by Lauretta James, Medford Energy Committee
The past few years I have met several residents in Medford that have their own honey bee hive, participate in maintaining one and harvest honey to make products. Some have been doing this for years and others are new to beekeeping.
When I saw my neighbor outside with a huge silver vat contraption, that got my interest and I had to ask. It was a honey extractor. Her hive was located in a friend’s yard and she had brought the extractor home to clean it. She had processed her honey to make gifts such as lotions, lip balm, honey to eat, candles, soaps and more and had been doing this for many years.
The only experience I had was with Carpenter Bees so to see beekeeping can and does occur in urban environments was a surprise.
With the national news of honey bees dying due to Colony Collapse Disorder from pesticides, herbicides, disease and mites; this has sparked a new interest in people wanting to learn about bees and become more involved with the environment. There are hotels in Boston that have Honey Bee hives on their roof tops to help pollinate their garden, use the honey in their restaurants or just to be environmentally friendly.
Through my new process of learning about honey bees I’ve gathered lots of information to share.
If you want to learn about honey bees and caring for them there are many educational groups to join. You can find a mentor or someone that has bee hives that will teach and give you hands on experience before contemplating owning your own bee hives. The Middlesex County Beekeepers Association of MA, The Essex County Beekeepers Association, MA State Beekeepers Association, Boston Beekeepers on Facebook all have numerous education opportunities and activities and there are more. When you’re ready for your own bee hive you can buy a bee hive kit and take care of them yourself and buy the supplies to harvest your honey. Or you can have your honey extracted if you don’t want to do it yourself. There are bee supply retailers that offer many services.
If you would like to have a honey bee hive on your property; you can hire a company to provide, install and maintain the hive for a fee. They may also harvest your honey, jar it and put your name on the jar. Mary and Tom’s, Honey from Medford, how sweet!
Another way to have bee hives on your property is to host a hive. With hive hosting opportunities; you provide the space location for the hive with little or no work on your part and derive the benefits for free. Benefits include an increase in your vegetable & fruit garden, more flower blooms and edible honey extracted from the hive.
Honey Bees will travel a few miles to find nectar to bring back to their hive so you don’t need to have flowers in your own yard at all. Bees do need a fresh water source near their hive for them to drink. A fresh water container with rocks or floating bark for the bees to land on while drinking water is one option.
All bee hives have to be registered with the MA State Apiary Inspector and inspected yearly. The Bee Inspector will check your hive for disease, pests and unwanted bee species. A diseased hive will rapidly infect other hives. There are no fees at this time for registration or yearly inspection.
For the past two years we saw fewer and fewer bees in our yard and it was alarming compared to other years. My tomato plants and others were not as pollinated by bees so we had a tiny amount of veggies. We had a very large flowering tree that was home to thousands of bees and once that disappeared so did the bees. Flowering trees are a great source of nectar for bees.
Before learning about bees and wanting to have a decent looking green lawn; we used to pick all the yellow flowering dandelions and their seed pods. Now I look at them as much needed food for the honey bee and carefully weed leaving some dandelions. Sure enough, right now all the dandelion flowers and tall lavender flowering weeds are covered with bees. We use no herbicides to kill weeds and learned from others to use white vinegar and water instead. We never use pesticides/insecticides because they cause death in bees and birds, poisons the soil and water supply. So now that we have a more bee friendly yard; the raccoons agree and visit often. That’s another story.
You can learn about honey bees, having your own hive in your yard and more from Best Bees Company on Saturday, October 18. 2014, 11 A.M. – 2 P.M., at the City of Medford, Harvest Your Energy Festival, a free event open to all.
Additional information about bees and beekeeping:
Is it Honey Bee or HoneyBee? By Richard Levine http://entomologytoday.org/2014/05/06/is-it-honey-bee-or-honeybee-bed-bug-or-bedbug-house-fly-or-housefly/
Where the Wild Bees Roam by Anna V. Smith http://www.eugeneweekly.com/20140911/lead-story/where-wild-bees-roam
Every City Needs Healthy Honey Bees, Noah Wilson-Rich, Ph.D. http://ed.ted.com/lessons/every-city-needs-healthy-honey-bees-noah-wilson-rich
Integrating Bees Into a Suburban Environment http://www.hiveandhoneyapiary.com/IntegratingBeesIntoASuburbanHabitat.html
Creating a Honeybee Water Garden by Glenn Apiaries http://www.glenn-apiaries.com/beepond.html
Middlesex County Beekeepers Association http://www.massbee.org/
Essex County Beekeepers Association http://www.essexcountybeekeepers.org/index.shtml
Massachusetts Beekeepers Association http://www.massbee.org/
Boston Area Beekeepers Association. One of the lectures this fall is “Preparing Your Beehive for Winter” http://www.bostonbeekeepers.org/
Boston Beekeepers Community on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BostonBeekeepers/timeline?ref=page_internal
The National Honey Board and Learn About Honey http://www.honey.com/about/about-nhb
Education Material: Honey Files Teacher Guide Video http://www.honey.com/honey-industry/educational-material/
Eastern Apicultural Society of North America, education, conferences, Master Beekeeper Certification http://www.easternapiculture.org/
MA Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs, State Apiary Inspector http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/farm-products/apiary/
New England Beekeeping Supplies, Offering supplies, honey, education and courses http://www.nebees.com/
The Best Bees Company delivers, installs and manages honey bee hives in Massachusetts http://www.bestbees.com/
BeverlyBees.com, backyard beekeeping. Anita Deeley, owner, beekeeper, State Apiary Inspector. www.beverlybees.com
Tal’s Apiary, CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture), Medford, MA http://www.talreichert.com/cms/content/share-my-honey-crop-2014
Follow The Honey, Cambridge, MA, retail, education, events http://www.followthehoney.com/