Organic Beekeeping Basics

It is a proven fact that the honey bee population is dwindling drastically. Pesticides are being used more often and that kills bees along with other pests.

Beekeeping is not hard and if anyone who had the land, resources and minimal time would keep bees, there would be less of a shortage. It is important to note that if there are no pollinators to pollinate gardens and farms, we, we will not have food.

Specific equipment is needed for beekeeping from the hive the bees live in to the protective gear you need to keep from being stung. Make sure to do extensive research before committing to a colony of bees so that you know if you can put in the time, effort and expenses of keeping bees.

Benefits of Organic Beekeeping!

There are many benefits to being a beekeeper and these are just a few:

Honey is healthy. It keeps the immune system in shape and prevents sickness. A diabetic should be careful about consuming honey because it goes right to the blood system and can raise blood sugars greatly.

Consuming local honey can prevent local allergies. If you are allergic to goldenrod, eating honey from pollen that comes from that goldenrod can desensitize you.

Your garden will be enhanced because of all the pollinators in your yard.

Beekeeping is educational and the whole family can be involved.

After a while, you will probably have enough honey to sell or give out as Christmas gifts. Beekeeping can be profitable.

You are contributing, in a good way, to one of the biggest gardening and farming problems of the century. You are encouraging more bees into the ecosystem.

Location

It is not advisable to start beekeeping anywhere. Look at your environment. Do you live near a farm that uses chemicals on their crops. Your yard may not be the best place to keep bees because they will most likely be affected by those chemicals and die.

Bees need a water source and a natural one like a pond or stream is bees, but you can still keep bees if committed to filling a bee watering source once or twice a day. Bees need nectar plants to make honey, so if there are no high-nectar plants around, you either have to plant some before your start keeping bees.

Bees like bright colored and trumpet-shaped blossoms, although they will take pollen from almost any flower. Some suggestions are flowering trees and shrubs, black-eyes Susans, purple coneflower or Echinacea, yarrow, sunflowers, honeysuckle, bee balm, snapdragons, foxglove, coral bells, hosta, sedum, asters and cosmos.

They also love vegetable and fruit tree blooms, clover, and buckwheat crops.

You do not need a great acres of land to keep bees, however, a small city lot may not be appropriate either and the bees might frighten your neighbors.

You can easily keep bees on a larger lot. If you do not have a large area in which to keep bees, think about planting flowers and other plants that provide them with pollen and let them travel to your place for brunch and go home.

Obtaining Bees

Obtaining a colony of bees is not as easy as it sounds. Always get bees that are native to your area instead of purchasing them where they must be shipped in. Bees need to be familiar with their environment so they don’t go in search of a “different” suitable place.

Find a local beekeeper that has an extra queen and worker bees to go with her. Make the queen happy and the bees will stay around, but if the queen goes in search of better surroundings so will her entourage.

Find a beekeeper in your community and ask where they get their bees for start-up and most of them will be happy to help you. Call your University Extension office for the names of beekeepers in your area or call the local Chamber of Commerce.

Tending Bees

Beekeepers need to know all about bees and their habits. They need certain equipment including hives, smokers, extractors, special knives and suits that cover them to prevent stings. They must conquer fear of being stung because bees seem to know when a person is afraid.

They need to understand to stay away from bees during certain times and weather situations and how to calm a colony so that honey can be removed without harm to themselves or the bees. Many beekeepers say that they know their bees and the bees know them. Soon they do not have to use protective gear because their bees will not harm them.

The beehive is essential. A beehive is also known as an apiary. It houses bees and this is where they process nectar to honey. Beehives are generally made of wood and have frames that pull out exposing the honeycomb.

The honey is extracted by using an uncapping knife and fork that removes wax from the comb segments and allows the liquid honey to flow out. The frame is put into an extractor that spins and removes the honey from the comb. Bees do eat their own honey, so beekeepers are careful to keep enough honey in the hive for use of the bees.

It is important that you never use any pesticides except organic approved types on your property to keep bees safe. Collecting and producing honey takes about 2 years because it takes time for the bees to get used to their location, make enough honey for themselves and make extra for the beekeeper.

Once the colony is established, it pretty much takes care of itself. It is best to investigate beekeeping by visiting another beekeeper and seeing if it is possible for you. Beekeeping is a long process. It takes time to raise the bees and begin production, but once you do, it is very rewarding and sweet.
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