Lately, the media shares lots of information with regard to the vital importance of bees and urban beekeeping. Research shows that beekeeping will help prevent a disastrous global famine. You might be curious as to how on earth beekeeping can help prevent famine. Furthermore, you might wonder what role bees play in food production.
Experts at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations report that a third of the world’s food production depends on bees. When bees pick up the pollen of flowers and spread it, they allow plants, including many different food crops, to reproduce. From the above, it should be clear that commercial beekeeping is extremely important. However, in today’s blog, we at Contours Landscapes will share more information with regard to urban beekeeping.
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED BEE-ING AN URBAN BEEKEEPER?
The saying goes that everything is better (and sweeter) with a touch of honey. Urban beekeeping is a popular, growing trend lately. City residents worried about the global decline of bee populations have taken to urban beekeeping to do their part. They are keeping Beehives in community gardens, backyards, and even balconies. Imagine having your own fresh and delicious batch of honey to use in recipes. In her lifetime which is about 6 weeks, a single bee can produce 0.8 grams of honey. This is a very small volume of honey. However, if you’re going to create a colony, which consists of thousands of bees, that honey will add up quickly!
Before working with bees, it’s important to understand their biology and familiarize yourself with beekeeping basics. Honeybees have their own agendas and aren’t interested in humans. If you understand them and respect the laws of nature, beekeeping can be a safe and pleasurable hobby. Here are some tips for you when you’re just starting out on your beekeeping journey. We hope you’ll “bee” inspired along the way.
Are there any laws regulating beekeeping?
Provisions for keeping bees are quite simple if you stick to the rules. For detailed information regarding legislation affecting beekeeping in South Africa, you can visit the website of the South African Bee Industry Organization.
What are the general requirements for urban beekeeping?
- You will need a permit authorizing the activity.
- Any bee hive you install must be a minimum of 5 metres from any boundary of your premises
- Beehives must be a minimum of 20 metres from any public space or building used by humans or any place used to keep animals, poultry, and birds.
- You need to keep the bees in an approved beehive.
- The hive must be inaccessible to children and animals.
- It needs to be kept in the shade at all times and also supplied with a source of drinking water within 5 metres of the hive.
- It is illegal to dump or deposit any garbage, compost, grass cuttings or manure within 5 metres of any bee hive.
Are there any municipal by-laws governing urban beekeeping?
There are a number of municipal by-laws for the keeping of bees. The laws are very similar to the above-mentioned requirements. Moreover, these rules might differ depending on your province. Therefore, it is best to contact your municipality to confirm which rules apply to your area of residence.
What is the best spot to keep my beehive?
So, you can see, based on the above-mentioned requirements an important fact definitely stands out. Having your bees out of sight will be best for all concerned. We suggest you create an evergreen screen of hedging plants so people can’t see them. Sunflowers are a nice alternative if you don’t prefer planting a hedge. This will also ensure that the bees fly up and away when leaving and returning to their hive – which is comfortably above human height.
Get a hive stand for your bees
The picture above is a typical example of a hive stand. Having a hive stand will ensure that your hives are kept off the ground. This, in turn, will protect the bees from skunks, badgers, and other honey-hungry critters. Make sure that your stand is about 50 centimeters off the ground, with enough room between each hive to place the covers. Furthermore, keep old mulch, old carpeting, or gravel and stones on the ground around your hives to keep the mud down.
Protect yourself with a jacket and veil or a full bee suit
You’ll need protective gear with a veil to stop wandering bees from becoming entangled in your hair. If you don’t want to wear a full suit for regular bee work, consider using a lightweight jacket with an attached veil, which unzips. As a first-timer, you might be a little weary about bees not being in a “good mood”. As a rookie beekeeper doing heavy-duty bee work, we advise you to invest in a full bee suit. Also, we further advise you to wear gloves if you feel that you’re going to be uncomfortable with bees buzzing on your bare hands.
Beekeeping has “something so romantic” about it
Multi-Media Lifestyle Entrepreneur, Martha Stewart, pictured above, is wearing a full bee suit. Martha owns her own hives. Furthermore, she is on a mission to educate others on the importance of bees. She fondly refers to them as “these mysterious, somewhat frightening, awe-inspiring benefactors of nature.” Beekeeping, she says, has “something so romantic” about it.
Why Should an urban beekeeper Invest in a smoker?
A smoker will be your ally as a beekeeper. Simply put, it’s a cylinder with a bellows attached. You can build a slow-burning fire with pine needles, old burlap, or rotten wood. When you squeeze the bellows, smoke comes out of the nozzle. The smoke confronting the bees triggers their instinct to escape. Worker bees will escape into the hive and eat as much honey as they can to take with them when they abandon the hive and seek out a new nest. This ensures that you are left alone to “do your thing.” Make sure that your smoker is lit at all times so that you can work in peace.
Consider taking an Urban beekeeping class
Consider attending classes on beekeeping. When you attend expert training you might, for example, learn about how to direct your bees’ flight path. Moreover, you will become more comfortable with bees. Ultimately, you can find out more about classes and other events on the Southerns Beekeeping Association website.
What are the benefits of honey?
In conclusion, let’s discuss some of the benefits of honey.
- Raw honey contains various vitamins and minerals. In addition, raw honey is a source of varying amounts of amino acids, enzymes, and other beneficial compounds.
- Honey boosts immunity and daily consumption raises levels of protective antioxidants.
- What’s more, is that the consumption of local honey might alleviate seasonal allergy symptoms. How awesome is that?
- The propolis in raw honey has antifungal and antibacterial properties.
- The topical honey treatment promotes wound healing.
- Honey has cough-alleviating properties, and it can be used for children. Studies on honey and cough in children found that honey appears to be more effective than diphenhydramine for cough symptoms. It may also help reduce cough duration.
Urban Beekeeping, oh so sweet!
All the factors mentioned above should aid in your decision to become an urban beekeeper or hone your craft. Hopefully, the honey and cheese pictured above (courtesy of David Rocco) will also help to whet your appetite. Check out the following link for some more amazing recipes using honey. Evidently, honey consumption equals a healthier environment. Urban growth and development result in a decline in vegetation and flora in the city. However, your beekeeping endeavors could assist in a healthier environment!