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Honeybees Can Benefit Your Garden

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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.


Tom has been offering garden advice on KUNC for almost two decades. During that time he has been the wholesale sales manager at Ft. Collins Nursery, Inc. Since January of 2005 he has been the owner and operator of Throgmorton Plant Management, LLC., a landscape installation and maintenance company as well as a horticultural consulting firm. He lives in northern Ft. Collins with his wife and two kids.