We’ve all heard the phrase, busy as a bee. And it’s true that the small insects spend their entire lives working. The life of the hive, and of nearly all wild plants depends on their work. About 30% of all planted crops also depend on bees for pollination. This makes bees the essential pollinators, responsible for the continuation of life on earth. As bee numbers dwindle, more and more people are taking up beekeeping. As a result, there’s plenty of advice on beekeeping for beginners available online as well as thorough local beekeepers associations.
The essential pollinator
Bees are, quite simply, responsible for maintaining the life cycle of plants, both wild plants and those grown by humans. As the essential pollinators, they play a crucial role in the reproduction of plants. This means that our food supply depends on them. Without bees, there would be practically no plants, and an end to life as we know it, since all land-based life chains are based on plant life.
Bees are responsible for pollinating nearly all, or 90% of all wild plants, and nearly a third, or 30% of all plants grown by humans. Their work is responsible for the production of about $15 billion worth of crops each year. Because of their importance to agriculture, the USDA tracks bee colonies across the country. In 2014, these numbered around 2.7 million. As the numbers of bee colonies declines, people are starting to take up beekeeping, for a number of different reasons.
The importance of bees has been recognized throughout human history. Rock art from 10,000 years ago show humans gathering honey from bee hives. The earliest known records that mention bee keeping go back to ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Bee yards, also known as apiaries, are used for keeping bees in movable combs. Artificial hives, or skeps, have been made of various materials such as hollow logs, wooden boxes, pottery, and straw baskets.
People have many different reasons for keeping bees. Hive products like honey, beeswax, bee pollen supplements, and royal jelly are all used for food, health, and beauty. Many people also raise bees just to provide a home for these essential pollinators. By 2014, the number of bee colonies hosted by humans had reached record levels, according to data from the USDA. Beekeeping doesn’t take a lot of space and there are many urban beekeepers as well.
Beekeeping for beginners
As more and more people take up beekeeping, there are a number of sources they can turn to for help, advice and beekeeping equipment. Beekeeping basics like hives, hats, gloves, and more can all be purchased online. Typically, they come with advice on how use them. The first step in beekeeping for beginners, oddly enough, is to order bees. That’s something that should be done even before getting all the basic equipment. That’s because bees are not available year round.
The best time to order is in January, to pick up in April or May. It may also be a good idea to contact your local bee keepers association for tips and advice on local conditions. You may also be able to buy used beekeeping supplies locally. For each step in beekeeping, from introducing the bees to their new home, to providing for their needs, understanding their life cycles, and harvesting hive products, it’s important to have a sound knowledge base.
Bees are essential to food production and to life on earth as we know it. As the number of artificial bee colonies is growing, there plenty of advice on beekeeping for beginners available online and through local associations. A sound knowledge base is important for anyone beginning this intriguing pastime.Share This : by