By Bridget Welch, L.M.T.
As one might guess, a big draw for backyard beekeeper is sweet honey. But there are many other benefits. When hosting a population of pollinators in your yard, you help your own garden be more productive and, of course, help the threatened bee population by creating a safe and healthy place for bees. There are health benefits as well, not only does honey have healthy properties, but other bee products like propolis, bee pollen, and royal jelly are good for us too. Beeswax can be used for healing balms or candles. Another benefit reported by many beekeepers is the therapeutic effect of spending time with bees. Beekeeping requires being in harmony with one’s bee population. Bees are sensitive and require a calm caretaker, so there’s even a meditative aspect involved in their stewardship.
When considering hosting bees in your yard, it is important to consider the layout and use of your yard, the proximity and attitudes of neighbors, your local zoning, and your family’s involvement in the idea.
Hive boxes can be hidden somewhat by shrubs so they don’t attract curious children and can be painted or stained colors that blend in with their surroundings. Elevate boxes about 18 inches to keep out pests like skunks. You can purchase boxes and frames or make your own. You can model your hive boxes like nature: honey on top, pollen surrounding the brood nest and brood near the bottom.
When working with your bees, protect yourself with a veil and light jacket at the least, or go for a full suit to work confidently. A smoker is a necessity to calm the bees when you are working.
You will need to acquire or buy your bee population. Local bee association Apalachee Beekeepers Association can help you find resources for bees and their care.
It is important to get as much bee knowledge as you can before getting started with a hive. Meetings are a great time to network, ask questions, see demonstrations, learn about common problems, and more. Tallahassee Beekeeping Meetup Group meets at La Fiesta the third Wednesday of each month. Leon County extension office hosts a beekeeping meeting of the Apalachee Beekeepers Association the second Tuesday of each month, with an open hive demo at 5:30 pm and the meeting at 6:30 pm.
With all of these resources, there’s nothing stopping you from jumping into backyard beekeeping.