Saturday, April 16, 2016

Urban bee keeping adventures...

Back in December 2015 I had one of my long standing urban homesteading dreams realised as we became the proud caretakers of 4 empty hives. You can read about our reasons and aspirations here:

The bee-ginning of our urban bee adventure

And then we waited...for only 2 weeks and on January 1st our backyard was filled with the very loud buzzing of bees and in came the swarm.

We were sooooo happy that they had found their way to our home.

A few weeks later our friendly beekeeper popped in to add another layer to their hive so that they had a double story!

Our bees made themselves comfortable through the summer and went about their business visiting our flowers and making honey. We did notice that there were about 20 bees a day lying around dead in our back yard and were quite concerned, but then were told that the average lifespan for bees is 14 days and it is normal to see dead bees need hives. A mass of them dead at the entrance to the hive indicates disease and there was none of that.

Then just 2 weeks ago a second swarm moved into another hive while we were out hiking. This is quite late in the season for bees to be moving, but in they came as on our pavement we have a Brazilian Pepper tree which is an excellent food source for them in autumn.

When our beekeeper popped in this week he said the drought has caused many hives to starve to death and that most keepers are reporting 60% less honey than last year. This is tragic on many levels as it indicates there is simply not enough food for the bees. So as farmers struggle with water issues, so do the smallest part in the nature cycle of seed to food.

As a fellow gardener pointed out on the Urban Homestead Facebook page: "I hadn't considered beekeeping as I'm not a big honey fan (and felt a bit daunted by the idea). But it makes sense to provide hives if only to do our bit for the earth's dwindling bee population.... which forms such a crucial part of our food chain ito pollination."

So perhaps you have a corner in your garden that you too could give some bees shelter?

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