I have written before about how much I love having chooks in my garden, but I haven’t written much about our bees. Keeping bees was something I had been wanting to do for some time, so I was really pleased when I was finally able to get into a course and get stuck into learning so much about these fascinating creatures. Late last year I went to the local adult education college and did a one-day beekeeping course. As a result of that course, we invested in 3 hives.
We now have 2 hives in a our suburban back yard which are doing very well and one hive on our bush block on the Fleurieu Peninsula. We invested in Ligurian bees from Kangaroo Island as they are the most docile and easiest to handle for beginners – better to be safe than sorry.
We have enjoyed magnificent pollination rate, since getting our own hives, especially with our pumpkins.
They have provided me with hours of backyard entertainment – I have enjoyed immensely watching them go about their daily foraging business, flying in and out of the hive, as they create their own unique flight path, returning to the hive laden with pollen and nectar visible to the naked eye, weighing them down as they come into land.
The bonus is that I managed to spin off about 12 kgs of honey this year.
While that’s not considered to be a huge amount, we only took honey from one hive as the other two were not quite as strong and we wanted to leave them plenty of honey for the winter months. And the honey tastes nothing like anything I have ever purchased – not even honey I have bought in the past from farmers’markets! It’s our own special blend, I guess, made from all the lovely flowers that we have in our garden and those within a couple of kilometres of our house.
If you know anyone who keeps bees, then start talking to them about what you can exchange for a jar of their liquid gold, or consider keeping a hive or two yourself. It is well worth the initial outlay and the effort to manage the hive or hives – where else can you get free pollination services, backyard entertainment, and food that never spoils?
P.S. If you feel inspired, plant a flowering plant for someone else’ bees or your own – lavender, rosemary and wisteria are all favourites of the bees and easy to grow!