Originally posted at: Simple, Green, Frugal Co-Op
Have you heard about how much trouble honeybees are in?
Bees aren't just a means to obtaining honey, bees are actually
responsible for the pollination of most plants which provide food for
us. They play a vital role in the survival of our society!
Bees face many challenges, and beekeepers can help increase healthy
honeybee populations. In pesticide-free areas especially, even if you
don't want to be a beekeeper, you might like to offer some of your land
(or rooftop even) for someone else's hives. As well as producing honey,
having bees on site helps increase the productivity of gardens, farms
For awhile we have wanted to have our own bee hives. As well as pasture
land, we have rainforest, a large mixed orchard, a macadamia grove,
wild food and flower gardens and numerous wind/privacy breaks of native
trees. We have had some hives here for a few years that belong to
someone else, but for various reasons we decided to learn more about the
honey bee business ourselves...
First I got a few library books, which explained some basic beekeeping
info. We still had many questions, though, so we asked a friend for
advice. He is part of a beekeeping club locally and was a wealth of
info. We asked more people we knew with hives and got some conflicting
information, but also a lot of local knowledge. We found out what we'd
need to buy, and what we could borrow.
Some equipment we bought through our friend in the beekeeping club, and
some we bought online. We did look for local secondhand items, but
there was nothing around. It cost us about $900 to buy a full suit,
tools (lever, smoker, brush, uncapping comb), two brood boxes (the
bottom box where the Queen lives and babies bees are made) and two top
boxes (where the honey for us is made and retreived). There's also
frames, wax sheets (to speed the process up), a queen excluder and
possibly more bits and pieces I haven't noticed! It was quite an
investment, but we hope that the money will be recouped in honey before
too long. How fast the hives are filled with honey really depends on
the weather. I've heard that locally, hives have filled more quickly in
the past couple of months than they have in years. Weather events like
cyclones affect honey collection around here. We have the advantage of
the bees having multiple sources of food, so supply is affected less
than with hives situated in a monoculture orchard, for example. Our
permaculture-inspired property of course enjoys the benefits of having
many thousands of bees here as well!
We have been doing a bit of maintenance on the hives which are here
(with permission) now that we have a full bee-keeping suit and smoker.
The colonies are strong, and the honey is a nice mixed blend - good news
for us as we set up our first hives.
Below are a few resources we've found useful so far. I will post more of our honey journey once we've set up the hives!
Beekeepers' Associations (Australia)
Become a Beekeeper *
* Check with your local department of agriculture or primary industries
to find out about regulations and licences required where you live.