Backyard Beekeeping Beginnings

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every shining flower!

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Our painted beehive posing in front the greenhouse with our Pink Brandywine Tomatoes soaking up some UV Rays!

Bees are revered for their delicious and nutritious honey production, but it is their vital role as pollinators that has always been their most crucial function. This fact has never been more true than it is in 2015 with the honeybee population dying off in tragic and alarming numbers.

Harvesting honey is a longstanding tradition in human culture. Cave paintings found in Valencia, Spain dating back at least 8,000 years depict human figures collecting honey from a swarming natural hive. There are also depictions of beekeeping in ancient Egypt. Many of these ancient Egyptian apiarists are portrayed using smoke to calm the bees – a technique that is still used today.

man of bicorp
Man of Bicorp (Spain, approx. 6000 BCE)
Egypt-bees
Ancient Egyptian Beekeeping (approx. 700 BCE)

We are abuzz with anticipation and excitement as we prepare for our adventure into beekeeping. After researching the different ways to obtain honeybee packages, we decided to find a honeybee farm within driving distance where we could pick them up rather than have them shipped via the postal service. As first time beekeepers in an urban area, we weren’t sure how our post office would deal with a 3lb box of buzzing bees, and for $106 we didn’t want to run the risk of the bees dying in transit. So we scoured the internet for sources and advice. We were pleasantly surprised when we stumbled across the Philly Beekeeping Guild’s website which was filled with advice, tips and places to purchase honeybees. We found a honeybee farm located less than 40 minutes from our house and wasted not a minute dropping our check and order form in the mail! We already have the hive assembled and the necessary tools waiting in the wings.

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The hive before paint, with veil, gloves, smoker and pellets

In three weeks, we will drive out to Worcester Honeybee Farm to pick up our new colony and watch a live demonstration on how to introduce them to a new hive. We have been reading tons of books and articles on the art of apiculture in preparation and this has added to our anticipation!

This past weekend we painted the hive to protect the exposed wood from being weathered throughout the season. We also planted 60 seeds of cat mint and blue hyssop which will stay in bloom from summer to fall – these are two varieties of herbs that are known to attract pollinators. In the weeks leading up to our new adoption, we will also be planting flowers around the property so that our new neighbors will have lots of food upon arrival. It’s bee-ginning to feel a lot like Spring around here!!! 🙂

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Painted and Ready for its Queen!

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Sources:

Alan Houghton Brodrick, 1972 Animals in Archaeology, Praeger

Bandi, Hans Georg et al. Translated be Ann E. Keep. The Art of the Stone Age Forty Thousand Years of Rock Art (Art of the World). New York: Crown Publisers, 1961. Print. Web: http://archive.org/stream/artofstoneagefor00unse/artofstoneagefor00unse_djvu.txt

Dickinson, Emily. The Bee. 1896.

The Philadelphia Beekeeping Guild. http://www.phillybeekeepers.org/resources/for-beekeepers/buying-bees/

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