People have been keeping bees for thousands of years. In fact, there has been honey found in Egyptian pyramids that is still edible after all this time. Bees are incredibly important to our world. In North America alone, they pollinate 95 kinds of plants. 60-80% of our food supply is pollinated by bees. Unfortunately, the bees are in trouble. Bees in the wild and kept bees have been experiencing colony collapse syndrome, with almost a third of colonies being lost in the last several years.
It’s a bit of a puzzle-why are the bees dying? Many theories have been floated, including cell phone interference, but most experts seem to agree that pesticides are the cause. While there isn’t much individuals can do about the huge amount of pesticides used annually in our country, there are two excellent ways we can help. First, we can voice our concern about the overuse of pesticides. We can write our legislators, as well as large corporations like Monsanto.
Secondly, we can keep bees. This pastime is traditional and incredibly useful, plus you’ll be taking concrete steps to save our environment. Beekeeping is labor intensive at times, but incredibly rewarding.
Honey is often compared to gold. Store bought honey doesn’t hold a candle to local honey. Did you know that honey can have many flavors? Take a trip to your farmer’s market once it’s open, and you’ll likely find several variations. The type of flower the bees pollinate influences the flavor and has helped to create a huge market. But honey isn’t the only useful product of beekeeping.
Beeswax is also very useful. Traditionally, we’ve used it to make candles in the foothills, but this was the Duct Tape of history. It’s been found on sunken Viking ships, in Egyptian pyramids, and in Roman ruins. Like honey, it never goes bad. It’s also quite good for oiling squeaky joints.
One other advantage of bee keeping is the boost it gives your garden. You’ll never have more beautiful flowers than the ones near a bee hive!
There’s an old saying that if you ask 100 beekeepers a question, you’ll get 101 answers. Beekeeping is as much art as science, and methods vary wildly.
If you’re interested in starting a hive, your first step is to learn more about bees. A great place to start is the book The Bee: A Natural History by Noah Wilson-Rich. Once you begin understand the nature of bees, you’ll be better suited to care for them.
This traditional hobby is useful and well-suited to our climate. It’s a great family activity, and is an important step in saving our earth. Environmental stewardship is all of our responsibly, and we can begin to fix the damage, leaving a better world for our children.
There are a great many books on the topic of beekeeping, but two rise above the rest. The first is called the Beekeeper’s Bible, and it’s the go-to book for most beekeepers.
The other is called Honeybee Democracy. and it comes with the highest recommendations. This book focuses on what happens with Bees swarm, and it’s full of information that was previously unavailable to beekeepers.