Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Add to My MSN

Welcome to the World of Beekeeping

12/16/2013 4:25:00 PM

Tags: beekeeping, North Carolina, Tia Douglass

I can’t tell you how excited I am to blog about bees and beekeeping!  I must confess, I’ve never blogged before, but it should be fun telling you about the wonderful world of the honeybee. I’m very enthusiastic about these little ladies and, as you get to know me, you’ll understand why. But here’s a little bit of past history:

Here in the original Down East they call me “The Bee Lady,” but you might call me the “accidental beekeeper,”Beekeeper Street Sign because I had no intention of becoming so involved with these sweet golden buzzers — I was a gardener first and foremost but found when I moved here from New Jersey, by way of the Turks and Caicos Islands (that’s a story for another time) there were no pollinators for my squash! The sad little squashettes were just withering on the vine! The thought of hand-pollinating gave me shivers, so I figured, “What the heck. Get a couple of hives.” Well, let me tell you, these little girls are addictive! Once you take a peek into the workings of a hive, you’re hooked.

Honeybee Facts

Bees and beekeeping have become my Crusade, and it is on that note I hope to seduce you into the world of the honeybee. To pique your curiosity about these lovely ladies, let me give you a few honeybee facts:

Did you know that honeybees are not native to the US? English colonists brought German bees, or "dark bees," to the New World in 1621. And in colonial NC taxes could be paid using beeswax!

The average colony contains between 30,000 and 60,000 bees: one queen, a few hundred drones, and the rest workers. While a queen can live as long as 5 years, a worker bee will work herself to death in 45 days. She can fly as far as 3 miles and at speeds up to 15 mph (a 4-minute mile!).  In her lifetime, the average honeybee visits at least 650 flowers and produces only ½ tsp of honey!  So, if you dip honey with a spoon and don’t lick the spoon, some poor honeybee’s lifetime production is for naught!

You should know, too, that honey is one of the safest foods in the marketplace. It has many qualities that resist or reduce bacterial contamination.  It is very important to never refrigerate honey!  It will crystallize and you’ll think it’s gone bad (it hasn’t. . .you can restore it by placing the jar in a pot of hot water for a couple of minutes—or better yet, just put it on your dashboard in the sun for a day).  The best way to store honey for a period of less than a year is at room temperature. For longer periods (who has honey for more than a year?), freeze it.

As for pollination, did you know that it takes 12-18 honeybee visits to a cucumber blossom during a 15-hr period to produce a well-shaped cucumber?  I gotta tell you, these girls have their work cut out for them!

So far I’ve given you the good news.  But you all know there’s bad news, too.  Honeybees—and all pollinators—are having a dickens of a time lately. Losses of thirty percent are not uncommon and I—for the first time in many years—lost hives over this past winter and then had trouble re-queening this spring!

The possible reasons are many and I plan to cover all the possibilities in future blogs.  But to sum up, beekeeping is a fascinating hobby, and we need more beekeepers if we plan on keeping the world in good nutritious food. I hope this bit of trivia has whetted your appetite to know more about our honeybees and maybe start keeping your own hives! If that’s the direction you’re going, I’ll be happy to help you along the way. And  if you’re just here to help the honeybee, Welcome!  We all need to work together. Hope we get to bee good friends.



Related Content

Winterizing your bees the natural way.

This post is about winterizing a colony of bees naturaly, using ideas and tips that we at BeeLanding...

Record Keeping in the Apiary

Beekeepers need a consistent way to document hive inspections including prompts to address all relev...

Backyard Chicken Facts - 5 Things No One Told Us

We've had a few surprises as we travel the road of backyard chicken raising - some of them pleasant,...

Navitas Naturals Adds Organic Hemp Seed to Leading Line of Superfoods

Hemp seed is a powerful source of protein, Omega-3, vitamins and minerals, and has a delicious nutty...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

Carrina Crow
12/18/2013 2:27:37 PM
We also don't use any pesticides on our plants. Only Vivebloom - 100% carcinogen-free growth enhancer + freeze protector and our bees nearby are thriving!

Carrina Crow
12/18/2013 2:26:55 PM
LOVE this article! I plan to have my first hive this coming spring/summer 2014. Bought my hive at the Mother Earth News fair at Seven Springs! We have land at my parents house with alot of apple trees, a big garden, flowers & just bought 3 butterfly bushes! We also have a small pond for a water source. Hoping to find a nearby beekeeping class though since I know very little. Thanks for this!










Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.