5 Sweet Reasons You Should Consider Keeping Honeybees
Installing a package of honeybees for the first time is an exhilarating and somewhat nerve-racking experience. Even if you’ve seen it done it’s hard not to hesitate – is this a good idea? Installing a package of bees (and my thought process) go something like this:
Step 1. Hold tube of bees upright and swiftly hit bottom against the ground so that they all fall to one end. What, what? That doesn’t sound right.
Step 2. Open the top of the tube and removes the burlap string – at the end, you’ll find a small box containing the Queen. Oh dear God, oh dear God.
Step 3. Remove the plastic or cork plug in the Queen box and replace with wax or candy.
Step 4. Place Queen inside the hive. Okay. That doesn’t sound too bad.
Step 5. Tip tube of bees upside down and shake them into the hive. The same tube of bees I just smacked against the ground? Seriously?
Step 6. Close up the hive. Return in 24 hours to make sure that the Queen has been freed from her wooden prison – if not, release her.
In all honesty, installing a package of bees isn’t that scary (or hard), but it does fly in the face of some common sense. No matter how many times I’ve done it smacking a tube of bees against the ground sounds laughably absurd. And yet, I keep doing it. And maybe you should too! Here are five sweet reasons to consider keeping honeybees:
Sweet Reason Number One
Watching bees work in incredibly cathartic. I’m not sure why but I could watch them all day. On more than one occasion, I’ve been known to pull up a lawn chair, crack open a beer, lean back, and watch them do their thing. The only thing I can compare it to is sitting around a campfire – a living, stinging, humming, honey making campfire.
Sweet Reason Number Two
Honey is liquid magic. It’s delicious! And if you keep bees long enough you’ll get to a point where you will have so much of it that you’ll start investing new uses – substituting honey for sugar, giving it to friends, spackling the walls, and my favourite, Mead.
For the uninitiated, Mead is a mid-evil sounding name for honey wine and is one of the easiest alcoholic drinks to make. Here’s the recipe in a nutshell:
Step 1: Add water, honey, and yeast
Step 2: Let sit
Step 3: Drink
Sweet Reason Number Three
Honeybees are incredibly helpful. Depending on the source, honeybees are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of the world’s pollination. So if you have a garden, orchard, or just like to eat, honeybees are for you!
Sweet Reason Number Four
Bees produce more than honey. Beeswax and Propolis (a sticky plant resin used to coat the inside of the hive) makes candles, salves, balms, etc. A close friend of mine recently started making baby products from the wax produced by my bees.
Sweet Reason Number Five
I get a lot of joy spending time in their world. The more I learn about honeybees, the more I want to know – and there’s a lot to know! Though people have been tending hives for thousands of years, we’re still learning about their inner world. Did you know that male bees (called drones) don’t have fathers? But that they do have grandfathers? Bees are weird! As beekeepers, the more I know, the more I can align my management techniques with their natural behaviour and tendencies. Beekeeping is a partnership with nature.
If you’re interested in establishing a colony, I encourage you to check it out the following posts: