Bees and Beekeeping

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Busy Bees!

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 in our Northern New Jersey home, we had noticed that bees, insects, bats and birds had rapidly decreased in number. Wildflower meadows, the bees’ habitat for food and forage, are increasingly rare in our community. Instead, the bright green lawn – the mono-crop of
choice – is the ubiquitous symbol of suburban tranquility 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.

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How can we help the bees?

It all begins with the lawn… let’s consider this element in our yards and begin 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 beeloving 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 h
ad to our outdoor surroundings!

At first, our Island Meadows project was a great curiosity, but over time, people responded positively. It seems that it reminded them of something from long ago — something beautiful, healthy and full of life.  Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 9.24.03 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-24 at 9.24.46 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-24 at 9.24.20 AM

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