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Natures little worker bees

A thought for some hard working and industrious insects, Bees. As you may be aware the bee population all over the world is declining. This has implications beyond the cost of honey for us as the bees pollinate nearly half of our food supply. This is a problem for us as a species and me personally, I love honey and the fruit in my garden is pollinated by them. So I have been looking at what I can do to ensure that my fruit trees keep fruiting and my honey keeps flowing.

It seems I have two choices;

  • Plant flowers and provide water to encourage bees into the area.
  • Keep your own bees.

Well, all my neighbours have flowers and my back fence backs directly on to a koi pond so I think that I already have that one covered. However, what if the local bees are in an individuals hive and they move or decide to stop keeping bees for some reason? What if the solitary bees get wiped out by Varroasis, the disease that is annihilating a significant number of bees?

I, of course, never taking the easy route am now looking at keeping my own bee hive. I looked on the British Beekeepers’ Association website to get some hints and tips. They have several files for beginners as PDF downloads. Well worth the read, Getting Started in Beekeeping (Right Click) by Roger Patterson is a good one that gives general advice. I also have a friend who is an apiarist who I will be talking to in the next few weeks about keeping bees. Strangely, when I first mentioned keeping bees to him on the phone his first words were “Don’t”. I’ll find out why when I see him.

From what I can see in the books I have read and the downloads I think that keeping bees is not going to be as difficult as I first thought. Besides the purchase of the equipment and the acquisition of the bees there seems little that needs to be done on a regular basis. Just keeping an eye on what is going on every few days, treating them if they are ill, harvesting the honey and hive and swarm tasks during seasonal changes. Basically the way I like it. They look after themselves for the most part. I schedule in what needs to be done and react to events.

The British Beekeepers’ Association also recommend several more advanced books on the subject which are;

I already have a couple of those books so I will take this to the next stage. Spring is the time to sort out a new hive and that time is rapidly approaching.

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