Bee-Keeping Aspirational

04mag-04tip-t_CA0-master180.jpgThis note on How to Keep Bees by

…You’ll need a suit with gloves and a hood, as well as two boxes to house the hive. Flottum says bees aren’t fussy about their habitat — they could live on the side of your house or on your grill. “But you have to be able to inspect them,” he says. “I have to be able to take the cover off and lift up a comb of honey and have it inspected for disease by a government official.” The boxes can be made of plastic or wood; each kind has advantages and disadvantages, including cost and durability.“One thing to consider is how much you can lift,” Flottum says. Make sure to provide ample water. (“If anybody in your neighborhood has a swimming pool, that’s a great big neon light for the bees.”)

By early spring, the bees will be responding to the change in seasons. “Pay attention to the weather, and feed them enough supplements so that they survive,” Flottum says. A sugar solution and a protein substitute will help — but if the bees can’t leave the hive, “like from multiple days of rain in a row, they can starve.” By about mid-June, your bee population should reach its maximum; full hives usually contain 70,000 to 80,000 insects. Then you can start harvesting the honey. “We take the combs and put them in an extractor to get the honey out through centrifugal force,” Flottum says.

The reason that bees and people work so well together, according to Flottum, is that beekeepers can take advantage of bees’ instinct to hoard honey for winter. “They need 100 pounds to get through the winter,” he says, “and they hoard double that. We bottle the honey and give it to our friends and families for the holidays.” Once you get them going, he adds, “they should pay for themselves.”

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