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Natural Bee Keeping

 
                                    
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I'm looking for information on Beekeeping for strictly pollination purposes. Ways to simply include bees on the land and not collect the honey. Does anyone have any ideas or experience? I'm also wondering if there is way to "plant" a bee-made hive on the land. Thanks all
 
tel jetson
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Location: woodland, washington
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your best bet for pollination probably isn't honey bees.  I haven't spent any time looking at it, but this page at the Xerces Society's website might help you out.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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What a great site, the Xerces Society, thanks for that link! 
 
                    
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I agree, if your goal is to increase pollination, then there are many alternatives to honeybees.  Mason Bees, for example, are very good at pollination, and can often be increased by putting out simple blocks of wood with holes drilled for nesting. The best natural solution in my opinion is to have a wide variety of plants that harbor many different pollinating insects. Wild areas, hedgerows, and a variety of chosen plants to provide nectar and pollen over the seasons can increase the beneficials for pollination, natural pest control, and other ecological functions.

For honeybees, there is a nesting pheromone that is used to mark a home. It is a mixture of the scent chemicals in roses and lemon grass. Planting roses, palmarosa, lemon grass, rose geraniums, lemon verbena and other scented flowers will help attract bees and make them feel at home.
 
Christy Hemenway
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Greetings FieldHippieFruit --
A very good question - one we hear more and more nowadays...
So you might be interested in this green beekeeping system as well.  The emphasis here is on chemical-free, what-is-best-for-bees - not on exploiting the bees for honey.  It's a green product, and ergonomically friendly for the beekeeper as well.  Check it out - www.goldstarhoneybees.com.  For more info feel free to get in touch.
-- Christy

PS - The Xerces Society rocks!

FieldHippieFruit wrote:
I'm looking for information on Beekeeping for strictly pollination purposes. Ways to simply include bees on the land and not collect the honey. Does anyone have any ideas or experience? I'm also wondering if there is way to "plant" a bee-made hive on the land. Thanks all

 
                              
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Jonathan_Byron wrote:
I agree, if your goal is to increase pollination, then there are many alternatives to honeybees.  Mason Bees, for example, are very good at pollination, and can often be increased by putting out simple blocks of wood with holes drilled for nesting.


I did this for fun this summer.  I've got a block of wood with probably 60 holes in it and about 30 of them have been used and mudded over by some sort of bee/wasp.  weeeeeee nature!
 
                                      
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Location: central-coastal california
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While native pollinators should certainly be supported an encouraged (the Xerces Society and their Pollinator Conservation Handbook are great), honeybees are not just great pollinators but an extremely joyful addition to the garden as well.

Really, even if you never once are to collect honey from them, there is so much enjoyment and inspiration in the energetic buzzing and rich caramel-beeswax air that waft off a warm hive.  Also, I often describe beekeeping as a very meditative and spiritually calming practice, in the patience and care and respect you must show while handling bees.

And top bar hives (as opposed to the Langstroth frame hives used for commercial honey production) are wonderful in their simplicity.   You definitely don't need to drop $400+ for kits or prebuilts like ChristyHemenway is trying to sell, a hive can be made from scrap, to your own specifications, with just a bit of construction acumen.  Back in antiquity they were just draping sticks across clay pots for bees to build comb on.  Collect a bit of sweet reward in the spring once the bees made it through the winter and the flowers are blooming again.  Maybe I'll write up a guide to hive building, one day...

FieldHippieFruit: as far as "planting" a bee-made hive on the land, that's essentially what building a top bar hive is all about.  Honeybees are typically cavity nesters, so all you need to do is provide a swarm with a sufficient cavity of their liking, they will set right about at building comb within.  Potentially, this could even be a hollow log, if you have one laying about and really want to inhibit human access to the colony... (Top bar beekeeping is outwardly similar looking but very different than Langstroth beekeeping with its frames of sometimes artificial comb.)

Here are a couple hives, designed and built by some of us Santa Cruz kids, that sit out next to the porch.  It is so great to hang out on the couch by the bees on a sunny day.  That's Rallo the beedog--he loves bees too!

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