Every smallholder should have a hive of bees
Bees are an important part of the ecosystem on our smallholding, and here at Fife Smallholder it is good to do our bit for conservation, and experience (through our honey) what our flowers and trees taste like. Beekeeping adds another dimension to harvesting a crop (garden flowers and trees) that might not otherwise be used. Honey, wax, and propolis can be used in a range of ways from sugar substitute, candles, to hand creams.
- Stop using insecticides
- Create your own Bee-friendly area
- Read the labels on garden compost
- Create natural habitat
- Plant bee-friendly flowers
- Provide a site for beehives
- Make a wild bee house
- Support your local beekeepers
- Learn about bees – and tell others
- Become a beekeeper
Read about my posts on this subject here
We are a member of a local beekeepers association, check out the link here.
Some useful advice and guidance can be found here.
- What is causing colony collapse disorder? check out this link to some useful information.
- An introduction to beekeeping course notes
- Keeping bees link
- Bees must be kept informed of all important events in the household such as births, marriages and deaths, otherwise they may fly away and die.
- They must be told if you intend to move their hive and must never be transported over running water.
- A swarm of bees in the garden is a portent of prosperity.
- A bee landing on the hand foretells wealth.
- A bee flying into the house announces the arrival of a stranger.
- Dreaming of bees is lucky.
- On Christmas Eve bees hum the hundredth psalm in their hives.
- Bees will not tolerate argument or the use of foul language in their presence.
- Honey should be kept in the dark. Bees knowing this, work in the dark.
Bees will travel as far as two miles in search of nectar, making a ‘beeline’ for their favourites such as lime trees, heather and clover. In the garden they love plants such as borage, and hebe, and it is worth planting crocuses and snowdrops which will bloom in early spring, and golden rod and michaelmas daisies for the late autumn (as at those times the weather is not suitable for long flights). If you want more details about what plants are good for bees click here.
The colour and flavour of honey varies according to where the bees have travelled to collect their nectar. For example, clover gives a light honey with a delicate flavour, heather honey is very dark and stiff with a strong flavour. Here is a good link about basic honey processing.
Ideally an apiary (where bees, not apes, are kept) should be south-facing. Be careful that there are no bad smells nearby, such as a pigsty. Or that hives are not sited under power lines or near electrical installations.
Early swarms (either artificial or natural) have all the summer to collect and store nectar while late ones have hardly enough time to prepare for winter.
“A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay;
A swarm of bees in July is hardly worth a fly. “