Sunday, February 6, 2011

Backyard Beekeeping

Backyard beekeeping is expanding in popularity, and it provides many benefits. First, our gardens and plantings of food crops benefit from the replacement of pollinators that have been disappearing in recent years. Another great benefit of backyard beekeeping is experienced by the beekeepers themselves. Planning for adding a couple of bee hives, attending adult education classes or a short course at the local beekeepers association, reading some beekeeping books and journals, ordering a package or nucleus colony of bees, building and painting the hives, and finally installing them in the hives make for an exciting break from any other endeavor. However, beekeeping becomes a true source of involvement of one’s attention once the bees start drawing out their beeswax nest, the queen starts laying eggs, brood starts developing, and we get to observe the intricate activity occurring in the colony. Many beekeepers find the bee hives such a source of interest that they become so thoroughly absorbed in observing the bees and tending to the hives that they are able to completely forget other daily activity or worry. As such, beekeeping becomes a source of relaxation or enjoyment. Many like to sit and simply watch the bees at the hive’s entrance and listen to the hum of the hive.

The Luddite, a busy New England Primary Care Provider, finds relaxation with her bees. In today’s picture, we see her in snow shoes visiting one of her Warre bee hives accompanied by her “official apiary dog,” Hannah. A Warre is a hive that stands vertically, approximating a hollow tree, the honey bee’s natural home. The Warre hive does not use frames as found in the conventional Langstroth hive. Instead, it employs simple wooden upper supports, similar to those used in a Kenyan top bar hive. The top of the Warre hive is comprised of a box filled with straw or other absorbent material. This box, used to control hive moisture is separated from the brood nest by canvas. The Luddite looks care free.

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