I can hardly beelieve it’s already February! Is it just me or does this year seem to be buzzing by? In a few short months, Misty Meadows Homestead will be welcoming some very busy new members to our family. Mr. Misty are so excited about this we have been buzzy… er… busy taking classes getting ready for their arrival!
Can you guess who will be making their home at Misty Meadows?
Yes, honey bees!
I’ve been fascinated with bees since I was a small girl. My grandpa was a displaced Illinois farm boy living in a residential area in Southern California; despite the county rules and much to the annoyance of his neighbors (who were easily bought off with honey), he was a beekeeper. I can remember summers with my cousins, running through the morning dew, out to his shed to watch him extract honey. Oh, the sweetness of the comb he would treat us with if we kind and well-behaved.
Honey bees, Apis mellifera (not to be confused with wasps or yellow jackets or hornets which tend to be “predators”) aren’t just for producing honey – though that is one of the sweetest rewards of beekeeping – for many of us who garden, we know how important bees are. Bees are “pollinators” and without pollination, many crops would fail.
According to ancient rock paintings in Spain and Zimbabwe, though better defined as honey “robbing”, humans have been harvesting honey for almost 8,000 years. It would be a few thousand years later before people, specifically, the Egyptians would enter into a mutually beneficial relationship with honey bees and beekeeping began to develop into what it is today. With over 20,000 known species throughout the world today, bees are a valuable commodity for those of us who rely on them to pollinate our food sources.
Honey Bees (also known as European Honey Bees) are not native to North America. The first honeybees to arrive in with English settlers around 1622 and began their slow westward migration. I read that by the 18th century, Native Americans called honey bees the “white man’s fly” because once they saw bees, they knew settlers weren’t too far behind.
Though a nuisance at times, bees are one of the only beneficial insects to have been introduced to our country.
They need our help!
In the 1970-80’s, a parasite called, hasdVarroa mite was introduced to the US via the Asian honey bee, Apis cerana. Due to Apis cerana’s life cycle, the mite tends not to be quite as destructive to that bee, however, for Apis melifera, it had devastating consequences. The mite attaches itself to the honey bee, extracting something called, hemolymph, which is like our blood, weakening the bee and even transmitting destructive viruses. Because of this and possibly the increased use of pesticides, bee populations are on the decline.
Can you imagine a world without honey bees, their wax, their honey, their pollination?
So, we have been trying to make a difference. Over the past few years, we have been using natural ways to remove and prevent pests, only using harsher chemicals when all else has failed and never using them during peak pollination hours. Now, we are going to raise bees — educating ourselves and others about their benefits.
You can help too!!
Here are a few things you can do to help:
BeeCome a beekeeper.
Realize bees aren’t out to sting you. They know they will die if they sting you, so they will only do that when in danger. Learn the difference beeTween beneficial bees (which include mason bees, bumble bees, and honey bees) and predators like wasps, yellowjackets & hornets and work on eliminating the predators from our property.
Plant bee-friendly plants, flowering herbs & trees:
- Cherry Tree
- Orange tree
- Poplar tree
… just to name a few.
Eliminate garden/yard pesticide use.
MotherEarth News has some great tips on this click here for their article on organic pest control.
Don’t mow your dandelions – it’s one of the earliest and best wild forages for bees.
Support your local beekeeper and beekeeper association.
Buy local honey and beeswax.
And, don’t mind your own beeswax – bee an advocate!
Contact your state and local representatives about your concerns.
We are very excited about this newest adventure. We hope you will join us!
Do you keep bees? Have any tips? Leave them in the comments below.
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