Beekeeping 101 | Wild + Entire
The earliest archaeological proof of people deliberately elevating honeybees is in historic Egypt the place their honey and wax have been doubtless used as meals and drugs. Elsewhere in Africa, foraging for wild honey was a typical apply and continues to be to at the present time. Beekeeping advanced in some ways because the apply unfold around the globe and immediately there are a selection of various kinds to select from.
Honey Bee Biology
Honeybees type massive colonies round one sexually mature feminine, referred to as the queen, who’s the mom of just about each bee within the hive. The employee bees, who’re infertile females, are liable for elevating the younger, accumulating nectar and pollen for meals, defending the hive, and constructing the wax honeycomb. Male bees, known as drones, are kind of sperm donors and their solely actual accountability in life is to depart the hive and try and mate with a brand new queen on her mating flight–after which they die.
When a brand new queen leaves the hive for her one and solely mating flight, she is going to mate with a number of drones from different hives and retailer their sperm in a specialised organ from which she will launch it as wanted to fertilize eggs for years to return. Upon getting a functioning hive with a fertilized queen, honeybees do a outstanding job of caring for themselves. They preserve a reasonably constant temperature within the hive all through the seasons, take away lifeless and diseased bees from the hive and defend the hive from predators. That mentioned, caring for a honeybee hive is a hands-on job, and so they do require common upkeep.
Upkeep and Repairs
The first ongoing job in caring for honeybees is inspecting the hive. The usual advice is to verify your bees each one or two weeks to make sure that the queen is laying eggs and the hive has loads of room to increase. Making certain that the queen is laying eggs is vital as a result of with no regular provide of recent bees, the colony can collapse. Alternatively, in case your colony is increasing so quickly that they run out of room within the hive, they could resolve to depart the hive solely to discover a larger house—that is known as “swarming.” You may forestall a swarm by including extra frames to the hive earlier than the bees start to expire of room and really feel cramped.
Throughout your hive inspections, you’ll additionally wish to hold an eye fixed out for ailments and parasites within the hive. Mites could be very detrimental to the well being of your bees, and also you’ll wish to deal with the hive yearly to maintain their numbers down. Hive beetles are small black beetles that injury honeycomb, and also you’ll most definitely have just a few of them working round your hive. So long as their numbers are saved at a manageable degree they shouldn’t trigger too many catastrophic points.
In case you are in a temperate setting the place there are intervals of the yr when no flowers are blooming, you’ll doubtless want to offer supplemental meals to your bees. Many individuals feed their bees sugar water within the Winter to maintain their hives fed. We select to let our bees overwinter a little bit extra naturally and simply go away them with sufficient honey to make it by means of the doldrums.
Types of Beekeeping
The 2 major kinds of honeybee hives are Langstroth hives and top-bar hives. Langstroth hives are the stacked rectangular bins that almost all Individuals image after they consider a business beehive. The bins maintain horizontal frames that run the size of the field on which the bees construct honeycomb. When it comes time to reap this honey, the frames are pulled out individually and run by means of an extractor to take away the honey. There are modified variations of this body model accessible the place artificial honeycomb is created from food-safe plastic which could be cranked open when it’s full, permitting the honey to pour out the again of the body right into a container for simple assortment.
High-bar hives are extra generally utilized in Africa however are gaining reputation in different elements of the world as nicely. These hives consist of 1 massive rectangular field, which simulates a hole log, with small sticks or “bars” laid throughout the highest of the field for the bees to construct honeycomb off of. This model of hive is less expensive to construct than a Langstroth hive which makes it an amazing choice for people on a funds.
Beekeeping is an extremely rewarding passion, and over time it can pay for itself in scrumptious honey and beeswax, however the upfront prices could be appreciable. At an absolute minimal you’ll must buy hive bins, a bee go well with or veil, and a small colony of bees with a queen—known as a “nuc.” It’s additionally useful to have a correct smoker which lets you blow smoke into the hive earlier than opening it to distract the bees.
In case you are utilizing a standard Langstroth hive, you’ll want a honey extractor which is a big centrifuge that spins the frames of honeycomb and spills the honey out by means of a spigot at its base. These are very costly so as a substitute of each beekeeper proudly owning one, they’re usually shared amongst beekeeping golf equipment.
Harvest and Storage
As soon as your bees are nicely established of their hive and have produced vital shops of honey, you possibly can start harvesting some. Honey harvests often happen within the late spring and fall following massive flushes of blooming flowers. When you’ve got a major winter or dry season when there may be little for the bees to forage, you’ll want to depart a portion of the honey on your colony to outlive the doldrums. How a lot you allow will rely upon the size of time that your bees are with out flowers so consult with native suggestions.
The primary time you style recent honey from bees that collected and synthesized it proper in your yard is really life-changing. Whereas it’d seem to be magic, keep in mind that they’re solely ready to do that as a result of they’ve entry to a thriving ecosystem of wildflowers and flowering bushes. Caring on your ecosystem and changing grass lawns with pollinator gardens is arguably simply as vital as something talked about above on the subject of honey manufacturing.
My closing advice for brand new beekeepers could be to succeed in out to an area beekeeping group and attempt to discover a mentor to study from. There’s a great group of mentors and mentees within the beekeeping world, and just like the bees, we will all do higher by working collectively.