As Spring approaches, many of us begin to notice more of the wildlife in our gardens. The many birds nesting and the reassuring buzz around all the new flowers bursting into bloom.
It is also the time that I get many enquiries about bees, and beehives.
So why would you want to have a beehive?
Like many, I began with a romantic notion of bees buzzing away in the corner of my garden, and being able to sit and watch them bringing pollen into their hive. I had no idea of what else may be involved, after all they’re wild insects, aren’t they?
Honey bees, apis mellifera, are wild, although after centuries of being housed in wooden, and now some polystyrene, boxes, they have become another farmed animal, manipulated and cared for primarily for the benefit of humans!
In the wild
In the wild, bees are opportunists, and will house themselves and create a wax comb to raise their brood in any suitably sized hole. Hollows and broken branches can offer an opening into the safe dark interior of an ancient tree. The rough surfaces of the tree’s soft wood is ideal for bees to ‘propolise’. The bees produce a sticky substance using wax, honey and tree resin to make this incredible antibacterial, anti-microbial and anti fungal ‘skin’. By lining their new home with this layer of propolis, bees can safely raise their brood, and defend themselves from predators (including over greedy beekeepers!)
Here’s a list of things to consider before becoming a beekeeper;
• Why do you want bees- for honey, or conservation?
• Do you have enough plants in your garden to feed the bees?
• Is your garden safe for bees- chemical and pesticide free?
• Do you have time to care and observe your bees?
• What type of hive do you have room or finances for?
Over the coming weeks I will write about the various options for both bee hives and beekeeping methods. In the mean time, have a think about why you would want to have bees and comment below with any particular questions you have.