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Minnesota Musing: Bee Keeping and Stealing Honey
Bee Keeping Questions I Have in Mind
Naturally, I have millions of questions to ask and probably Google before I attempt such an endeavor. Granted, we have ten acres of property and there are probably many hidden combs of honey in the the hollow trees around us, it seems somewhat dangerous.
Questions, such as:
- how do you get the bees to go in the hive?
- how do you entice them to stay in your yard?
- how do you identify your own bees?
- do bees get friendly, ever?
- if you want to check the hive for honey, do you have to use some sort of smoke fogger to stun them temporarily?
- will the bees remember that you stole their honey?
Hollow Trees, Bees and a Dog
One year, a tree crashed to the ground and there was a large hive inside. The section of the tree where the bees were, disintegrated when it hit the ground. Our dog, an English Chesapeake, was in the midst of the fallen pieces and was chewing up bits and pieces of comb as it found them and snapping up bees with its mouth.
He seemed to enjoy the experience. I don't know how healthy it was for the dog to participate in such an endeavor, but he was fourteen years old at the time and who argues with an old dog?
Bee Keeping Supplies
The thing that has me inspired to start is that three of the local stores in my area carry bee keeping kits to get started.
Feeding Bees and Having a Bee Nursery
So, other than visiting flowers and spreading pollen, what are bees interested in? It's not like you go to the store and buy bags of bee feed. Do you have to feed them, like cattle, once you have an active hive?
I have heard that each hive contains a primary female bee, called a Queen bee. This bee spends most of its time being brought royal jelly, which amounts to what? What is royal jelly?
How many worker bees belong to a hive? Are the bee boxes that you see nestled in ditches good for a few bees, or a large bunch?
What happens if you don't have any flowers for the bees to visit? Do they leave your yard, never to return? Can you leave an empty hive sitting around and new bees will find it and make it their home? If bees have babies, are they as big as the original bees?
Bees and Hibernation or Migration
So, if bees hibernate, chances are good that they'll go to sleep in the hive. Now, on the other hand, if they migrate to a warmer climate, how do you coax them back to your yard in warmer weather?
It's not like a person wants to have a bee hive in their house, although I have an interesting story about a house that my family bought back in the seventies that as they remodeled the walls and added insulation, discovered that the walls were almost solid wax from the multitudes of bees that had discovered a few holes in the siding. It was eerie to see.
Of course, migration is another story. If they leave your yard and you have this eyesore beehive in your yard that has no bees inside. Do you leave it there? I have heard of people having grills on their decks and finding that a colony of bees has moved in and filled the grill with combs upon combs.
You just never know for sure.
I personally have no known allergies to bee stings. My hubby, on the other hand, has been stung by bees and we have sometimes suspected that it was the trigger for his psoriasis. Other people need to carry an epipen to deal with sudden bites to avoid anaphylactic shock, or an allergic reaction to a bee sting that can result in asphyxiation and death.
A person never knows.
What are your own thoughts on bee keeping? I see that there are blogs and organizations to bounce bee ideas off on, and lots of help for learning how to sustain a bee hive and colony.
In addition to being very tasty, honey is a natural antibiotic. If you get a sore throat, a spoonful of honey is soothing and may be able to reduce the inflammation in your throat.
A word of warning; however, honey is not to be given to babies since babies are undeveloped in digesting honey and can get baby botulism from consuming honey, so be aware.
Honey for Eating
One of my favorite snacks every now and then is to put peanut butter on a piece of bread and pour honey on the peanut butter to the edges of the bread. Then, I eat it. It's gooey, sticky and sweet and I love it.
When I was a younger child, my mother used to buy different processes of honey. If we bought the honey combs filled with honey, a person could take a chunk of it and chew it like it was chewing gum. The texture was like chewing paraffin wax.
There were some thicker applications of honey. My personal favorite was whipped honey. That is thick, like a thick caramel. Yummy!
As I ventured into the Amazon pages, I find that they offer a hive with drawers, a smoker for stunning the bees, a suit for wearing and protection from aggravated bees that don't appreciate thieves.
They have a strainer for removing bits of comb from your batch, although I have heard that the bigger outfits use a honey extractor that compares to a washing machine going through rinse cycle. It spins and the honey slops out and then they must reuse the combs.
There are guides to get started. Journals to record your progress. Bibles that offer tried and true methods.
Its like everything else that is of a pioneer style network. It sounds like fun, but is a lot of work.
Did You Know?
Bees need a water source to drink from. It should be kept about twenty feet from the hive.
Oh, bees do not hibernate. They also do not migrate, so if you have a hive, those bees will be cuddled together to keep their heat going. Doesn't that make you want to bring them in the house, give them their own remote for the television?