Honeybee Heaven

All good people need a beehive.  Honeybees are amazing creatures.  The perfect altruistic society, all for the greater good of the hive, even at the expense of their own lives.  They want to get on with the business of keeping the hive alive and strong.  These are extreme workers.  Honeybees are docile creatures.  They don’t sting except in extreme situations, and the stinger can only be used once, then the bee dies.  Unlike a wasp for instance.

Honeybee Foraging for Nectar on Milkweed

Honeybee Foraging for Nectar on Milkweed

Honeybees may save the world some day.  70% of plants depend on pollinators hence agriculture relies heavily on pollinators. Honeybees are the best pollinators.  Pesticides kill honeybees and herbicides affect their delicate systems.  The Xerces Society helps educate farmers & others how to preserve pollinators.  There has been a 50% decline in managed hives. We need millions more bees in the U.S. for pollination.   There’s lots you can do:  buy organic, don’t use lawn & garden chemicals, start your own beehive,  don’t mow down bee food — let those pretty wildflowers live on, plant flowering plants that pollinators like.

Apitherapy utilizes bee venom to eleviate symptoms of MS, Arthritis, Parkinsons, and other diseases.  Propolis (honeybees make this from tree resin to seal hive holes) may destory the AIDS virus. Honey is antibacterial, antifungul and antiviral.  Honey is full of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Honeybee on Oregono Blossom . Pollen on Back Legs
Honeybee on Oregano Blossom . Pollen on Back Legs

I’m a first year beekeeper.  I ordered two 2 lb. packages of bees (each containing approx.  7,000 bees). They come in a wood box with a can of sugar syrup to eat on their journey.  I gently shook the bees out into the hivebox, their new home.  Now It’s time for the bees to forage a variety of wild plants for good health.

package honeybees

I began with two 2-tier hives.   A bear destroyed one hive, but one survived and grew into a bigger 7 box hive.  Honeybees will naturally expand their population.  Honeybees only live a short time, they work very very hard during their short life span (about 6 weeks for field bees).

bee hive size

This is a healthy hive…there are probably 50,000 bees in there and three different type of bees:  girl bee, queen bee, drone (boy bee).  The hive is mostly girl bees, there’s only one queen, and about 1 drone for every 100 girls.  They have different jobs which they take very seriously (nurse bee, undertaker, maintenance, fanners, guard bee, scout, field bee).

field bee, undertaker, guard bee

There are many sorts of pollinators; honeybees, solitary bees, bumble bees, wild bees, wasps, hornets, flies, butterflies, hummingbirds, and many other flying creatures.   Some winter over, some migrate, some don’t make it.

monarch butterfly

bumblebee on chive blossom
bumblebee on chive blossom

Solitary bee Morning Glory Pollen

Whitefooted Bee
Whitefooted Bee
Unknown Fly Species on Queen Ann's Lace
Unknown Fly Species on Queen Ann's Lace
Butterfly on Milkweed
Butterfly on Milkweed

I try to do good with my honeybees.   I provide them with water in a frame feeder to help cool the hive and for drinking.  Check the hive occasionally to make sure all is well.  This is a strong hive evidenced by the activity outside and the comb and honey inside.

field bees flying back home
field bees flying back home

busy honeybee hive

inside the hive comb (left), capped frame with honey (right)
inside the hive comb (left), capped frame with honey (right)

There are few things to do as a beekeeper, but for the most part, Honeybees are healthiest on their own, foraging a wide variety of chemical-free wildflowers and plants.  Below left (male bee “drone”  next to some girl bees) Below right (queen bigger & darker with her attendants)

queen bee, drone

There’s so much to say about bees….one human will never know it all because the bees continue to surprise and amaze even the most experienced beekeepers.  I’ll close now with a few pictures of the resulting honey.  I took (robbed) less than 1/2 of the honey from my hive.  I wanted to leave plenty for them to eat over winter so they can survive.  Now, go out there and get yourself a hive!

(left) laurie holding pails of honey, (right) holding up frame full of honey
(left) laurie holding pails of honey, (right) holding up frame full of honey

honeycolors

Photography tip:  Backlighting is a technique used in cinema and still photography.  It makes a dull scene, object or person come to life and look dreamy almost.  Use it whenever you can.  Notice how the jars of honey sort of glow..it’s the backlighting.

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