Honey Bees

2013/04/18 by Posted in: HomesteadingIn the GardenOn the Farm

At first, our island meadows project was a great curiosity, but over time, people responded positively. It

bee_trans_hires-300x207seems that it reminded them of something from long ago — something beautiful, healthy and full of life.

Honey Bees!

Tending the Apiary in Vermont

Come and look around the bee world today; their houses, their food, their diseases, the bees themselves, and how they are employed by people around the globe. Whether these bees are gentle Italians, determined Russians, or incredibly aggressive Africans, there is much we need to learn if we are going to save them!

Before we started keeping bees we had noticed that bees, insects, bats and birds had rapidly decreased in number. Wildflower meadows, the bees’ habitat for food and bee_on_brick_hires-300x229forage, are increasingly rare in our community. Instead, the bright green lawn – the monocrop of choice – is the ubiquitous symbol of suburban tranq uility and a bottomless reservoir for lawn inputs. Treated lawns serve up insecticides and pesticides to our wild friends with every bite of pollen and every sip of nectar. Yet we still wonder, “where have all the honey bees gone?”

I began beekeeping a few years ago with a very large swarm caught in upstate New York. It took a Russian Queen and about 20,000 worker bees and I was a beekeeper. Little did I know this would change my life and the life of our entire family.

It all begins with the lawn… let’s consider this element in our yards and bee_on_thistle_hires-300x222begin to grow parts or sections of it long. We can create island meadows which will not need any pesticides or insecticides, as wildflowers and indigenous insects will be the point.

Other Islands can be planted with bee loving perennials and annuals such as yarrow, Echinacea, Calendula, Thyme and White Clover. When we did this, beautiful wildflowers appeared as well. The bees, dragonflies and butterflies all loved this new attitude we had to our outdoor surroundings!

ResourcesEducate Yourself!

Books:  Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture
Ross Conrad, Chelsea Green Publishing 1997 reprint [ISBN-10: 1933392088]

Bees, with an afterword on the Art of Joseph Beuys
Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophic Press 1998 [ISBN-10: 0880104570]

Honey Plants of North America
John H. Lovell, A. I. Root Company, 1926 [ISBN-10: 0936028203]

A Spring without Bees: How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Endangered Our Food Supply
Michael Schacker, forward by Bill McKibben, The Lyons Press 2008 [ISBN-10: 1599216000]

Organizations:

Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary – www.spikenardfarm.org

The Pfeiffer Center, Spring Valley, NY – www.pfeiffercenter.org
Honeybee classes and biodynamic farming courses.

Sources for Beekeeping Supplies:

Betterbee – www.betterbee.com

Brushy Mountain Bee Supply – www.brushymountainbeefarm.com

 


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