One recent addition to my native garden is a bee hive. I had read online about how the honey bees across the country were dying so I decided to have my own bees. Now I wasn’t wanting to study the death of bees, I’m not that morbid. But I knew I do not use chemicals in my garden. One of the suspects in nationwide bee deaths is pesticide use. If bees are gone, then so is pollination of plants and therefore fruits and vegetables. So I thought maybe I could help in the cause of keeping the bee population up. I also recognized a personal advantage for my own vegetable garden productivity with so many bees nearby. I did notice a much better crop of some vegetables last summer.
I don’t know much about honey bees yet so I’m not going to pretend to tell you how to keep bees. I am still learning myself and have yet to harvest my first honey. I will give a few pointers that I did pick up.
The most important thing to determine is the hive location. I read that the hive does better if it gets morning sun and afternoon shade. So that was easy in my native garden as I have described in earlier posts. The other important factor is paying attention to the flight path. Think of your hive as a busy airport and the bees are all these planes taking off and landing. The big difference is planes take off in one direction and the other planes land coming in from the opposite direction. This is to keep planes from flying into each other as you can imagine. However with bees, that is not a problem. They know how to avoid head-on collisions. So place your hive in an area that has plenty of landing and take off room without disturbing human visitors. It’s also good to have enough space around the hive for you to work the hive without plants being in the way. So I placed my hive with low perennials to the front and a path along the rear. This gives me room to take care of the hive without standing in the flight path.
I also spent the extra money to purchase an attractive bee hive. My bee hive is quite visible in the garden so it is a feature of the garden, not just something to try to hide out of sight. There are also bee hives that have viewing windows to watch the bees work. I considered this design but they were unavailable in my area at the time and I was impatient. But if you have children that are fascinated by nature and would enjoy watching the bees work, I think it would be a fun addition to the garden.
There is a lot of information online about raising bees. I hope I have piqued your interest. Anyone who is interested in growing their own food so that they know where it comes from and wants to eat healthy should consider the idea of adding bees to their garden. Not only will you have better crop yields but there is also the sweet honey like the icing on the cake.