Sources, suggestions, and inspiration to begin your personal candy hives
By Kate Bielinski
Beekeeping has grow to be a steadily rising pastime. Between the promise of candy, golden honey and the important position bees play in our ecosystem, there’s loads of reward that may come from beginning your personal colony. Nevertheless, earlier than diving into this fascinating world, you’ll want to take a position some effort and time into analysis, preparation, and discovering your footing within the supportive beekeeping group.
At the moment amid one in every of her busiest occasions of the 12 months, Jennifer Lund is making rounds conducting hive inspections. Because the State of Maine Apiarist and Bee Inspector, Lund has seen the perfect and worst-case eventualities of beekeeping and encourages anybody seeking to get began to achieve out for recommendation. She is a invaluable useful resource on good beekeeping practices, sound colony administration, and acquiring a hive registration license — a requirement right here in Maine.
Since we frequently see many honeybees thriving within the wild with little human intervention, organising a hive in your yard and harvesting contemporary honey to your coronary heart’s content material might sound like a fairly candy situation, however in actuality there’s extra complexity and duty on the subject of changing into a beekeeper.
“One of many greatest misconceptions I come throughout is that beekeeping is straightforward,” Lund cautioned. “Identical to your canine or cat or cattle or poultry, [bees] reside creatures that want us to deal with them.”
Peter Cowin, higher often called The Bee Whisperer in Hampden, has a long time of expertise rising honeybees in New England. He recommends new beekeepers begin with no less than two hives, which usually home round 10,000 bees to begin and might develop as much as 30,000 in the summertime when the queen is laying eggs. Having two hives offers you a reference level if one thing appears off in a single hive. It additionally lets you compensate for colony dimension points, as you’ll be able to fastidiously switch bees from one hive to the opposite to take care of a wholesome inhabitants.
Whenever you begin your new hive, your colony received’t have saved honey, so your bees will want an power supply to construct comb, feed the brood, and carry out different important duties. As a beekeeper, you’ll must feed your bees about three to 4 occasions every week, giving them sugar syrup till they will construct up sufficient of their very own assets: honey.
Understanding when and the way a lot honey to reap can also be key to making sure the well being of your colony and maximizing your honey yield. Typically, right here in Maine, late summer time or early fall is when most beekeepers get to savor the sweetness of their efforts. The caveat? You need to share together with your bees.
Leaving ample honey shops to your bees is essential to their survival within the winter months. Cowin recommends starting the preparation for Maine’s colder months in midsummer.
“You wish to guarantee you’ve gotten loads of meals within the hive — about 50 kilos, relying in your location and the severity of winter — and also can complement with sugar syrup if wanted.”
As a part of the winter preparation, along with contemplating insulation choices to your hive, Cowin additionally stresses the significance of treating for mites, which is essentially the most vital risk to managed honeybee colonies.
“Not checking your bees for mites can weaken your hive, finally inflicting you to lose it totally,” he stated.
As a part of a wholesome hive checkup, you’ll wish to do an inspection each two to a few weeks, searching for indicators of a powerful, thriving colony, in addition to potential points which will require intervention. You’ll wish to assess the honey and pollen shops, making certain that there’s sufficient meals and complement with sugar syrup if wanted. Throughout check-ins, you wish to keep vigilant for any indications of pests or illnesses, together with seen indicators of mites or American foulbrood.
Whereas not practically as widespread as mites, American foulbrood is much extra extreme as it’s extremely contagious amongst bee colonies.
“After we discover [American foulbrood] we have now to destroy the gear and the bees sadly,” Lund famous, including that it may possibly additionally produce spores which might be long-lived, doubtlessly staying on gear for as many as 80 years. For that reason, Lund and Cowin suggest getting your gear from a neighborhood bee provider. This ensures you might be getting high quality gear proper to your specific beekeeping targets and colony dimension.
If it’s starting to sound like there’s extra to beekeeping than meets the attention, the excellent news is that between native beekeeping communities and state assets, you’ll by no means be alone in your journey.
An enormous advocate for immersing your self into the beekeeping group earlier than getting began, Cowin recommends taking courses, apprenticing with different beekeepers, and discovering a mentor. Alongside operating in-person and digital courses, Cowin shares a wealth of data and assets on his YouTube Channel, Beekeeping with The Bee Whisperer.
A Shared Expertise
With steerage from Cowin and loads of analysis, Penobscot Shores, a retirement group in Belfast, started protecting honeybees in 2018 as half of a bigger challenge to encourage pollinators on their grounds. Beginning with two hives and having as many as 4 over time, residents take care of the hives and meet to debate progress. Final summer time they collected round 10 gallons of honey. Residents who usually are not hands-on with the bees additionally get to benefit from the spoils. The group shares the honey they harvest and use the beeswax to make lip balm, candles, and furnishings polish, even promoting a few of these items at their arts and crafts honest.
Along with the environmental advantages and perks of getting contemporary honey, Penobscot Shores advertising director Steve Bowler acknowledges that the expertise of elevating honeybees can also be a rewarding studying expertise for residents.
“We’ve had all completely different sorts of colours of pollen within the hive. We’ve seen issues which might be working effectively, issues that aren’t working and have to be modified, and it’s type of like a puzzle we attempt to clear up collectively,” Bowler stated.
Exterior of being a bonding exercise for the residents, Bowler shared a heartwarming story of excited grandchildren visiting their grandfather and having the chance to don their very own bee go well with and have a tendency to the hive.
“It’s actually candy to see generations working collectively, and now that’s a shared expertise and one thing you’ve gotten in widespread together with your grandkids to speak about,” he stated.
Sources to get began:
Maine State Beekeepers Affiliation | mainebeekeepers.org
The Bee Whisperer | beewhisperer.us
(Editor’s word: Bangor Metro editor Amy Allen is the daughter of Steve Bowler.)