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The Amazing Honeybee: Start Your Own Bee Hive

  Meg Beekeeping  

Yum. Honey. I have been reading the book "Bee Keeping for Dummies," and to put it simply, the honey bee is simply amazing. Did you know the drone, male, tries to mate with the queen bee between 200 and 300 feet in the air then if he is one of the chosen ones to mate with her, falls to his death? Ha ha ha, I don't know why I find this particularly amusing...but I do. Something I did not know about bees was that the worker bees are female. Go figure. They are the ones that make the honey, nurse the baby bees and feed the queen. The queen is completely helpless besides reproducing. There is only one queen per colony (or box hive). The only thing she does is lay eggs. And she is replaced about every two years because she starts to lay less than 1500 eggs in a three hour time frame. Talk about a tough crowd to please. 

In a season, a colony (one hive) produces between 60-90 lbs of honey. That's so ridiculously amazing. To give you an idea of how much that is, one gallon weighs 11lbs. A worker bee has to visit five million flowers to produce a single pint of honey and they will travel up to three miles from the hive to find the resources they need. When the season comes to an end in the fall, the queen stops producing eggs and the worker bees kick the drones out because they eat too much and evidently die. If you are ever stung by a honeybee, which is unlikely because they are very docile, you have never been stung by a male or drone because he doesn't have a stinger. Speaking of stinging, my husband is allergic but was de-sensitized as a child. I guess we'll find out if it worked or not :/

I have purchased two colonies/hives. They were put together with the bees inside. If you want more about the pricing visit modernroots.org and click the finance tab. The price of bees isn't necessarily cheap - but that local honey is worth so much more. If you purchase honey within 300 miles you are less likely to have allergies to the pollen around you.

Honey bees produce more than just honey. You can also put their beeswax, propolis and royal jelly to good use. Beeswax alone is used in cosmetics and for medicinal purposes. It has even been allowed for those in European countries to pay their taxes with it. Royal jelly is fed to the queen, it is honey mixed with a chemical found in the nurse bees head. In health food stores it demands top pricing and it is traditionally used as a fertility treatment. Propolis, or bee glue is super sticky. The bees gather this from trees and plants. They use this to fill gaps in the hive and strengthen the honey comb. Propolis has antimicrobial qualities that can guard against fungus and bacteria. The Chinese have used propolis in their medicine for thousands of years. 

Honey bees are a critical part of my self-reliant goals. They pollinate the gardens which result in bigger more bountiful fruits and vegetables as well as pollinate the fruit trees I planted this fall. They are a small little bug that we rely on heavily for our food chain to make a complete circle but rarely take time to reflect how important they really are.
My bees have arrived. They arrived in a starter hive (one box deep) with the bees in them. Given it is May and in Minnesota, things are starting to bloom, I will need to add a second box this week in order to keep those little ladies producing for me. Bees require a lot of water. In order to cool their hive, reproduce, and make honey. I also gave them sugar water so they don’t start eating their supply of honey before they can really get to business with the pollen about to come. In mid-June, I will add a third box deep and possibly in August add a fourth. I should get 80-90lbs of honey per hive. Cannot wait to see how they do this year. Of course, my extra’s will be sold off at the Farmer’s Market for others to benefit from the local goodness.

Visit modernroots.org to follow my self-reliant journey and more about bees! ‘like’ on facebook at facebook.com/modernroots.org

meg with modern roots
5/20/2013 1:40:14 AM

Come on Dave. It's pretty awesome, fascinating. They stay busy doing their jobs and could care less about people. Docile creatures they are. THey are so busy making honey etc. that they are nice to have around. People in the middle of metropolis areas have them on rooftops and outdoor terraces. They travel up to 3 miles for food and help your garden produce large/better fruits and veggies.


meg with modern roots
5/20/2013 1:37:52 AM

Here in MN it is pretty straight forward. We did experience drier weather last year but there is no shortage for my bees in the food department. In early spring I supplement honey water and also a pollen patty through winter. I have large gardens and fruit trees that I've planted so they are happy and 'busy little bees.'


joan pritchard
5/15/2013 1:10:06 PM

Meg, you make it sound pretty straightforward, but I think our greatest danger is that the bees don't always have enough to eat. I've heard many talk the mechanics of it, but when there is a drought on as there is in Kansas, the poor babies could starve to death. Thanks for the info though. I'll just keep planting food for them. They love my dandelions.


nebraska dave
5/15/2013 12:51:59 AM

Meg, I am really not desiring to have bee hives but my plan is to plant things around the garden to attract pollinators which are indeed a vital part of the garden. I do like your bee suit though. Bear Creek Spring Planting Festival had a bee keeper explain exactly how to set up and keep a hive. Fastening stuff but just not something I want to attempt. Have a great bee keeping day.