Beekeeping is becoming more important than ever this is because the population of bees is decreasing around the world, small gardeners need time to add a hive or more to their gardens, roofs, community gardens etc. and on the other hand, for bird lovers, beekeeping is one way to ensure that the birds have a lot of winter food, because their shrubs will be well pollinated. But the decline of bee populations is a factor in the decline of many bird species.
The breeding of bees is very similar to any other type of livestock, which require regular care, maintenance, time, skill and knowledge acquired from experience. It is a fascinating pastime and much less discouraging than expected. The essential difference is that bees are wild animals, non-domesticated animals. It is about establishing and cultivating an intimate connection with something that is seemingly outside of our experiences.
The hives are constructed of wood, as are the layers of frames that fill them. These frames have foundations of fine wax paper, engraved with the characteristic honeycomb pattern. Hive boxes are stacked on top of each other, to accommodate expanding populations and honey shops.
Natural hives, or those built entirely by bees, can often be found in tree holes and, occasionally, in the walls of old buildings. Swarms hives due to congestion, overcrowding, and even more congestion. Congestion means there are not enough empty cells to accommodate the need, therefore, requiring large quantities of nectar and pollen.
Beekeeping is a great hobby or business. Most beekeepers are in the business because they love it and after having a taste of the return on the investment, they then decide to take it as a full-time job. It is easy to start beekeeping the first time you have the right information to train and get to become familiar with the maintenance of bees.
Beekeeping as a hobby
The notion of beekeeping refers to the activities, processes, and techniques related to the breeding of insects known as bees. Beekeeping is carried out with the objective that the bees develop and reproduce and then collect the products they make, such as honey.
How to be a beekeeper
Beekeeping is an exciting world in which we connect with nature while producing good quality honey and other natural products for domestic or commercial use. As with other crops or livestock activities, the first year of participation is introductory and the first necessary steps are taken, trial and error, as well as the projections for a greater investment (in time and money) for the following year. In some countries, you must first obtain a state approval, take preparation courses and/or obtain a license before starting a beekeeping center. It is important that you know that a bee sting can be lethal for a person allergic to bee stings. Do this practice at your own risk.
In addition to producing honey and other products (royal jelly, propolis, wax, etc.) bees are also important for pollination of plants, since they transfer pollen from the male parts to the female parts of a flower of the same species, an activity which is necessary for the reproduction of many plants (vegetables, nuts, seeds, fodder, etc.).
How to Choose the Hive?
We started beekeeping with the purchase of our first beehives. From 2 to 4 beehives are enough for the first year, in order to prove our strength and commitment. In the following year, we can double or even multiply our hives. It is better to buy the hives during the spring, to see the whole cycle of development of the bees until autumn and to prepare adequately for the winter. We should only buy hives with a valid health certificate from a reputable seller.
Queens usually stop laying eggs at a good pace when they reach the third year of life. Most new beekeepers prefer to start their beekeeping trip by buying a "nuc". A nuc (or core) is a small community of bees, somewhat like a strong colony, but at a 50% scale. A nuc can cost from $ 120 to $ 250. As far as beekeeping equipment is concerned, we do not need to spend a lot of money in the first year of introduction. On the other hand, when using another person's equipment, we run the risk of infection due to various diseases.
Apart from the hives, we need appropriate work clothes, special mask and gloves to protect us from bites, a simple scraper, a bee smoker (this is used to calm bees and may not be allowed in some countries), a brush and a Tool Kit (hammer, assorted nails, screwdriver, angle screws, knife, pliers, wire, cell clips, cell handles). We will also need a space for harvesting, storage, maintenance and repair of the cells. A small room with good ventilation is all we need, as long as we keep it clean. Finally, we may need wire, dowels, an electric blade to remove the beeswax, a burner (disinfects the frames of the hive and the floors) and shallow plastic plates to feed the colony.
Recommendations for Feeding Bees
Bees need certain nutrients for their survival and development. They cover your nectar and pollen needs of the plants. But since in autumn and especially in winter bees cannot cover naturally those needs of plants, they have to adapt their life cycle: they grow in spring (when there is long flowering), collect pollen and nectar during summer, reduce its population in autumn and winter with small populations and large supplies ensure its survival until next spring.
The bees produce and store their products (honey, wax, propolis, etc.) for their own use. They can survive with honey during the winter and in other periods when pollen is not available. Beekeepers actually "steal" a portion of this emergency stock, when they harvest the honey. But if the collection is done rationally, the bees will counteract that collection and replace the amount of honey that humans took and continue their life cycle without problems. Under optimal conditions, an average healthy hive collects about 160 pounds of honey in a year and can consume up to 130 pounds. Therefore, there is a surplus of 30 pounds or more, which can be picked up by beekeepers.
The beekeeper intervenes in the feeding of the bees, in the nutritional function of the colonies, either by providing natural (honey) or processed (sugar) products. The intervention aims mainly to compensate the supply to the colonies (what we deduced) during the winter, and encourage the rearing of offspring. We also add food when we present a new queen in the hive. Finally, we add food in months when there is not enough flowering.
Beekeeping can be a very pleasant hobby, however, you have to be very careful when doing it and have the necessary equipment to avoid any sting. This activity is mostly done in open fields so that bees can feel at home. Beekeeping is a pretty awesome hobby.