The Homesteading Files: We Bee Buzzing

In case you have more curiousity than sense, you might do as I have and choose to keep bees. 

My desire to help bees began almost a decade ago when I became aware that Colony Collapse Disorder was decimating bee populations world-wide. Over the years I have lost hives to mismanagement, carpenter ant invasions, and a wax moth infestation. I have caught swarms, split hives into two, disposed of a queen who was producing aggressive brood, and replaced queens when they have gone missing. The bees do not take to kindly to a queen loss, they become short-tempered.

One year I harvested four gallons of honey, another year none. Its important to mention that I do not keep bees for honey, I am not even a big fan of the flavor, but I have been impressed with the curative effects of honey on a wound. I raise bees because I like studying them.

Most of the time I stand or sit near the entrance and watch them congregate by the opening, inspecting one another, waggle dance, and fly in and out. When I open the hive, I check for clues of their health. I look to see if they pests like Small Hive Beetles, Varroa Mite, or Wax Moths. These pests are ever present, so my job is to assess their presence and handle an imbalance.

I also check the health of the hive through the presence of brood. Brood are the eggs, larvae and pupae of honeybees. I check to make sure that there are plenty of brood in all stages of life. If there is an absence of brood, the hive may be queenless which may require an intervention. I also look to make sure there is plenty of food for the bees in the form of pollen and honey. Sometimes during droughts or extreme weather cycles, plants quit producing pollen and nectar, leaving the bees to starve. Being a beekeeper involves being aware of all the conditions that effect the hive and intervening to help them out when necessary.

The library has a large collection of electronic and print copies of books for you to reference. 


The Homesteading Files: Beekeeping