The Beekeeping Hive: An Essential Guide
Here is a new definition for beekeeping; ‘an activity or hobby that ensures earthlings shall have a varied diet of foods’.
If recent reports are anything to go by, I would like to promptly inform you that your recent interest in beekeeping is a hallelujah moment! You have definitely signed up for a major cause to ensure these amazing insects remain with us, and in large numbers to ensure the human food chain is sustained and balanced. You see, bees are responsible for about 80% of pollination in plants and a little over 30% of our meals are comprised of insect pollinated plants.
Beekeeping is the practice of keeping bees either for the money (sale of honey) or rental (fertalizing crops) or just as a hobby. One of the most important tools in this culture, actually called apiculture, is the beehive.
Bees exist as a single unit called a colony. Naturally, they would occupy hollow tree trunks and hang on tree tops or against the bark of the trees. Hollow tree trunks were actually a hot spot for the bees and have influenced the design of the modern beehive. Beehives are an important breakthrough, I’ll tell you that. Many winters ago, harvesting the honey meant a total destruction of the beehives and sometimes extermination of the bees. Thanks to developments in the design and structure of the beehives, this has changed a great deal. Modern beehives have gone even further to ensure accessibility and maintenance is the basis of any such designs. There are in fact some designs that are intellectual properties, as in patents.
As a seasoned or an aspiring (or a Johnny-come-lately) beekeeper, you should really devote some time and effort to understanding the beehive. A beehive is basically a mostly wooden structure that is used for rearing bees and designed to simulate their natural dwelling. The bees then make the small hexagon-like structures that they use for breeding and storing pollen and honey. These small structures are interconnected to form larger ones called combs which are commonly referred to as honey combs. The number and size of the combs will determine the amount of honey you will harvest. Some beehive designs even mimic the space that the bees would leave in between combs in their natural habitations and incorporate it in their overall design.
The citizens in any beehive are comprised of the worker bees, the drones and the queen. The worker bees (the busy bees) perform most, if not all of the housekeeping and basic chores that keep the hive running. They do clean up, feed the little ones and the queen, make the honey, and guard the hive from predators. They are sterile females and are the most abundant in any colony. The drones are the male bees and are far less abundant in the hive and their only role is to mate with the queen. After that, no one wants them around anymore and are sent out – to die. The queen is the center of the hive. Her primary role is to ensure continuity of the colony and therefore lays nearly 2000 eggs per day.
Beehives also assist in transporting the bees around when say, you want a certain area pollinated. There are actually some farmers who charge for pollination services.
Author, Michael V. Taylor is a Long time Beekeeper, and enjoys helping others get started in this amazing hobby by sharing information about beekeeping hives.