6.1 Bees

In the past few years, bee keeping has become increasingly popular for farmers in urban areas. Bee keeping can benefit a grower and the plants they foster. For instance, gardens are more efficient and successful when bees are around to keep the plants well pollinated. Recently, some gardeners have begun to rent hives from beekeepers to keep plants healthy in their own gardens. Also, a well-keep bee hive can produced 30-100lbs of honey a season. The honey can be sold and used personally. Bees are one of nature’s most beneficial insects and with proper instructions urban farmers can put their benefits to good use.

The Basics:

  • Drones- male bees of the hive. Their main task is to reproduce with the queen and they have no stinger.
  • Queen- She is the largest and only mature female in the entire hive.
  • Worker Bees- Undeveloped female bees (cannot reproduce). They are the most abundant in the give and collect food and water, build wax and keep the hive clean and guarded.
  • Swarming- The instinctive desire of honey bees to increase their numbers by reproducing. Contributing factors include availability of space, population size, weather, and the queen.  Swarming can be prevented by changing their positions with strong colonies in the same yard, adding sealed brood from the strong colonies, adding queen-less booster packages, uniting two weak colonies, and combining a queen-less colony with a queen-right colony.

Equipment:

  • Hive- Hive equipment can be purchased for about $300 online. For under $50, an African Top Bar Hive is a great diy option. The following websites are extremely helpful: www.bee-commerce.com and www.LearningBeekeeping.com
  • Bee suit & veil- Since beekeeping calls for growers to disrupt the hive, the gear is essential.
  • Fence- In an urban area, a 6ft tall fence for the hive is imperative. This way growers will have peace of mind that if bees do fly away, they will do so at a height relatively distant from the general population.
  • Honeygear- To extract honey from the hive, honey gear is a must.
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