I can’t remember the last time I bought a jar of honey. I’ve had no need to since I started raising my own backyard bees!
My honeybees amaze me every single day and every July, they provide me with all of the honey I could possibly need for the year (and some nice gifts for family too!).
This is way more than a hobby for me. It’s a statement. I feel a great connection to the food chain and the planet in general knowing my little guys in the hive are helping pollinate the world.
The US Department of Agriculture suggests that 1/3 of everything we eat is pollenated by honeybees.
A Cornell University study estimates that roughly $14 billion worth of crops and seeds in this country are pollinated by honeybees.
Without honeybees, 80% of our flowering crops in the country would be at risk. Everything from asparagus to nuts to blueberries and apples. A threatened honeybee population would also risk our livestock since they eat plants to survive.
Talk about an under-appreciated workforce!
Beekeepers across the world—Canada, the UK, France, Greece, Spain, and the list goes on—are reporting Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which is also known as bee decline disease. The problem is not getting any better.
Many bee experts implicate Monsanto for their Roundup product and many other insecticides used in modern agriculture as one of the reasons for CCD.
The fact is if we lose the honeybees, our food supply is quite seriously in jeopardy.
The absolute best thing we can do as stewards of the planet, is to raise our own backyard bees. That being said, I am fully aware that this is not an option for a lot of people!
However, all of us with yards can feed the bees by planting a bee garden to help provide the honeybees with good healthy nectar so they can do their part continuing to pollinate our food.
Bee love nectar rich perennial plants in your yard like hellebores, sedums and campanulas. When you plant different types of perennials, you have different plants flowering through the seasons, so the bees have a steady diet. And perennials show up year after year, more glorious than the year before giving you a continual show.
Bees also love shrubs like Japanese quince and winter-flowering honeysuckle.
Try to plant your bee garden in full sun and in a place sheltered from wind. A birdbath with a rock for resting will provide visiting bees with a place to stop and grab a little water. Believe it or not, they prefer dirty water over clean!
Oh, and bees love lavender! My bees have 4 bushes of lavender to choose from and last year’s honey was lovely and fragranted by that lavender.
This should go without saying, but Crayola green lawns obtained by herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides will kill off bees. I had someone admiring my grass awhile back and asked me how I did it without the aforementioned chemicals. My answer? When the grass is mowed, grass and weeds look the same. We don’t have to golf course lawns y’all! 🙂
Most plants and flowers now are sprayed with neonicatinoids, which are killing bees and Monarchs. All of Home Depot and Lowe’s vendors are coated with pesticides, and even most so-called “organic” or “natural” nurseries use many of the same vendors as Home Depot and Lowe’s. (There are major vendors that are used by most nurseries). I’ve even seen one of these vendors being sold at Whole Foods! So it’s up to us to keep calling them and asking for plants and flowers not sprayed with bee-killing pesticides. I have also typed and emailed my concerns directly to the vendors (their stickers are usually on any plants or flowers we purchase). In the meantime we can plant our own organic seeds in organic soil, or look around for a local organic farm that might also grow flowers and plants in addition to vegetables and herbs.
How do you harvest the honey from your hive?
Photos! Please? And how do you winter your bees? What is your winter weather like?
Also meant to add: If you don’t want to raise bees yourself, but you’d like to have them around, some beekeepers will bring a hive to your yard for the flowering season for free if you have plants to help feed them. There’s a fellow in my area who has made a business doing that called Backyard Bees. He shares the honey with the homeowners, but he does the hive maintenance and honey harvesting. Have to make sure your near neighbors are not using chemicals, though.