Did you know that some plants need bees to pollinate them? Of course you did. But did you know that honeybees can increase your harvest considerably?
A study conducted by Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL found that the addition of honeybees increased the fruit weight of the Cucurbita pepo, C. moschata, and C. Maxima (3 types of Pumpkins) by 26%, 70% and 78% respectively. That’s some difference.
I’m a part-time beekeeper and have been keeping bees for well over a decade. So here are a few things about keeping bees in the garden that you might not know.
Honeybees Are Not Malicious
Honey bees only sting people when they feel their home or life is threatened. Even then, they will more often then not make a loud buzzing noise and attempt a few intimidating flyby’s before committing the suicidal final blow.
Honeybees are actually bred to be gentle. No, I’m serious. Honeybees are selected for many traits such as honey production, tendency to swarm, environmental hardiness, and gentleness.
Many beekeepers boast that they can go inside the hive, with neither protection nor smoke, and never bee bothered by the bees. I personally have to wear a hood and use a smoker.
Bees can safely be kept in close proximity to your home
I keep two beehives in my 16’x24′ garden and can work within a couple of feet from the hive without them ever taking notice of me. On my first day, I wore a mosquito veil over my face but within 15 minutes, I realized this was too hot and totally unnecessary.
In fact, none of my neighbors even know I have beehives in my backyard. Bees require a minimum of 1/4 acre of flowers to store enough honey for winter. However, in pursuit of this 1/4 acre of flowers , bees will fly up to 5 miles. So while they will give a quick look around my yard, they mostly fly anonymously around the neighborhood and town.
Did you know, on average, a single beehive can produce 100 pounds of extra honey? That’s over 8 gallons of this edible gold.
Here are a few links to help you learn more:
If you keep bees you will get stung from time to time. In the words of the The Princess Bride, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” But don’t let this scare you away. Bees are fascinating creatures that can be an absolute joy to have.
As for the occasional sting: A study in Switzerland proved you will get used to them and actually build up an immunity to them (like a superpower). Of course if you are truly allergic to bee stings, then avoid them at all times.