Learn About Beekeeping

Beekeeping has a very long history.

For thousands of years, honey was the only sweet available to humans. To get honey, though, they had to search for a colony in the wild. It didn’t take long for people to learn how to keep bees, eliminating the hit-or-miss process of finding a wild hive to rob.

But the earliest beekeepers kept colonies in crude containers that did not have the removable combs that are characteristic of modern hives. When it was time to harvest the honey, they would just exterminate the bees and cut the honeycomb out of the hive, and start the process over with another colony.

The techniques and equipment available to beekeepers today are certainly much more advanced.

And though we know much more about honey bees now than ever before (check out some of the early misconceptions about honey bees!), there’s still enough that we don’t understand about bees to lend an aura of mystery and wonder to the art of keeping bees.

Keeping bees on a small scale is something that many people have found to be a wonderful hobby. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that about 99 percent of all beekeepers are hobbyists or part-timers.

What’s the appeal? You could probably ask many different beekeepers, and get many different answers.

Certainly, the production of honey along with bee pollen, propolis, and beeswax is a major incentive for many. There’s nothing quite like feasting on a chunk of honeycomb right out of your own hive!

Some keep honeybees primarily for their value as pollinators. Just a hive or two can make quite a difference in the quality of produce harvested from a small garden or orchard, particularly in an area where there is a shortage of bees.

And keeping bees using organic and natural principles are gaining in popularity among some hobbyist beekeepers who love honey, but might view supermarket honey with the same concerns that some have with non-organic supermarket produce.

But I think there’s something else that draws many people to beekeeping.

For many of us, having bees offers a way of reconnecting with nature, satisfying a yearning for a commune with the natural world that many of us miss in our modern, technology-laden lives.

Whatever the incentive, though, just about anyone interested in beekeeping can take up the hobby regardless of where they live.

You don’t have to live in the country to keep bees. If you live in the city, you can be an urban beekeeper; lots of people do it! If you live in a suburban area and have a yard, you can be a backyard beekeeper.

Some even decide to become a commercial beekeeper. It’s a tough way to make a living, but many commercial beekeepers wouldn’t consider doing anything else. And it’s certainly an important job!

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