Free Resource Guide to Beekeeping!

Free Resource Guide to Beekeeping!

Beekeeping, despite the fact that it sounds terrifying to most, is quite an important job. In fact, history indicates that beekeeping has been around at least 15,000 years. The job of a beekeeper is to maintain the colonies and hives of bees for a number of reasons. One of the most common reasons beekeeping exists is to produce honey for mass production. Another common reason is to collect the additional substances bees produce, including but not limited to beeswax. While there are a number of reasons keepers maintain bee colonies, harvesting honey remains the most prominent reason. History and Origin Historic depictions show that the art of beekeeping has been around at least 15,000 years and that even then its primary purpose was for the collection of honey. It wasn't until approximately 4,500 years ago, however, that evidence of domestication began to appear in the form of bee hives made from secondary substances such as logs and woven baskets appeared. It was at that time that Egyptian carvings also began to show the ancient Egyptians harvesting honey using smoke to keep bees from attacking as their honey was drained. Furthermore, upon opening the tombs of a number of pharaohs, scientists discovered sealed pots and jars of honey from this time frame. Traditional Beekeeping Traditionally, beekeeping is accomplished using a fixed comb hive. The fact is that hives of this nature can be made of just about anything. Unfortunately, when a beekeeper harvests a fixed comb hive it is destroyed beyond repair and a new hive is needed. For this reason, fixed comb hives, while one of the most traditional methods of beekeeping, are no longer used in the vast majority of countries with strong industrialization. Beekeepers would use heavy smoke to drive bees away from their hives at night while they destroyed the hive to harvest the honey inside. Modern Beekeeping The modern way of beekeeping is much more effective than the traditional manner. Beekeepers use hives that are open with removable tops. This allows them to better inspect the colony for disease as well as harvest honey without damaging the colony. Professional beekeepers are always concerned with safety from bee stings. While smoke is still used to keep bees at bay, it is not the most commonly used practice in modern beekeeping. Light color suits with veils are the safest clothing to wear while harvesting honey in bee colonies. Some keepers do wear gloves, but since bee stings on the hand are typically less painful and delicate extraction work is often difficult while wearing heavy gloves, many keepers elect to go gloveless. Benefits The benefits of beekeeping are numerous. For example, beekeepers are responsible for providing the world with honey and other items created by bees. Without beekeepers, honey would be particularly difficult to come by. Another benefit of beekeeping is the fact that humans are not the only living creatures that rely on the creations of bees. Many different species, from insects to animals and even plants rely on the creations of bees for their survival. Bee Colonies Like any other colony in the world, bee colonies consist of what you might call a social caste system. The Queen Bee is in charge. Without her, the rest of the bee caste is doomed to failure as she is typically the only female in the colony able to breed, despite the fact that there are anywhere from 30,000 t0 50,000 other female worker bees in the colony. There are males in each bee colony, though they are considered drones and they tend to reduce their number from thousands to virtually none come winter. The Queen Bee is the most important bee in the colony. She is raised from a worker bee, fed more than the usual amount of royal jelly and proclaimed queen. During her three year lifespan, she will lay as many as half a million eggs, or up to 3,000 per day. Female worker bees have a much shorter lifespan, probably due to the sheer amount of hard work and stress put upon them during the busy summer months when they work to harvest honey. The lifespan of a female worker bee during the summer is approximately 6 weeks, whereas they tend to live a much longer 16 weeks when summer ends and their work schedule tapers off. Male drones do not work in the colony, though they are often twice the size of the female worker bees. The sole purpose of the male drone is to mate with the queen and produce her offspring. When the season is over and queen-raising is over in any given bee colony, the rest of the colony attack the male drones. They tear and bite at their wings and legs, injuring them and driving them from the colony to die elsewhere as they are no longer needed. The hives used in each colony have a great deal of use. The Queen Bee stays within the walls of the hive laying eggs. She leaves them in the honeycomb section of the hive. The shape of the hive makes it possible for worker bees to produce honey and other substances. Finally, the hive provides a home for the bees. Harvesting Honey Harvesting honey is never quite the same for all beekeepers. The act of harvesting is dependent on a great number of factors. This includes the location of the bee colonies, the recent weather, when the colonies were created and the energy level of the Queen Bee. Though most honey harvesting can be done at any time of day using protective clothing and smokers, those who harvest the honey of African Honeybees typically can only do so when it is dark outside because the bees are known to swarm and attack local villages after being driven from their colonies. ~ American History and Beekeeping ~ The Fascinating History of Beekeeping ~ Beekeeping in a Traditional Sense ~ What is Beekeeping in America? ~ The Disappearance of the Honey Bee ~ Why The World Needs Honeybees and Beekeeping ~ Honeybees and Harvesting ~ Why Beekeeping is So Important to Honey Production ~ Advice & Tips on Beekeeping ~ Beekeeping Tips & Tidbits

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