Bees are an important and often neglected part of our environment. Just take a moment to consider how these small creatures, with relatively short lives, are responsible for a large percentage of pollination. Sure, birds and other insects also do their part, but bees are the best-known pollinators of all. It is known that bees fly up to 7 miles in search of pollen. Having said that, the ideal distance to venture is less than 4 miles.
For anyone who is planning to grow with bees, it is important to seek advice on beekeeping for beginners. To tend to the bees is not just to create a hive and reap the benefits. There is much more than that, and it is up to the beekeeper to make sure they are well informed before the preparations are made.
The history of beekeeping.
Beekeeping began centuries ago. The original man-made hives consisted of straw baskets, also called “reefs”. The bees were kept during the times of ancient Egypt and, on the walls of the Temple of the Sun (Nyuserre Ini), you can still see representations of workers who throw smoke at these artificial hives and remove the combs. In the tomb of Pabasa there are representations of honey poured into jars and, in tombs like Tutankhamun’s, pots of honey were discovered.
Beekeeping became a common practice in other parts of the world as well; including Greece, China and Israel. The Mayans were the first to tame a special type of stingless bee. Obviously, the main advantage of these bees is the fact that they can not hurt you. In Australia, stingless beekeeping is still commonly practiced to produce honey (Wikipedia source).
Just as honey does not have an expiration date, we can also expect the practice of beekeeping to continue for centuries.
Advantages of growing with bees.
Working with bees presents a wide range of new challenges and responsibilities. For the most part, these working creatures will take care of themselves, but they need help from time to time. By helping them, you will enjoy the following advantages:
- Honey is obviously the most popular reason that attracts people to this practice. Depending on how many bees you have, you can get a good reward on a regular basis!
- Bees will naturally seek the closest supply of pollen, therefore, if you plant some colorful flowers in your garden, the bees will keep your garden healthy and prosperous.
- If you plant crops, they will also help with pollination, which will increase the yield of your crops.
- Some beekeepers are allowed to intentionally sting in certain parts of their body from time to time. It is known that bee stings treat a variety of ailments, but it is important to ask your doctor first.
- The bees are suffering due to excessive human intervention. For this reason, the best way to ensure their survival is through another type of human intervention: beekeeping. We depend on bees, and now they need our help to protect them from things like pesticides and the development of the earth.
- Some even say that tending to bees helps them keep their stress levels to a minimum. This makes sense because, when you are driving the hive, you must be extremely calm and patient so as not to cause a stir.
Disadvantages of beekeeping
Tender to the bees is not without challenges. Like any new company, it is important that you have realistic expectations. Do not just think about all the honey you’ll harvest one day. Also consider the following possible disadvantages:
- The bites are the most obvious of all. If you are afraid of the bites, are sensitive to them or just do not like the idea of that painful blow, this can be a true blackout. Fortunately, we have a large protective equipment available, so there is no need for unnecessary risks.
- The hives occupy space on your property, and you must own a property large enough so that the bees do not stay right next to your house. Bees, like many other insects, are near the lights at night so they can easily find their way home.
- If you have small children or anyone allergic to beestings, then this is not something you want to follow. Allergies to these bites are extremely dangerous and can cause death if not treated immediately. If you choose to continue despite these risks, you can consult with your doctor about the use of epinephrine injections (also called Epi-Pens). They are used to treat multiple allergies that, like beestings, produce anaphylaxis.
There are a number of risks that should be taken into account if you are thinking about keeping bees. As mentioned above, bites and allergies represent the greatest risk of all; Especially if you have small children with allergies. It is important to remember that bees are highly territorial and, while generally concerned about their own affairs, they will not hesitate to attack if they feel threatened.
Throwing the hive is a sure way to anger the residents and, when they get angry, they are relentless vengeful seekers! It is important to understand that worker bees will always do what is necessary to protect the queen. She has a unique connection with each bee in the hive, and they have an instinctive responsibility towards it.
If you have pets, it is important that you place the hive (or the hives) in such a way that they can not reach them. If your dog has a great interest and starts sniffing, you could be the victim of dozens of painful bites.
A guide for beekeeping.
For anyone looking in the wonderful world of beekeeping, you will notice that there are a number of tools and supplies that you must buy. For the most part, the main financial investment is required at the beginning, but once it starts, you can enjoy a significant return on your investment.
The first thing you should do is make a list of all the supplies you will need and how much it will cost. You will have to invest in the correct and durable supplies that may seem costly, so some, but can not put a price on quality honey and hives that stand the test of time.
Some of the basic supplies you need include a hive support, an inlet reducer, two breeding chambers, a queen excluder, honey hikes, an indoor deck and an outside deck. For honey collection, you will need a smoker. They consist of attached bellows, and a fire is made inside the cylinder.
Protection is extremely important and the right equipment is available in a variety of sizes, including sizes for children. The first thing to invest in is a suit. This will ensure that your body is protected against bites and that bees can not enter the suit.
A beekeeping hat with a mooring veil is also essential. You may not see them as a great fashion accessory, but they will protect your face, eyes and mouth from unpleasant bites. The gloves are also important as they will physically handle the hives. With the right clothes, caring for your bees does not represent a risk, you can take the time to enjoy your time outdoors.
Choose a location
Choosing the correct location for your hive is essential. Not only do you need to consider things like the sun, but you must also think about other factors such as your neighbors. You do not want a lively hive right next to your house. This will present a significant risk if the bees get too close or even inside your home. If your hive is too close to your neighbor’s house, you could put it at risk and your neighbor who was once a friend could become more than unpleasant.
Find a happy environment and try to make sure that your hives are not close to the areas your pets access. The last thing you want is for your dog’s curiosity to surpass him! The hives can be placed behind the hedges, since the bees will learn to fly over them. The hedges are excellent to keep pets and children from getting too close. Feel free to plant flowers, fruit trees and nearby bushes. Not only will you provide your bees with a nearby food supply, they will also return the favor by pollinating your garden!
Assembly of the hive
Begin by placing the stand of your hive and adding an input reducer. If you plan to add a feeder (with sugar water) to start your colony, you should make some adjustments to the input reducer.
Next, you can stack two breeding chambers on top of the support, followed by the inner cover and the outer cover. The inner cover allows some ventilation while keeping the temperature of the hive comfortable. The outer cover prevents rain, snow and contaminants from entering the hive. Let the bees feel at home and wait until the breeding chambers are full of honey at least 80% before adding the honey rises. You must remove the inner and outer cover before adding a queen excluder.
The queen is larger than the rest of the bees, which means that it will be restricted to the breeding chambers, and the workers will be able to enter and exit the hikes. Add several hikes with 8 frames on which the bees will deposit their honey. Do not add more than 8 frames or the super will be very heavy and difficult to move once it is full. Place the covers and let your bees continue their work! You can recover the honey from the hikes when they are well stocked. Just be careful not to disturb the breeding chambers.
The honey in these two boxes will be enough to feed your bee colony during the winter and, when spring arrives, they will go back to work to produce even more. Remember, if you intend to paint your hive, you must use non-toxic substances and do so before the bees arrive.
Protection against predators.
The last thing a beekeeper wants is that all their work is in vain. That is why it is so important to protect your colony from these significant dangers. Start by assessing your surroundings and discover what kind of wildlife lives in your area or even nearby.
For example, if you are aware of bears in the vicinity, you should start by installing an electric fence before beginning the construction of the hive. If the bears reach your honey before you have the opportunity to fence the area, they will be more inclined to load through the fence regardless of the consequences. While bears assault a hive in search of honey (like the insatiable sweet tooth of Winnie the Pooh), skunks really enjoy eating bees!
The bears will destroy the hives to get to the honey, while the skunks will cause the bees to leave the hive and, when they leave, the skunks catch and eat the bees. To keep skunks at bay, you must ensure that your hive is properly elevated. Skunks are not climbers, fortunately, so you’ll just need to make sure they’re out of your reach.
Other animals may not be real predators, but their curiosity could result in devastating damage to the hive and unnecessary stress for the colony. For the sake of everyone’s safety, it is important that you restrict access to the hive.
Harvest of honey
Just a reminder, when it comes to harvesting honey, you should never take honey out of the breeding chambers if you want your hive to continue to bloom for years to come. Before you start, you should prepare your smoker and put on protective equipment. Follow the instructions for your smoker and remember that you are not trying to make a campfire. Actually, you are trying to produce smoke that will help you evacuate bees.
The best smoke is produced by slowly burning pine needles and similar material from dried plants. Make sure that all your protective clothing fits properly and that there are no spaces in which bees can find their way inside your suit. These protective suits and accessories are specially designed to keep you safe from stings.
That said, it may seem strange at first since your first instinct, when you face a swarm of bees, is to run. Take your time and do not rush. Take your time to eliminate honey supers one by one. Once they have been removed, you can delete the frames one by one and replace them with new frames so that your colony can continue to produce more honey while you remove the first batch of frames.
The honey in the frames will be covered. This means that it will be covered with a layer of wax that prevents honey from escaping. You should remove the wax (preferably with a large hot knife) before placing the frames in a honey extractor. After extracting the honey, you can pour it into bottles or jars and save it for future use, or even sell it if you want your bees to provide an even higher return on your investment.
If you do not want to buy a honey extractor or a hot knife, you can scrape the wax and honey with a large spoon. Do it carefully so as not to damage the frames.
Once you have harvested all the honey and wax, you should use a large colander and let the honey separate the clear honey from the wax.
Uses for beeswax
Just because you can not eat the wax does not mean you should discard it completely. There are some fantastic uses for beeswax, and all you need to do is make sure it is cleaned (all waste and residues of honey are removed) before putting it into use. There are several ways to purify the wax.
First, you can use specialized equipment if you plan to make a profit from beeswax products or, alternatively, you can use a stove method if you have a reduced budget. Once you have the wax, here are some uses:
- Make candles
- Make food wrappers (use instead of plastic to cover food)
- Do dubbin (for an excellent care of shoes and boots)
- Melt and mix with flaxseed oil to seal and protect your hives
Depending on the weather conditions in your area, your bees may need to retire for winter. The warmer regions that do not really ensure freezing conditions or snow can notice different habits and these bees can remain quite active throughout the year. It is a good idea to isolate the hive before the winter begins.
In nature, bees are protected by the isolation offered by tree trunks or caves. Your hive will not offer such heat retention if it remains unprotected. The honey in the breeding chambers will keep your colony well fed throughout the winter. If you wish, you can add an additional breeding chamber if your area suffers especially hard or long winters. The bees will naturally huddle inside the hive to keep warm and will plunge once the weather conditions improve.
Maintenance of the hive
Every time you harvest honey, you should inspect the boxes and frames. If you notice any kind of degradation or damage, it is better to replace these parts of the hive. The wood must be treated before the bees arrive, but even then, you may notice that the weather is taking its toll.
The last thing you (or your bees) need is mold or any type of fungus that you take hold of. If you notice any type of mushroom growth on the wood (inside or outside), be sure to dispose of it immediately. If you try to clean it, you will only remove the fungus from the surface and it will still be embedded in the wood. Some types of fungi are harmless, but many can cause problems for your colony and also for your health.
Factors that affect bees.
Everything in this world has, at least, a natural predator. This is the way nature guarantees balance and order, as well as the survival of the fittest. Bees can be affected by a number of factors and, while some will simply cause them to retreat, others can lead to a decline in the colony. Cold weather generally causes bees to retreat to their hive where they will live on their honey reserves until spring arrives.
They also do not particularly like the rain, so you can expect to see little or no movement on rainy days. Bears are not afraid and will completely destroy a hive to get honey, so make sure you take the right preventive measures. Skunks really enjoy eating bees and will cause them to come out of the hive so they can enjoy a buffet of all you can eat. Watch out for the small beetles in the hive as well. They enter the hive and can cause serious damage. When these beetles defecate in honey, it actually reacts with the honey and causes it to become more liquid.
Honey is left without the hive and not only is lost but also contaminated. The hives should also be treated and placed in the correct supports to prevent mold and other parasites from taking over.
That sweet taste of success.
Once the hive is ready and the colony has been supplied with enough honey to last the winter, it is your turn to enjoy the fruits of your labor! Honey is not just a delight. It can also be used as a substitute for other sweeteners such as sugar. Honey will never expire as long as you store it properly and avoid getting in contact with any contaminants.
Other benefits of honey include antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Honey can be enjoyed every day as a stimulant of the immune system, and you can consume additional honey to help your body recover from the flu or a cold. You can also keep your digestive system healthy thanks to the probiotics found in honey!
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