I’ve always found insects fascinating but beyond satisfying my curiosity, I enjoy being hands-on about things. As a city girl living in Virginia, I’ve been working on learning how to grow and maintain a backyard garden. Sounds easy enough right? Believe me, there have been challenges! Aside dealing with animals that eat your veggies before they have a chance to grow, there are of course insects to contend with. While the investigation continues to determine the affects of pesticides on the bee population, I’ve been experimenting with quite a few natural remedies for insects. Some work, while others do not. It’s hit or miss when you take advice from people that have been growing on this land for generations. Many advocate the modern conveniences of buying chemicals, while others (much like myself) would rather find other options. It’s not just the bee population that is concerning but contaminating the water table as well.
Along this journey, I’ve been drawn to try my hand at bee-keeping. Not only is it beneficial to my garden but also provides a scientific education. Sounds so very simple doesn’t it? Just attract some bees, allow the hive to be present and a colony moves in. Nope. In all the years I’ve lived in Salem Village, it was just happenstance that a colony started in a small wooden bird house in a Wild Privet on my property (otherwise known as the Accidental Apiary). Imagine trying to attract a few bees deliberately!
Bee-Keeping can become pretty costly, especially if you don’t have the tools and/or carpentry skills to build it yourself. Your average tiered-hive can run about $500 for all the supplies needed, and even more so if you intend to raise bees for honey. I’m opting for the DIY approach. With a few minor modifications, I intend to turn a small 2-door cabinet into a large Super. It’s a little late in the season to get started so I’ll have to winterize the hive at the end of the Summer if I manage to attract bees to it using pheromones.
I’ve ordered (2) mason jar lids for my super, and plan on modifying an old aquarium for an observation tank. Unusual Bee Works offers a tutorial HERE. I plan on keeping it outside vs. inside a building so I’ll have to take extra steps to shade it so the bees don’t get overheated.
Many new Bee-Keepers don’t have much luck the first year but I’m hoping to take advantage of the already existing colony living in the bird house. At the very least, it’s the start of yet another interesting hobby to entertain myself and male guests! Heh
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Bee Vocabulary List:
- Abdomen – rear section of bee that contains the stinger and other organs.
- Antennae – sensors on the bees head that are used to smell with.
- Barb – pointy thorns that stick out of the stinger making it hard to remove.
- Bee Dance – used to show other bees where nectar/flowers are.
- Beekeeper – someone who cares for and raises bees.
- Colony – a group of bees living together.
- Compound Eye – large eye with many sections which enable a bee to see all around.
- Drone – Male bee whose only job is to mate with the queen.
- Hive – a bees home, where it lives with other bees and produces honey.
- Honey – food produced by bees.
- Honeycomb – area where honey is stored, also called cells.
- Insect – an animal with an exoskeleton, 3 body parts and 6 legs.
- Larvae -second stage of bee, grub like stage, eats beebread.
- Mandibles – plier-like jaws that are part of the bees mouth.
- Nectar – the sweet juice produced by flowers, gathered by bees and turned into honey.
- Nurse Bee – the bees that take care of the eggs, larvae and pupas.
- Pollen – small spores from a plant that appear as a dust and are necessary for plant reproduction.
- Pollen basket – area where bees carry the pollen on their bodies (hind legs).
- Pollination – the act of transferring pollen from one flower to the other.
- Proboscis – combined area of tongue and mandibles.
- Queen Bee – the only bee that produces eggs.
- Scout Bee – the bee that goes out and looks for flowers/nectar.
- Spiracles – holes in the sides of bees which they breathe through.
- Swarm – when a new queen leaves the hive with other bees to start a new hive.
- Thorax – the middle section of the bees body, where the legs are connected.
- Wax – produced by bees to make the hive cells.
- Worker Bee – guards hive, gathers nectar, makes honey, repairs hive and cleans it. All workers are female bees
I will post periodic updates as I embark on this project. It’s bound to get interesting!