An Introduction to Keeping Bees in Your Garden

Bee hives

Keeping a hive in your backyard needs some consideration and it is best to join a local beekeeping group to get some advice for your particular area. Native bees can aid in pollination and perhaps provide some honey for your household.

Keeping bees could also mean that you could be part of halting the dangerous and worrying decline in bee numbers.

There is some controversy about keeping bees in a garden – some people think it is wrong to rob the hive to take honey. For many years the Langstroth hive (made from wood) has been the norm for bee keeping with its removable frames. Some people believe that opening up the hive to remove frames causes unnecessary stress for the bees. There are proponents for the free flow hive as well as the traditional Langstroth hive. The recently developed free flow hive allows a view into the hive and has an external tap that allows for the frame to split and honey to flow into a container without disturbing the bees by smoking them and opening up the hive.

Natural beekeeping is a movement that has changed the approach to bee keeping. In this natural approach, natural 'sun' hives like conjoined skeps allow the bees to make honeycombs as they would in the wild, are not smoked and are largely left undisturbed to come and go as they please. While honey can be harvested occasionally (of course making sure to leave enough for the bees), the emphasis is on pollination and is apicentric.

Honey bee

Before you think about giving a home to some honey bees, it would be a good idea to chat to people who have been using the different systems and see what they, and the bees, seem to prefer, basing your judgement on the health of the hive and the honey production.

Before starting out, it is important to establish your aim in beekeeping quite clearly from the start – pollination or honey or a bit of both. What is most important is to leave the bees enough food to last through the winter otherwise they will die.

Honey bee hives

Situating beehives is also an art that requires consideration so the bees are aided in keeping the hive at the optimum temperature and do not have to overwork themselves on this task instead of collecting pollen.

Natural honey is so much better than commercially produced honeys many of which have various undesirable additives to make for a consumer friendly product. Heating honey destroys the enzymes with in the product, so being able to make your own healthy, raw honey at home can be good for your health, in addition to being a good gardening decision.