Beekeeping in Your Own Backyard

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Make your own honey at home

Keeping bees has many benefits. Not only are you pollinating your plants and supporting the dwindling bee populations but you can also make your own honey and sell it if you are looking for some extra money.

You can keep beehives just about anywhere. In cities, in your garden, on a mountain side, on your roof top or balcony, the possibilities are endless.  Even bees in city hives, where foliage is sparse, will travel miles to find flower to forage upon.

The bee hive

The hive is the essential item in beekeeping equipment. The beehive starts with a floor which includes an inspection tray which can be removed. The section that sits of top of the floor is the brood box which is where the queen lives and where the baby bees are produced. On top of this is the queen excluder which ensures the babies don’t get into the honey.  Next is the honey chamber which is where the honey is produced. And finally is the roof to protect the colony from the elements.

What do bees need from a hive?

In order to keep healthy and productive bees the aim of the hive is to provide an environment that is better than what bees find in nature. Bees seek out shelter and security above ground so a typical home for a hive would be a tree hollow that is dry, safe and well ventilated.  A hive needs to mimic this environment so ensure good airflow in your hive and an elevated position. In order to guarantee a bountiful honey production bees also need space to expand. It is important to encourage the growth of your colony as more bees means more honey so expandable hives are best.

How to choose the right bees

When choosing bees there are four characteristics to consider.  These include gentleness, tolerance to disease such a varroa mite, productivity and their resilience through the winter months if you live in a cold climate.  Popular strains include Italian and Carniolan but there are many more to consider too.

Finding the perfect location for your hive

As we mentioned a hive can be placed in many locations but there are a few things to do to make the most of your bee colony. Chose a location that is easy for you to access, is sheltered from the wind, receives early morning sun if possible and has good drainage. Bees need water to make honey so your hive needs to be close to a water source. Bees collect water to liquefy honey that is too thick and to cool down the hive in the hot summer months. If you are not near a river or stream you will need to create your own homemade water source. The simplest solution is to use a pail of water.  Fill a quarter of the pail with stones and then fill the rest with water. Find some natural floating materials like bark to add to the top so that the bees have something to land on and not drown.  Make sure you keep the water fresh.

Research is key with beekeeping at home to ensure you have the right equipment, including protective gear, and that you are taking the right safety precautions when it comes to you and your neighbours.  We recommend joining a local beekeeping club to develop this know-how, share tips with fellow bee keepers and discover ways to enjoy your honey.

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