This multifaceted book offers insight into everything bee-related: pollination, gardening, beekeeping and recipes. Whether you’re a first-time beekeeper or looking to improve and expand your backyard beekeeping, this book is a must-have.
Beekeeping might seem exotic or old-fashioned, but around the world it is becoming more and more common to find a hive or two in urban spaces and suburban backyards. Some modern beekeepers are inspired by the desire to help out the frequently beleaguered creatures, others simply enjoy fresh honey from the most local of sources—the backyard garden. This book discusses your options for setting up a hive almost anywhere, how to plant a bee-friendly garden, and how to harvest and use your very own honey. Not only is it a great hobby, you’ll also be rewarded with a plentiful supply of honey that you can use in tea as well as for cooking, baking and perhaps even lip salve and skin cream.
Everything the modern day beekeeper needs and more:
Becoming a Beekeeper
Setting Up Your Hive
Getting the Right Gear
Planting a Bee-Friendly Garden
Trouble-Shoot Your Hive
Harvest the Honey
Plan for the Winter
The honeybee is one of our greatest natural resources; bees work hard to pollinate our gardens and do an important job that we couldn’t do without. But bees are finding it increasingly difficult in the world that they share with us. States are reporting a hive of activity in the ‘backyards’ of rural and urban beekeepers. In fact, many states are beginning to alter preexisting ordinances in order to encourage more individuals to start beekeeping.
No other hobby can simultaneously help save the world and bring sweet treats to your table!
HANDLING THE HONEY
Equipment for honey processing: As a beginner, you don’t need everything I’ve listed here, but you cannot manage without an uncapping fork and sieves. • Uncapping fork, roller, or knife • Uncapping tray (or roasting pan) • Honey sieves; one with coarse mesh and one with fine mesh • Stirrer • Large honey vessel (110 lb / 5 kg) with tap • Honey vessel (66 lb /30 kg) • Jars with lids • Honey extractor
If you don’t have time to extract the honey immediately after harvesting, you can temporarily store it for up to a week, depending on honey type and the room temperature. Store the honey frames in a space where bees cannot get in, such as a shed. Honey frames should never be stored in cold and damp places, such as a basement. Most importantly, the room in which you extract the honey should be easy to keep clean and dust free, and the bees have to be kept outside. If you use the kitchen, don’t cook at the same time. If you’re planning to sell the honey and not just use it for yourself, make sure that you find out what rules apply to commercial food handling and hygiene. You can buy the most necessary equipment in a bee supply store.
Over time, you’ll discover what you need to simplify some steps in the process. I think the experience of honey as a natural product is intensified when you scrape it directly from the honeycomb or if you cut a piece of honeycomb in an empty glass jar that will then slowly fill up with fresh honey. I have a strong childhood memory of when I visited my older sister during summer break: I always got cut a piece of honeycomb to dip into the evening tea. The honey melted and I chewed on the wax for a long time, pretending it was chewing gum. As a beginner beekeeper, I stood in the kitchen using a juicer and honey strainers to extract the honey. I still use our kitchen for the uncapping, extracting, straining, and filling, with messy consequences that aren’t always so popular with the rest of the family. Despite this, everyone gets involved in honey processing and it has become one of the highlights of the summer.
My average honey harvest usually end up being 77 to 88 pounds (35–40 kg) per colony. One year, I got a significantly smaller harvest because of a swarm and two divisions, which in turn yielded a bumper crop the following season, when I ended up harvesting 175 pounds (79.4 kg) of honey from one colony.
Joachim Petterson is an art director, writer, and professor at Stockholm University. Seven years ago he was a complete novice beekeeper, but when he learned that his family had a traditional interest in the topic, he decided to put up his first hives in his garden in a suburb of Stockholm. He now has six happy, healthy backyard hives.