Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Become A Beekeeper?

After two years of great anticipation, my first bees are scheduled to arrive April 19th! Naturally, I'm excited, but nervous as well. Beekeeping has changed over the years and what was once a fairly simple hobby has become quite a challenge in order to stay ahead of bee deaths from Varroa mites to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). But make no mistake about it, this adventure has already been amazing and I can't wait to learn more!

Photo Credit: harold.lloyd

As a child, I was terrified of bees, so the very thought of me becoming a novice beekeeper is quite hysterical. But I'm not one to be deterred if I want something bad enough and beekeeping has been on my mind for some time. Two years ago, I jumped in the car with a few friends I had gathered up and headed to a bee club in Southern California to learn the basics. Because we were able to get into the hives and look around I conquered the first step in becoming a beekeeper: overcoming my initial fear. And now that I've been reading and learning about bees, I'm totally captivated.

Photo Credit: retro traveler

Words can't begin to describe how I've been able to see the hand of God as a magnificent Creator by learning in-depth about bees. From the individual worker to the colony as a whole, God is in the details. And it would take me pages upon pages to describe it all, so instead of drowning you with a fire hose of information, I think I'll let it trickle out a little at a time over the next few months as I set up my bees in their new home.

Photo Credit: Printemps ete

Reasons To Become A Beekeeper

Honey: Without a doubt this is the sweetest reason for beekeeping! Honey is a wonderful by product of bees that is repeatedly mentioned in the Bible as a blessing:

"and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders; and He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey." ~ Deuteronomy 26:8-9

Many claim that eating local honey helps curb allergies to local plant triggers, and this is one of just a few sweeteners that has actual nutrient value. It doesn't cause blood sugar levels to spike as dramatically as refined sugar, and it can be used in your home for everything from baking to canning.

Pollination of garden plants: Between 80 - 90% of our plants require some kind of animal pollination with bees accounting for no less than 15-30% of that service. Without bees, over 100 crops would not be pollinated and as a result, we wouldn't have a large portion of the foods we currently enjoy. And now, with the current trend of vast monocrops, bees have made themselves indispensable (more on monocrops and my opinion in another post!) Your own vegetable and flower gardens will benefit from having a nearby hive of honey bees feasting on the nectar and pollinating your plants.

Repopulate bees: Like I mentioned earlier, beekeeping use to be rather simple. And to a degree, it still is. But in the last few years, beekeepers have had to battle diseases that were virtually non-existant just 30 years ago. Between Varroa mites and Colony Collapse Disorder alone, beekeepers in the last few years have lost as much as 50% of domesticated bees. By having your own backyard hives, you are giving bees a chance to live in a natural habitat as opposed to being trucked across the nation to pollinate monocrops, as well as living in smaller groups (as opposed to hundreds of hives in one orchard). It's kind of like not exposing your kids to colds and the flu by keeping them away from large crowds. Yes, they can fly around and still get it, but it just makes sense to have them in areas with smaller numbers. 

Fascination: This isn't just a "project". It's more like a hobby. Something fun that you really can get into. Bees are both simple and yet complicated. And because of their "society" mentality, they are unique from almost every other insect. By watching bees and keeping a hive you'll have hours of good clean entertainment!

If you keep bees or if you're planning to do so, please share why you decided or plan to become a beekeeper.

This post has been linked to Farm Friend Friday


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