Sav­ing bees one hive at a time: The basics of back­yard bee­hives

The Prince George Citizen - The Citizen - Real Estate Weekly - - Real Estate Weekly -

Sci­en­tists and en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists have been warn­ing the pub­lic for years that hon­ey­bees are dis­ap­pear­ing at alarm­ing rates. Sci­en­tists were ini­tially un­cer­tain in re­gard to what was dec­i­mat­ing bee pop­u­la­tions. Even though no sin­gle cause is to blame, data has pointed to pes­ti­cide use and the mys­te­ri­ous colony col­lapse dis­or­der, which is a name given to the dwin­dling colonies seen around the world.

Na­tional Ge­o­graphic News says bees are es­sen­tial be­cause of their roles as pol­li­na­tors. Agri­cul­ture in­dus­tries rely on hon­ey­bees, es­pe­cially man­aged hon­ey­bees, to keep com­mer­cial crops pol­li­nated and pro­duc­tive. Es­ti­mates in­di­cate that roughly one-third of U.S. crops rely on hon­ey­bees — ac­count­ing for more than $15 bil­lion in crop pro­duc­tion. Without bees, the costs of ev­ery­thing from blue­ber­ries to ap­ples to broc­coli would rise, as farm­ers would have to use a dif­fer­ent, more ex­pen­sive pol­li­na­tion method.

Even though back­yard bee­hives or bee farms may not be cru­cial to con­sumer agri­cul­ture, bring­ing healthy colonies back to var­i­ous ar­eas is ben­e­fi­cial to the en­vi­ron­ment over­all. The art of bee­keep­ing has be­come an im­por­tant en­deavor, and just about any­one with some time and re­sources can start their own api­ary.

In­ter­ested bee­keep­ers can be­gin their jour­ney by read­ing all they can on bee­keep­ing. The Amer­i­can Bee Jour­nal or back­yard bee­keep­ing books and ar­ti­cles are great places to start. Lo­cal bee­keep­ing as­so­ci­a­tions also are in­valu­able re­sources for in­for­ma­tion on lo­cal bee species and traits.

It’s im­por­tant to get the go-ahead from lo­cal au­thor­i­ties be­fore in­tro­duc­ing bees into the com­mu­nity. By check­ing city or town or­di­nances, po­ten­tial bee­keep­ers will know how many hives are al­lowed and which type of prop­erty sizes are amenable and al­low­able.

• Start by study­ing bees. • Know the laws. • Get the right sup­plies.

Re­search can help prospec­tive bee­keep­ers un­der­stand the type of equip­ment they will need. One can pur­chase this equip­ment, but some bee­keep­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions may be will­ing to lend or rent it to in­ter­ested par­ties. Hive boxes, bot­tom boards, a veil, a jacket, a smoker, and a top feeder are just some of the sup­plies needed.

Bees can be ac­quired from other bee­keep­ing en­thu­si­asts or can be or­dered on­line. The bees will need to con­sist of the queen, drones and worker bees. Ac­cord­ing to the re­source Bees Brothers, a starter set of bees is called a “nuc.” Bee sup­pli­ers start sell­ing in the win­ter for spring swarms.

It’s im­por­tant to set up hives away from foot traf­fic. In ad­di­tion, face hives away from strong winds, with the ideal di­rec­tions be­ing east and south. Hives need sun­shine and some shade on sum­mer af­ter­noons, ad­vises Back­YardHive.

With time, home­own­ers can be­come suc­cess­ful bee­keep­ers and do their part to re­plen­ish much-needed bee colonies.

• Or­der bees. • Place the hive.

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