By now you have heard of the sever downturn in bee population in the United States and for that matter the world. If not check out this video.
So what is an average person to do? With environmental and world problems we often ask ourselves “what can I do to help” or you come to the conclusion that this is too big of a problem for one person to help out with, and, after all I don’t know anything about bees and I certainly don’t want to have a box full of them in my yard….so what can I do?
Here is a solution for those that don’t want to get into beekeeping but yet want to have a nice yard or planter box…Plant some bee friendly flowers. Now it is a win-win. You get the benefit of enjoying beautiful plants and flowers and the bees have what they need to feed and support their colony so that they can continue to do the heavy lifting of pollinating our fruits, vegetables and flowers.
Here is a link to a source of seeds that bees love. The variety pack also has a fact book included that has information about the plants as well as bee facts.
Seed Packets Seed Collections
Fun post about the West Sound Beekeepers Association.
Check out this blog post:
Philips idea of urban beehive as blogged by CNET
This is a unique approach to an urban beehive. 10 points for creativity though I don’t know how practical this would be. As the plight of the honeybee becomes more known we will see more and more innovative ways to work bees into our everyday lives.
On the one hand it would be great to have a garden hive in every backyard, on the other if you have a bunch of hives that are not managed correctly you may create more problems with disease and pests than you solve by supporting a larger bee population.
Read the entire CNET blog post by clicking here.
Click for a larger view
This Warre beehive sits on the front porch of Darrens house (www.houseofbees.com). This colony was collected from a swarm and seems to be doing well so far as we move into the fall. A little closer look at the window shows what is going on with the comb that has been built. Notice how it is built right out to the glass. Bees are amazing at winterizing their home and stopping any unwanted drafts so that it is easier for them to control the temperature.
Today I nailed down my hive system by buying two Warre hives from Darren at House of Bees. Though Darren does not want to get into the business of shipping hives, if you live in the Pacific Northwest and want to pick up your hive he would be happy to sell you one. He also has a booth at many of the NW bee conferences. As I mentioned in the last post I looked at several places to buy hives. Fortunately I met Darren at my first West Sound Beekeepers Association meeting. He sells a very high quality Warre hive system with many upgrades including; observation window, feeding solution built into the quilt box, screened bottom board, and beveled topbars with built in spacers….. all wrapped up in fine workmanship. I know this sounds like a commercial for House of Bees (ok so it is) I really believe in supporting local service providers and when you find one that is knowledgeable, provides a good product and is excited about what they do you should share it with the world.
Next step is to paint the hives and find where I’m going to keep them in the yard. I thought I had two good places picked out but with Darren’s coaching I’m looking elsewhere.
So….for now, since I’m long on hives and short on bees I’m not quite yet a “beekeeper” rather a “hivekeeper”
The amount of information available about; bees, hive systems, honey, pest and disease control is amazing. Thanks to technology, discussions can be had with beeks all over the world. I’ve read several books, started reading an array of magazines, reviewed many blogs and bee websites and read posts on a couple of forums. The fun thing about a new hobby like this is you learn about stuff that you did not even know existed…..like, did you know there is a huge black market in honey? Honey laundering…..wow, but that is another complete topic.
The two forums that I’ve joined are both in Yahoo Groups; warrebeekeeping and westsoundbees
The warrebeekeeping group is comprised of beekeepers from all over the world. It is a great learning advantage just to read the various posts. Many of the topics are over my head but a lot of it deals with everyday hive management.
Based the the reading that I’ve done and my basic philosophy of letting nature take its own course has me leaning toward starting out with two Warre hives. I’ve looked at two websites seriously; http://www.beethinking.com and http://www.thewarrestore.com. Both seem to have quality built warre hives. I was leaning toward beethinking as they are located in Portland until I came across a local who is building warre hives. I hope to visit with him in the next week or so and I’ll post the particulars.
My reasons for a Warre:
1) Seems to be more natural for the bees, better resembles the inside of a tree
2) Requires less handeling by the beekeeper
3) Lower start up cost
4) Seems that there is a lower incidence of mites
5) Less complicated (simpler can be better)
Nature has its own course. If a thing is on its own natural course, trying to bend it to your will or change its path to suit your needs only increases the friction, frustration and tension for both you and the thing. To work as a partner with nature you are best to 1) help and encourage it down its natural course, 2) keep your own ego out of it, 3) If you don’t agree with the course the thing is on, stop trying to change it and let it go….you can only change yourself, you cannot change the thing. 4) This applies to plants, animals, people…..and bees.