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Honey Bee Hives

and the Risk of Bee Mites

Honey bee hives are necessary to your garden. Some gardeners rent beekeeping hives for their pollination program. Understanding bee behavior and risks (e.g. bee mites) is important to food producers.

Bees are a very important part of the ecology in that they pollinate a variety of plants in their travels. They’re also a unique insect in that bees live and work communally in a colony.

Honey Bee Hives and Bee Behavior

Studying bee behavior reveals a variety of things including:

  • Within the honey bee hive, the Queen is the egg layer;
  • Worker bees help structure the general order of things in the colony once they’ve finished nursing;
  • Bee colonies communicate within the hive, but do not communicate with other hives;
  • When startled, bees give off a pheromone that can cause the colony to swarm and sting;
  • Scout bees seek out potential spaces for colonies and indicate those locations to the colony;
  • Worker bees are the housekeepers, removing debris and waste material from the hive;
  • Forager bees dance to tell others where to find food.

Beekeeping Hives

Beekeeping is an ancient practice and one that takes some time and practice to master.

If you’re considering setting up a beekeeping hive it’s important to research not only the local ordinances but also think carefully about placement.

Harvesting Honey from Honey Bee Hives:

The way in which honey gets harvested from the hive depends on the set-up chosen by the bee keeper.

Most commonly, the design for beekeeping houses includes the ability to pull out single framed combs.

Those then get spun to remove the honey. Afterward the residual beeswax returns to the hive or, if desired, the beeswax can also be harvested for use in candles.

Remember that bees can be a nuisance and even dangerous depending on the overall moral of the colony.

So bees should be kept in an area that’s relatively rural and where the bees have easy access to pollen and nectar.

Having a six foot fence for backyard bee keeping is one way to avoid problems.

When the bees are foraging they’ll have to fly upward, over people and pets, rather than in a typical straight line. The fence also protects the bees from high winds.

Other considerations for home bee keeping include:

  • Having a fresh water source. Bees prefer 'living' water (moving) such as a creek. A small pond with a pump might be the perfect solution especially if you don’t have a large yard.
  • Swarming: having a bait hive may help keep bees from swarming into other people’s property. Bees like spaces that other bees have inhabited, especially if they’re out of the wind and in the shade.
  • Keeping porch lights from shining directly on the hive: bees don’t usually fly by night but a bright light may aggravate them.
  • Bee mites: a common problem among beekeepers is the varroa mite. Many beekeepers who do not want to use pesticides turn to essential wintergreen oil for controlling the infestation. Mites can stress bees and spread disease to the whole colony.

Honeybee Keeping Laws

Typically, the only legalities surrounding beekeeping is centered on how many hives a person can own and general placement of the bees.

Having said that, keeping bees in an urban environment can be challenging (your neighbors might be unhappy).

Some beekeepers, as a result, have a cooperative arrangement with rural land owners to keep their bees in a safer location.

This can be a great benefit to the landowner if they are growing fruits, flowers or vegetables - the bees will pollinate and improve their overall yield.

Find out more about Types of Bees - the Honey Bee and the impact bees have on our planet.

Additional Reading

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