Bee-Come a Beekeeper

— Written By

The popularity of hobby beekeeping has increased dramatically in the past few years. There are many benefits to keeping bees.

Perhaps one of the best benefits of keeping bees is to gardeners when yield is increased. When bees visit flowers, they move pollen from one flower to another.

One of the most striking cases for keeping bees near gardens is the production of cucumbers. Each flower on a cucumber is only open for one day, during which the flower must be pollinated or a fruit will not develop. Flowers that aren’t pollinated fall off without producing a cucumber.

Of course, other insects can pollinate plants also. There are many native bees, like bumble bees, sweat bees, and blueberry bees.

Pollen BasketFlies, butterflies, beetles, hummingbirds, and bats are also effective pollinators for some plants.

Honey bees will visit flowers several miles from a hive; however, honey bees are most efficient when flowers are within 200 yards of a hive. Bees are attracted to brightly colored flowers, especially yellow ones.

Honey bees are social insects, like ants. Honey bee colonies have an elaborate system in which each bee plays a role that benefits the colony. Each colony has one queen bee whose sole purpose is to lay eggs. Most of the bees in a hive are worker bees (all females), and one of the jobs they perform is foraging for pollen, nectar, and water.

When a foraging worker bee finds desirable flowers, she marks the location with a scent. Then she returns to the hive where she does a dance that communicates where the flowers are.

Getting honey is another perk of keeping bees. Honey is made when water is evaporated from nectar that is brought back to the hive. In the winter, stored honey is used to feed bees.

The type, or varietal, of honey that you get from a hive is dependent on the plants that the nectar came from. For example, honey made from buckwheat flowers is dark brown and has a strong taste. Sourwood, the most popular type of honey, has a lighter taste.

If you’re interested in keeping bees, there are lots of good ways to start learning. There are online classes and many good books and magazines devoted to the art and science of beekeeping.

If you prefer a more local approach, consider attending a beekeeping course. The Caldwell County beekeepers will host a beginner beekeeping workshop on March 21 and 28. The cost is $50, which includes membership in the state and local beekeeping clubs, reference material, and door prizes.

The Caldwell County Beekeeping Association meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the library in Lenoir. For more information on the beginner beekeeping school, contact Milton Foster at 828.612.2472.