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Honeybees Can Benefit Your Garden

Creative Commons

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.