Starting a honey beehive may sound like a daunting task, but while it may take some learning upfront, in the end it’s worth it. Not only does starting a hive create a plethora of great-tasting and healthy products like honey and propolis, it also helps support the bee population which has been declining at an alarming rate in recent years. Starting a hive allows you to take control of some of your ecological impact. When you start your own hive, you can ensure that all of the bee products you use are created in an ethical and sustainable way.
Still not sold on beekeeping? Here are 5 reasons to start your own honeybee hive:
Honeybees are important pollinators that are necessary to the environment and the agricultural industry. According to the FDA, over 90 commercial crops rely on honeybee pollination, which accounts for one-third of all the food eaten by Americans. That’s a value of $14.6 billion.
Despite their importance, honeybees are struggling. Diseases, pesticides, climate change, and decreasing crop diversity all contribute to a rapidly declining honeybee population. According to a survey by Bee Informed Partnership, U.S. beekeepers lost nearly 40% of their colonies in 2019. At this rate, every bee counts, and starting a hive of your own could help.
There’s no getting around it – starting a hive takes some work upfront. Besides taking the time to learn how to care for a hive, you have to build or buy a hive, order bees, and install them. But once you're past the learning curve and your hive is settled, caring for your hive takes very little maintenance. Bees are good at caring for themselves, and have been doing so for millions of years. Like gardening, beekeeping is rewarding because you get to watch the hive grow from scratch. Plus, there’s a great-tasting prize at the end.
Honeybees produce a host of products that are tasty, useful and full of valuable nutrients. Even the honey produced by a hive is more healthful – unlike the pasteurized honey that’s commonly found on the shelves in supermarkets, raw, unprocessed honey is full of naturally-occurring antioxidants, vitamins and enzymes.
In addition to honey, hives also produce a number of other useful products like propolis, royal jelly and beeswax. These substances are often used for apitherapy purposes, which is the therapeutic use of honeybee products. For more on the benefits of apitherapy, check out our blog, “What is Apitherapy?”
You don’t need a ton of space in order to start a hive of your own. In fact, sometimes urban areas are better for a hive than rural areas. Rural land is often dominated by a single crop, making it difficult for honeybees to find food in all seasons. Urban areas, on the other hand, usually have a variety of plants for bees to feed on throughout the seasons.
How you position the hive is more important than having a large swath of land. Ideally, a hive would be positioned to get lots of morning light, but shaded from the afternoon sun. It’s also important to keep the entrance of the hive protected from strong winds.
So if you don’t own a cottage outside the city, don’t worry. Bees are adaptable and can thrive easily in urban areas, like in a small backyard or on a roof.
After the initial investment, beekeeping is a relatively affordable hobby. Once a hive is installed and you’ve acquired the necessary equipment, beekeeping just requires your love, care and attention. And you get to save money on raw, unfiltered honey.
For more buzz on all things bees, check out our blog. For raw, unfiltered honey and other apitherapy products, shop at honeygardens.com.