Honeybees Can Benefit Your Garden
For a few years, I inherited a 40-year-old garden. The most natural addition I made to the traditional, old-fashioned garden was introducing a hive of honeybees. The bees thrived on the profusion of perennials that bloomed from spring until autumn frost. The bees were also a good excuse not to spray dandelions, one of their favorite flowers.
Starting a hive is fairly simple. You need boxes to hold the beeswax frames, a bottom board and a top. These things are built from scratch, or bought in kit-form and put together. You need protective clothing - arm length gloves, a hat and veil. A hive tool - basically a small pry bar - and a smoker are handy. All that's left are the queen and a couple pounds of bees. All of this stuff and books on beekeeping can be ordered from bee suppliers. The library or Internet are good places to start.
Before starting a hive check local and state ordinances. Your new hive may need to be registered. In some cities it's illegal to keep hives; but you may be able to find a few square feet in the country. The laws exist to protect healthy bees from diseased hives. Some diseases kill entire colonies and may wipe out a professional beekeeper’s livelihood.
Also check with your neighbors to be sure no one is hypersensitive to bee stings. It's inevitable when there are 40,000 bees in a hive some bee is going to sting some one sometime.
When I moved my hive into the inherited garden, the neighbors were less than enthused. It was easy to find an out-of-the-way place in the garden. And, I screened the hive with tall plants. By June, the neighbors were watching the hive from a safe distance. They were fascinated by the teamwork of the pollen gatherers. A neighbor with a pond spent hours saving bees that had come for a drink and fallen into the pond. In the fall, I shared honey with the neighbors. A pint here, a quart there didn't make a dent in the bucket I harvested from the honeybees.
From the first season, honeybees just seemed to be a natural addition to that traditional garden. And they became a welcome addition to the neighborhood.