to the bees than more traditional beehives. They also can be made from scrap wood. Whenever my kids see a discarded wood crate they tell my husband were it is and he picks it up and makes a hive out of it. 
What kind of bees to get? We started with Italian bees because they are suppose to be docile. Well, ours were down right lazy... as my mother would say, a “Bunch of good for nothing Gavones” I thinka they drinka the vino and not the nectar. The best bees to get would be to catch a local swarm. You may have to try different types to find out which work best for your location. Definitely ask local keepers for their opinion on the best bees for were you live.
Helpful Resources and Support:
Natural Beekeeping Network http://www.biobees.com/forum/index.php
building top bar hive
Constructing a Top Bar Hive.
You don’t want to be a Beekeeper but you would like to help the bees:
Don’t use pesticides in your yard. It is always questionable the safety of these chemicals to children and animals along with ground water. Do you really need a neon-green lawn??? Use natural fertilizers like your own compost instead of spending money on fertilizers that may be harmful to you and the planet.
Buy Organic Produce: Organic farmers do not use chemical that can be harmful to you or bees.

Buy Honey from Local Beekeepers: This way you directly support beekeeping in your area and you get the health benefits of ingesting local honey.
Grow Plants that Bees like:
It is best to grow a variety of native plants and wildflowers in your yard to attract and supply nectar to bees. There are many lists of plants that are partially bee friendly. Here is one source I found: 
Plant a Bee-Friendly Garden by the Daily Green http://www.thedailygreen.com/going-green/tips/bee-friendly-plants

Sign this petition to the EPA:
http://www.change.org/petitions/epa-save-our-bees-and-the-food-we-eat-ban-bayer-s-chemicals-now
*Source: Why We Need Bees: Nature’s Tiny Workers Put Food on Our Tables by National Resource Defense Council http://www.nrdc.org/wildlife/animals/files/bees.pdf

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8 comments:

  1. Maybe with the gear I could stand to be around bees! I usually close my eyes and freeze when they fly around until they go away. I'll focus on the more distant ways of keeping up the population! Great article!

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    1. The gear does make a difference in your confidence. Honey bees are really not aggressive. My husband says that wasps who are aggressive give bees a bad rap.

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  2. I think it's awesome you bee keep! personally I'm afraid of them! Only one of my kids has been stung though, but her whole hand swelled up something good, poor kid. If I had a large plot of land that I could put them way in the back of, I might consider it a bit more.

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    1. We we first got the bees my husband thought that just telling the kids not to swat them would be enough to keep them from getting stung. When bees start to fly around you, let me tell you... YOU SWAT!

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  3. i love bees!! we don't keep them but for some reason there are literally hundreds in our yard. i think it has something to do with the sweet clover (or whatever it is) in the grass. i like to lay down in the yard with a blanket and listen/watch them buzz about. they have no interest in me because i have no nectar - not the kind they'd be interested in anyhow. ow ow! haha. great article diane!! - more people need to know about bees.

    thank you for linking up with us at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Blog Hop! We hope to see you again this Wednesday with more fantastic seasonal & real food posts :) xo, kristy

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    1. I recommended your party to a few people who had preserving recipes. I hope it does well it is a great idea.
      Clovers would definitely attract bees.. clover honey is very popular and they aren't aggressive toward people. My husband always says that wasps give bees a bad name.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this, Diane! We have so many people around us who have taken up the bee keeping trend, but haven't necessarily learned how to do it right. What a great, helpful post!

    Thanks for sharing with the Fresh Foods Blog Hop.

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    1. So glad this was helpful. The Natural Beekeeping Network is a really good forum and almost everywhere it is not too hard to find an old beekeeper who would love to pass on his knowledge.

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