Mankind has been keeping bees for 10,000 years. The rich honey is one of nature’s premium products providing a rich source of energy with an amazing taste. Some tribes across the world are prepared to risk life and limb climbing huge trees to collect honey from stinging bees high up in the forest canopy. It is no wonder that people are prepared to go to the risk of being stung to be able to harvest a ready supply themselves with their own beehive operation.
What is so effective about bee keeping is the harvesting of food gathered over a large area away from your location and condensing it in the form energy (honey) on your plot for your harvest. What is particularly great about honey is it takes on the flavour of the regional plant nectar of a given region. In Poland the honey produced from lime trees is priced and in the Mediterranean it is the honey from the flowers of aromatic herbs.
One of the great things about bee keeping within urban farming homesteads is the diversity of blooms in our towns and cities. Flowering plants from across the world bloom in our urban gardens every year providing urban bee keepers with the opportunity to produce the best tasting honey around. Urban areas provide a unique opportunity of bee keeping with the benefit of a warmer environment, railway lines and areas of derelict land where they can forage for food. Historically one of the draw backs of urban environments for bees is lack of suitable hive sites hence by keeping bees we are helping them to thrive in the city.
Hives can be placed on the roofs of buildings, allotments or in your garden at home but in order to keep bees you will have to make a sound commitment and gain a sizable knowledge of beekeeping before you obtain your bees. Usually the best course of action is to do as much research as possible about bee keeping from books to be sure it will fit in with your lifestyle. The next step is to join any local groups or bee keeping associations to cement extra knowledge and contacts of the bee keeping world. This will allow you to become an expert bee keeper before you take the leap of owning your own colony.
Bees are effectively a wild undomesticated insect family so it is important to be prepared for the particulars of including them in your urban farming. From the months of spring to autumn your hives will have to be checked for the rate of honey production. Each time this is done protective clothing will have to be worn and when your honey is ready you will need particular equipment such as sipping drums to collect your bounty.
The equipment you will need for bee keeping however is a little expensive. You will need protective suits, smokers, hives, collection apparatus and a supply of jars. To start bee keeping usually involves a financial layout of £1000.00
If you are convinced bee keeping is for you and are prepared to take the course of becoming a hardened urban bee keeper then keeping bees will be a very productive venture for you and your family. Bee keepers talk about an unusual status and respect they get from other people when they discover their hobby.
There are many books, courses and products to get you started incorporating bee keeping.
Bee Keeping 101 Bee Keeping Made Easy is a PDF and CD manual compiled by expert bee keeper and hive builder Nick Winters. The manual covers everything from getting started, hive behaviour, splitting colonies, hives, equipment, honey extraction and much more. This manual will equip the beginner with the practical information to start their journey to expert bee keeper and honey producer.