Sometimes when we think of bees, we get scared that we might get stung and end up being puffed up all over our faces.
I had quite the experience with this growing up, which I’ll cover later in this blog, but there are quite a few reasons why we should keep bees.
Reasons for keeping bees include that they are dying off in millions, they can produce more than 100 lbs of honey a year, the beeswax they produce has an incredible amount of uses, the bees pollinate your other plants, the bees are very diligent workers that need little oversight, taking care of bees is a great lesson for your kids, and bees don’t need very much space.
Read on to see if you can find out something you didn’t know about bees before.
They are dying off in millions
According to SierraClub.org:
One of the greatest threats to honeybees is industrial agriculture’s widespread use of pesticides. According to one study, nearly two-thirds of hives surveyed in Canada and the United States contain at least one synthetic pesticide. The most worrisome is a class of insecticide called neonicotinoids, which have been found to short-circuit bees’ memory and navigation. Neonicotinoids—which are often coated on the seeds of crops including canola (or rape seed) that many honeybee colonies rely on for pollen—include Acetamiprid, Clothianidin, Dinotefuran, Imidacloprid, Nitenpyram, Thiacloprid, and Thiamethoxam. The EPA announced in 2016 that Imidacloprid, a widely used neonicotinoid insecticide, “potentially poses risk to hives when the pesticide comes in contact with certain crops that attract pollinators.”https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/ask-mr-green/why-are-honeybees-dying
Neonicotinoid is an insecticide that is becoming more and more popular within the agricultural industry.
The neonicotinoid acts very much like nicotine and it confuses the memory and navigation of the honey bees.
This means that they cannot find their way back to their hive.
If they get confused and can’t get back, then they usually end up dying.
So, if you keep bees on your farm, you can help towards keeping the honey bee population alive.
This also means that you should avoid using these pesticides in your yard, so as to not hurt your beehive.
You can also help them by providing wildflowers for your bees that they really like and enjoy.
Also, grow fruit and vegetable plants in your garden that they really like as well.
Flowers bees like include:
- Dog Rose
Fruits and vegetables that bees like include:
Planting these almost guarantee your bees will stay local and provide you with some wonderful tasting honey.
They can produce more than 100 lbs of honey a year
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like honey (though I’m sure there are some people out there who don’t like it).
Honey bees make the honey to store up food for the winter, as we all should be doing as well.
And this means that they are spending most of their time making honey that you can then use in your household.
And honey has a lot of uses.
The most popular use for honey is as a natural sweetener.
Most of the sweeteners we have nowadays aren’t too healthy for us, including corn syrup.
If you have a recipe that calls for sugar, you can typically replace it with honey, though at half the amounts.
For example, if your recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, then put in 1/2 a cup of honey.
Otherwise, your recipe might end up being too sweet for your liking.
Honey is also used as a sore throat remedy.
This is true for pure bees honey, instead of the kind of stuff you purchase at your local grocery store.
The grocery store honey is typically pasteurized, which means it is heated at high temperatures.
This takes out most of the healthy parts of the honey.
If you have pure bees honey, we have two favorite options for sore throats remedies.
The first is taking a spoonful of honey and eating it.
This will coat your throat with honey and will soothe it.
The other option is to make a hot toddy (without the alcohol).
Get a glass and fill it up about 90% of the way with hot water, either from the tap or heat it up with a kettle.
Once you have the hot water, put 1 or 2 tablespoons of honey in the water, with another 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a drop of lemon, if you have it.
Stir it all together and slowly sip it from your glass.
This should be pretty soothing to your sore throat.
And seen from the above, honey has many uses, and having upwards of 100 lbs from one hive could be pretty useful to you.
The beeswax they produce has an incredible amount of uses
To help build their honeycomb, bees produce beeswax.
The beeswax is then used in the creation of the comb, where the bees then store things that they need.
They will store honey in the comb, as well as keep their babies in the comb as well.
We then use beeswax in so many important products.
A few of the most popular products are beeswax candles.
Because beeswax acts much like regular wax, they make for great candles.
Beeswax candles also give off a sweet smell that smells subtly like honey.
And who wouldn’t want that smell going throughout your house?
Another popular product made from beeswax is lip balm.
According to SavannahBee.com:
Beeswax is perhaps the most essential ingredient in our lip balms. This is because it contains natural moisturizers that lock in moisture from the air and help keep the skin looking firm and plump. Most lip balms contain artificial and petroleum based chemicals to moisturize, but the use of beeswax instead actually seals that moisture inside your skin, keeping your lips moisturized for the long term.https://savannahbee.com/blog/bee-kind-to-your-lips-with-beeswax-lip-balm
So because beeswax is a natural moisturizer, that makes it great for lip balm.
It is also used in half creams, salves, and moisturizers for the exact same reason.
If you have bees on your farm, then you can make all of these products yourself instead of buying them from the store.
The bees pollinate your other plants
Outside of making honey, bees are known as great pollinators and an integral part of any growing season.
According to the FDA:
About one-third of the food eaten by Americans comes from crops pollinated by honey bees, including apples, melons, cranberries, pumpkins, squash, broccoli, and almonds, to name just a few. Without the industrious honey bee, American dinner plates would look quite bare.https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/helping-agricultures-helpful-honey-bees
So bees are really important across the United States to make sure the fruit and vegetables we eat regularly grow the way that we hope they do.
And the same can be true for your own garden.
Having bees so close to your garden means that they will probably spend most of their time pollinating your garden and also spreading that pollen to surrounding areas.
You can also do a bit to control what the honey they provide for you is going to taste like.
For example, many people that have bees plant lavender near their bees.
The bees will get the pollen from the lavender and bring it back to their hive and make the honey.
This will give your honey a slight lavender taste.
The bees are very diligent workers that need little oversight
Bees are very interesting creatures in the fact that they are very diligent and hardly every stop working.
If they stop working, this can sometimes mean the downfall of their beehive.
The worker bee, drone bee, and queen bee all have their own jobs to keep the bee moving and in the shape the hive needs to be in.
And they need very little oversight.
This doesn’t mean you as a beekeeper shouldn’t keep an eye on them.
If you are a novice with beekeeping, make sure during the first few weeks that you are checking on the bees once a week.
After a few months, change that to every other week.
And then eventually, you should be checking on them every few months.
You want to begin to limit how much you are checking on them because you have to use the smoker, which leaves the bees all out of sorts for about a day.
You check the beehive to make sure everything is in order, that the bees are doing what they are supposed to do.
Make sure to find the queen and verify that she is in a healthy condition.
Also check for any bugs that might be invading your beehive.
Ants may be climbing up the legs of the beehive, or beetles may have invaded.
Make sure to take care of any bugs that might be invading.
Taking care of bees is a great lesson for your kids
There are so many lessons in life a kid could learn and taking care of a beehive will help them learn some of those lessons.
First, kids will learn how to check on their bees on a regular basis.
Since they will be checking once a week or so.
This applies to their regular life for things they will have to do on a regular basis each day, which is either taking the trash out, going to work, checking on their horse or pig, etc.
Second, they will have to collect the honey and beeswax.
The process is typically as follows:
- Slice off the cappings from the honey
- Let the honey drain out of the beeswax
- Put the drained wax into a bucket and then top it off with some hot water
- Put the wax in a double boiler
- Strain the melted beeswax through a couple of layers of cheesecloth to remove any debris.
- Put the cleaned wax into a mold to use for later
This is a long process and will teach your children how to stick with something no matter how hard it is.
You can also teach your kids about how bees are hardworkers and everyone works together.
We have used this lesson to teach our kids how our family is like a beehive and we must all work together to make our family work.
Bees don’t need very much space
According to BuddhaBeeApiary.com:
A typical beehive is about 22 inches by 16 inches. You need at least five feet of space in every direction around the hive. If you plan to have multiple beehives, they should be at least three feet apart.https://www.buddhabeeapiary.com/blog/how-much-space-do-you-need-for-a-beehive
Compared to farm animals, bees take relatively little space.
5 feet of space on each side is not a whole lot of space.
If you put it in the back corner of your yard, then you don’t have to do much to protect them besides keeping it 5 feet from the fence.
We once had a beehive in a hole in our yard when I was a little boy of 5 or 6 years old.
I had watched my older brothers take out the hose and spray down the hive a few times and I had decided to do this as well.
As I was taking water to the bees, one landed just above my eye and I attempted to put the hose to the bee to get it off.
Instead, it ended up stinging me and I spent the next few days with puffed-up eyes until the bee sting wore off.
Outside of that, there are so many benefits to having bees, they almost can’t be listed in one article.
But the most important of those benefits being the wax, the honey, they pollinate your plants, the bees take very little oversight, your kids can learn many great lessons from taking care of the bees, and bees take up very little space.
So if you take care of your bees, they are going to take care of you as well.