Organic Food and Beverages
Buy Organics: Where and How?
Raising Bees or Bee Removal
You Need to Know the Bee Facts
Raising bees is becoming more common in urban areas. Why do you want bees in your garden? What are some need-to-know bee facts? And if you don't want bees, how do you handle live bee removal? Find out more.
How to start beekeeping in your garden? It's not as challenging as you might think but you do need to be committed and careful.
You can purchase bee hives from bee keepers; make sure you find a reputable one (some beekeepers rent their hives commercially and do not keep their bees in good environments; resulting in bee mites and other problems).
You can collect a bee swarm from one location and move it to another. This takes some skill (and some nerve).
I've seen a beekeeper gently gather a swarm into a box and then into a beekeeping hive box.
The worker bees usually take up positions directly outside of the hive box with their pheromone glands open to signal the location of the hive to other members of the swarm.
Bees will sting you if they feel threatened or feel that you pose a threat to the queen bee or hive. Raising bees is not easy, but it is rewarding.
Raising Bees. Why?
Bees are necessary and important to the efficient pollination of your plants; in particular your fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Apparently about every third bite of food we take comes from food that must be pollinated or is related to pollinators (e.g. beef: cows are fed grains that must be pollinated). Our food supply is dependent on pollination and bees are our main pollinators.
With the increasing industrialization of many areas, particularly urban areas, disappearing bees are becoming a worrisome outcome. Planting your home garden with flowers, fruits and vegetables that need pollination can encourage bees to visit. For example, I have a 20 year old Rhododendron bush in my back yard.
Every May it bursts into bloom and, so far, every May I am visited by numerous bees. Those bees also stop off at my organic apple tree which is planted close to the Rhododendron, and they stop at our organic vegetable garden. We have a healthy, nutritious environment for bees, and other necessary bugs.
In addition to pollination, honey bees produce honey that can be harvested and used. Many farmers markets have local organic honey (my favorite is organic clover honey - its got a very strong yet delicate flavor and aroma).
Bee swarms are 'bees on the move'; they travel. Bee colonies are located in one area (their hive) and both can have about 10,000 to 20,000 bees, including drone bees, worker bees, and the one queen bee. Each bee has its role in the hive; the hive is actually a very efficient work unit.
If you have young children or pets around your garden and you have a bee swarm or a bee colony, you may wish to remove them or to move the colony to a better or safer location. While it is possible to do live bee removal yourself, this is something I strongly recommend getting an expert to help you with. Many regions have beekeeper's associations that can provide referrals for your area.
It is also a good idea to do a check around the outside of your house and garage on an annual basis and check for bee hives and even wasp nests. Look for bees that are entering or exiting from one area of your home. Bees like dark inside places and if they can get inside your home from the outside and into your attic or garage it will be a costly effort to remove the hive or nest.
Bees are necessary for our environment. We need to reduce our dependence on chemicals and pesticides in our gardens, homes and businesses. We need to encourage the life cycle of bees and to ensure that raising bees continues to be a focus for all regions.
A number of cities across North America have announced active encouragement of bee colonies (some cities used to, and some cities probably still have, by-laws that made hives in residential gardens illegal). The city of Vancouver in Canada has been particularly encouraging towards those raising bees; and in fact has put two bee hives on the roof top garden at City Hall.
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