Beekeeping

The Bee Project – Hydrating The Bees for Increased Abundance

Bees are one of the most useful insects in the world as the help with pollination, without which some plants cannot reproduce and create seeds. Besides being so useful, I personally find them to be really cute! Their big black eyes and fuzzy little bodies…and if you have ever seen a bee drink water you will also think they are adorable, they seem to gulp down the water  – the bee’s whole body bobs up and down. Too cute!

I have a tiny little garden in front of my flat near Johannesburg, and although the space is tiny, there is SO much life brimming in this little space. I have herbs, flowers, shrubs and vegetables, since I cannot exist without things growing and thriving near me. Recently I added a little glass bowl so that the birds could have something to drink, and I was blown away by the result! The bees love this hydrating mini pond! At any given time there are at least 6 bees drinking water. Less now with the spring rains and increased nectar available.

The reason my bee hydrator works so well is because there are no fish that might eat the bees or running water that will drown them. The pebbles ensure that the bees always have somewhere to “perch” and drink water, not like a swimming pool that is too large. What happens is that bees tend to flip over onto their backs in the water and then they can’t fly out or grab onto something nearby to lift them off their backs and they eventually drown. Swimming pool water is also chlorinated so it is probably toxic to the bees too.

Most people shudder at the thought of bees flying everywhere but there is no reason to be. All creatures and even plants sense dangerous intent and neither myself nor my daughter have ever been stung. I use the opportunity to teach her valuable lessons about life and how to respect Nature. I would rather that she learn to stay away from the bees and respect them, rather than keep her away and let her become scared of everything. I often have to work right next to the bees, planting seeds or doing some weeding, and they are completely at ease at the “bar”.

What is the benefit of this? Well, nearby plants that need bees for reproduction will produce more flowers and thus higher yields. Looking after bees literally increases abundance in the plant kingdom. It is an honor to assist Nature in this way.

And do you want to know something else? That little section of my garden now smells like honey 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

The FLOWHive Is NOT the “Bee-all and end-all” of beekeeping

Sorry, the Brit in me just couldn’t resist that pun.

The Flowhive is absolutely viral on Facebook these days and one can easily see why. To strip it down to its nuts and bolts, it is basically fresh honey on tap. Sounds lovely to most people, myself included, until I read an article that completely changed my mind. Especially when it mentioned one of the most repulsive terms in the English language: factory farming.

As Italian photographer and beekeeper Renée Ricciardi writes on http://www.truth-out.org/ and http://www.honeycolony.com/ ,

“Beekeeping involves respect, patience, and attention to the natural world. After years of beekeeping you become attentive to humidity every time you step outside, you start noticing which flowers bloom first,  you stop hating pesky dandelions, and when it rains you think of the bees.”

The author of the article goes on to say:

Actually many hobby beekeepers will tell you that honey is not the main attraction. Stewardship is. And that entails checking on the health of the colony, observing brood patterns, examining the queen, making sure there aren’t any parasite or pathogens, and observing the honey flow so you know what to leave behind.

With an automatic honey appliance, you get none of that. So even though there’s a window and you can see the bees, you are clueless as to what is going on with the hive. As a friend recently stated, flow hive promotes the emotional detachment of factory farming.

And this is the best part:

There’s nothing like peeking into a hive, slowing down with reverence and care, observing these virgin sisters of toil. Bees work themselves to death why should we have their food so easy?

Reading this article absolutely changed my mind about the Flowhive and I must admit I see it very negatively now, especially with that association to factory farming. Because that is exactly how someone could market battery hens – don’t bother with the fuss of collecting eggs all over the garden, stick them in a cage and the eggs will roll down into a container every day for you.

Many vegans hate beekeeping, they feel we should not eat any animal products but I differ in this regard. I think that a lovely bond can develop between Humanity and Nature, a symbiotic relationship built on respect and care. But all too often we forget that, we either go from one extreme of not caring one bit about Nature, to mental self-flagellation and hatred for our cruel selfish species.

But the Flowhive? Let’s think carefully about this one.