Today I am Thankful for Honeybees
Without honeybees, our way of life wouldn’t exist
Today across America, families will be gathering around feasts thankful for what they have. Thanksgiving is about family, good fortune, and goodwill but it’s also about plenty. No one would feel thankful sitting around an empty table. Though most people wouldn’t think to be thankful for honeybees it’s thanks to them that we have food on our plates.
No pollination = no food
I thought about this while I was watching my bees today. I’d done some last minute winter prep and was taking a moment at the end to watch as they all made their way back inside. We may simply think of them as honey-makers but without these busy workers and their pollinator friends we’d have very little fruit to eat. Since they also pollinate the flowers of vegetables we’d be missing a lot of those too. No pollination = no seeds for a lot of plants. Imagine a world without strawberries, almonds, and apples.
Gratitude begins with action
The best way that I know to be thankful for the food I eat is to keep honeybees. With diseases, parasites, and pesticides making it difficult for them to survive in the wild it’s up to beekeepers to take care of them. Most of the fresh produce we eat can be directly or indirectly linked back to the work of pollinators. That’s why I strongly feel that everyone should actively support beekeeping. Even Vegans.
Getting started keeping Honeybees
Keeping honeybees involves more knowledge and less work than you would think. From April to early summer you need to visit your hives once a week to make sure they don’t swarm. In winter I’ll go once a month to have a look at them and to give them extra food if they need it. I have an excellent guest post on ‘Getting Started Keeping Honeybees‘ for those curious about getting their own colonies.
Besides their collective pollination of garden flowers and crops, honeybees are fascinating to watch and also produce honey. Often a lot more than they actually need to get through the winter. Which leads me back to what I was doing with my bees today.
Winterising my Hives
In the winter honeybees stay inside the hive and eat honey to get them through the winter. They don’t burrow under the ground to hibernate like other insects and can be seen year round on mild sunny days. When they live inside human-made hives their homes need to be protected against the elements and pests though. The cold and damp can kill bees and mice love to climb inside warm hives and chow down on honey, beeswax, and the bees themselves.
Today I placed entrance blocks in my hives’ entrances — these make the entrance much smaller so they cut minimize cold drafts and stop rodents from coming in. I also cut two wooden boards to place under the Varroa floor inserts and am hoping it makes the hive comfier and less drafty.
I hope my bees are thankful for me too
After today I’ll next visit my two colonies after the New Year. I’ll need to judge if they need extra provisions and make sure that they’re safe and snug. I’ll also start thinking about what they’ll need in spring and if I plan on growing my apiary into more than just the two colonies. You see, honeybee colonies need to reproduce and they do that by starting new ones. Even though I don’t expect it, I hope that in some tiny way my bees are as thankful for my own part in their lives as I am for them.
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