Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Beekeeping 101 - Part 2

The following is a guest post from Kate Ferry who writes the blog, The Sacred Bee's Blog. Since early 2010, she and her family began focusing on eating organic, supporting local businesses, removing toxic chemicals from their home and bodies and reducing their waste. She has been chronicling her adventures on her blog. This post is Part 2 of 2 and is geared to those who may not want to keep bees but want to help them out. You can read Part 1 here.

Helping without keeping
The past five years have seen an enormous decline in honeybee colonies. The honeybee population is vanishing at an apocalyptic rate and keepers are opening the hives in spring to find them empty. The fate of the honeybee is particularly worrisome when considering that over one-third of the food on our table is the direct result of honeybee pollination.

So, even if you aren’t interested or can’t keep honeybees, you would doing a world of good to educate yourself on how to help keep them relatively safe and enjoy the benefits of their industrious work ethic.

Keep that garden natural – a bonus for the honeybee, your home, your health and your environment! Avoid pesticides at all costs and work with natural, environmentally friendly products. Or, embrace the weeds.

Try to have a variety of flowers and plants in your yard that are in bloom all year round. Think early spring to harvest time – work with the dandelions in April and finish with some sedum in late fall.

Get those wasps. Wasps are carnivores that feed on honeybees. A hive can be severely incapacitated by a wasp attack and the only evidence for the keeper is the body remnants after wasps have dissected the abdomens of the bees. Wasp queens are all that live over winter and are responsible for starting the entire hive on their own come spring.

So, each wasp you kill in late winter or early spring (you know those sneaky slow movers that come out of the wood pile?) is one wasp hive down. An affordable and effective organic bait for wasps is half orange juice/half water in any sort of trap. If you use a sugar bait – you are going to be killing honeybees, too (a big no-no).

Host a hive. Contact your local beekeeping association and let them know you are interested in hosting a hive. You provide the land and an experienced beekeeper provides and cares for the bees and gives you a portion of the honey harvest for your support and participation. Can you say win-win?!

Keeping bees is a wonderful hobby, but is understandably not for everyone. Even if honeybees are not an integral part of your life, they can find nectar and pollen from organic sources in your yard.


Rachel said...

Regarding hosting a hive, I think it's important to get references before ever allowing someone to have relatively free access to your property. We made the mistake of not asking for references and are now stuck battling with a beekeeper that doesn't properly maintain his hives and won't remove them from our property.

Greenpa said...

A bit of better bee news- I've got ~200 apple trees. Unlike even organic orchardists; we spray nothing whatsoever; they're marketed as "zero spray".

4 years ago, our honeybees disappeared entirely. I watched the trees meticulously; and could not find one honeybee, any day, any hour, the entire flowering season.

We got the normal apple crop anyway; pollinated by the many wild bees and flies we have, since we never spray.

Exactly the same thing happened the next 2 years. Not one honeybee; and I looked VERY hard.

But - this year- we once again have honeybees, in abundance, actually. Pretty much have to be one or more feral hives.

So- not that everybody should relax; but it seems that in some cases anyway, the honeybees do have some capability to overcome whatevertheheck the problem is.

Tanya said...

Interesting I did not realize that wasps preyed on bees. Will not be so tolerant anymore to not eradicating wasp nests (thought they did prey on other harmful garden insects)

Stephanie - Green Stay at Home Mom said...

I've often said that if we someday buy a house with enough property, I'd love to have a hive. Having it maintained by someone else sound ideal. It's a long way out, but good to know.

Audry said...

It's really sad that the population of bees are declining. My kids used to be scared whenever they saw the bees but after they learned from one of their Disney shows that if a bee stung you, it would die because it lost its stinger, they're not afraid of being around bees now. They know that a bee would use its stinger only when it senses danger.

Stoney Creek Homestead said...

I have already decided, although be it late for this year, but next spring I am going to purchase bees enough for three hives.

I already have a spot picked out for the girls next year, safe from bears and within walking distance of the farmyard. The clover field and the alfalfa fields will be right there as they step out of their hives in the morning.

I have read everything that I can possibly get my little paws on, and I am hiped for next year!!!