One of the benefits of having your own beehives is that sweet honey after a good harvest. Opening up the hive and cutting off a chunk of fresh comb is just one of the few little things in life that beekeepers get to enjoy. Taking that honey and extracting it, bottling it and having others enjoy it is very satisfying. I get asked about my honey and bees pretty regularly, but there are other products that come from a bee hive that are equally as enjoyable.
One product that may seem obvious, but some people may not think about is actual bees! When a hive gets to a good population, it is possible to take some of those bees and create a new hive. Some people believe you have to buy new packages of bees and a queen every year but that’s not the case. In fact, many commercial beekeepers grow their business each year by making new hives and also selling extra bees. If you start with one healthy hive your first year and maintain it, you could easily start a second one the following year. You can make these extra hives for yourself or help someone else get started.
Bees gather pollen as a resource for feeding young brood inside the hive. This pollen is packed with nutrients and protein from a variety of plants in our area. Using a special device, called a pollen trap, we can collect pollen from our bees for ourselves. Now, the research behind eating bee pollen or using it in skin care is lacking. Many people believe in its natural benefits, but personally I like to use it to create a winter-time supplement for the bees. When no pollen is available in nature, supplementing it to your bees can help keep them healthy.
Lastly, one product that almost everyone knows about is beeswax. Bees release the wax from their bodies and build honeycomb with it to store eggs and honey. Wax from bees has been used for thousands of years by humans for a plethora of products. Bees wax can be melted down and used as a waterproofing agent and sealant. Candles, soaps and balms are just a few of the products beeswax is still used in today. Beekeepers also melt down extra wax and rub it on new frames so the bees will draw it out faster too.
Honeybees help humans out it so many ways, even beyond what we generally think they do. Aside from pollinating our food, they give us all these products to eat and enjoy on a daily basis. I believe we are getting better each day in our conservation and protection of bees and their habitats. I’ll be sending out a flyer in the paper soon for a bee club email list for anyone who is interested locally so we an do our part in their conservation. Be safe out there everyone.