Honeybees are under threat worldwide because of virulent viruses against which they have no natural defenses. Nearly all colonies in the wild have died out and without beekeepers to care for them, honeybees could disappear in a few years.
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1. How to become a beekeeper
Beekeeping is a most enjoyable, fascinating and interesting hobby – and you get to eat your own honey too. Every year local beekeeping associations run courses to help new people to take up beekeeping and even help them find the equipment they need and a colony of bees. Training programs continue to allow enthusiasts to become Master Beekeepers. For more information about becoming a beekeeper visit this Beekeeping Associations page from the American Bee Journal.
2. Who do you call when you see a swarm?
Swarming is a natural process when colonies of honeybees can increase their numbers. If you see a swarm contact the local authority or the police who will contact a local beekeeper who will collect the swarm and take it away. Honeybees in a swarm are usually very gentle and present very little danger. They can be made aggressive if disturbed or sprayed with water. Just leave them alone and wait for a competent beekeeper to arrive.
3. List of bee friendly plants for garden
In areas of the country where there are few agricultural crops, honeybees rely upon garden flowers to ensure they have a diverse diet and to provide nectar and pollen. Encourage honeybees to visit your garden by planting single flowering plants and vegetables. Go for all the allium family, all the mints, all beans except French beans and flowering herbs. Bees like daisy-shaped flowers – asters and sunflowers, also tall plants like hollyhocks, larkspur and foxgloves. Bees need a lot of pollen and trees are a good source of food. Willows and lime trees are exceptionally good.
4. Keep a container of fresh water in flower beds & garden
Bees use water for various purposes in the hive—in the summer they use the water to cool the temperature down, and in the winter they use it to help decrystalize the honey. Bees do not store water. They retrieve it when they need it. A single hive can use up to one liter of water a day on hot days. Baby bees (larvae) need water in the hive to survive so the nurse bees can produce the proper food for the larvae. The water cools the hive by using evaporative cooling. The water comes into the hive and is placed in specific locations and the worker bees in the hive fan their wings basically creating air conditioning.
5. Ask local authorities to plant bee friendly flowers
Some of the country’s best gardens and open spaces are managed by local authorities. Recently authorities have recognized the value of planning gardens, roundabouts and other areas with flowers that attract bees. Encourage your authority to improve the area you live in by adventurous planting schemes. These can often be maintained by local residents if the authority feels they do not have sufficient resources.
6. Learn more about bees
Honeybees have been on this earth for about 25 million years and are ideally adapted to their natural environment. Without honeybees the environment would be dramatically diminished. Invite a beekeeper to come and talk to any local group you support and give an illustrated talk about the honeybee and the products of the hive.
The Honey Bees
15 Fascinating Facts about Honey Bees
The Magic of Beeswax
7. Be Aware
Bees do not like the smell of alcohol on people, the “animal” smell of leather clothing, even watch straps. Bees regard dark clothing as a threat – it could be a bear! Bees are sometimes confused by scented soaps, shampoos and perfumes, best avoided near the hive.
8. Use safe, organic pesticides
A short list of examples may include: Neem Oil, Vinegar, Epsom Salt, Chrysanthemums, Pepper, Garlic, and Onion, Castile Soap, Essential Oils.
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