I live in Utah…the Beehive State. So I guess it’s not surprising that I am now officially a beekeeper. Of course there’s a little more to the story than that. My nephew Nate recently became enamored with the whole beekeeping phenomena and his enthusiasm is always contagious! :-) After he regaled me with stories about his beehives I became intrigued and did some research on my own. I had no idea how interesting, important, and fun this “hobby” can be.
And apparently my nephew and I aren’t the only ones who think so! Across the country, there has been a dramatic increase in backyard beekeepers as more and more people come to realize the importance of honeybees.
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Here are just some of the reasons I, and many others, are deciding to become apiarists…or “honey farmers:”
Bees play an essential role in pollination and fertilization of many crops and can be a great way to help your vegetables, flowers, fruits and other garden plants thrive.
Of course there’s the honey. Honey from your own yard is the healthiest for your body (not to mention, the best tasting!) Raw honey is not only a great sweetener, but it has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. It’s been used as a potent healing agent for thousands of years and because of its chemical makeup, honey can be stored and preserved for decades.
While these reasons are great….for me the more COMPELLING reason was simply to…
SAVE THE BEES!
Pesticides have wiped out most of the native varieties of honey bees in the U.S. Commercial bee populations are also under attack by parasites and disease — and they are losing the battle. This is bad news for all of us. The common honeybee pollinates 130 different crops in the U.S. alone, including fruits, vegetables and tree nuts. Without our bees, many of our favorite foods, could completely disappear.
So, with all these things in mind, I took my nephew up on his offer to get us started with our own One Good Thing By Jillee beehive! Here are some photos from a few weeks ago when Nate, and my other nephew Tyler, put our OGT bees in their new home. :-)
Right now the OGT beehive is residing in a field near my nephew’s other beehives a few miles from my home, but as I learn more and get more comfortable with the idea, I would like one in my actual backyard.
If you think you might be interested in becoming a backyard beekeeper as well, here are a few tips from “Beekeeper Nate” for getting started:
- Get a good book on the subject.
- Find out the ordinances for beekeeping in your city.
- Avoid putting the hive too close to places frequented by children, pets, pedestrians or traffic—and aim the entrance away from these areas.
- Make sure the bees have access to a nearby water source. Honey bees use large amounts of water to regulate temperature and moisture levels in the hive.
- Don’t use pesticides on your plants, as they can wreak havoc on bees.
- Start with one hive until you get the hang of things, then consider expanding to two during your second year.
If you can garden, you can be a beekeeper. It takes about the same amount of time and effort to keep your veggies producing as it does to keep bees. Plus, you will gain a new appreciation for nature, bees, your garden and even the food on your plate.
To get more detailed information about beekeeping and how you can get started in this very special hobby, check out the Farmer’s Almanac website.
Have you had any experience with beekeeping?